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Weeklies on Hungary’s position in the world – as reflected in the 20 August festivities

August 28th, 2023

Opposition-leaning columnists vituperate against the government for only inviting a collection of  ‘undemocratic’ leaders to celebrate Saint Stephen’s day and watch the World Athletics Championship underway all week in Budapest. Pro-government weeklies regard both the national day and the World Athletics Championship as resounding successes for the country.

In Magyar Hang, Szabolcs Szerető deems it telling that Prime Minister Viktor Orbán invited leaders of countries belonging to the Turkic Council, including President Erdogan of Turkey while the West was only represented by former leaders. That shows, he writes, who are the political allies of Hungary’s government.

In the title of its full-page editorial, Magyar Narancs describes the gathering of foreign guests on August 20 as a ‘Dictators’ ball’. The liberal weekly deems most of the guests unpresentable, adding that their presence was not only politically or economically useless but even did harm to Hungary’s international prestige.

In Heti Világgazdaság, Árpád W. Tóta offers an even more opinionated description of the Prime Minister’s guests, asserting that they were a group of failed political figures in addition to the ‘Mafia chiefs of rogue countries’. ‘We are not left alone’, he writes sarcastically, ‘we simply socialise with a new kind of people’.

In his weekly Demokrata column, Gábor Bencsik takes the presence of a dozen high-ranking foreign guests on 20 August as confirmation of his hope that the outside world is not in a position to overwrite the will of Hungarian voters. He also sees the success of the World Athletics Championship and its popularity amongst the Hungarian public as a resounding success for Hungary.

In an interview with Mandiner, American Conservative TV host Tucker Carlson who is introduced on the front page as ‘an American freedom fighter’ visiting Hungary took up the defence of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán against the accusations levelled against him by the liberal press. American liberals hate the Hungarian Prime Minister, he says, for reasons that have nothing to do with his deeds in office. Hungarians do not represent a threat to anyone, they simply want to be left in peace and ‘be allowed to be a happy and normal country’, Carlson suggests.

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