Viktor Orban, prime minister of Hungary, arrives at the Informal Dinner of Heads of State or Government on May 27 in Brussels. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

Hungary Seeks EU Alliance to Push Closer Ties with Russia

Aug. 25, 2014
Hungary Prime Minister Viktor Orban says he will seek to form a political alliance to stop the European Union pulling away from Russia over the crisis in Ukraine.

BUDAPEST, Hungary -- Hungary Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Monday said he would seek to form a political alliance to stop the European Union pulling away from Russia over the crisis in Ukraine.

"The EU gets further away from Russia every day," Orban told Hungarian ambassadors in Budapest. "That's not only bad for Hungary, but for the entire EU."

"We will have to seek the company of those EU member states who are interested in slowing and stopping this separation process," he added, without naming any specific countries.

Ties between the West and Russia have hit a post-Cold War low over the crisis in Ukraine, with the European Union and Washington slapping massive sanctions on Moscow over its perceived support for separatists.

Russia hit back with sanctions of its own, banning nearly all food imports from the EU and United States.

Orban, who has been criticized for steering Hungary away from Europe and towards Russia, insisted Monday that the country's Western alliances were "not in doubt."

But he again warned that isolating Russia could hurt Europe's competitiveness.

Germany, the eurozone's largest economy and the most reliant on ties with energy-rich Russia, "will be a big loser" if Brussels continues its economic ostracism of Moscow, Orban said.

Russia is former Communist Hungary's largest trading partner outside the EU. Earlier this month, Orban said the EU had "shot itself in the foot" with the sanctions.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2014

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