US State Secretary Mike Pompeo’s quest to scare Hungary away from dealing with Russia and China appears to have turned sour, as Budapest said it’s fed up with lectures about its foreign policy.
Pompeo is on a five-day massive charm offensive in Eastern Europe seeking to “make up” for the time the US “shunned” the nations of the region “in a way that drove them to fill a vacuum with folks who didn’t share our values,” as he himself put it.
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His first stop was Hungary, a country that no US State Secretary had visited since 2011. And Budapest has been dangerously leaning towards Moscow and Beijing, according to Washington.
“We must not let [Russian President Vladimir] Putin drive a wedge between friends in NATO,” Pompeo stated passionately, at a joint press conference with the Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto, claiming that the US and its allies “know all too well from history” that “that Russia will never be a friend to the freedom and sovereignty of smaller nations.”
He did not focus his attention solely on the Kremlin, though, and promptly warned his Hungarian counterpart about the dangers of working with China, by saying that “Beijing’s handshake comes with strings … that will leave Hungary indebted both economically and politically.”
Szijjarto retorted to Pompeo’s lecturing that “the world is not going to be a better place if some countries spend their time intervening in the internal political affairs of other countries.” He insisted that Budapest can have transparent relations with Moscow and Beijing and the West, and said it was an “enormous hypocrisy” that Hungary is singled out for its ties with Moscow.
“There is a lot of criticism on the surface, and below the surface there is a lot of trade between Europe and Russia in billions of euros,” he said.
“Cooperation with Russia or China that does not harm us,” he added, explaining that any such economic ties do not make Hungary a less reliable NATO partner.