Opinion: EU Pressure Mounting on Hungary, Bureaucrats Accused of Blackmail

  • 10 Feb 2024 9:14 AM
  • BudaPost
Opinion: EU Pressure Mounting on Hungary, Bureaucrats Accused of Blackmail
A pro-government commentator rejects as ‘worse than a mafia hit’ the alleged plans to punish Hungary if it doesn’t agree to commit to a 50 billion Euro aid package to Ukraine for the forthcoming four years.

Prime Minister Orbán told the French newspaper Le Point that Hungary is uncomfortable to be alone ’in this family’ during the EU Summit on Thursday, but wants to revise aid to Ukraine annually, as no one knows how things will evolve in the future.

On the other hand, several member countries reject the Hungarian proposal to revise aid to Ukraine year by year, with approval depending on a unanimous vote each time.

On the Radio Free Europe website, Zoltán Gyévai writes that EU diplomats have mentioned several potential measures to be taken if Hungary doesn’t yield to pressure, but none of them have been seriously discussed so far. The most punishing move would be a Belgian suggestion to deny Hungary the rotating presidency of the Union starting from July this year.

On Vasárnap, Zoltán Kaszab describes plans to inflict massive blows on the Hungarian economy as a procedure ’worse than those practiced by Balkan mafias’. He doesn’t believe the reassuring remarks by unnamed Brussels officials who said the document leaked to the Financial Times on what could harm Hungary most only contains an analysis of Hungary’s vulnerabilities without proposing sanctions.

He warns that plans to ‘ruin Hungary’ would hit the population of a member country and thus the European Union itself.

EU Bureaucrats Accused of Blackmail

Although the existence of a purported plan to ruin Hungary financially has been denied by senior EU officials, a pro-government columnist condemns the leak as an intentional move to blackmail Hungary.

The Financial Times reported the existence of a document allegedly written by an EU staffer, which described how Hungary could be badly hurt economically if the government continues to veto a plan to extend 50 billion Euros in support for Ukraine from the EU budget.

(Hungary has suggested a compromise that would allow the money to be paid, but subject to an annual review)
. Reuters was told by officials that no such plans are on the EU agenda. Secretary of State Zoltán Kovács, who is in charge of international communication within the Prime Minister’s office, said such leaks never happen by chance.

In Magyar Nemzet, Ottó Gajdics describes what happened as a case of brazen blackmail. As a result, he remarks, the Budapest Stock Exchange index plummeted and the exchange rate of the Forint sank to a six-month record low.

He mentions the widespread bitter protest movement launched by farmers in western Europe as proof that the policy followed by the European Union on Ukraine serves ‘alien interests’, with the massive inflow of Ukrainian grain only enriching the global companies that have taken over large swathes of Ukrainian land.

By contrast, he continues, Hungary urges peace in Ukraine and offers humanitarian assistance to Ukrainians, as recognised by Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitro Kuleba when he met his Hungarian counterpart, Péter Szíjjártó on Monday. The two are preparing a meeting between President Zelensky and Prime Minister Orban.

Weeklies on Hungary’s Spats with its Allies

Commentators agree that hindering first Finland’s then Sweden’s accession to NATO, as well as being sanctioned by the European Union and openly criticised by the US administration, have put Hungary in a unique position within the Western alliance, although they offer conflicting explanations.

In Magyar Hang, Szabolcs Szerető describes the long-drawn-out process of Hungary’s refusal to ratify Sweden’s accession to NATO as a ‘peculiar soap opera’ which has not yielded any positive results for its main character, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. The only thing he has achieved, Szerető writes, is that after the European Union, Hungary’s loyalty as an ally is now also questioned within NATO. He doesn’t believe the Prime Minister can extricate himself with his prestige intact from a situation he created himself.

In Jelen, Zoltán Lakner predicts that Hungary will remain under pressure within the European Union over rule of law concerns within the alliance, but most of all among members of the European Parliament.

Their recent complaints against the Commission, which unfroze €10 billion in funds for Hungary of the €30 billion originally blocked, will not lead to any further punishment of the Hungarian government, he believes. Nevertheless, he is quite certain that Hungary will find it difficult to unblock more of those funds over the coming years.

In Mandiner, László Dornfeld describes the latest session of the European Parliament where Hungary and the European Commission were both criticised, as a campaign-opening event of the globalist camp ahead of the European elections scheduled for June this year.

Hungary is being punished, he suggests, because almost alone among member countries, it chose to represent the interests of the nation against the global elite. On both sides of the Atlantic, he concludes, sovereignist citizens must now act to send ’globalists in Washington and in Brussels packing, drain the swamp and give back representation to the people’.

In Demokrata, Gábor Bencsik takes it almost for granted that Donald Trump will be Republican nominee for President and believes he will probably defeat President Biden in November. ‘We might have our own opinion about Trump’s style and attitudes’, he writes, but not without suggesting that he would be the better choice both for the world and for Hungary.

Western Ambassadors Put Pressure on Hungary to Ratify Sweden’s NATO Membership

A pro-government commentator compares the US ambassador to erstwhile Soviet oppressors because of his presence at Mondays’ extraordinary session of Parliament which was convened at the initiative of the opposition to vote on Sweden’s accession to NATO but boycotted by the governing majority. A liberal author dismisses such comparison as absurd.

The session was also attended, in addition to Mr David Pressman, by the ambassadors of Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands and Slovakia. Sweden’s NATO membership bid was discussed by Parliament in March last year with only the final vote pending. In the absence of the majority of deputies, the agenda could not be adopted and the session was closed.

Foreign Minister Péter Szíjjártó said Hungary is ready to ratify Sweden’s accession to NATO and is only waiting for a visit by the Swedish Prime Minister to Hungary.

Magyar Nemzet carries an Op Ed comment by Antal Tamás Tóth who accuses the US ambassador of interfering in Hungarian home affairs more brazenly than even Soviet officials before 1990. He writes Mr Pressman went to Parliament in the role of the factual boss of the opposition parties that staged the show to please him. Tóth then likens the opposition to the communists who invited Soviet troops to crush the 1956 revolution.

On 444, Márk Herczeg writes that Tóth’s remarks could easily have been published in the communist party daily in the early 1950s. He adds that Soviet troops committed rapes throughout Hungary, deported hundreds of thousands of Hungarians to forced labour camps and kept Hungary under military occupation for 45 years.

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