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Hungarian minister tweets ‘Russia no threat’ as Putin arrives in Budapest

Vladimir Putin met with Viktor Orban in Budapest, in the wake of an unprecedented NATO member troop buildup on Russian borders.

Published: February 2, 2017, 10:37 am

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    Budapest

    Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said earlier that Russia should not be perceived as a threat to Hungary or any other NATO or EU state. “I don’t see Russia as a threat to Hungary,” the foreign minister said in an interview with Reuters.

    Szijjarto also said that while he “understands” some Eastern European countries such as Poland and the Baltic states might have “another” position, he disapproved of frequent allegations of Russian aggression.

    He said NATO should “have a bigger role” in deterring Islamic terrorism. “Currently if we speak about threats… I see ISIS as a threat… A non-state actor is the most serious threat to the civilized world. And in this regard… NATO could have a bigger role,” he told the news agency.

    American President Donald Trump also had pointed out that NATO had failed to successfully protect the world from ISIS.

    Orban and Putin are expected to discuss sanctions too. “According to our estimates, the loss of profit for Hungary amounts to $6.5 billion over the last three years,” Szijjarto told Kommersant daily earlier. “We are speaking about exports. Given that the annual volume of Hungarian exports is about $90 billion, the losses are biting.”

    Orban drew ire from the EU elite after he said he “would not be a viceroy in Hungary commissioned by some foreign state”. His views on sanctions, migration policy and border control are at least realistic considering Europe’s slow growth, migrant crisis and a growing terror problem.

    Putin’s first official trip in 2017 to Hungary is set to bolster bilateral agreements to promote economic and trade projects, according to Kremlin, including Nord Stream and Turkish stream gas pipeline projects.

    Russia’s presidential aide, Yuri Ushakov told reporters on Wednesday that about 85 percent of Hungary’s gas flows in from Russia. In 2015, Putin and Orban signed a new gas agreement. Hungary pays only for gas it actually consumes under the agreement, which proved to be very lucrative for low-demand consumers, RT reported.

    Another key issue to be discussed during by the two leaders, is the expansion of the Paks nuclear power plant to be funded by a €10bn credit line from Russia, with the aid of Russian nuclear scientists. Budapest is still awaiting approval of the project by EU bureaucrats who have been blocking it, according to RT.

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