With the Ukraine crisis escalating, Russia is in extremely bad lights in the Western world. President Obama’s ineptitude to handle the bully that Putin became has put Russia in a position which is starting to resemble the animosity during the cold war. The new European Union sanctions caused new tensions between Moscow and the nations of Europe. Most of them that is.
Hungary, whose people have a long, historic dislike for Russia is now torn between the West and the East. Although financed heavily by the European Union, Hungary seeks shady partnership with Putin. In a new set of policies called the “Eastern Opening”, Hungary’s Prime Minister Vikor Orbán steers the ship of state away from the west.
This new change of directions is ironic considering Mr. Orbán’s past. He was a vocal advocate of democratic changes in the late 80s, and formed an opposition that demanded the Soviets to leave Hungary for good. Even in 2007 he fiercely demanded Hungary to choose the West rather than the East. It is him nevertheless who now admires the intolerable political system President Putin implemented in Russia.
In 2014, Hungary signed a deal with Russia for a huge loan in order to finance the expansion of the country’s nuclear power plant by building a new block. This indebted Hungary for more than 20 years. There are details of this deal however that are not disclosed to the public and are classified for 10 years.
It is not only economic ties Hungary is developing with Russia, but an ideological one as well. Viktor Orbán delivered a speech recently in which he praised Russia and China over the western political systems of liberal democracies which he deemed as failures. He openly stated that he is on his way to bring about an illiberal democracy which supposedly will be modeled on the country that Mr. Orbán was so eager to shoo away from Hungary.
Hungary’s position on Ukraine shows where the country’s alliances are. PM Orbán has condemned the sanctions against Russia, but the true problem lies with Hungary’s extremely popular neo-Nazi party Jobbik. It was among the few political entities in Europe which recognized the legitimacy of the territories in Ukraine which proclaimed independence.
Jobbik, at the invitation of a Russia based organization called the Eurasian Observatory For Democracy and Elections, sent observers alongside with other extremist European parties to the Crimean Referendum. If it wasn’t enough proof that Jobbik is a pro-Putin party, an MEP for the political organization has been changed with being an agent of Russia. His job, it would seem, was to undermine the stability in the region. There are in fact many extremist political parties in the EU apparently doing to same task for Russia, in order to weaken the EU.
The recent turn of events is even more worrying. Combining Jobbik’s racism ideologies with its pro-Russia tendencies, a conference will take place in Budapest, organized by The National Policy Institute, an American white nationalist NGO. The conference, where members of Jobbik will speak will be about “The Future of Europe. Perspectives on geopolitics, identity and nationalism.” Alexander Dugin will also be a guest speaker, who is often described as a fascist and he is also close to the Russian high political echelons, responsible for many of the new nationalist policies in Russia and in Europe.
Hungary has to choose. It is either the West or the East. Unfortunately the country is being pushed by its most popular parties towards the latter. Hungary’s place however is in Europe, where people are free, where they are free to choose and their lives are not controlled by tyrants. Liberal democracy has not failed. It is Hungary that has failed liberal democracy.