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Weeklies on Hungary’s relations with the EU

February 5th, 2024

Weekly newspapers went to print before Prime Minister Orbán agreed with the rest of the member countries on Thursday on the contentious issue of financial assistance to Ukraine. Several commentaries are devoted to the tension developing between Hungary and its western allies, nevertheless.

In his Élet és Irodalom editorial, János Széky accuses the government of fomenting ’resentful nationalism’ among its supporters. As examples, he cites the Sovereignty Protection Act passed late last year (see BudaPost, November 20, 2023) and the government’s tendency to describe the European Union as an empire. Resentful nationalism, he writes, is like heroin. People who get hooked on it will demand ever-increasing doses. Common sense will not help to heal them. Getting rid of it will need strong determination and the road will be painful.

In Heti Világgazdaság, Györgyi Kocsis believes that Prime Minister Orbán doesn’t want to lead Hungary out of the European Union, but would like to reverse European integration to some extent. however, since he would keep the united market, Kocsis continues, he will have to agree to having integrated institutions in order to regulate that market as well as to ensuring the rule of law, without which market actors wouldn’t feel safe. Thus, she believes, rule-of-law concerns and sanctions on the part of the European Union are not directed against Hungarian citizens, on the contrary, they are designed to protect them as actors of the common market.

In Demokrata, Gábor Bencsik thinks that the struggle within the European Union is not about the rule of law but about power and about who conquers ‘the soul of the continent’. As proof of his thesis, he describes how the new Polish government got rid of the leading personnel of the public TV company ignoring two court verdicts, while the leaders of the European Union have remained demonstratively silent.

In Jelen, Dániel Bittner quotes Tamás Lánczi, the freshly appointed director of the Sovereignty Protection Office, who dismissed fears that his organisation will persecute opponents of the government, saying that his job will not go beyond writing reports. In other words, Bittner suggests, his will be a ’stigma agency’ which was only created for the sake of this year’s electoral campaign, with the aim of ’protecting the country from the Left and the foreign monsters allegedly behind it’.

In an interview with Mandiner, Lánczi himself explains that citizens have the right to know the financial background of media outlets. When asked whether Hungary needs to be protected against intrusion from East or West, he said sovereignty must be defended from any threat, no matter what direction it comes from. In 2022, he added, money to influence the free elections came from the United States, which is why that side is at the forefront of public interest.




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