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Sep 16, 2022
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Europe will present Orban with a bill for friendship with Russia

Europe will present Orban with a bill for friendship with Russia

Photo: ZumaTASS

European Commission recommends cutting Hungary’s funding over fears of corruption in the country’s prime minister’s office Viktor OrbanBloomberg reports citing senior EU officials.

“The European Union’s executive is planning to recommend cuts in funding to Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s administration over concerns about widespread bribery,” the agency said in a statement.

According to the agency, the EC will put forward an appropriate initiative on September 18. The final decision on this issue will be made within three months. For the said plan to come into force, it must be given a qualified majority of votes.

At the same time, as one of the interlocutors of the agency said, the EC plans to propose to EU leaders to give Orban time to fulfill his obligations to combat corruption.

Hungary is also reportedly the first country whose government has been investigated under new rules that allow the EU to punish countries that undermine its financial interests. The European Commission spent several months investigating alleged corruption schemes in Orban’s cabinet.

Earlier it became known that the Hungarian authorities decided to create an independent body in the country to fight corruption, and also instructed to create a public procurement assessment system. As Nepszava reported, the innovations are related to the claims of the European Commission and Orban’s desire to receive material support from Brussels.

Apparently, this wish is unlikely to come true. On the contrary, Hungary will lose money, and her situation will worsen. It is obvious that the goal is not Orban’s supposedly corrupt schemes, but Orban himself, who has long been dissatisfied with Brussels, and whom the EU has long wanted to remove from power.

The main claim against him is the rejection of anti-Russian sanctions. Is this why Brussels decided to deprive Budapest of money?

– For the most part, this is the punishment of Hungary for its “wrong” position towards Russia, – I’m sure Associate Professor of the Faculty of International Relations, Political Science and Foreign Regional Studies of the Russian State University for the Humanities Vadim Trukhachev.

– Although the EU leadership had other questions for the Hungarians. The main one is Hungary’s violation of the principle of separation of powers. In particular, according to EU norms, the Central Bank should be independent, but Orban subordinated it to himself. Plus the supervisory body for the media. Plus, Hungary’s stubborn unwillingness to accept refugees from the Middle East. Finally, the EU does not like the Hungarian laws against LGBT propaganda. In other words, there are many complaints.

“SP”: – How much can funding be cut?

– While the exact number can not be called. But it will be quite sensitive, given that Hungary is one of the poorest countries by European standards. And assistance from EU funds is a solid support for her.

“SP”: – What can Orban be bent on in the end? Join the sanctions?

– Orban was already bent – Hungary joined the sanctions. She fully joined all six packages. Entry bans for Russian officials, EU skies being closed to Russian planes, property being taken away from Russian citizens… Oil, gas and visas are something she hasn’t joined in.

Probably, the main thing they want to bend him to is that he refuses the joint project with Rosatom to expand the nuclear power plant in Paks. In addition, they expect him to temporarily stop discussing the situation of the Magyars in Ukraine.

“SP”: – Do you think Brussels will be satisfied with this? Or is his main goal to remove Orban?

“His goal is to remove Orban. But until there is a good reason – you have to be content with tactical things.

“SP”: – Will Hungary change without Orban? Will he also go over to the camp of Russophobes? How big is the role of his personality in the politics of the country?

– Very large. Orban is the brightest politician in modern Europe. Without him, Hungary would certainly have moved into the Russophobic camp. With one caveat: not a single Hungarian government will forget about the rights of the Magyars in Transcarpathia.

“SP”: – Bloomberg writes that Hungary has become the first country whose government has been investigated under new rules that allow the EU to punish countries that undermine its financial interests. Who else can get under distribution in case of success?

– The next candidate is Poland. She also had a lot of questions. Others are not yet viewed.

“Of course, Hungary is like a bone in the throat for Brussels,” I agree. Advisor to the President of the Russian Association for Baltic Studies Vsevolod Shimov.

– Therefore, the main goal is to punish and remove the intractable leader

“SP”: – Previously, Hungary has repeatedly stated that the EU may ease or even lift sanctions. Are these wishlists? Or is there a precondition for that?

– On the one hand, the EU adheres to a fairly consistent policy on sanctions pressure against Russia. On the other hand, there is latent opposition to this line within the EU. Therefore, in this case, the voice of Hungary is precisely the voice of this opposition. The Hungarians are not alone, but so far the “Peace Party” has a much weaker position.

“SP”: – If funding is cut, will it hit Hungary hard, especially in a crisis?

– Of course it will. The Hungarian economy is subsidized, like most Eastern European countries. This is the calculation.

“SP”: – What does Brussels want from Hungary?

– I think the key task is to remove Orban. Because if you remove it, everything else will resolve itself.

“SP”: – What concessions can Orban make?

– Hungary will be forced to follow in the wake of European policy towards the Russian Federation, although, if Orban remains in power, Budapest, of course, will not be zealous in Russophobic rhetoric.

“SP”: – Will they eventually force them to support the price ceiling for Russian oil and abandon Russian gas?

“Given that there is still no unity on this issue in the EU itself, and it is not so easy to get away from gas dependence, this is hardly possible in the near future.

“SP”: – Does the West have leverage on other countries that did not support the sanctions? Turkey? Georgia? India and China?

– The EU can use economic leverage in relation to member countries, as well as dependent countries, such as Serbia. The EU also has a high degree of economic interdependence with Turkey, but here, in which case, Ankara has something to answer. So quarrel with Erdogan will not be in the EU. As for more remote countries, such as India or China, there are even fewer ways to influence, although, if desired, the EU may try to “punish” certain Chinese corporations, as the United States once did with Huawei.

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