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Weeklies on the Prime Minister’s Băile Tușnad speech

July 31st, 2023

Left-wing and liberal authors lambast Prime Minister Orbán for what they see as provocative remarks on Hungary’s neighbours. Pro-government commentators find remarkable points in his address.

In Élet és Irodalom, Zoltán Kovács sarcastically remarks that the Prime Minister managed to offend two countries with a single sentence. (For the reaction by Slovakia and Romania to the Prime Minister’s speech see BudaPost, July 27.) He writes that Fidesz is drifting towards the periphery of the European Union because of Mr Orbán’s policies.

In his regular weekly column in Heti Világgazdaság, Árpád W. Tóta concedes one undeniable merit to the Orbán era, namely that despite all nationalist rhetoric, Hungary has more or less smoothly coexisted with neighbouring countries and ethnic Hungarians living there have carried on with their lives without reasons for serious complaint. He believes the Prime Minister has put all that in jeopardy with his remarks which caused such offence in Romania and Slovakia.

In Magyar Hang, Zsombor György accuses the Prime Minister of having practically ‘called off’ cooperation within the Visegrád group by making derogatory remarks about the Czech Republic and offending Slovakia. He also dismisses as imaginary the alleged ‘federalist pressure’ on the Visegrád countries, referred to in the same speech, since European integration doesn’t in his view threaten the values of the various national communities.

In its first page editorial, Magyar Narancs condemns those opposition politicians who attended the Fidesz Festival at Băile Tușnad and praises the Democratic Coalition and Momentum for refusing to send representatives there. The editors also lambast the opposition-leaning media for covering the events of the festival and thus ‘becoming part of the Fidesz propaganda machine’.

In his Mandiner editorial, Milán Constantinovits writes that after decades of grievances Hungary and Romania could become allies if certain preconditions are met, including teaching in Hungarian and avoiding provocations by radical nationalists. More generally, he believes the leaders of the countries of the region must realise that their peoples share a common destiny and have shared concerns facing mass immigration, problems of energy supply and the protection of their civilisation.

In Demokrata, András Bencsik praises as revelatory the statistics the Prime Minister mentioned concerning the continued presence of major international companies in Russia. A mere 8.5% of the 1400 largest Western businesses have dismantled their operations there, Mr Orbán said. Bencsik agrees with the Prime Minister who said that Ukraine’s decision to put OTP, Hungary’s largest bank on the ‘sponsors of war’ list, was an expression of ‘Hungarophobia’.

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