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Hungary is seen as firmly anchored in the West

September 15th, 2014

Two pro-government pundits agree that it would be foolish of Hungary to hesitate between East and West. They warn against the temptation to overemphasise disagreements with Hungary’s western allies.

In Heti Válasz (print edition), Gergely Pröhle, Deputy State Secretary of the Ministry of Human Resources lambasts conservative authors who have shown “strange pro-Russian feelings recently.” Of course the Russian artistic and literary heritage is among the best jewels of mankind, he asserts, but those feelings have been discovered by some in the course of recent political developments and are accompanied in right-wing talk shows by vehement anti-American statements. This is in part due to an anti-globalisation tendency, he explains. People may even be right in asking why Washington has to be the place where new concerns are voiced every day about the state of Hungarian democracy. Nevertheless, spectacular pro-Russian and anti-American feelings in Central Europe make an extremely unfortunate mix, Pröhle explains. Russia certainly plays an important role in our economic and commercial relations. But Hungary followed its best interests in joining the European Union and NATO and must never forget that the western alliance is the only one that can guarantee its security.

In his Magyar Hírlap editorial, Csaba Szajlai writes Hungary is not simply a beneficiary of European Union subsidies, but has become actually dependent on them. He calls that a “positive dependency”, without which Hungary would have been in recession last year and this year’s almost 4% growth (in the first two quarters) would have been a lot more modest. 90% of government and local community investment is due to payments from EU funds. But cultural and strategic considerations are just as important, Szajlai continues. It is much more advisable and secure for Hungary to belong to a 500,000,000 strong economic and political community than to be independent but weak. The question is not whether Hungary belongs to the East to the West, because “institutionally, socially and culturally speaking we are part of the Western community of nations”, Szajlai argues. He concludes by calling for a better use of EU funds rather than blaming the Union even for our own mistakes. But first and foremost, he warns, the Union is not just about money. “People join clubs in order to feel better”.


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