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Weeklies on Hungary’s conflicts in international relations

May 22nd, 2023

Left-wing and liberal commentators accuse Prime Minister Orbán of wantonly provoking conflicts with allies, while pro-government columnists believe that he is defending the national interest against undue intrusion.

In his customary Magyar Hang editorial, Szabolcs Szerető accuses the government of having mismanaged the country into a crisis and of failing to escape ‘the embrace of the Russian bear’. However, he continues, neither worsening material conditions nor the ever-narrowing international elbowroom of the government have any impact on the political balance of power within the country. The government is unable to govern, while the opposition is unable to pose a challenge, he suggests. People seem to react with apathy to worsening material conditions, rather than opting for political activism, yet anyone who claims to have the key to that riddle in their pocket are liars, he suggests.

In one of its three editorials, Magyar Narancs accuses PM Orbán of indulging in increasingly unpresentable theories. The liberal editors believe that he is both unable and unwilling to solve the country’s problems and therefore provokes ever newer conflicts to draw attention to himself. They also interpret his speech at the recent CPAC Hungary meeting (see BudaPost, May 5) as describing European values as a dangerous virus. They reproach him for having ‘compared European integration to Hitler’s ambitions’ in what they call a proof of his ‘intellectual debasement’. Magyar Narancs adds that by now ‘authentic fascists are the only ones to applaud him’ – and only in exchange for a lot of money, while the ’educated world only spits on him’.

In a similarly highly opinionated column in Heti Világgazdaság, Árpád W. Tóta squarely accuses Prime Minister Orbán of siding with Russia in the war in Ukraine. He believes the Prime Minister does so because he fears Russia as a strong and aggressive country, in the knowledge that the civilised world will not harm Hungary whatever it does. That being so, he continues, Ukraine has become our enemy – along with Poland, Romania, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and the United States. He doesn’t find it surprising that President Zelensky of Ukraine allegedly brought up the idea of blowing up the Druzhba oil pipeline. He would already have mined the pipeline if he were Ukrainian, he writes. But being Hungarian he hopes that last warning will have an impact. We have no friends left, he concludes, before warning that we are walking ‘on thin ice’.

In Mandiner, Attila Kovács concedes that clashes with Hungary’s allies within the European Union are becoming frequent but lays the blame at the doorstep of European institutions, namely the European Parliament. The EP, he explains, has taken several decisions contributing to the escalation of the war in Ukraine, including increased arms deliveries and sanctions on Russia which unleashed inflation onto Hungary. In addition, Kovács continues, the European Parliament is at the centre of what he calls EU gender propaganda, and has taken a resolution declaring that men can give birth to babies. In addition, he adds, the European Parliament is one of the loudest supporters of illegal immigration and lax immigration policies. He hopes next year’s EP elections will produce an assembly that will strive for partnership with member states rather than one which wants to impose its own political narratives on them.

In Demokrata, editor András Bencsik condemns those who misinterpret the Prime Minister’s latest speech on European integration. He did not for one minute compare the current form of integration to the one Hitler dreamt about, Bencsik maintains. What he really said was that balance has to be found between integration and autonomy. He mentioned several examples of historical leaders who set out to create an all-European empire, from Charlemagne through Napoleon to Hitler, and warned against following their example, Bencsik explains. If the right equilibrium is not found in Europe, the result will be either a minefield of national conflicts or a bureaucratic power machine which will misuse its power, he fears. The solution, he writes in his concluding remark, is love both for one’s home country and one’s broader home – Europe.