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Politico: Orbán Plays a Double Game at Home and in Brussels

Politico examines the “two-faced” nature of Viktor Orbán’s regime, noting how the Hungarian Prime Minister “demonizes the EU and spreads pro-Russian narratives” while also voting for sanctions against Russia and implementing anti-corruption-related reforms to appease the EU.

“I think there is a charm offensive there, but it’s just because they want to get the money,” German MEP Moritz Körner told the media outlet about funds being held back by the EU due to problems with the rule of law in Hungary.

And yet Körner recognizes deeper problems with the Orbán regime, telling Politico, “At some point, we have to deal with the fact that we’re facing an autocrat.”

A diplomat from a Western country pointed out that although Orbán rails against the EU and sanctions against Russia at home, “his ambassador stayed quiet as a mouse” when meeting with the EU over sanctions discussions this past week.

Finnish European Affairs Minister Tytti Tuppurainen said that the strength of the EU rests in its unity. “Sanctions are decided unanimously, which means that each and every member state has her say. Hungary has made her mark in the process,” the minister informed the news outlet by text message.

Hungarian MEP Attila Ara-Kovács, from the opposition Democratic Coalition, claimed that Orbán’s policies are “no longer just about the dismantling of the democratic system in Hungary, but about the security and future of Europe as a whole.” [HVG]

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Posted in European Union

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3 Comments

  1. Luis

    Very good article from Politico.

    I believe that in the ongoing multiple conflicts between the EU institutions and the Hungarian government, neither side can afford to de-escalate. If the EU allows the funds to flow to Hungary, it will not have a weapon to brandish against Orbán’s vetoes. If Orbán stops vetoing, he has no way to assure the flow of funds. So for both players the only way forward is to hold on to their negotiating advantages.

    This is why I believe that this time the EU institutions will not let Orbán go on freely, as so often in the past. On the contrary, as Orbán escalated his threats by calling a “national consultation” on the sanctions, we are probably headed for a Greece-style showdown between a member country and the EU institutions. And we can all remember how well that ended for Greece…

    • Steven

      I imagine the EU could also halt Paks 2 by making it illegal for Russia to build infrastracture projects in the EU if it really wanted to, or at least it could threaten to do so.

      • Luis

        Yes, the EU does have an array of measures it can take to bring Hungary to heel. Hungary is, after all, a relatively poor country in need of economic assistance: a vulnerable position that doesn’t really allow it to refuse the EU’s demands, if there’s the political will to make them.

        The conditionality mechanism crafted in 2020 and which was applied for the first time this year shows that such a political will now exists. This mechanism was created exactly with Hungary’s case in mind (and Poland’s), and it has to be enforced to act as a deterrent, or it’ll be pointless. Von der Leyen already referred to it prior to the Italian elections. That’s also why I think this time it’s in the EU’s interest to keep Orbán on the hook indefinitely: as a warning to others who may be tempted to go the same way.

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