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Waiting for Merkel

January 26th, 2015

As opposition groupings plan to hold demonstrations to welcome Chancellor Merkel in Budapest in February, commentators believe she will concentrate on relations with Russia rather than internal Hungarian affairs.

On ATV, political analyst Tamás Boros calls planned visits by Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and President Vladimir Putin of Russia important events because Hungary has  received few significant international visits over the past years. A “mutual outbidding of dream-scenarios” is underway between the two sides, he suggests, with the opposition expecting Merkel to scorn Prime Minister Orbán, and the government side claiming that Merkel obviously agrees with Orbán’s ‘Eastern Opening’. Boros believes that the real contents of the talks will remain hidden even after the summit takes place on February 2nd.

On HVG online, Gáspár Miklós Tamás ridicules opposition plans to stage demonstrations to welcome the German Chancellor and beg her “Auntie, please deliver us from Orbán”. In a similar way, he continues, opposition circles entertain “the bizarre cult of a friendly public servant” (an obvious hint at US Chargé d’Affaires Andre Goodfriend) which the philosopher interpreters as proof of an irresistible desire to depend on a foreign power once there are problems with our own government. Such hopes in connection with Merkel are totally vain, the Marxist philosopher suggests, because “Auntie Angela” is only concerned about the war in Ukraine. As a naive observer, Tamás admits, he took a series of protests last autumn as signs of some non-conformism and imagination at last, “but in actual fact, we have nothing here, except Auntie – and only for two days.” (The chancellor is actually planning to spend one single day in Hungary.)

In Népszabadság, Gábor Miklós thinks it would be futile to hope that the Hungarian government could mediate between Russia and the European Union. Chancellor Merkel has made her own opening to Moscow by offering a customs union in exchange for peace in Ukraine. Germany and Europe need peace and cooperation with Russia but cannot tolerate Empire building through annexation. Therefore Miklós believes Hungary should unequivocally follow the line of solidarity with the rest of the Union. Orbán probably could not reject receiving Russian President Putin two weeks after Merkel’s visit, he thinks. He may also get “little gifts” from him, for instance a promise of cheaper gas supplies. But he will not be given any role in solving Russia’s big diplomatic problems, Miklós concludes.


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