Polish official warns Hungary must change its policies on Russia

Once a firm ally, Poland has increasingly taken a hard stance against Hungary

editor: John Cody
Source: Jakub Kumoch/Facebook.

Polish government officials are once again attacking Hungary, with President Andrzej Duda’s chief of staff, Jakub Kumoch, saying that Hungary must change its policies on Russia if it wants a reset on Hungarian-Polish relations.

“Hungary must change their policies if they wish to be a credible partner,” said Kumoch.

When Kumoch was interviewed on TVN24, he was asked about Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki’s intention to rebuild cooperation with Hungary because “Poles are now more ready for this than they were back in the spring.”

Kumoch replied that he was always willing to cooperate but that rebuilding could not be unconditional, according to Polish news site Portal Samorzadowy.

Kumoch said the main issue for Poland is security. “Security considerations account for 95 percent of our foreign policy. So if a country’s foreign policy is not in line with our security considerations, then that means there must be consequences in relations with that country,” he said. According to Kumoch, Morawiecki was expressing hope that the situation would change. 

Morawiecki notably said in August of this year that Hungary and Poland had “parted ways,” due to Hungary’s stance on the conflict in Ukraine. Hungary has supported nearly all sanctions on Russia but has carved out a number of exceptions related to energy. Unlike Poland, Hungary is extremely reliant on Russian energy, with Hungarian officials arguing the country and its industry would collapse if Russian gas and oil were entirely cut off.

Hungary has also disallowed shipments of weapons through its territory and refused to provide arms to Ukraine. Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has called for an end to sanctions on Russia by the end of the year, arguing they do more to harm Europeans than Russians.

Kumoch confirmed that Poland would not be changing its stance in relation to Hungary. He noted that at a recent summit of the Visegrad Group, Duda confirmed that Poland was committed to helping Ukraine by delivering military assistance. 

The difference of view between Hungary and the rest of the Visegrád Four was clear.

“Czechia, Poland, and Slovakia spoke with one voice. Hungary talked about peace. Hungary was told that we are also for peace but one that is just,” said Kumoch.

He concluded by saying that “though we still want to be friends with Hungary, Poland and the other Visegrád Four states feel let down by its stance on Russian aggression in Ukraine.”

Back in September, Morawiecki told portal wpolityce.pl that Poland wants to return to cooperation with Hungary in the Visegrád Four format. He later explained that Poland and Hungary remain divided on the war in Ukraine but that Hungary and the other members of the Visegrád Four are Poland’s natural allies inside the EU.

Both Hungary and Poland are under extreme threat from being cut off from billions in EU funding, with Brussels accusing the countries of disregarding the rule of law and implementing illegal judicial reforms.

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