The EU is trying to maintain a united front against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, but on February 18, Viktor Orbán, the prime minister of Hungary, vowed to retain ties with Moscow and urged others to do the same. In addition, he declared that Europe is at war with Russia and indirectly accused the Germans of revanchism.
Populism as it is
“At first, the Germans did not supply weapons, only helmets. But now the German Leopard tanks have to roll through the Ukrainian territory to the east, to the Russian border. Maybe there are even old maps,”Orban said.
In this way, he repeated the narrative of Russian propagandists, playing on memories of the Second World War. That, they say, German tanks are attacking Russia again. That helping Ukraine is equal to Nazism.
The herald of capitulation
Although he admitted that Russia started the attack, he said the West did not isolate the conflict but raised it to a pan-European level.
“This is their war, not ours,” Orbán said during an address to the nation under the slogan “Peace and Security.”
He called Hungary a part of the Western world but emphasized that Budapest would not end relations with the Russian Federation because it was against national interests.
Hungary has taken a vague stance on the conflict ever since Russia invaded neighboring Ukraine last year, with Prime Minister Viktor Orbán denouncing Russian aggression without criticizing Russian President Vladimir Putin.
As opposed to sending weapons to Ukraine like other EU members have done, Orbán, who had close links to Putin before the crisis, has called for an early ceasefire and peace negotiations.
Instead, he has claimed that EU sanctions on Russia are to blame for Hungary’s exorbitant inflation, which hit an EU-high of about 27.5% in January.
The matter of economics
Landlocked Hungary imports a lot of natural gas and crude oil from Russia. The Russian energy company Rosatom is building a nuclear power station there thanks to a 2014 contract.
Orban argued that it was apparent why Poland and the Baltic republics took their positions in the conflict. But he said that if a guarantee that Ukraine would not be admitted to NATO had been made, the crisis might have played out differently. He also criticized the EU sanctions once more for damaging the Hungarian economy.
EU sanctions on Russia, according to Orbán, are an illustration of bad policies promoted by the Commission.
He argued that Brussels only issued Hungary ever-new sanctions. Hungary and Poland are also denied the portion of the European Recovery Programme to which they are entitled by the Brussels bureaucracy.
The COVID funds have an end-of-year deadline set by the EU Commission, but several nations have already stated they need more time to use the sizable emergency help package.
What about EU funds?
To realistically stand a chance of receiving any of the 15.4 billion euros envisioned for Budapest from the EU’s recovery money, Hungary must strengthen the independence of its court “quite soon.”
“In reality, it is the member states that should be monitoring Brussels, not Brussels monitoring the member states,”said Orban about the matter.
In light of the criticisms of Hungary’s democracy, it is also essential to consider how the 2018 Article 7 process began with the EU bending its standards. Abstention from the vote on Judith Sargentini’s report in the European Parliament was not considered. After years of deliberation, the EU Court of Justice finally ruled, using an odd line of reasoning, that one who abstains from a vote has the same intention as one who does not vote. One could contend that the institution of abstention should not exist at all in light of this argument.