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May 27 – June 2, 2024
Belarus-West relations

Minsk-Budapest-Kremlin: Searching for Their “Trojan Horse” in the EU

The situation has not changed
Minsk-Budapest-Kremlin: Searching for Their “Trojan Horse” in the EU
photo: elements.envato.com

The Belarusian regime hopes to leverage its cooperation with Hungary to block new EU sanctions. Additionally, the Kremlin and Minsk have involved Budapest in a strategic disinformation campaign: calls for a ceasefire and negotiations between Ukraine and Russia attempt to discredit the significance of the peace summit in Switzerland and conceal preparations for a new large-scale assault.

On May 29, a Hungarian delegation led by Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto arrived in Minsk to participate in the intergovernmental commission meeting. The talks focused on further developing relations between Minsk and Budapest.

The head of the Belarusian foreign affairs agency, Sergey Aleinik, reassured his Hungarian counterpart that Belarus is a reliable partner for Hungary and that Budapest can count on Minsk in terms of energy security.

Minsk hopes to attract Hungarian investments and localize manufacturing in Belarus. The country purportedly offers all the necessary conditions: Belarus is ready to provide Hungarian companies with facilities aimed at not only the markets of the two countries but also those of many EAEU and CIS states. Moreover, Minsk is developing strategic ties with many countries with which Budapest also cooperates. According to Aleinik, additional bonuses for Hungary should include access to relatively cheap Russian energy resources, the vast EAEU market, and the upcoming entry into the SCO—factors Budapest can use for political purposes.

Furthermore, Minsk proposes organizing meetings of the Belarusian-Hungarian working group on scientific and technological cooperation in 2024. These meetings will thoroughly explore collaboration opportunities in energy issues, medicine, biotechnologies, pharmaceuticals, chemical technologies, and new materials. In response, Szijjarto stated that Hungary is prepared to develop relations with Belarus, although there are constraints due to EU sanctions. However, there are areas unaffected by these sanctions, particularly agriculture, industry, pharmaceuticals, and food security.

Nevertheless, Hungary will not support EU decisions that negatively impact the country’s national interests, its economy, and the development of contacts with Belarus.

The Hungarian Foreign Minister refrained from making specific promises about establishing Hungarian enterprises in the country, although his delegation included leaders from 24 Hungarian companies.

For Hungary, energy security is critically important—especially the supply of oil through Belarus. Currently, 80% of Russian oil reaches Hungary via the “Druzhba” pipeline. Hungary’s dependency on oil transit through Belarus has further increased after Croatia quintupled its transit fee.

During the visit, a roadmap for cooperation between the Belarusian and Hungarian nuclear power plants was signed. It outlines the main areas of joint work for 2024-2025, including personnel training, scheduled maintenance, and radioactive waste management. The Foreign Minister also spoke about cooperation in space, although he did not specify what this involves. It is known only that the Hungarian side also plans to train another astronaut.

Aleinik and Szijjarto also reiterated calls for immediate negotiations on Ukraine in a tone that complements the Kremlin. Budapest opposes the deployment of EU and NATO units in Ukraine and asserts that the path to peace involves a ceasefire. This means freezing the conflict considering the “new territorial realities” consistently reminded by Moscow. Subsequently, according to Budapest, peace negotiations should be held during which these “realities” will be legalized as Russian territories. Naturally, Minsk is assigned the role of a venue for these negotiations.

However, against the backdrop of nuclear escalation threats and increasing migration pressure from Minsk and Moscow, these statements seem more like elements of strategic disinformation. They are aimed at torpedoing the peace summit in Switzerland and distracting from preparations for a new large-scale offensive against Ukraine.

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Once a week, in coordination with a group of prominent Belarusian analysts, we provide analytical commentaries on the most topical and relevant issues, including the behind-the-scenes processes occurring in Belarus. These commentaries are available in Belarusian, Russian, and English.
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