Ties between West, Russia must take Central Europe’s view into account, says PM Orban

Brussels, November 20 (MTI) – The point of view Central Europe must be taken into consideration in the ongoing process of strengthening ties between the West and Russia, Prime Minister Viktor Orban told the press during the NATO summit in Lisbon on Saturday.

“A great historic alliance is developing these days between the western world and Russia,” Orban said before a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council at the summit.

    This process is very important to Central Europe because the region “did not benefit but suffered” from several past reconciliations, Orban said.

    An increasing number of European Union countries are developing serious economic ties and investment cooperation with Russia. NATO does not consider Moscow an enemy anymore but a partner, and the Russians want to gain membership in the World Trade Organization. “These motions will sooner or later meet” and a historic alliance will develop between the western world and Russia, Orban said.

    The interests of Central Europe must be taken into consideration because they concern the region’s independence, room for economic manoeuvre, autonomy and sovereignty, the Prime Minister said. Central Europe must get due attention in this globally important reconciliation process, he added. Guarantees must be provided in many areas, from defence to trade policy, Orban said.

    Commenting on other topics of the NATO summit, Orban said the existence of a missile defence system does not make it unnecessary to maintain nuclear deterrence.  ”It’s not enough to have a shield, one also needs a sword,” he added.

    Orban said the Turkish-Greek conflict in Cyprus hinders the tightening of relations between NATO and the EU. “This is a serious challenge to all EU presidencies,” he added.

    Commenting on Afghanistan Orban said Hungary had increased its involvement in the mission and the allies have now come to an agreement that “nobody will quit” unilaterally from the joint mission.

    Regarding the Balkans Orban said that work has not yet been completed. The situation has improved from ten years ago but some of the Balkan states are still without clear perspective for the future. The EU has many tasks in this matter, but so does NATO, he said, adding that the alliance must be expanded to cover the whole of the Balkans.