Hungary has met with a tremendous amount of both national and international criticism in the past nine years, especially targeting the Prime Minister’s attitude towards press freedom and the rule of law.
The acknowledged American newspaper Washington Post has now argued that Hungary might become a rogue state under Orbán’s rule, citing his speech after his re-election last April: “the era of liberal democracy is over”. In the US, nations that are promoting terrorism are called rogue states, though Hungary is not yet there, the Washington Post highlights that the Hungarian leader and his party are reluctant to co-operate with other NATO foreign ministers. Thus, Hungary’s trustworthiness as an ally is questionable.
The author goes on listing the instances when Orbán or Fidesz have tried to sabotage the progress of NATO relations:
in November 2018 the US requested Hungary to give over a pair of Russian arms dealers, but the latter denied, eventually guaranteeing their safe passage back to Russia.
The dealers were trying to sell antiaircraft missiles to Mexican drug cartels.
A couple of weeks later, in December, at a NATO summit, Hungary’s envoy hindered the improvement of the situation between Ukraine and the NATO, by drawing on the education law that Ukraine introduced (according to this law, the Hungarian minority in Ukraine will not be allowed access to Hungarian primary and secondary school education). James Kirchick boldly concludes that by doing so, ‘Hungary is doing Moscow’s bidding’ since Russia has seized lands from Ukraine.
The article argues that Hungary is considered by many to be Russia’s pawn and a means to gather intel on the NATO and the EU since Orbán is often criticising the EU’s sanctions on Russia. Furthermore, when the Russian aggression against Ukraine has piqued and Europe steered clear from Putin, the Russian president made frequent visits to Budapest, where Orbán warmly received him.
Orbán was regarded by US President Trump’s former top strategist Stephen K. Bannon as “Trump before Trump”,
someone who is independent in his views and is trying to distance his country from democratic alliances like the NATO or EU. Kirchik argues that Orbán has been working on turning Hungary into a one-party (rogue) state long before national populism has shown signs with Brexit or with the election of Trump. Orbán, in this sense, has become “one of the most consequential political figures of the 21st century”.
Hungary is turning away from democratic allies mostly because Orbán disagrees with the West’s view on the migrant crisis. The Hungarian leader is preparing for the days when (Western-)Europe will be torn apart and run by Muslims. Orbán is quite easily looking for an ally and for example in authoritarian Russia – when Putin visited Budapest in 2017, Orbán declared that “we all sense – it’s in the air – that the world is in the process of a substantial realignment”.
Kirchik concludes the article by saying that when US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo criticised Russia and China with the remark “powerful countries and actors whose ambition is to reshape the international order in [their] own illiberal image”, one can easily think of the direction where Orbán is steering Hungary as well.
featured image: kormany.hu