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Weeklies on conflicts with the EU

June 5th, 2023

The weeklies went to print before the European Parliament adopted its resolution on Thursday, questioning Hungary’s ability to take over the rotating presidency of the European Council a year from now. All took the outcome of the vote for granted, however, and pondered its implications.

Magyar Hang’s Szabolcs Szerető describes Hungary’s relations with the European Union as icy. He admits that recent corruption scandals within the European Parliament may cast doubts about the legitimacy of the accusations the EP levels at Hungary, but he believes that the government has made too many enemies within the European Union and is therefore responsible for the suspension of EU payments to Hungary. Szerető also doubts if next year’s European parliamentary elections will produce an illiberal majority, and therefore expects Hungary to be even more deeply isolated within the European Union in the future. As he sees it, neither are decision-makers in the community are inclined to open the ‘money tap’, nor does the Hungarian government intend to comply with Brussels’ expectations to the letter. Since in Hungary’s shaky financial position European funds would be badly needed, he believes the risk of losing them completely can be seen as a test of how the country could be governed in case it secedes from the European Union.

In Magyar Narancs, Péter Heil agrees with the majority of MEPs who find Hungary unfit for the rotating presidency of the European Council. Over the past four years, he argues, the Hungarian government has progressively destroyed the goodwill it used to enjoy within the Union and therefore could hardly act as an honest broker in settling disagreements within the community. He quotes a document recently adopted by the European Parliament that shows that the EP doesn’t even consider Hungary a free and democratic country any longer. What Heil sees as particularly worrisome is not so much the threat to Hungary’s rotating presidency next year but rather an increasingly unfavourable long-term trend that might lead to Hungary leaving the European Union. ‘We have already covered a substantial distance on the road leading towards the exit’, he concludes.

In Demokrata, Gábor Bencsik believes, on the other hand, that Hungary is being harassed by mainstream forces within the European Union because of its efforts to resist a self-destructive process. Christianity and diversity, he writes, have always been foundational elements of progress and affluence in Europe, but today’s Jacobins and Bolsheviks intend to eliminate those two factors from European minds. They would leave religion to Islam while dissolving Europeans into an undistinguished mass, populating an empire. Hungary, Bencsik explains, doesn’t conform to this trend and therefore dominant forces within the Union try to squeeze Hungary out of the community or at least force her to elect another government. They will never succeed, he predicts, because most Hungarian voters ‘have their convictions in mind at the polling stations rather than their purses’.

In Mandiner, Mátyás Kohán places the various sanctions and threats to Hungary within the European Union into the line of a series of punishments inflicted on the country during its history, including the post-World War I Trianon peace treaty, the anniversary of which, 4 June, fell this Sunday. New Trianons may come this time as well, he writes – ‘smaller and bigger ones alike’. The smallest one, he believes is holding back post-Covid resilience and recovery funds. A moderately serious one would be restricting the veto power of member countries within the Union, while the gravest possible one would be Huxit. Hungary, he warns, cannot afford to make mistakes in its foreign relations, because the country’s international environment does not seem any friendlier to Hungary than a century ago, he gloomily concludes.

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