Opinion: Weeklies on Hungary’s Deteriorating Relations with its Allies

  • 4 Apr 2023 6:54 AM
  • BudaPost
Opinion: Weeklies on Hungary’s Deteriorating Relations with its Allies
Critics lambast the government for its stance on Ukraine and increasingly conflictual attitude towards NATO and EU allies, while pro-government commentators take the cabinet’s side in its conflicts with international partners.

In Magyar Narancs, Péter Heil believes that the government is ready to sacrifice the approximately 4 billion Euros Hungary is in theory entitled to from the European Union over the current seven-year period – a sum that is being withheld because of rule of law complaints.

He thinks the government is only ready to make superficial concessions, which may not be enough to satisfy the European Commission. Heil sees Hungary’s stance on the war in Ukraine as even more detrimental to its ties with its western partners, and fears that such disagreements will ultimately lead the country out of the Transatlantic alliance.

In a similar vein, Magyar Hang’s János Reichert excoriates the government side for keeping Sweden waiting for its NATO membership bid to be approved, even after Finland’s bid has been ratified. He rejects the official explanation, according to which many Fidesz MPs are reluctant to vote for Sweden’s accession because Swedish politicians have been openly critical of Hungary.

No one has ever named a single one of those MPs who allegedly have such doubts, he writes, adding that the same argument was brought up in Finland’s case, which has nevertheless been resolved.

In Jelen, Zoltán Lakner interprets the reasons brought up by the government side as proof that the Hungarian side wants to take revenge for rule of law criticism voiced within the European Union against Hungary.

On top of it all, he remarks, Sweden holds the rotating presidency of the European Council, and the conflict therefore suggests to him that the government may have given up all hope of unlocking the European funds. In that case, the confrontational tone of the government is purely meant for domestic consumption – rather than making efforts to get EU funds released.

In Mandiner, Dániel Kacsoh takes up the defence of Hungary’s position on the war in Ukraine, which is one of the most controversial elements in its relations with its allies. He finds it extremely unjust to brand anyone who urges a ceasefire as playing into Vladimir Putin’s hands.

He dismisses the argument used by opposition politicians, who refer to Hungary’s first king, Saint Stephen who opted for the West instead of the East by adopting Roman Catholicism.

Meanwhile, he argues, Saint Stephen also defeated the army of the German Empire which attempted to colonise Hungary. So did many of his successors – they confronted expansion from the East, including Russia, as well as threats coming from the West, although they were not always successful.

In Magyar Demokrata, András Bencsik believes that the Western community tends to condemn Russia for missteps that were committed by the United States in the past without triggering such official condemnation.

As an example, he refers to the arrest warrant issued for Putin by the International Criminal Court, on the grounds that under his authority Russia has deported thousands of children from Ukraine. He draws a parallel between that programme and the so-called baby-lift operation during which 3300 Vietnamese children were shipped to the United States in 1975.

He also writes that hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians have fled their country and many have settled in Germany. According to official studies, he continues, Germany would need half a million immigrants per year to keep its economy moving at full gear. Therefore, Bencsik suspects, Germany for one is not overly interested in bringing the Ukraine war to an early end.

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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.

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