Czechs, Poles criticise Hungary's Orban amid divisions over Ukraine war

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PRAGUE - 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 Mr 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,” Mr Fiala added.

Soccer scarf

This week Mr Orban further annoyed his neighbours by wearing a a “Greater Hungary” scarf to a soccer match - which showed territory now in Austria, Slovakia, Romania, Croatia and Serbia as part of Hungary, which drew sharp criticism from neighbours.

At the meeting in the eastern Slovak city of Kosice, Slovak Prime Minister Eduard Heger gave Mr Orban a Slovak scarf, saying on Facebook he had noticed Mr Orban’s was an old one.

Asked about the issue at a news conference, Mr Orban said: “Take it easy.”

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 o...

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