In the EU and NATO but Close to Russia — Post-Crimea Attitudes in Bulgaria and Hungary


This article focuses on attitudes towards Russia in Bulgaria and Hungary — two EU and NATO countries with special relations to Russia — in the wake of Russia’s annexation of Crimea and military intervention in support of separatists in the Donbas region of Eastern Ukraine in 2014 and onwards. We begin by putting the relations to Russia in a historical perspective. We then set out to account for support for Russia with the help of survey data from the Post-Crimea Barometer (2015) — a unique survey focusing on geopolitical orientation (East versus West) and attitudes towards Russia in Latvia, Hungary and Bulgaria in a post-Crimea setting. Latvia is a special case because of its large Russian minority population; we therefore confine our comparison to Bulgaria and Hungary. The findings suggest that long-term attachment to Russia is decisive in Bulgaria. In Hungary, long-term attachment to Russia is important, but not sufficient to account for post-Crimea attitudes towards Russia.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • Bohlen, Celestine (1991), ‘Hungarians Are Thriving, Gloomily’, New York Times, 24 June; available at:

  • Borhi, László 2004, Hungary in the Cold War, 1945–1956: between the United States and the Soviet Union, Budapest and New York, CEU Press.

  • Brzezinski, Zbigniew K. (1965), The Soviet Bloc: Unity and Conflict, New York, Praeger.

  • Crampton, Richard J. (1987), A Short History of Modern Bulgaria, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

  • Deegan-Krause, Kevin (2013), ‘Full and Partial Cleavages’, in Sten Berglund et al, eds, Handbook of Political Change in Eastern Europe, Cheltenham, Edward Elgar.

  • Ekman, Joakim, Sten Berglund and Kjetil Duvold (2015), Post-Crimea Barometer: Attitudes towards Russia in Bulgaria, Hungary and Latvia, Centre for Baltic and East European Studies (CBEES), Södertörn University.

  • Gallup International (2015), The Political Process and Public Opinion in Bulgaria in 2014, Yearly Review, Sofia.

  • Gati, Charles (2006), Failed Illusions: Moscow, Washington, Budapest and the 1956 Hungarian Revolt, Palo Alto, Stanford University Press.

  • Hungary Today (2015). ‘Hungary Marks National Cohesion Day in Remembrance of the Tragic Losses Brought on by Trianon’ 4 June: available at:

  • Institute for the History of the Hungarian Revolution (2003); available at

  • Karasimeonov, Georgi and Milen Lyubenov (2013), ‘Bulgaria’, in in Sten Berglund et al, eds, Handbook of Political Change in Eastern Europe, Cheltenham, Edward Elgar.

  • Karasimeonov, Georgi (2010), The Party System in Bulgaria, Sofia, NIK.

  • Karasimeonov, Georgi (1999), ‘Between Democracy and Authoritarianism in Bulgaria’, in Kay Lawson, Andrea Römmele and Georgi Karasimeonov, eds., Cleavages, Parties and Voters: Studies from Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Romania, Westport, Praeger, pp. 37–47.

  • Markov, Georgi (1993), From the History of the Bulgarian People and State, Sofia, Pelikon Alfa.

  • Moser, Charles A. (1994), Theory and History of the Bulgarian Transition, Sofia, Free Initiative Foundation.

  • Orbán, Viktor (2014), Full text of Viktor Orbán’s speech at Băile Tuşnad (Tusnádfürdő) of 26 July 2014; available at:

  • Pammer, Martin (2006), Austria and the Hungarian Revolution 1956, Austrian Press & Information Service; available at:

  • Radev, Simeon (2000), Builders of Contemporary Bulgaria, Vol. 3, Sofia, St. Kliment Ohridski University Press.

  • Tóka, Gábor and Sebastian Popa (2013), ‘Hungary’´, in Sten Berglund et al, eds. Handbook of Political Change in Eastern Europe, Cheltenham, Edward Elgar.


Journal + Issues