Jarosław Kaczyński, the leader of Poland’s ruling party, has criticised Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, a close and longstanding ally, for his approach to the war in Ukraine. The Polish leader warned that they “cannot cooperate” with Hungary anymore unless it changes tack.
“I must admit that it is all very sad,” said Kaczyński in an interview with Radio Plus today. “My assessment is unequivocal: negative.”
“When Prime Minister Orbán says that he does not see exactly what happened in Bucha [where evidence of Russian mass killings of civilians have been discovered], he must be advised to go to an ophthalmologist,” continued the Law and Justice (PiS) party chairman. “It is disappointing.”
“We cannot continue to cooperate [with Orbán] as we have so far if it continues like this,” said Kaczyński today. “[A positive] change [in relations] would be a very good thing, but only if Viktor Orbán changes.”
On Wednesday, when asked about Bucha, Orbán said that all claims need to be independently verified because “we live in a time of mass manipulation”, reports Polsat News. That hinted at Russian claims that evidence of civilian killings there has been manufactured by Ukraine.
Orbán also said that he would block any attempts to impose EU sanctions on Russian gas and oil, as they would “kill Hungary”. By contrast, the Polish government has pledged to end all Russian energy imports this year and has pushed for an EU-wide embargo.
In his victory speech after winning a fourth term on Sunday, Orbán identified Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky – who has been critical of Hungary’s approach to the war – as one of the “opponents” he had to overcome in winning re-election.
Someone should probably start worrying about Hungary… in the past 24 hours or so Orban:
– criticised @ZelenskyyUa
– denied the Bucha massacre
– summoned the Ukrainian ambassador
– invited Putin to Hungary
— Exen 🇵🇱 (@Exen) April 6, 2022
Kaczyński’s comments today mark the clearest criticism so far of Hungary’s position on the Ukraine war by a Polish government figure. While PiS has condemned Western countries – particularly Germany – for their approach to Russia, they have so far remained reluctant to criticise their Hungarian allies.
PiS and Orbán’s Fidesz, both national conservative parties, have long been close ideological allies. They have also cooperated in opposing attempts by the European Union to introduce sanctions for rule-of-law violations and, in 2015-16, to distribute refugees between member states.
Recent years have also seen Kaczyński and Orbán seek to forge closer links between right-wing and far-right leaders in the EU, including France’s Marine Le Pen and Italy’s Matteo Salvini. That has resulted in PiS facing criticism from its domestic opposition for forming alliances with parties sympathetic towards the Kremlin.
Macron has accused Poland’s prime minister of “interfering” in France’s election in favour of fellow “extreme right” politician Le Pen.
Morawiecki this week criticised Macron for holding talks with Putin, which he likened to “negotiating with Hitler” https://t.co/vRTnleuGKU
— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) April 7, 2022
Daniel Tilles is editor-in-chief of Notes from Poland. He has written on Polish affairs for a wide range of publications, including Foreign Policy, POLITICO Europe, EUobserver and Dziennik Gazeta Prawna.