43 percent of the Hungarian public have a positive, while 36 percent have a negative opinion of Russia. In Central European comparison this places Hungary among the centrist countries in terms of “friendship” with Russia, according to a poll conducted by Nézőpont Intézet in ten Central European countries.
Central Europe’s attitudes towards Russia fall into three main categories, the survey reveals. Public opinion in Poland, Czechia and Austria is critical towards Russia. In the case of Poland and Czechia, this is mainly due to historical reasons, while in the case of Austria, the country’s neutrality is responsible for a reserved approach toward great powers in general. Hungary along with Slovenia, Slovakia, Romania and Croatia are among the countries with a centrist public opinion. In these countries respondents with a positive opinion of Russia form the majority, however, the proportion of those who have a negative image of Russia due to historical or geopolitical reasons (Hungary and Romania, respectively) is also high. The most Russian-friendly countries in Central Europe are Bulgaria and Serbia, mainly due to their cultural and religious proximity.
Support for closer political ties is directly linked to how Russia is perceived overall. It is an interesting difference, however, that among countries where public opinion is critical of Russia, Poland has the highest percentage (39) of those seeking closer political ties, while in the case of Czechia, most likely due to current political issues, the number of respondents supporting closer political relations is less than of those who oppose them. In Hungary, the proportion of those in favor of closer political ties and those against is balanced (25 and 27 percent, respectively) while the relative majority (34 percent) are in favor of maintaining the current status.
The survey has revealed that public opinion in Central European countries is more uniformly geared toward strengthening economic ties with Russia. On average, 60 percent of respondents support closer economic relations and only 13 percent reject the idea. Hungarian public opinion is much more in favor of deepening rather than loosening economic ties with Russia, but among the countries that are otherwise critical of Russia, public opinion in Austria and Poland also favour the deepening of economic relations. 53 percent of Poles, 43 percent of Hungarians and 42 percent of Austrians support a closer economic cooperation with Russia.
The poll was conducted by Nézőpont Intézet between 1-26 February and 6 May – 14 June 2019 in ten Central European countries involving 1,000 respondents in each. Samples are representative of the 18+ population in terms of gender, age and region.