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Weeklies on Hungary’s links with East and West

September 11th, 2023

Critics accuse the government of leaning towards Russia and leading the country out of the Western alliance, while a pro-government commentator dismisses that view.

In Élet és Irodalom, István Váncsa devotes his front-page editorial to what he calls the sad state of the Hungarian economy, which in his view is characterised by corruption and recession. He deduces from a recent statement by Finance Minister Mihály Varga that ‘introducing the Euro is by now out of the question’ and claims that since Prime Minister Orbán was sworn into office in 2010, the country has been on a path of ‘slow but unstoppable secession’ from the European Union.

In Magyar Narancs, Balázs Váradi criticises those, including the leaders of Momentum, who believe that the European Union should not punish Hungarian students by excluding foundation-run universities from its student exchange programmes (see BudaPost, January 12). The European Union can’t punish the Hungarian regime, he writes, by causing pain only to the regime and no-one else. He sees the suspension of universities run by government-founded foundations from the European exchange programmes as a warning to the Hungarian public. Such students, he suggests, will be victims of Prime Minister Orbán rather than of the European Union.

In Jelen, Ákos Tóth accuses the government of selling out Hungary to Russia by not protesting aloud against the official Russian school textbook for 11th graders that describes the 1956 Hungarian Revolution as an event where former soldiers of Second World War ‘Fascist Hungary’ went on a rampage and committed innumerable murders (see BudaPost, August 30). By failing to protest loudly and publicly, the government is ‘unapologetically betraying the country’s sovereignty’, Tóth writes.

In Heti Világgazdaság, Árpád W. Tóta flatly accuses the government of siding with Russia on international issues – despite the fact that two Hungarian revolutions were crushed by Russia over the past two centuries. He admits that the government never says explicitly that it is siding with Russia in its conflicts with the West but adds that the pro-government press does depict a picture of Russia standing on the right side of history.

In his customary weekly Magyar Hang editorial, Szabolcs Szerető also believes that the pro-government ‘propaganda machine’ spreads anti-western attitudes. In addition, he continues, the government’s posture on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has corroborated the feeling among western decision-makers that Hungary should be seen as an outlier. That choice of direction, he contends, might involve tragic consequences for the nation.

In Mandiner, Mátyás Kohán dismisses opposition accusations that the government is leading Hungary out of the European Union as completely groundless. He reminds the opposition that they also oppose the government policy of establishing car battery factories throughout Hungary. You can’t fear both, he warns. Hungary lures car battery factory producers because from 2035 on, only electric automobiles can be sold within the European Union. Thus, Kohán writes, those factories should be seen as simply an insurance against Huxit.

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