Category Archives: Foreign policy

Crime in slow motion

As the EU is passively looking on

The disagreeable minister of regional development in Hungary is trusted to negotiate with the European Union for the release of the billions withheld from Hungary for over a year now. The reason for the stern suspension of funds was the belated, but nevertheless, determined position of the European Union that Hungary ceased to be a lawful democracy and until this condition is corrected, payments shall be withheld. Minister Navracsics, formerly a professor of law and also one of the leaders of Fidesz party, was also appointed by prime minister Viktor Orban in 2014 as EU commissionaire. He was surrounded with suspicion and distrust in his position as commissionaire of a minor portfolio there. He failed to convince his collegues about his readiness to represent union interests as opposed to national Hungarian ones as demanded from him his ”master,” Mr. Orban. But now he is back on his old turf, as someone with connections to the Union bureaucracy, commissioned by Viktor Orban to be the sly fox that will eventually lure, cajole, or wrest the billions of Euros from the holding of the Union escrow. And Mr. Navracsics is busy, negotiating almost weekly in Brussels, trying to convince his interlocutors about the corrective measures the Hungarian government have done to comply with the twenty seven ”mile stones” the European Commission set for them as the conditions of releasing the funds. And while he is repeatedly assuring the Hungarian public about the imminence of the arrival of the funds, the truth is that the government is rather trying to sneak around the required changes than instituting any substantial improvements as demanded from them. All the changes are superficial, without really restoring in their effect the rule of law, or reduce the staggeringly rampant corruption in Hungary. And for a while it looked like the European Commission, (or for that matter the European Court of Justice), shall not be fooled and the stalemate remains.

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The trouble with Tucker Carlson:

Why  conservatives should not support right-wing autocrats

Western liberal democracies have been under persistent attack in recent years by closed-minded left-wing ideologues who have taken over many of our leading institutions. Attempts to cancel, deplatform, and sanction anyone who dares to voice a dissenting opinion have been common in the media, in our universities, and in public life. It is all the more important, therefore, that resistance to such woke totalitarianism comes from trustworthy, well-informed, and objective opinion leaders, media organisations, and commentators.

As a refugee from communist Hungary myself, with painful memories of life under a dictatorship, I am highly sensitive to creeping totalitarianism at both ends of the political spectrum. I have therefore watched with growing concern the worrying trend among some conservative commentators, such as Tucker Carlson, who have been sycophantically promoting right-wing autocracts and illiberal regimes such as Viktor Orban’s in Hungary.

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Jeszcze Polska nie zginęła

“Poland is not yet lost”

So goes the opening line of Poland’s Mazurka style national anthem.  As long as we live Poland will not be lost.  And this is how much we know for sure about the Parliamentary elections in Poland held on October 15.

Furthermore, and quite honestly, this is the takeaway from a European perspective.  The final result will eventually allow three opposition parties to form a coalition government, which will end two dark four-year terms of the Law and Justice Party (PiS) rule in Poland.  Poland would once again play a constructive role in the European dialogue for a more perfect Union.  The country of almost 40 million population may take its decisive role in pursuing a constructive European agenda.

From the Hungarian perspective, there will be a host of other conclusions and takeaways as to how all this may impact Hungarian politics and public discourse about the restoration of a democratic order.  Our Hungarian Perspective will attempt to address some of the ramifications of the defeat of the born-again nationalist PiS rule.  Our Blog will assess the outcome of the Polish vote and the prospects of the new government in other posts too, soon to come.

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It is depressing but might not be as dark as it seems.

The Slovakian situation

For quite a few of my Slovakian friends the outcome of Saturday’s elections came as a shock.

While most polls predicted the victory of Robert Fico, the old strongman deposed as a result of the “gentle revolution” of 2018 following the murder of investigative journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancée. But there were some exceptions favoring the liberal Progressive Slovakia (PS) party; even on election night exit polls suggested that the liberals would win. This did not happen, as Fico’s right-wing pro-Putin nationalist party, the SMER-Social Democracy Party, garnered 22,89% of the votes, with the PS ending up in second place, with 18% of the vote, and Hlas (‘Voice’), a somewhat more decent group of SMER dissidents, in third place with 14.7%.

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Is Something Rotten in Sweden, too?

The ratification of Sweden’s accession to NATO has been delayed repeatedly over this last year by the Hungarian Parliament.

Why is this so?  Is there anything wrong with Sweden? We know that something is, literarily speaking, ”rotten in Denmark.” Is then something rotten in Sweden too?  Do Hungarians have good reasons to withhold, hand in hand with Turkey, their consent to the timely accession of Sweden to NATO?  Hardly so.

Who among the Hungarian decision makers (to be sure there are only a handful) hold grudges against the Swedes?  No one, we venture to say.  This game must be about something else than against the very country from whom Hungary had procured SAAB Gripen fighters which make up the entire air force fleet of Hungary.  Yes, the whole Hungarian Air Force was manufactured in the country which the Hungarian Government does not see fit to join the NATO military alliance.  And yes, in September 2001, Minister Matolcsy (then Minister of Economy) and Defense Minister János Szabó (does anyone remember this military talent?) announced that Hungary was to purchase its fleet from SAAB in an offset program.

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