Wary of Vote but Eager for Energy

ReutersZubkov and Gyurcsany speaking Friday near a Hungarian crown in Budapest.
BUDAPEST -- Hungary will continue to seek closer ties with Russia despite doubts about the fairness of the State Duma elections there, the Hungarian prime minister said.

"I am committed to improving cooperation between Russia and Hungary despite any arguments," Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany said Friday, after hosting a meeting with Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov.

Gyurcsany acknowledged that there were differences in the "political thinking" between the two countries but also pointed to Hungary's reliance on Russian oil and natural gas.

"Hungary is among the countries in the EU which depend most on energy supplies from Russia," Gyurcsany said. "We are practicing pragmatic politics ... which take into account the joint interests of Hungary and Russia."

Earlier in the week, Hungarian Foreign Minister Kinga Goncz echoed concerns voiced by the European Union, the United States and others, saying she wondered whether the Duma elections "complied with all the requirements met by well-functioning democracies."

For his part, Zubkov sought to assure Russia's European partners about the dependability of its energy shipments. "Russia is a reliable partner, and Russia will fulfill all of its obligations," he said.