Czechs, Poles criticise Hungary's Orban amid divisions over Ukraine war
Only Hungary and Turkey among the 30 NATO allies have still to approve the Swedish and Finnish applications. Despite such tensions, the Visegrad Grouping remains an important forum within the EU, Morawiecki added.
The leaders of Poland and the Czech Republic publicly criticised Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Thursday, laying bare tensions within central Europe's Visegrad Group that have been exacerbated by the war in Ukraine.
Unity within the Visegrad Group, set up in 1991 as the region emerged from decades of communist rule, has been sorely tested by the war, with Orban opposing harsher European sanctions on Russia including on energy supplies. By contrast, Hungary's three Visegrad neighbours - which also include Slovakia - are among the EU's toughest critics of Russian President Vladimir Putin's actions in Ukraine
"This is not the best of times for the (Visegrad) format, and Hungary's different attitudes are significantly influencing and complicating the situation," Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala said as he headed for a meeting of Visegrad leaders in Slovakia. "I make no secret of the fact that the views of the Hungarian prime minister, some of which can even be described as provocative, do not help this cooperation to proceed as well as in the past," Fiala added.
This week Orban further annoyed his neighbours by wearing a scarf to a soccer match that depicted some Ukrainian territory as part of Hungary, prompting Kyiv to summon the Hungarian ambassador to lodge a protest. Fiala said on Wednesday the "Greater Hungary" scarf - which also showed territory now in Austria, Slovakia, Romania, Croatia and Serbia as part of Hungary - would be discussed at Thursday's summit gathering in the Slovak city of Kosice.
Poland, an ally of Hungary in their past disputes with the EU over the rule of law and human rights, has also turned more critical of Orban because of his stance on Ukraine. Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki took Orban to task on Thursday over Hungary's failure so far to ratify an application by Sweden and Finland to join NATO in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
"I will tell (Orban) directly that for Poland this is one of the most important changes in international law, that is the accession of Finland and Sweden," Morawiecki said. Only Hungary and Turkey among the 30 NATO allies have still to approve the Swedish and Finnish applications.
Despite such tensions, the Visegrad Grouping remains an important forum within the EU, Morawiecki added. "We can't allow the Visegrad Group to fall apart. It is a structure which protects the interests of our countries against other interest groups from western Europe," he said.
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