Hungary 2019

Written by  //  March 21, 2019  //  Europe & EU  //  No comments

Bloomberg Politics: Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban emerged bruised, but not beaten, after Europe’s biggest political family froze the membership of his Fidesz party for eroding democratic standards. At home, Orban’s pro-government propaganda machine portrayed the suspension as voluntary and a victory over factions that wanted him expelled, rather than humiliation. That gives him the option of either repairing ties or joining forces with like-minded nationalists after May’s European Parliament elections BBC: Hungary Orban: Europe’s centre-right EPP suspends Fidesz

18 March
Hungary Rolls Out Red Carpet for Obscure Russian Bank, Stoking Spy Fears
The International Investment Bank, an obscure Russian financial institution with a small-time balance sheet, is an unlikely source of global intrigue. In more normal times, its plans to open a new headquarters in Budapest would pass unnoticed.
But the bank’s chairman has longstanding ties to Russian intelligence agencies. And the Hungarian Parliament has effectively granted the bank diplomatic immunity from any scrutiny by police or financial regulators — leaving Western security officials concerned that Russian spies could use it as a base to conduct European intelligence operations.
Several European nations have expelled Russian agents and cracked down on Kremlin finances in an effort to present a united front as Moscow is accused of meddling in the American election, poisoning a former spy in Britain and targeting European think tanks with hacking attacks.
And if the Europeans are now concerned about the Russian bank, so are the Americans, especially since the Trump administration has cultivated Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orban, as an ally. Days before Parliament granted immunity to the Russian bank, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met Mr. Orban in Budapest and warned against allowing Russia to drive a wedge between friends.

28 February
I knew Orbán when he started his political journey; where it’s taken him terrifies me
By András B. Vágvölgyi
(euronews) Orbán’s political appetite knows no limits. His dreams are simple dreams; the dreams you might hear voiced in any bar or football stadium. There should be power (lots of it), money (lots of that too), the Olympics or the World Cup. In fact, any mega event will do to further the development of the neo-feudalist regime. This would inflict still further damage on the wounded social and psychological fabric of the country, with its ethos of silent surrender and petty jealousy. It is astonishing to see how Orbán, in spite of the size and limited resources of his country, has managed to become such a big player on the international stage.
He is like the youngest son in the fairy tales who, in his cunning and care-free way, smashes down everything to gain revenge. He has followers from Poland to Slovenia and North Macedonia, and his destructive work is celebrated in Bavaria, Italy and Austria. He thinks he can bamboozle everyone from Trump to Xi Jinping
Today, the pressing issue is the nightmare world which Vladislav Surkov (Putin’s spin doctor), Breitbart, Steve Bannon and other ultra-Trumpist outlets, Gazeta Polska or even the Hungarian Árpád Habony (Orbán’s spin doctor) are spinning around us. The fight against this is a question of both hardware and software. Around 1989, the Hungarian press and most of its media took note of the warnings that the opposition intellectuals in Budapest sounded in their samizdat publications.
They received support from the Munich-based Radio Free Europe, which was financed by the US Congress and supported the liberal line. Orbán understood this, bulldozing the contemporary media scene aside and after 2010, seizing control of all media that had a mass reach.
It’s really only the Hungarian people who can topple Orbán, yet he represents a threat to Europe as a whole. In Hungary, the bulk of the opposition parties have adopted shades of Orbánism, either as a group or out of self-interest. But any intellectual and political forces that have a sense of responsibility for Europe cannot abandon those intellectual and political forces in Hungary that are opposing Orbán. This is not just a matter of general ethics, but of pure self-preservation.

14 January
Viktor Orbán’s Far-Right Vision for Europe
The Prime Minister of Hungary, who thrives on conflict, has consolidated power in his own country. Now he is turning his attention to the E.U.
By Elisabeth Zerofsky
(The New Yorker) Fidesz and other right-wing parties in the E.U. contend that unelected bureaucrats are making consequential decisions—regulating markets, inflicting rules on technology and economic development, setting quotas of refugee resettlements—without the participation of European citizens; increasingly, voters agree. This resentment is at the core of the Brexit movement in the U.K. and lies behind the growing strength of xenophobic parties in Italy, France, the Netherlands, Scandinavia, and Central Europe. Steve Bannon, who has been serving as an informal adviser to various nationalist parties, told me, “The fight right now in the E.U. is between those who look at the nation-state as something to be overcome and the others, who look at the nation-state as something to be nurtured.”

8 January
Is Hungary becoming a rogue state in the center of Europe?
By James Kirchick
(Brookings) Most of the international criticism directed at Hungary over the past nine years has focused on domestic indicators such as the rule of law, separation of powers and press freedom. Prime Minister Viktor Orban has been remarkably blunt about his designs for Hungary, citing China, Russia and Turkey as models. After an election in April widely deemed free but not fair, he sounded a triumphal note, declaring that “the era of liberal democracy is over.”
Since Orban won reelection, however, his behavior has called into question not only his democratic bona fides, but also his basic trustworthiness as an ally of the United States and member of the democratic Western world. Increasingly, Hungary is behaving like a rogue state.

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