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Country Report: Hungary

2023-06-29
Time to read: 6 min
Another CPAC in Budapest

Following the success of the first European CPAC in Budapest last year, the meeting of conservatives who gravitate towards the US Republicans was held again in Budapest at the beginning of May.

At a time when Orbán is in the midst of a tug-of-war with the Biden administration, the organisation of this event was no accident. It is essential for Orbán to show, particularly to his electorate and his European allies - a year ahead of the elections for the European Parliament - that his ties with the United States are not broken and that he still has important allies.

In his opening speech, Viktor Orbán, as usual, set the tone in no uncertain terms. "We are all under attack, in Europe as well as in America [...], and the attack is not of an economic nature. We are facing a biological weapon, it is a viral attack that has been launched against us. This virus was developed in liberal progressive laboratories. [...] It's a nationophobe virus" declared the Prime Minister. "People without a homeland cannot be free; they will only be nomads, settled here and there, and pawns of the global elite".

In a speech intended as an ode to the very concept of nation and nation state, Orbán drew attention to the decline of the West, particularly when compared to the rest of the world, especially in demographic and economic terms. Considering that the West is now the leader in military terms only, he explained that "this necessarily leads to armed conflict, which is what's happening today".

Using the image of a virus to describe the radical woke and progressive ideology, Viktor Orbán then continued: "This virus has not escaped: it has been produced, multiplied and unleashed on the whole world. Migration, gender and wokism are all variants of the same virus. According to Orbán, immigrationism and woke ideology stem from the same desire to destroy nations, atomise societies and deconstruct identities.

Then, as he had already done in 2016, Viktor Orbán openly wished Donald Trump victory in the forthcoming US elections, after denouncing "progressive diplomacy", which he says is imperialist by nature, and which in the name of exporting democracy has destroyed countries. "Progressives always apply an imperialist policy. They exert diplomatic pressure on nations, and expect alignment: do you support immigration, the propaganda of gender theory, relativisation of the family, sexualisation of children? Those who are not inclined to agree with all this are designated as enemies, and the liberal fatwa is then pronounced against them".

He concluded with an unequivocal sovereignist critique: "The latest objective of progressive imperialist diplomacy is to deprive the nations of the European Union of their right to national diplomacy.

 In concluding his speech, Viktor Orbán took up the viral metaphor. "The good news is that there is no longer any need to look for a cure for the progressive virus. It's here, in Hungary. Accessible to all. It's free and with a simple local adaptation, it can be implemented elsewhere and it works. [...] It protects against all variants of progressivism, and what's more, it has no side effects. [...] All we need to do before the elections is to write in huge, clearly visible letters on the banner: no to immigration, no to gender, no to war".

For Budapest's strongman, the progressives' weak point remains democracy. "They already knew in ancient Rome that there are two ways of taking a city: either you take the city walls, or you occupy its sanctuaries. I suggest we start with the sanctuaries, then come the walls. We have taken some great European sanctuaries in recent years: Budapest, Warsaw, Rome, Jerusalem; Vienna is not without hope. But the truth is that the two main sanctuaries of modern democracy, Washington and Brussels, are still in the hands of the progressives. Let's do something to change that.

The European Parliament strikes back

Unsurprisingly, the news of May is once again marked by the battle between the authorities of the European Union and those of Hungary.

And today marks a new stage in the drift of the European institutions. This umpteenth attack on Hungary, initiated by MEPs with an extremist, progressive and federalist vision of the EU, is a cause for concern, because it is contrary to the Treaties and is already threatening another member country, Poland.

What is it all about? Progressive MEPs, who do everything to distort the institutions of the EU and use them as a tool to interfere in the national politics of a theoretically sovereign Member State, have proposed (and adopted on 1 June) a resolution to prevent Hungary from taking over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union on 1 July 2024. Poland is due to take over six months later, and already the talk in Brussels is that if this measure succeeds in preventing Hungary from taking over the rotating presidency, the same thing will then apply to Poland to increase pressure on the application of the "rule of law", a concept that has never been legally defined and is increasingly subjective and frivolous.

Although the rotating presidency has lost some of its importance over the years, particularly with the rise in power of the European Council, it remains a real political tool that enables the country holding the presidency to set the agenda at ministerial meetings or by representing the Council at joint working sessions with the other European institutions.

So to justify this measure, which goes beyond the consequences of the European Parliament, the same mantras are repeated over and over again. They are  accusations that only carry weight because they are repeated over and over again by the same clique of MEPs and journalists, based not on facts but on opinions. However, it is impossible in Western Europe to make this point of view heard, because whatever the Hungarian government and its Prime Minister Viktor Orbán say, the response is that they are being "provocative" if they express an opinion that differs from the European mainstream. And when he sets out to defend Hungarian national interests, particularly in terms of protecting the Hungarian minority in Ukraine or energy supplies, he is accused of all sorts of evils.

So there is no dialogue, and the divorce seems to have begun. Legally speaking, however, Hungary is endeavouring to continue to respect the treaties to the letter, relying on its legalism to defend its case. But when faced with adversaries who do as they please and who openly disregard the treaties and take measures that go beyond their legal powers, is this really useful? The answer is: what else can Hungary do?

 

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