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March 15 national holiday in the shadow of the Ukraine war

March 15th, 2022

A conservative and a left-wing commentator reflect on Hungary’s 1848 revolution and war of independence in the light of the Ukraine war.

In Magyar Nemzet, Ádám Petri-Lukács writes that Hungarians should be concerned with national sovereignty and security first, rather than with world freedom. He admits that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a barbaric act and welcomes Hungarian efforts to help refugees fleeing the war. He thinks, however, that symbolic ‘ritual performances’ are empty stunts that do not provide food and shelter for those in need. The main lesson Petri-Lukács draws from both the Ukraine war and the 1848 Hungarian revolution is that security and peace can be achieved on a national level rather than on a global one. He also considers, however, that Hungary’s NATO membership and ‘its unwavering commitment to the North Atlantic alliance’ is a strong guarantee of Hungary’s security.

Népszava’s Róbert Friss suggests that the government’s ‘strategic calm’ (an expression used by PM Orbán in the early days of the war) is a betrayal of the ideal of a free nation advocated by the 1848 Hungarian revolutionaries. The left-wing columnist sees the war in Ukraine as a clash between Western democracy and the ‘Byzantine East’. Friss thinks that what he sees as the Orbán government’s balancing act will further isolate Hungary in the West. He concludes by accusing the government of exchanging the nation’s strategic interest for cheap gas.

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