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PM Orbán envisions nation state revival

July 31st, 2012

In a comment on Viktor Orbán’s weekend speech, in which the PM blamed Brussels for the mishandling of the economic crisis, pundits on both left and right warn of the perils of the revival of national sovereignty.

At the annual Fidesz summer university at Tusnádfürdő (Băile Tuşnad) in Transylvania, PM Viktor Orbán said that the European Union obstructs the efforts of its member states in their efforts to tackle the economic crisis. Such inflexibility from Brussels increases popular discontent and leads to the ‘renaissance of the nation state’, Orbán continued. He added that the Central European countries seem to be more successful in overcoming their problems, so they should not copy western European models, even if “we are in the same boat with the old EU member states”.

In Népszabadság, Edit Inotai contends that Orbán is wrong to blame Brussels for the economic crisis. The most important EU decisions related to the crisis have been taken by the European Council, composed of the heads of sovereign member states, and not by the European Commission. If the EU is ineffective, the left-wing columnist argues, it is not because it wants to weaken nation states, but rather because it leaves too much space for their representatives.

Orbán’s main point can hardly be denied. Europe is in a deep financial and economic crisis,” Gábor Stier writes in Magyar Nemzet. The pro-government international analyst agrees that the new member states have no reason to mindlessly imitate the economic models of Western consumer societies. Stier believes that Brussels’ reluctance to accept the unusual policies worked out by Central European countries creates the impression that the West still looks down on the East. “In such a context, it is not at all surprising that European nations do not want to have tighter cooperation, and that the crisis has brought about the revival of national feelings,” Stier continues.

Nonetheless, he finds PM Orbán’s message problematic, since the premier focused too much on the idea of national sovereignty. Although Orbán warned against cutting ties with the EU and the West, and emphasized the need for a healthy balance between further integration and independence in the pursuit of national interest, Stier fears his followers may misinterpret the PM’s speech as a call to lay unnecessary value on the revival of national sovereignty.

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