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Russia's relations with Hungary warm as ties with West chill

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    Israel was not present in the UN vote over Russia's annexation of the Crimea.

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    Hungary summons U.S. envoy over McCain's 'neo-fascist' comment

    BUDAPEST Wed Dec 3, 2014 3:32pm EST

    Senator John McCain (R-AZ) speaks during a hearing about border security by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington July 9, 2014. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

    Senator John McCain (R-AZ) speaks during a hearing about border security by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington July 9, 2014.

    Credit: Reuters/Joshua Roberts
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    (Reuters) - Hungary's Foreign Ministry summoned the U.S. envoy on Wednesday after U.S. Senator John McCain called Prime Minister Viktor Orban a "neo-fascist dictator."

    The United States has become increasingly critical of Orban's government, accusing him of getting too close to Russia since East-West tensions rose over Ukraine.

    Hungary's foreign minister called in Chargé d'Affaires André Goodfriend over McCain's comments, made in the U.S. Senate during a political spat over the appointment of Hollywood producer Colleen Bell as U.S. Ambassador in Budapest.

    McCain, a Republican, told the Senate on Tuesday: "I am not against political appointees ... I understand how the game is played, but ... (Hungary) ... is on the verge of ceding its sovereignty to a neo-fascist dictator, getting in bed with Vladimir Putin, and we're going to send the producer of 'The Bold and The Beautiful' as the ambassador."

    Bell has since been approved in the Senate and is expected to take up her position in Hungary.

    "The Hungarian government ... rejects the words of Senator John McCain regarding the Hungarian Prime Minister and the relationship of Hungary and Russia," Foreign Ministry State Secretary Levente Magyar told national news agency MTI.

    Noting Orban's Fidesz party has won parliamentary, European, and local elections, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto told MTI: "Hungarian citizens ... articulated a very clear opinion that everyone ought to respect."

    He added that the Hungarian embassy in Washington would contact McCain's office to inquire about the Senator's words and their background.

    McCain's office in Washington reaffirmed to Reuters that the senator had been referring to Orban when he used the words "neo-fascist dictator."

    The U.S. State Department distanced the U.S. administration from the remarks. "I think it's no surprise that there are a number of views Senator McCain has espoused that we don't share," Spokeswoman Marie Harf told a regular news briefing.

    The United States, as well as European Union partners, has also criticized Orban for what they see as weakening democratic checks and balances and attacking non-governmental organizations.

    (Reporting by Marton Dunai; Additional reporting by David Storey in Washington; editing by Ralph Boulton, Ruth Pitchford)
    Hungary summons U.S. envoy over McCain's 'neo-fascist' comment | Reuters

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  • Russia's relations with Hungary warm as ties with West chill

    As long as we still have Bulgaria all is well.

    Russia's relations with Hungary warm as ties with West chill
    By Gabriela Baczynska November 19, 2014 2:20 PM
    Russia's relations with Hungary warm as ties with West chill
    By Gabriela Baczynska
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    MOSCOW (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin hailed Hungary as one of Russia's most important partners on Wednesday, giving his seal of approval to a budding relationship with a Soviet-era ally that is worrying some of its European Union allies.

    While the Ukraine crisis is straining ties between many EU capitals and Moscow, Hungary - which relies heavily on Russia for natural gas supplies - is enjoying a rapprochement with the Kremlin.

    "We share the attitude of the Hungarian leadership aimed at growing constructive dialogue, jointly carrying out planned very large investment projects," Putin told a Kremlin ceremony at which Hungary's new ambassador presented his credentials.

    He said Russia considered Budapest "one of the most important political, trade and economic partners".

    A senior Hungarian official told Reuters on Wednesday that the country aimed to start building its stretch of the Russian-backed South Stream gas pipeline next year.

    By contrast Brussels and Washington, which have slapped sanctions on Russian individuals and businesses over Ukraine, say the pipeline will entrench the Kremlin's energy stranglehold on eastern Europe. They worry Budapest's support for the project is a sign Hungary is drifting into Russia's orbit.

    Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto also struck an upbeat tone after talks on Wednesday in Moscow with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, calling for a restoration of "pragmatic, mutually beneficial cooperation between Europe and Russia".

    Szijjarto pointedly said the South Stream pipeline would contribute to energy security in central and eastern Europe.


    The West imposed the sanctions after Russia annexed Crimea in March and tightened them over its support for separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine. Budapest has said it will stand by the sanctions and stick up for Ukraine's sovereignty.

    However, it has also stopped shipping gas to Ukraine that was helping Kiev to evade a Russian blockade, and has signed a 10 billion euro ($12.5 billion) deal for a Russian-designed nuclear power plant.

    Prime Minister Viktor Orban says he is not returning Hungary to the orbit of Moscow, which exerted considerable power when the country was part of the Soviet bloc. Instead, Orban says he is being pragmatic, as Russia is Hungary's main trade partner outside the 28-nation EU. Polls show a majority of Hungarians back his policies.

    "Our common task is to prevent a split of Europe and prevent a situation in which we have rivals, not allies, in Europe," Szijjarto said.

    Lavrov said it was reasonable for any country to follow "its national interests first and foremost", praising Hungary for not promoting "Russophobe" policies in the EU and NATO.

    (Editing by Timothy Heritage and David Stamp)