Budapest Challenges West

By Gabor Stier

Having announced the policy of openness towards East, Hungary leads “free war” with the IMF and the EU.


“We shall fight for independence of Hungary! We expect from the IMF respect and trust!”. Hungarian government promotes add with this content for a full double-page, entering thus into confrontation with the International Monetary Fund, negotiations on granting of credit with which they have held already almost a year. This well fits into the concept of economic liberation movement of V.Orban, positioning himself as defender of nation from interference of international institutions and greedy markets. This fight he has led for already two years simultaneously with announced by conservative revolution. In his statements and speeches Hungarian Prime Minister harshly criticizes the elite of 1968, as if it is a liberal – and now more likely not liberal – the spirit of the epoch has lost the grounds. “To achieve full freedom we have to collapse all walls and the roof shall fall on our heads!”  The Head of Hungarian government predicts decline of West. According to him, the trouble-free state, to which Europe has got used, has no future. He doesn’t have mercy on the European Union. “Europe, as alcohol, which inspires on big deeds, but impedes their achievement”, - declared he once. V.Orban scourges the incapability of the EU and considers, that by today’s economic situation of the Eurozone it’s irresponsible to introduce Euro in Hungary. More efficient he considers Central-European methods of fighting crisis. In this respect on the eve of the visit to Berlin he stated for German edition: “Handelsblatt”, that the issue of current democratic regimes is about weakness of leaders. Presidential system of administration, as if for sure, fits more for complicated reforms, then Parliamentary one. “History has pulled the carpet under our feet. Earlier we’ve been sure that if Hungarians do something the same way, as West Europeans, then they shall be the same successful. Hungarian foreign policy shall be good not in case if it is completely similar to Western, but when it fully corresponds national interests. This demands more creative approach as earlier, but not just routine work”, - this way V. Orban described the levers of Hungarian foreign policy at annual summer session of the Heads of diplomatic missions.


Such foreign political line is aimed at extension of maneuvers field for Hungary in Eastern direction. To some extent this explains extradition of Azerbaijani military men R. Safarov, who severely murdered his Armenian fellow student in Budapest and was convicted to life sentence. This event has shocked international community and incited aggression of Yerevan. Budapest performed extradition in accordance with all norms, having even received from Baku assurance that R. Safarov shall not be released. But despite observance of all formalities, development of the events was quite predictable, and this proves that the story of extradition sets definite moral issues. To the mind of civilized world R. Safarov is not a hero, but a violent murderer. Wrongly Hungarian government considers the issue to be closed, the twilight around it [case] shall give ground for further guesses and sneaky combinations. And Hungary has plenty of those without it.


Hungarian government has mistaken, it acted not prudently, it didn’t consider the sensitivity of other participants, at the same time we can’t deny that the gesture to Azerbaijan was made in the frameworks of the policy of openness towards East, which West criticizes. From Washington to Brussels they treat suspiciously not only Hungarian domestic transformations and unorthodox economic policy, but also the openness of Budapest towards Moscow, Beijing, El-Riyadh or Baku.  Yet this policy hasn’t demonstrated any breakthroughs, it has much more pure rhetoric, confused blocking each other attempts, than real results but Atlantic circles are enough with it. Disappointment is also heated by the fact that a born atlantist V.Orban had this time dominating pragmatism and desire more effectively fulfill national interests.


Despite such usability, Hungarian Prime Minister is no doubt a real fighter with wind mills. If there are no windmills, he shall erect those himself. That is why Europe doesn’t really understand him. It obviously got bored that V.Orban positions himself as a counter to the elite of 1968, which today controls the mind of the Union and the press as the counter to West, raising the issues of vital values. Anyone may think about the government of V.Orban whatever they wish, at the same time the reality is that he has to work in the situation, when state property has already been sold to foreign companies, unimpeded privatizations has been held and political lies, which left after himself his predecessor, the favorite of the EU and the IMF “neoliberal socialist” F. Gyurcsany. Provided there would be no this hard heritage, Hungarian right-wings would have never gained 2/3 in the Parliament. Today only several Central-European analysts realize that. As for example, a reporter of Polish conservative newspaper “Uwazam Rze” I. Janke, who considers that the expectations of the IMF are hardly acceptable. He thinks, that the line of the Fund and often the EU shows how international institutions violate the sovereignty under the flag of democracy.


Few is also spoken about that V. Orban has definite successes. From “twenty seven” only Hungary has managed without foreign aid to reduce the level of state debt in 2012. Addressing pure facts, omitting political coloring, we can with assurance declare that in Central Europe the highest debt is in Hungary, and next year it can be financed from market funds, no matter that it shall be more expensive. Naturally, by the condition that the state of international financial market shall not aggravate. Yet they can maintain the deficit level less than 3%, but this should be covered with growth indexes. We haven’t yet talked about that among the states of “Visegrad Four” Hungary demonstrates serious gap, meanwhile it has to face the fact that it is not able to maintain at worthy level the system of education, health, pension.  At the same time it is quite real that by existence of all these problems due to eloquence at home the government shall remain at its negotiation lines and shall agree with the terms of the IMF only by really very serious problems.


The problem is even not about (although often it seems that it is) that constant improvisation goes on. As the Minister of Economy of the first government of V. Orban (1998-2002) A. Chikan didn’t manage to create corresponding interconnection between inherited reality (corruption and wastage), international economic situation, which is characterized with disseminated deep global financial crisis, and own economic  policy, calculated for 7% deficit, and thus, called to initiate growth. He added that in this situation it’s not good to behave ourselves as if we define the direction. A.Chikan thinks that in this image, constructing on traditional system of values and resting on middle class, one element lacks - control. We should speak more about informational revolution and less about the phenomena of the 21st century.  Without healthy economic policy it is impossible to accomplish social-political concepts. Here we can also add the idea about national independence, economic liberation fight, which seems to be quite odd in a modern global world, especially for the EU member. Hungarian right-wings often feel this membership as forcing, although according to polls electorate mostly supports it. Naturally, it’s hard for him to accept that the club has definite laws, and not only he, but also others have their opinions, and a part of its sovereignty we have already gave out, independently, but not under pressure, when we joined the EU.


The government also experiences paradox situations. This is also proved by the fact, that crossing all lines, it goes its way. Even if sometimes forgetting, in so-called unorthodox decisions and perceiving the sovereignty more seriously, than most Europeans, it constantly returns to warm European embraces. By the way, the government of V.Orban has never left those, at most it looked at foreign world with sparkling eyes. It thought that famous European spirit shall cope with it and accept the tolerance not only towards sexes, but also political thinking. And yet only strong ones can afford it themselves.