Opinion: PM Orbán Says US-Hungarian Friendship Must Withstand Divergence Over the War in Ukraine

  • 19 Apr 2023 5:57 AM
  • BudaPost
Opinion: PM Orbán Says US-Hungarian Friendship Must Withstand Divergence Over the War in Ukraine
An opposition-leaning columnist finds the deterioration in US-Hungarian relations worrisome but believes neither of the two parties want to deepen the enmity any further. A pro-government commentator sees the discord as a conflict between the US Left and Right rather than one between two countries.

In his regular biweekly radio interview, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said the United States is Hungary’s key friend and ally despite their diverging views on the war in Ukraine. ‘Our friendship,’ he said ‘must be able to withstand that disagreement’. He added that the tone of bilateral relations depends on whether the US government is in Democrat or Republican hands. He called the billboard campaign over the Ukraine war which is sponsored by the US Embassy ‘unusual’

In Magyar Hang, Szabolcs Szerető describes the tone US Ambassador David Pressman struck at his press conference as ‘moderate’: he didn’t quell the tempest, Szerető writes, nor did he escalate the conflict. 

As to the background to the conflict, he believes that for want of noteworthy domestic adversaries, Prime Minister Orbán appears to be seeking heavyweight international opponents – and Washington seems to fit that bill. Not that Szerető sees the US administration above reproach – tapping the phone calls of allied leaders and tough moves to put through American interests, he writes, may fairly be criticized. He believes nonetheless that the Hungarian government is wrong on Ukraine.

Szerető describes the Hungarian attitude as ‘a phony pro-peace stance’ which served electoral purposes last year but has since become a hindrance in Hungary’s relations with her allies. He also thinks Hungary is maintaining good relations with Russia well above the level dictated by energy constraints (namely Hungary’s dependence on Russian oil and gas supplies).

Szerető finds it peculiar for the government side not to dismiss reports about the Prime Minister mentioning the Biden administration among ‘the adversaries’ when addressing his fellow Fidesz MPs in February. However, ‘the Empire’, he writes, ‘doesn’t strike back – for the moment’.

By contrast, Mandiner’s Gergely Szilvay believes that the controversy is not a conflict between Hungary and the United States but rather one opposing America’s Left and Right. He starts out by suggesting that Hungary has become a ‘secondary diplomatic battlefield’ of the Ukraine war which he describes as a proxy war between the United States and Russia.

That explains, in his view, why US diplomacy keeps Hungary under pressure. Nevertheless, he also sees the announcements made by the US Ambassador as surprisingly mild, compared to earlier speculation about harsh sanctions on unnamed prominent Hungarian personalities. At any rate, he continues, ‘Hungary has taken note and quit the International Investment Bank’ after the latter was hit by US sanctions.

As to why the US has refrained from harsher measures against Hungary, Szilvay puts forward an original theory, namely that the State Department cannot be sure about the outcome of next year’s presidential elections in the United States. The Hungarian government, he explains, is not an adversary of the United States – it is only seen with suspicion by the Democratic administration.

Fidesz is on excellent terms with former President Trump while Florida governor Ron DeSantis, another potential Republican presidential nominee is sometimes called an ‘American Orbán’. People in the State Department, Szilvay suggests, must be moving with caution in confronting an ally of the potential next President of the United States.

This opinion does not necessarily represent the views of XpatLoop.com or the publisher.

Your opinions are welcome too - for editorial review before possible publication online. 

Click here to Share Your Story

  • How does this content make you feel?

XpatLoop Media Partner


Launched in May 2011 to provide a balanced picture of matters covered in Hungary’s national press. Their aim is to make it easier for English-speakers to understand where this country is now and where it’s heading according to the full spectrum of media opinions.

Explore More Reports

  • Watch: NATO Accepts Hungary's Non-Participation in Ukraine Operations

    Watch: NATO Accepts Hungary's Non-Participation in Ukraine Operations

    • 17 Jun 2024 10:44 AM

    NATO accepts Hungary’s position under which the country does not wish to participate in military or financial efforts towards supporting Ukraine, while Hungary would not block such NATO efforts, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said after talks with Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in Budapest on Wednesday.

  • Rerun of Budapest Mayoral Election Called for by Karácsony

    Rerun of Budapest Mayoral Election Called for by Karácsony

    • 14 Jun 2024 10:56 AM

    Despite winning, by a very narrow margin, Budapest's opposition Mayor Gergely Karácsony has called for a repeat of the recent mayoral election. During a press conference held yesterday afternoon, Karácsony also announced plans for a public demonstration on Friday evening.

  • What is Donald Trump Jr Doing in Budapest?

    What is Donald Trump Jr Doing in Budapest?

    • 14 Jun 2024 9:24 AM

    Prime Minister Viktor Orbán on Thursday met Donald Trump Jr, the son of the former US president, for talks in his office in Budapest, the prime minister's press chief said.