Opinion: Opposing Takes on Orbán’s ‘State of the Nation’ Address

  • 23 Feb 2023 10:35 AM
  • BudaPost
Opinion: Opposing Takes on Orbán’s ‘State of the Nation’ Address
The Prime Minister’s annual address to his faithful supporters on Saturday is seen as full of contradictions by a left-wing pundit, while a pro-government commentator describes it as reassuring in an uncertain world.

Népszava editor Péter Németh dismisses Mr Orbán’s claim that Hungary and the Vatican are the only two states that constitute a ‘peace camp’ in the current situation, while the rest of the western alliance opt for continuing the war in Ukraine.

He regrets in particular that the Prime Minister is increasingly blunt in his criticism of the Biden administration, when suggesting, for instance, that the name of US ambassador David Pressman symbolises the pressure Washington is putting on the Hungarian government to make it fall in line with the ‘pro-war’ majority.

By contrast, Magyar Nemzet’s Ottó Gajdics feels safer after the Prime Minister’s address. He praises Mr Orbán for clearly identifying the twin threats that the country is facing – the war in Ukraine, and inflation and for mapping out his strategy to confront them.

Siding with Ukraine in order to defeat the aggressor, he writes, doesn’t make one a good person, as that stand only prolongs the suffering of millions of people. What makes one a good person is not to be subservient ‘either to Putin or to Biden’ but to be able to co-operate with both of them over issues of shared interest.

An independent analyst on the PM’s address

A well-known political scientist suggests that Mr Orbán’s words should be read as a hint that he intends to be less confrontational with Hungary’s western allies.

In an interview with Info Radio, political scientist Gábor Török singles out several sentences in the Prime Minister’s ’State of the Nation’ address as indicating that Mr Orbán is planning a shift in his strategic position within the Western alliance.

The independent analyst concedes that the speech contained several critical remarks about the allies, mainly concerning the war in Ukraine and the pressure Washington and Brussels put on the Hungarian government.

What he finds new, however, are Mr Orbán’s resolute words about the full consensus with Hungary’s allies over strategic issues, namely ensuring that Russia should not represent a threat to Europe and the need for a large independent Ukraine dividing Russia from the rest of the continent.

Török suggests that the Prime Minister has realised how difficult it will be for Hungary to defend its own interests unless he defuses the suspicion that his government takes the Russian side in international affairs.

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