Hungary and Europe through Russian eyes

Today let’s look at some Russian responses to Viktor Orbán’s policies as well as Russian analyses of U.S.-Hungarian and U.S.-EU relations. It was about a month ago that Vladimir Putin profusely praised Orbán’s Hungary as Russia’s best friend and ally in Europe. A few days ago Hungary again came up on a Russian State Television program called “Bремя покажет” (Time will tell) when a political scientist, Yuri Solozobov, an associate of the National Strategy Institute of the Russian Federation, explained to his audience that, instead of employing sanctions against the European Union, Russia should use some of its member countries to loosen the unity of the Union. After all, Russia already has allies in Eastern Europe: Hungary and Serbia. If there is no consensus regarding sanctions against Russia, the entire anti-Russian policy of the West will collapse. The video below is a three-minute segment on Hungary with English subtitles.

Solozobov is not the only Russian political scientist who contemplates using Hungary as a tool in Russian diplomacy. Pravda interviewed two other political analysts in the aftermath of Viktor Orbán’s announcement that “a new era has started when the United States not only interferes but takes an active part in internal politics in central European countries,” adding that this was “due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, and the free trade talks under way between the European Union and the U.S.” Finalizing the free trade agreement, officially called the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), has been dragging on for a very long time and the issues are too complex to discuss here, but promoters claim that it would promote economic growth. Opponents in Europe insist that it would benefit only American corporations and would cause harm to the environment by adopting less stringent measures than those currently in force in Europe. Just the other day farmers and trade unions demonstrated in Brussels against the treaty.

The first political scientist to comment on Hungary’s economic and political dependence on the United States and the European Union was Vladimir Bruter, an expert from the International Institute of Humanitarian and Political Studies. He has written several studies for an English-language publication available online called Russia in Global Affairs, a quarterly produced with the participation of the American journal Foreign Affairs. In Bruter’s estimation Hungary depends on the U.S. both economically and politically, and the U.S. “has effective tools to create a conflict within a country that may result in [the] overthrow of power at the U.S.’s bidding.” Bruter is against the adoption of the free trade agreement because in his opinion it will merely serve U.S. interests. If adopted, “the actual independence of the European economy will simply cease to exist.” And this is especially dangerous for small countries like Hungary. American policy is “unacceptable for Central Europe.”

The other analyst who was questioned on Hungary was Aleksey Drynochkin, lead research scientist at the Institute of Europe of the Russian Academy of Sciences. He stressed that American political pressure on Hungary has been relentless. First, there were the accusations of a lack of democracy, now it is “corruption.” Surely, this is a cover story just as Viktor Orbán said. Drynochkin agrees with Orbán: the demonstrations are also the work of the United States. And he foresees the possibility that “some technical regulations on [the] operation of nuclear stations within the European Union may be toughened,” presumably undermining the enlargement of the Paks nuclear power plant by the Russian firm Rossatom.

As for the free trade agreement, according to Drynochkin “in terms of a bare economic theory, this project is likely to have no problems.” But there is a political aspect to it, and  it “is possible that [the] Americans are pursuing their own goal–to completely finish off Europe,” I guess economically. But what the U.S. would achieve by “finishing off Europe” remains a mystery. In his opinion, in political terms the European Union will be less and less independent and “will be more and more the conductor of some foreign actions and intentions.” What Drynochkin and other Russian analysts fail to see is that it was Russian aggression against Ukraine that brought the European Union and the United States closer together. Moreover, it is possible that Vladimir Putin’s belligerence will be the catalyst for a speedier adoption of the EU-U.S. free trade agreement.

But Russian strategists are correct: trying to undermine the cohesion of the European Union is a great deal less costly and risky than settling for a long trade war and a series of sanctions. Trying to torpedo the free-trade agreement is also in Russia’s interest. But why does Hungary support the Russian position in these matters? What does Hungary gain from standing by Russia? I find the Hungarian government’s position hard to explain.

And why does the editorial board of Magyar Nemzet believe it necessary to turn up the volume, accusing the United States of creating a Hungarian Maidan in Budapest? The title itself is outrageous: “Kievan scenario with Western producer?” Or why does Zsolt Bayer, a friend of Viktor Orbán and the owner of the #5 Fidesz membership card, write about “the many American scoundrels (gazember)” who are responsible for the Maidan uprising?  He says that the Americans achieved what they wanted. They will privatize the gas pipelines and will take over the rich land of the country. In brief, they will exploit Ukraine.

Hungary has a bad track record when it comes to picking sides in conflicts. And such governmental decisions have always come at a high cost to the country. “This time is different,” governments say, but it’s almost never different.

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Marcel Dé (@MarcelD10)
Guest

A very welcome piece.

Pravda.ru has published a very long stream of articles on Hungary this year, all presenting the current government as a kindred soul to Russia’s in many fields (from ethnic nationalism to economic policy to energy and, of course, about resisting US & EU ‘diktats’). One was titled ‘Hungary, a gateway to the EU for Russia’ – it’s hard to be clearer than that.

They have all been published in Russian, so it’s not only a FUD strategy meant for ‘the West’ – which is corroborated by Solozobov’s TV appearance.

At some point, the Prime Minister will have to explain to Hungarian citizens why he has become the darling of the Kremlin.

Paul
Guest

From what I’m picking up from my Fidesz in-laws, this ‘blame the Americans for everything’ strategy is being believed hook, line, and sinker by the faithful.

chupacabra
Guest
“And why does the editorial board of Magyar Nemzet believe it necessary to turn up the volume, accusing the United States” Presumably because that is their opinion and they have a right to express it. How does your writing process work. The same way does it not, you have an opinion of things and you write it? And do you seriously debate that “many Americans” had a part to play in the Maidan? When it was publicly admitted that various US services spent 5 billion dollars for tradecraft to bring about a “government the Ukrainians deserve”. A government under which the son of Joe Biden, the vice president of the US became one of the most important players in the Ukrainian energy sector, having a high profile job at the board of the largest gas company there? Several ministers in the Ukraine government are not even Ukrainians nor do they speak the language, they are similar “imports”. But that is not even important. Nobody can debate that Ukraine central gov. is on the side of the United States, and regards the United States as their ally in this conflict. Ukraine really did pick sides in this conflict, they picked the… Read more »
Member

Eva, I think it is very important to differentiate between what Hungarians wants and what Orban and his friends and beneficiaries want.
When you write “But why does Hungary support the Russian position in these matters? What does Hungary gain from standing by Russia? I find the Hungarian government’s position hard to explain.” it should be read
But why does Orban and his friends support the Russian position in these matters? What does Orban’s government gain from standing by Russia? I find the Hungarian government’s position hard to explain.”
It is clearly their interest and not Hungary’s interest.

This is one of the first election poster from Fidesz, from the time when Fidesz members could not be any older than 30 year old, from 1990.

You should choose! (There was also a popular program at the same time on TV with the same title.)

and here is the renewed poster by Fideszfigyelo with the writing
He choose!

Member

Unfortunately mu embedded pictures did not show up, so I am including the links.
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d'magyar
Guest

Moral difference:

MNO, Pravda, Putin media, Orban media etc lie.

Hungarian Spectrum does not.

petofi
Guest

Comparing the USA and Russia:

Many a million landed in the US and kissed the ground as the ‘land of dreams’; I don’t know of a one who arrived in Russia with such a sentiment….more likely, those unfortunates considered it, eventually, as the ‘land of nightmares’.

Member
The Fidesz members, especially those in the Government are criminally corrupt, morally and financially, greedy, covetous, low life thieves, who want to amass fortunes and flaunt it, between themselves as the measure of success. It is the same primitive behaviors, as serial killers want to kill more and more to be the record holder, who kills the most. This inhumane behavior is NOT tolerated by Western societies, so the Hungarians have to seek allies where the Government and the society is similar, and that is Russia and the old Russian states. Those who vote for Fidesz are either such selfish, inhumane money grabbers or some of them are now just scared, that with their lack of capabilities, their inherent stupidity and laziness, once they loose their jobs, which they are holding only because they are browsing, subservient slaves, they can not make a living any more. This is nothing new in Hungary, in each era, many Hungarians, similar to those, who serve the Fidesz now, served enthusiastically the foreign oppressors and been more brutal toward their countrymen then the oppressors themselves. Hungarian society is perpetually trying to assimilate to Europe, when the Government iis more progressive and liberal and fall… Read more »
Guest
I think the explanation for Orbán’s “Eastern Opening” is fairly straightforward. Hungary is hopelessly uncompetitive economically in comparison to the Western members of the EU, perhaps Greece excepted. The education, marketable skills and foreign language competencies of Hungary’s population at large is quite low and Hungarian universities rank near the bottom in international rankings. Hungarian foreign policy is driven primarily by considerations of where lie the richest pickings for the extended Mafia Family of Orbán. From the West, all they can hope for is the opportunity to continue to loot and plunder the dole from Brussels, which is not bad and quite profitable, but not enough. Given that these days all other former Warsaw Pact members very sensibly look to the West for economic salvation, and do so quite enthusiastically, Orbán and the Family perceive fantastic opportunities for themselves to cream off huge deals in places like Russia, Azerbaijan and Iran, where they consider they could well be competitive, especially since all the rest of their East European competitors are looking West. Given the cognitive dissonance of their hopeless mental isolation from the economic realities of a globalizing world, it doesn’t faze Orbán and the Family in the least, that… Read more »
Paul Angyal
Guest
Looking at this debate from Canada, a country so dependent on the USA, that 99% of its citizens can’t even imagine a world without being dominated, I can understand and fully symphatise with what the Hungarian government, (with all its warts) is trying to achieve: a balanced independence. A small country that has always been in the middle of major geopolitical upheavals throughout its entire history has to play the best card it was dealt and today that is a swing policy between Russia and the EU/US bloc. Ukraine very clearly is just a pawn in the US’ geopolitical strategy, formulated after the collapse of the Soviet Union: that the emergence of any potential rival to US world hegemony must be prevented by any means possible. It was never about Ukraine; it was and is about Russia. Tomorrow, it will be China. Hungary should have never joined NATO. Austria didn’t, Sweden didn’t and Finland didn’t either and all these countries are better and safer for that. By the way, Mr. Orbán is not alone; grumpy voices are coming out of Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria as well. Add tomthat Cyprus, Greece and of late, Turkey. The EU leadership is… Read more »
Member

Paul Angyal: What do you mean, that Europe is “giving in to the Americans”? Are you privy of the messages, actions and agreements of hundreds of European politicians, who “gave in to the Americans”? You know therefore, for the fact, that all of them, subserviently and without decision making ability, just folded and are now blindly and meekly following the American instructions, melted out daily to them from the State Department?
Then you may think, that they should give in to the Russians. According to you, that would be a colossal wise decision.
============
Just a note. It does not matter who is the leader of the free world, as long as the purpose is to defend the stability of the World in a way, that our western democracy, our values, our life style can remain. That is the responsibility and the sole purpose of any leader of the Western World. The US has the ability to project power anywhere in the World. European countries have armies that are barely adequate for a military parades. Therefore they cannot dictate their terms to aggressors and terrorists, like Putin.

Ron
Guest

OT: Hungary is number 1 in Europe with regards to obesity.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2887249/The-second-fattest-country-Europe-NHS-chief-declares-war-waistlines-s-revealed-Britain-Hungary-league-table.html

Although the article fails to mention that the obesity rates are stabilizing in the UK they are increasing in Hungary.

pdf alert: http://www.oecd.org/els/health-systems/Obesity-Update-2014.pdf

LwiiH
Guest

Paul Angyal, speaking from a Canadian point of view I find it interesting that if any group disages with them it must be because the Americans are behind it. Yeah, that’s it, the Americans are behind everything bad that is happening to them. It can’t be anything they’re doing… We have no minds of our own, we can’t make any decisions on our own. I know I read this blog looking for secret messages from Eva. You do know that she’s an American agent also…. She’s sending us all secret messages. You can read them if you have the chip put into you brain. We are all have waiting for the secret message from Eva… Then watch what happens.

Paul
Guest

One skill you need to acquire, when reading posts or responding to them is to be able to see behind the obvious; recognise figurative speech, or a metaphor for instance.
The other skill you badly need is the ability to withstand the reflexive reaction to use insults (or attempts thereof) as a counter-argument.
And because I possess both of these, I’ll stop here.

Guest
@ Paul Angyal Hungary can leave NATO and/or the EU any time it pleases, and good riddance to a bad egg. As can the supposedly “grumpy” Czechs, Slovaks and Bulgarians too, if they so choose. So I do wonder why Hungary does not in fact leave both organisations, given that the West is so evil and is in terminal decline? Maybe it has got to do with the EU moneys available for the Orbán Mafia to loot and plunder for their own personal enrichment. Or maybe because despite all their loud-mouthed rhetoric, they would rather not chop off from under themselves the branch of the tree they are sitting on quite some distance from the ground, because the resulting fall could prove to be an exceedingly painful experience. After all, why not in fact join the Putin Maffia’s Eurasian Economic Union instead, given that it is supposed to guarantee without the shadow of a doubt the most glorious future for its members, wonderful progress, enormous enlightenment and ultimately becoming the rightfull bosses of the world? Meaning fantastic opportunities to loot and plunder first in the East, afterwards everywhere else? Or maybe those opportunities are not so fantastic after all, at… Read more »
Guest

The trolls are awake again …
What I find very interesting and also disturbing is that they all only look at economics based on power struggles – in the end thinking about war even. But never do they consider the dimension of basic democratic freedom like rights to express your opinion, to live your own life – especially the rights of women and the rights to your own sexuality.

Imho this is the real difference between EU/USA and Russia/China/Turkey etc – and where does Hungary want to stand?

Paul
Guest

One shouldn’t be forced to ‘choose’. This is the American world view (” you’re either with us, or you’re with the terrorists”).
Is it so completely unfathomable for you that a country, as small, as Hungary should maintain good and mutually beneficial relations with more, than one large power block?

Ron
Guest

wolfi:Imho this is the real difference between EU/USA and Russia/China/Turkey etc – and where does Hungary want to stand?

Are you talking about Hungary, Fidesz or Laszlo Kover. The latter thinks that the fourth ww started and the the 1st, 2nd are not over, and the 3rd was the cold war.

http://valasz.hu/itthon/kover-laszlo-nem-kimelte-amerikat-107959

a similar story here:

http://www.delmagyar.hu/belfold_hirek/kover_egy_uj_szdsz-ben_gondolkodhatnak_az_amerikaiak/2411680/

And 2015 has not started yet. It will be bumpy ride.

Guest

@wolfi

Yes, liberal values and the liberal value system, that’s where it’s at.

And this is precisely the reason why the cognitive dissonance of the Orbán Mafia about the world we live in and their mindless fascistoid nationalism is such a catastrophic disaster for Hungary.

Paul
Guest

‘Orbán mafia’. ‘Putin mafia’. Endless repetition of the well-rehearsed propaganda terms and phrases; demonise your opponent, create a bogeyman (Putin) and use big words, like ‘freedom’ ‘democracy’ and ‘human rights’.
Bollocks, I say.

Member

PAUL!

Eszembe jutott rögtön, a Kövér kijelentését olvasam;
Kövér László azt is elmondta, szerinte nem azon kell dolgozni, hogy „az amerikaiak megszeressenek”, inkább máshol kell szövetségeseket találni. „Olyanokat, akikkel ugyanabban a hajóban evezünk, méghozzá az alsó fedélközben. Ők a kelet-közép-európai országok” – mondta.

Akik a korrupciós, személyes meggazdagodás és a hatalom bitorlása miatt “más szövetségeseket keresnek, hogy más hajóban evezhessenek együtt velük” azt diktálják az ország népének, anélkül, hogy azok is ugyanezt akarnák, hogy el kell vetni a Nyugat-Európai és USA értékrendszert (ami nagyon sokban közös) és át kell venni a Keleti országokban, az Oroszok által diktált és ott honosodott diktatórikus, értékrendszert, ami milliók szabadságvesztése, egy kis hatalmon levő osztály meggazdagodásának érdekében.

Kövérnek nem lehet nehéz máshol evezni, nagyapja óta családtagjaival együtt a kommunista/szocialista diktatúrák értékrendszerét erőltetik mindenkire, akire csak tudják.

“Vissza Ázsiába!” (Mert a fiúk és ezek szerint Ön is Paul, mind oda valók!)

Guest

Latest news:
After breakfast our young ones right now broke into uncontrollable laughter – via their smartphones they read on Index the latest news:
Kövér said the fourth world war has been started by the Americans (against Hungary of course …)!

gagauz
Guest
I can also report about in-laws, who are more or less working class without higher education asking me about the Free Trade Agreement, which is never really discussed in mainstream media (which by the way is a problem, I think). But apparently in the Fidesz media world it is just another issue with which the US wants to control Hungary. These Americans are pretty smart, they always have several irons in the fire. Russia (regardless of the TTIP) is seen as a savior, a proper conservative country which doesn’t want to influence our political situation. (Sigh.) It means a lot of readers here have hopeless fidesznisk in-laws. Orban may have lost 1m voters, but he still has a huge base of fanatic followers. And note that Orban may have lost voters, but Jobbik gained a lot and Jobbik is even more pro-Russian than Orban is, if that’s a possibility at all. Pro-Russian sentiment is running high among Hungarians. These people have never been to Russia, most people have never been to Western-Europe, but they are sure that Russia is the new hope. They have ‘seen’ the ‘EU and the US’ (ie. capitalism) and know that they don’t like that, Russia… Read more »
Pokemon
Guest

If the US doesn’t like us, we need to find new allies.

The US has started (it is waging) the fourth world war (i.e. the third being the cold war).

The US wants to establish the new SZDSZ (for the uninitiated SZDSZ, a now long-defunct party is the symbol of/reference to the jewish-liberal conspiracy, a virus in the body of the healthy Hungarian nation).

So says Laszlo Kövér (the chairman of the Parliament and the so-called ‘conscience of Fidesz’) the elder statesman of the Hungarian intelligence community.

I guess the Russians have done a pretty good job of penetrating that community (and the Hungarian government).

http://index.hu/belfold/2014/12/27/kover_zajlik_a_negyedik_vilaghaboru/

Marcel Dé (@MarcelD10)
Guest
Mike Balint On the other hand, experiments with “balanced independence” and opportunistic shuttlecock policy (“hintapolitika”) had invariably ended up in utter disaster. If by ‘invariably’ you mean the ‘1930s, then indeed. The other day a troll ventured into mentioning Hungarian-German relations regarding Czechoslovakia in 38/39 as an illustration of Hungarian sovereignty – little did he seem to realize how much Budapest had been played by Berlin all along. Mike Balint Seems to me that historically Hungary has only been able to achieve a modicum of stability, prosperity and progress when it was an inseparable part of a larger geopolitical whole, like the Dual Monarchy, … For sure. However, once their ruling class fell in for a dream of imperialist expansion from the Adriatic to the Black Sea it didn’t end so well. I can (well, I think I can) understand the desire of not being dragged into a conflict between ‘bigger powers’. However, the idea that a country with so little leverage can play solo seems ludicrous, especially when that country’s government openly nurtures ethno-nationalist demographic, if not territorial, claims – claims that make it impossible for that country to choose the path of neutrality. Choices have to be made… Read more »
Jon Van Til
Guest

@Mike Balint. I wonder here: How far has my country fallen that its basic value set becomes seen in terms of “capitalism” rather than “democracy”? And how it it that we who have made a commitment to Hungary, educators and civic activists alike, have failed so miserably in our efforts to help Hungarians see that no good future lies ahead if they follow the authoritarian and oligarchic ways of Putin’s Russia?

Ron
Guest

Eva: @Ron re obesity. I read it too. I was astonished. I knew that people are overweight but I didn’t realize that they hold the record.

I was not surprised. However, the report took from the age of 15 and older. But if they include the young ones, especially the last few years, you notice an increase. Reasons (not scientific, but according to me) are:

Kids stay too long at school (from 8am till 16.00pm)
Food at school is not that good. Lots of pasta, and sweet stuff.
Cantines in basic schools sell candy, crisps, fanta, etc. (cola and coffee as a kid you cannot get)
Because kids have to stay at school the extra curriculum is reduced significantly (some were doing ,soccer, basketball and guitar), which is now only one topic.
People cannot afford the good food, but only the bad stuff.

googly
Guest
I really don’t understand how ignorant people must be to believe the trolls who talk about how the US is in control in Ukraine. On the Maidan, none of the people I know who we there mentioned the US, they always talked about the EU. I didn’t see any pictures of US flags flying there, only EU and Ukrainian flags (well, there were a few of those Banderist-type flags, but the far-right wing did much, much worse in Ukraine than in Hungary during the elections, what does Putin have to say about that?). Ukrainians will take what help they can get (apparently there were US special-ops advisers in Donetsk/Luhansk before the ceasefire), but they are not primarily trying to become a US ally – they know that their future lies with the EU. You would have to be extremely ignorant to say that the EU is subservient to the US, since the major EU countries have opposed many US initiatives, such as the war in Iraq, GMO foods, and now stronger sanctions against Russia (which are far more in the interest of the EU than the US, in my opinion).Many people (including myself) in the EU see themselves as a… Read more »
Istvan
Guest
So my family and I spent our Christmas in Hungary, and were in Budapest, Esztergom, and areas near Esztergom. We spent time with many members of my extended family and dodged some pretty serious rain and light snow. I have had a chance to read a number of Eva’s posts from the 18th through the 26th of December and on the return flight wrote most of this post. Neither of my daughters nor my wife speaks or reads Hungarian. But my younger daughter, who is civil affairs officer in the US Army reserves, is also a competitive foil fencer, she apparently knew some members of an Esztergom based Fencing Association who were all fluent in multiple languages. My wife had lunch with several Hungarian members of the World Federation of Occupational Therapists who spoke multiple languages. So our contacts were somewhat varied on this trip, which by the way was my one and only winter trip to Hungary in my life. The plethora of anti-Americanism was obvious from much of the popular media in Hungary. I have not seen anything like it since the ravings of the Hungarian Socialist Workers Party during the US Vietnam War. Prior to leaving the… Read more »
Guest

Welcome back, Istvan!
You hit the nail right on the head:
” frustrated cosmopolitan youth in Budapest who are deeply attracted to European societies” perfectly describes our young ones and their friends – they just told us that another one of their “group” left for the Canary Islands where she got a fabulous job offer in an international school …

They also told me about Hofi Géza and one of his famous sayings:

What is the Hungarian definition of corruption?
Corruption is when you’re left out of it …

googly
Guest
Paul Angyal, You wrote: “A small country that has always been in the middle of major geopolitical upheavals throughout its entire history has to play the best card it was dealt and today that is a swing policy between Russia and the EU/US bloc.” Oh, then you must agree with the Hungarian leaders’ policies leading up to Mohacs: try to be friends with both Austria and the Ottoman Empire. That worked out so well for Hungary, in your eyes. It’s people like you who allow Fidesz to have uncontrolled power in Hungary. Russia is not just another large, powerful neighbor of Hungary, it is a rapacious empire looking for colonies and other countries to use for its own purposes then throw away when no longer necessary (or absorb). If we get too close to Russia, we will be kicked out of the EU, then we will no longer be of use to Putin. Meanwhile, as part of the EU, the worst we have to put up with is being told what kind of bananas we have to sell in our stores. We don’t have to be nice to homosexuals, we don’t have to encourage foreign investment, and we certainly don’t… Read more »
Marcel Dé (@MarcelD10)
Guest
goggly: If we get too close to Russia, we will be kicked out of the EU, then we will no longer be of use to Putin. I beg to differ. Naturally, the ability to troll the EU from the inside is a great asset, but perhaps you already had a look at how Russian media deals with Zakarpattia? Accounting for every declaration of the HU gov’t (not only Jobbik) on the subject? And they’re doing the same thing with the Serbian gov’t. Russian ethno-nationalism is looking for puppets in the region, in or out of the EU. The rhetoric is rather simple: ‘we’ (Russians, Magyars, Serbs) are deprived of the right to be reunited with our kin / ‘we’ are double victims of the West, who tore us apart in the past (Trianon, Bosnian & Kosovo wars, breakup of the USSR), and now won’t even allow us to care for our brethren abroad. By the way, the Romanian presidential election wasn’t good news for the Kremlin, who has interest in a rise of inter-ethnic tensions in this country. The negative criticism of ‘multiculturalism’ in the West by Russia is another side of the same discourse, this time geared towards Westerners… Read more »
d'magyar
Guest

It is time to seek renewal, recovery, other means to resurrection from the dead.

After Christmas, we have to focus on a future good life.

Even Hungarians can perform miracles on a few occassions.

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