Aug 2, 2022
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Hungarian bargaining: Orban unleashed the “gas issue” to its fullest to his advantage

Pictured: Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban

Pictured: Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban (Photo: ZUMA/TASS)

Prime Minister of Hungary Viktor Orban continues to make sharp and bold statements that are unlikely to please the leadership of both the European Union and individual countries. This time, the head of state promised to defend his point of view when discussing EU decisions that do not suit Budapest.

“For us, Brussels is not the boss. We are an independent sovereign Hungarian nation. We participate in joint decisions. If they are not suitable for us, we say so. If they do not fit, and we can prevent them, then a joint solution will not appear, ”the translation of his statement in social media is quoted.

Viktor Orban noted that the European Union is not located in Brussels, but “in Vienna, Budapest and Warsaw, Berlin and Madrid.” Hungary, he said, does not want to argue with other Europeans, but intends to add its own views to EU decisions.

“Therefore, we participate in every decision, we always express our opinion. And if a position appears that we do not agree with, we declare it,” Orban stressed.

Earlier, Hungary did not support the idea of ​​reducing gas consumption by 15% and refused to discuss the possibility of imposing an embargo on Russian gas and oil. Moreover, Budapest intends to purchase an additional 700 million cubic meters of gas from Russia, as well as speed up the implementation of projects for the construction of nuclear reactors.

Orban also predicted a global crisis for the world, for which Hungary must prepare well, and for this they stay away, in particular, from war. The Hungarian Prime Minister believes that anti-Russian sanctions have little effect on Russia, but Europe is already in economic and political trouble.

“Four governments became victims: British, Bulgarian, Italian and Estonian. People will face a sharp increase in prices,” he said during a visit to Romania, noting that most of the world did not support Europe.

In his opinion, the Ukrainian conflict could put an “end to Western domination”, and “a multipolar world order will knock on the door.” In European capitals, Orban did not seem to be heard and criticized. Prime Minister of Romania Nicolae Chuca condemned the position of Hungary on Ukraine and said that such statements have no place in the EU, and the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry and completely accused of Russian propaganda.

Hungary has indeed taken a stand-alone position both with regard to the decisions of the EU as a whole, for example, on gender issues, and on the Ukrainian conflict. However, this did not stop her from supporting anti-Russian sanctions, although their criticism continues to sound.

“This paradox is explained by the fact that it is still impossible to be in the European Union and be free from the European Union,” the senator explained this position. Alexey Pushkov.

Be that as it may, Hungary as a whole adheres to the EU line, although it shows that it can bargain for its national interests no worse than Turkey.

Political scientist, employee of the Center for International Security of the IMEMO RAS named after. E.M.Primakova Viktor Mizin considers harsh statements by Viktor Orban populism.

— This is typical not only for Hungary, but also for many larger European countries. Typically, such rhetoric is characteristic of either the extreme left or the extreme right, almost neo-Nazi, parties. At the same time, the Brussels bureaucracy continues to function, and sometimes not very meaningful hopes slipping through us that the European Union will soon fall apart, I think, are premature.

Such rhetoric falls on very fertile ground, I would say, rather more nationalist, in Hungary, and in Poland, Slovakia, and in many countries. They forget that at one time they received enough “infusions”, including from the European Union. Apparently, Orban is pursuing such a line, and it is quite popular, which allows him to be re-elected, but this is unlikely to lead to the collapse of European integration.

Of course, Brussels does not like this very much, and in relation to Budapest, there will be, perhaps, some sanctions that were once threatened by Poland for certain things in the legislation, which, as they believed in the Brussels bureaucracy, are contrary to the values ​​and directives of the EU.

This confrontation will continue. We see that Moscow is actively using this, at least in propaganda in the media, saying that not everything is fine in the Kingdom of Brussels.

“SP”: – In addition to Orban, no one speaks so sharply. European politicians practically accuse him of separatism, although Hungary supported the anti-Russian sanctions.

– She supported the sanctions, and she does not like the policy, which is not smart, I must say, in relation to the Hungarian minority (in Ukraine – ed.), when it is practically forbidden to teach in the Hungarian language and promote the Hungarian identity. Of course, no one will kick Hungary out of NATO, despite the fact that it is believed there to be insufficiently active in supporting NATO assistance to Kyiv, or out of the European Union. However, there will be tension, but they will try to settle it in the course of some kind of negotiations.

As history shows, such conflicts in the European Union, sooner or later, are somehow resolved by diplomatic methods, and sometimes by carrots and sticks. This, of course, is a wake-up call, but it is not fatal for the EU.

Associate Professor, St. Petersburg State University Tatiana Romanova noted that such statements were typical for Orban before, in fact, he built his career on this.

“This is part of the political vision that he promotes in his post. At the same time, in reality, sooner or later, Orban agrees with most of the decisions promoted by Brussels. On most issues, some compromises are found that will satisfy both Brussels and Budapest.

“SP”: – Nevertheless, after his last harsh statements, there is a lot of criticism from different countries, in particular, Romania, Poland. How will this affect the position of Hungary in the EU?

– No way. Of course, Orban’s statements about Russia cause dissatisfaction both on the part of the European Union and the countries included in it. But the structures of the EU can, criticizing, only say that this does not correspond to European values. It is impossible to exclude Hungary from the EU as long as the EU will tolerate enfant terrible (an obnoxious child – French) in its composition.

“SP”: – Why, criticizing the anti-Russian sanctions, Budapest still supports them?

– Unity in the European Union still prevails. Hungary thus knocks out some concessions for itself in exchange for supporting sanctions, because any restrictive measures are a unanimous decision of the EU.

Despite the fact that Hungary maintains the impression of a relatively friendly country towards Russia against the backdrop of pan-European rhetoric, nevertheless, since 2014, all EU restrictive measures have been approved, albeit with some delays. For Hungary, this is a way of negotiating preferences for itself, rather than an attempt to change the EU’s position towards Russia.

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