Espreso. Global

How to "avoid Orban"?

9 January, 2024 Tuesday

European Council President Charles Michel hastened to reassure the public, which was already despairing about the prospect of the Hungarian prime minister's temporary tenure, that everything would be fine

"There are many tools to avoid Viktor Orban if there is political will," Michel said.

Key words here: "If there is political will".

We often say that democracy is primarily about institutions and procedures. But it is the European Union that has recently been held hostage to procedural issues. The situation with Michel is caused by his obligation to resign as president of the European Council due to his participation in the European Parliament elections.

And Hungary is just preparing to preside over the EU, so Orban can be "Michel" for a few months. It goes without saying what the Union risks by following this seemingly quite civilized instruction…

But it's not even about Orban. Perhaps the European Council does have a recipe (invite Viktor "to drink some coffee," as it happened when the EU launched Ukraine's accession negotiations; buy his "mercy" with money) to neutralize Russia's Trojan horse. The question is that Europe, "poisoned by security" (to quote Yevhen Hlibovytskyi), is unable to cope with populists who are increasingly reminding of themselves in the Old World.

Viktor Orbán is the most prominent type of such politician and, sadly, evidence that they will only multiply. The reason seems to lie on the surface when it comes to Eastern European countries in particular - the influence of Russia. After all, Orban, the leader of the "young democrats" (the name of his party, Fidesz, is how it is translated from Hungarian - author), despite the anti-Moscow slogans with which he came to power, turned out to be corrupted by Kremlin strategists from the very beginning of his career. It is said that the sudden change in his mood was caused by Putin showing him a certain video that shows the fact of a bribe from an armed mafia man, Semion Mogilevich (incidentally, a native of Kyiv). The case goes back to the distant '90s, but I think the video has not lost its relevance.

Now Brussels is scratching its head over how to prevent the influence of people like Hungary's Orban and Slovakia's Fico (I recall his involvement in the cover-up of the Calabrian mafia and the murder of journalist Ján Kuciak during his previous prime ministerial term) on the overall security situation in the EU.

"It will be more difficult to avoid the Orbans in 2024 when Slovakia will hold presidential elections, and the current speaker of parliament (from under Fico's wing) Peter Pellegrini has a chance to win. Let's add Romania to the list: the pro-Russian AUR could hit the jackpot in the parliamentary elections there.

Therefore, in my opinion, it will not be possible to simply "avoid Orban," despite the desire of Michel and other pillars of the current European political elite. First of all, Europe must protect itself from Putin's open agents and his "useful idiots."

They act according to the cynical patterns of their "patron" - using the procedures and institutions of democracy against democracy. The goal is chaos and uncertainty, a split in the opponent's camp, and the imposition of the ideas of an autocratic perspective for the world as more effective, efficient, and "victorious."

First of all, Brussels should consider the possibility of open aggression from Russia in the near future. Analysts say that Putin will not miss the opportunity to use the chance of election fog in the United States, when Washington will be unable to respond adequately to threats, absorbed in the presidential race. And the problem is not whether NATO will invoke its Article 5 in the event of a military threat against an Alliance member or not. The question is how adequate and timely the response will be. And whether the Orbans and other Ficos will not try to start useless procedural discussions at this critical moment.

If this response is similar to the one demonstrated by the Bundeswehr regarding the unimpeded flying of unidentified drones over training grounds where Ukrainian soldiers are training, the outcome is clear.

If NATO and its individual members react the way they have done so far in cases of airspace violations by Russian missiles, then the Orbans have not worked in vain.

If the calls of Sweden and Italy to create their own European army in order to "have an effective European foreign policy" will be ignored, the outcome of the war will be predictable.

It may be possible to "avoid Orban" at the table of civilized democratic negotiations. But on the field of real war, it is impossible.

Written specially for Espreso.

About the author. Ihor Hulyk, a journalist.

The editors do not always share the opinions expressed by the authors of blogs.

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