Estonian PM’s criticism of Orbán is ‘hypocrisy’, Hungarian Foreign Minister Szijjártó claims

Estonia's Prime Minister Kaja Kallas attends a joint press conference with France's President Emmanuel Macron at the Élysée Palace in Paris, Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2023. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena, Pool)
By Dénes Albert
4 Min Read

Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas’ statement that she was shocked by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s meeting with Vladimir Putin is nothing but hypocrisy, Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said on Wednesday evening.

“It was very, very unpleasant to see that,” Kallas, one of Ukraine’s staunchest defenders, told Reuters in an interview in Paris. “How can you shake a criminal’s hand, who has waged a war of aggression, especially coming from a country that has a history like Hungary has?” she added.

Kallas was referring to the 1956 Hungarian uprising, which was crushed by the Soviet armed forces.

In response, Szijjártó issued a staunch defense of the Hungarian prime minister’s activity on social media.

“With great respect, this Kaja Kallas is the same Kaja Kallas whose husband was recently found to have owned a company that supplied raw materials worth €30 million to a Russian factory even after the outbreak of the war, despite the fighting,” Szijjártó wrote. “Hypocrisy cubed,” he added.

Stark Logistics, a company partly owned by Kallas’s husband Arvo Hallik, has arranged shipments worth millions of dollars to Russia since the start of the conflict in Ukraine, according to the Estonian newspaper Eesti Päevaleht.

Its CEO, Kristjan Laag, insisted back in August that the company “had practically stopped transporting to Russia, but had not completely ceased operations” and assured that the “current few runs are the last loads.”

The Estonian prime minister issued a statement after the news made national headlines in her country earlier this year.

“I’ve always tried to keep my work and family life separate, but now they have come together, or rather, a question has arisen about the activities of my husband’s business partner.

“The truth is that I am married, happily married, to Arvo Hallik. However, I do not have any insight into his business activities,” she told national media.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán shake hands prior to their talks on the sidelines of the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, China, on Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2023. (Grigory Sysoyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Orbán, as the sole EU leader attending the One Road, One Belt conference in Beijing, met with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday to discuss ongoing bilateral agreements between the two nations.

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The pair were snapped shaking hands in the Chinese capital — the first photographed handshake between Putin and an EU leader since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February last year.

The meeting was also criticized by U.S. Ambassador to Hungary David Pressman who accused Orbán of “pleading for business deals” while Russia continues its aggression in Ukraine.

“Hungary’s leader chooses to stand with a man whose forces are responsible for crimes against humanity in Ukraine, and alone among our Allies,” he posted on X.

The Hungarian prime minister’s political director, Balázs Orbán, hit back at Pressman on the same platform.

“If the question is who’s doing business with the Russians, the Americans should turn down the volume. They are buying more than twice as much nuclear fuel alone as they used to, and we have a whole list of them,” he wrote.

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