Espreso. Global

Orban dreams of emperor's laurels

22 December, 2023 Friday

Budapest is on the verge of leaving the EU because of Ukraine: I will tell you why modern Hungary is much more comfortable in the company of Russia and China

There are four states on the Eurasian continent that dream of reviving the imperial past: China, Russia, Turkey and... Hungary. With the Asian trio, everything is obvious, but Budapest's intentions are camouflaged. 

The Entente countries, the winners of World War I, and the defeated Hungary signed the Treaty of Trianon, according to which Hungary lost 63.2% of its population and 2/3 of its territory, which was "dismantled" by its neighbors:

  • Romania: Transylvania and eastern Banat.
  • Czechoslovakia: Slovakia, Transcarpathia (annexed to Soviet Ukraine in 1945).
  • Yugoslavia: Croatia, Bacca, and western Banat.
  • Austria: Burgenland.

In the minds of the average Hungarian, the surrender of 1920 is associated with the greatest national tragedy, and the revival of the empire is a great phantom dream.

"We, the members of the Hungarian nation, promise to preserve the intellectual and spiritual unity of our nation, torn apart by the storms of the last century," is one of the first sentences of the newest Hungarian constitution.

The modern coat of arms of the country includes medieval elements - the three green Hungarian mountains of Tatra, Matra, and Fatra, two of which were "dismantled" by the neighbors.

“Orban's Fidesz party exploits the theme of imperialism, and the prime minister himself likes to wear the symbols of ‘Greater Hungary’”

Hungary expects a weakening of Europe and a strengthening of China; Orban considers liberal democracy to be destructive, as corruption, sex, and moral degradation are supposedly destroying the United States and, by extension, Western Europe. Budapest, on the other hand, professes "illiberal democracy" and admits that it feels more comfortable in the East than in Brussels.

In October 2023, when the world was trying to appease Beijing and Moscow, Orban flew to Beijing's Belt and Road Forum, where he fawned over Xi and the bunker man. The main message was to build a common future.

"Hungary buys Russian oil and gas, and Rosatom builds a nuclear power plant in Hungary in 2014. A Russian intelligence headquarters was opened in Budapest under the guise of a bank. Orban is an advocate of the Kremlin's aggressive policy and, logically, slows down Ukraine's European integration."

Ukrainian intelligence services reported that Hungary was aware of Russia's upcoming full-scale attack on Ukraine and even planned to annex part of Ukrainian territory. This hypothesis is indirectly confirmed by the fact that on the eve of the large-scale invasion, on February 1, 2022, Orban flew to Putin.

The attraction to the East is explained by ethnic similarities. The ancestors of Hungarians lived in the northeastern part of the Ural Mountains, Hungarian is related to Khanty and Mansi, and it was greatly influenced by Turkic and Iranian languages. That is why Orban's foreign policy strategy is based on Turkism, which emerged in the nineteenth century in Russia and Austria-Hungary and is based on the common origin of Turkic, Mongolian and other Altai peoples.

Today, Budapest de facto acts as an agent of influence for the revisionist East in the EU, blocking Sweden's accession to NATO and assistance to Ukraine, but Brussels is in no hurry to remove the foreign body from its political womb.

Article 7 of the EU Treaty provides for the possibility of suspending a member's rights in case of violation of the EU's fundamental principles. This political "amputation" would free Budapest's hands, and it would slide into the open political embrace of China and Russia. Therefore, Brussels is only manipulating Article 7, but has not yet used it. In particular, this is how German Chancellor Scholz forced Orban to leave the hall during the vote on Ukraine's European integration.

It seems that under the control of this Article 7, Brussels and Budapest will coexist for some time until the political situation changes: either the Hungarian people re-elect themselves to power, or Hungary will eventually openly align itself with the "brotherly peoples" of the East.


About the author. Orest Sohar, journalist, Obozrevatel editor-in-chief.

The editors don't always share the opinions expressed by the authors of the blogs.

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