Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban says he hopes relations between the European Union and Russia will improve in the near future and encouraged all parties to increase cooperation.
In comments on February 2 following talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Budapest, Orban said: "We hope that in the very near future, we will be welcoming new, good relations between Russia and the European Union."
He added that “anti-Russian” policies have become "very fashionable" in Western Europe, making economic cooperation more difficult, but that he sees a shift in attitudes.
"The changes currently taking place are creating more favorable conditions for European-Russian, and in particular Hungarian-Russian, cooperation. I am looking with hope upon future years and think the main conditions for peace in Europe are well-balanced contacts between Russia and the EU,” Orban said.
Talks between the two leaders come at time of heightened worries within the EU about the views of U.S. President Donald Trump, who has expressed disdain for the bloc and a desire for closer relations with Moscow.
The visit marked one of the few times Putin has received an invitation to visit an EU country since Moscow's illegal 2014 takeover of Ukraine's Crimea Peninsula and the introduction of EU sanctions against Moscow over its interference in Ukraine.
Also speaking in Budapest on February 2, Putin addressed the renewed fighting in eastern Ukraine, saying he hoped "sober-minded" authorities in Ukraine will prevent the situation from deteriorating further.
"I hope very much the sober-minded forces in Ukraine and the people interested in the solution of such issues by political means will not let the situation in southeastern Ukraine develop along the worst-case scenario and, on the contrary, will focus attention and efforts on fulfilling the Minsk accords," he said.
WATCH: Putin Blames Kyiv For Escalation In Eastern Ukraine
Germany and France both insist that sanctions against Russia should not be lifted without progress by Moscow on implementing the Minsk agreements, which are aimed at bringing an end to the war between Kyiv and Russia-backed separatists.
Over the past several days, fighting between government forces and the separatists has flared, with Ukrainian officials reporting the deaths of seven soldiers.
With reporting by Interfax and TASS