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A debate on Hungary’s international orientation

July 12th, 2023

An independent columnist suggests a majority of Hungarians sympathise with Russia, while a pro-government historian believes they have just been disappointed by the West.

In a mid-June essay on Index, Róbert Puzsér asked why Hungarians tend to side with Russia despite the obvious disadvantages which accompany such a friendship, especially when compared to the advantages offered by the western community. He believes Hungarians have been accustomed to seeing themselves as victims of unjust treatment by great powers, and deliberately seek losing solutions to confirm that view. Thus, their misconception of Hungary’s fate becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, he writes.

Replying on the same news site almost a month later, historian Áron Máthé claims that Hungary has in fact been treated unjustly by great powers, for instance in the post-World War One Trianon peace treaty. Nevertheless, Hungarians were at the forefront of the pro-Western regime changes in Eastern Europe in the late 1980s and beyond. Hungary was however only used, he continues, by second-class western investors to take home dividends. Meanwhile, he remarks, the West has given no support for Hungarian minorities in neighbouring countries. Hungarians have by no means sided with Russia, he concludes, they have just been disillusioned and are trying to take care of their own interests, nothing more.

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