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Reflections on new EU leaders

September 2nd, 2014

Analysts from both right and left agree that European leaders wanted to send strong symbolic messages through the appointment of Donald Tusk and Federica Mogherini to top EU jobs. A conservative columnist believes Polish PM Tusk’s appointment is good news for Hungary. His left-wing counterpart cautions the Left against harsh anti-Russian rhetoric.

The EU deal to appoint Donald Tusk and Federica Mogherini to top EU positions is the result of horse trade, Gyula Hegyi comments in Népszava. By electing the centre-right, pro-market Polish Premier as Chairman of the EU Council and selecting the former Communist Federica Mogherini as EU foreign policy chief, the EU wanted to find a balance between the left and right and at the same time promote gender equality. While PM Tusk is known for his tough and uncompromising stance towards Russia in the current Ukraine crisis, Minister Federica Mogherini is more compromising towards Moscow, Hegyi remarks. In an aside, Hegyi notes that the Hungarian Left should be more cautious in foreign affairs, and should abstain from promoting a new Cold War through sending harsh anti-Russian messages which, according to Hegyi, do not reflect the views of average Hungarians.

In Magyar Nemzet, István Pataky maintains that without the Ukraine crisis, PM Tusk would have had no chance to be appointed as EU Council President. Mr Tusk has become an important actor on the European scene due to his “image of a pit-bull who fights Russia”, the conservative columnist believes and adds that Federica Mogherini was picked in order to counterbalance PM Tusk’s anti-Russian stance. As for the consequences for Hungary, Pataky contends that the election of PM Tusk shows the growing importance of Central Europe and serves the interests of Hungary as well, despite the disagreement between the Polish and Hungarian governments on Russia.

Mos Maiorum’s Ferenc Hörcher suggests that the appointment of Tusk and Mogherini reflects the EU’s wishy-washy approach to decision making. The conservative philosopher believes that Mogherini lacks the necessary expertise in EU foreign affairs, while Polish PM Tusk has become unpopular even in his own country. Hörcher finds it sad that despite the success of Euro-sceptic far right parties in France and Britain at the EU Parliamentary elections in May, European leaders continue to elect politicians without real charisma to the top EU jobs.

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