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

  • 15 Feb 2024 5:30 AM
  • BudaPost
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.

Weeklies on Hungary’s relations with the EU

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 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.

An Account of How PM Orbán Was Pressurised to Agree to the Ukraine Aid Package

According to a leaked story from the day preceding last week’s EU summit, EU leaders divided roles among themselves in a concerted effort to persuade the Hungarian leader to drop his veto.

On Index, Gyula Szabó writes that Union leaders used ‘good cop – bad cop’ tactics to get Mr Orbán to acquiesce in the 53 billion Euro aid package to Ukraine.

Quoting among others a New York Times report on the issue, he writes that the role of ’bad cop’ was played by Charles Michel, the President of the European Council who reportedly talked to the Hungarian Prime Minister about certain member countries ready to try and strip Hungary of its voting rights in case he refused to accept the aid package.

Then as ‘good cops’, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and President Emmanuel Macron of France are both believed to have talked to him about the advantages that accepting the deal would provide to Hungary and proposed amendments that would make it more palatable for the Hungarian side. 

Szabó then also quotes PM Orbán himself who said he agreed to the package because his misgivings about committing huge amounts of money for a long period without a robust monitoring procedure were recognised as justified and a system of regular revisions was included in the adopted resolution.

Another amendment that helped convince the Hungarian Prime Minister to soften is one declaring that no countries should be discriminated against in the distribution of cohesion and structural EU funds.

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