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Viktor Orban in Transcarpathia
The political party ‘Fidesz’ headed by Prime Minister Viktor Orban is the leading in Hungary. The recent events connected with the Ukrainian ‘Law on Education’ showed the real attitude of this person and his party towards Ukraine. It is obvious that the Ukrainians put Orban in the black list in the response to this. However, it is worthy to remember that Hungary does not share the aggressive policy of its Prime Minister.
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Hungary Peter Szijjarto claimed at the end of September that his country ‘will block and impose a veto at any steps that can further the process of the European integration of Ukraine’. Moreover, the minister reported after the visit to Uzhgorod that he intends to initiate the reconsideration of the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the EU. Szijjarto and Orban are the members of the Hungarian leading party ‘Fidesz – Hungarian Civic Alliance’. It was founded in 1988 and it was headed by Orban who was only 25-years old from the very beginning. ‘Fidesz’ became one of two key parties of the country along with Hungarian Socialist Party after the long fight for its place in the political sun. The party had good slogans on the democracy and Hungary direction to the developed West, to the EU and NATO. Orban wanted to neutralize the eastern in other words Russian control that was established at the Soviet-era time after the tough suppression of the Hungarian Uprising in 1956.
The explicit displeasing of the Hungarians to the Soviet authority and Russia in the future became the result of those frightful events. Orban as the majority of his compatriots shared this displeasing at the beginning of his political career. However, he tempered justice with mercy.
Orban became to look like an eastern official who is scandalous, corrupted and autocratic. The first signs of the ‘fall’ of the Hungarian prime minister appeared during the story of the ‘axe killer’. Azerbaijani soldier Ramil Safarov took part in the international drills in 2004 in Budapest and he hacked his course mate from Armenia Gurgen Markarian to death with an axe. According to the Hungarian legislation, the criminal should be given a life sentence. The Socialistic Party ruled in Hungary at that time.
Fidesz’ confidently won the parliamentary elections in 2010 and the ‘axe killer’ successfully returned to his native country in 2012 where he became a national hero. Of course, the discontentment stream fell on Budapest from Armenia and NATO-countries but Orban was indifferent to this, he chose more beneficial scenario for himself.
All possible grounds of such pliability of the Hungarian prime minister are connected with the funds for the extradition that he got. First of all, Hungary intended to sale the bonds in the sum of 2-3 billion euros to Azerbaijan in the year of Safarov’s extradition. It was reported at the number of the Russian mass media with a link to the Hungarian department on the state debt. Secondly, according to the international Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Center (OCCRP), the account of the off-shore Velasco International Company owned by son of First Vice-Premier of Azerbaijan Orkhan Eyubov was at the Hungarian MKB Bank. Azerbaijan transferred 7 million dollars to this account after the return of Safarov to Baku and this money completely disappeared later. It is interesting that Orban visited Baku in 2012 before the extradition of Safarov and he was met by elder Eyubov.
The inscription on the poster of Hungarian opposition party Együtt: "Azerbaijani President Aliyev: - Will you hand over the axe killer?, Hungarian Prime Minister Orban - Say the sum!"
Orban chose the rapprochement with Russia in 2015 because it was beneficial to him. The countries signed the document on the joint building of two new blocks of the only in Hungary Atomic Power Station ‘Paksh’. Kremlin supplied Budapest with the state loan in the sum of 10 billion euros within the project that equal to the 80% of the sum of the building (12.5 billion euros). It is sweet spot for Orban and he does not intend to refuse from it. Even despite the fact that 2014 became the year of the beginning of the Russian aggression against Ukraine and the whole Europe came down on the side of it.
Of course, Orban did not intend to mar relations with Putin due to Ukraine. And there was no mention of the Russian invasion to Ukraine, presence of Russian military in Donbas, support of the militants by Kremlin in the leading Hungarian mass media at the beginning of the conflict. Only the concernment of the draft call of the Ukrainians of the Hungarian origin was expressed. The only point was emphasized permanently: the number of the draftee of the Hungarian origin in the % proportion to all Hungarians in Ukraine should not surpass the number of the draftee of the Ukrainian origin in the % proportion to all citizens of Ukraine of the Ukrainian origin. And that is all. They did not write that Putin encroached on the territory of other independent state, that he supplies the militants with the military equipment and armament, that the Russian militaries walks with the arms on the Ukrainian land and the Ukrainians die every day. Only the concernment of the % proportion was expressed. Budapest began to actively issue the passports to the Ukrainian who had the Hungarian nationality on the same time, particularly to the men of the military age.
Orban made a statement in the Hungarian parliament in May 2014: ‘The Hungarians who live in the Carpathian region have a right for the dual citizenship, right for the national community and autonomy’. Earlier, the Hungarian parliamentarian claimed at the PACE session in April that the ‘latent forces’ act in Ukraine and they attempt to take power and Ukraine is ‘the artificial state’ that includes Zakarpattia that was a part of Hungary for many years.
All these took place while Russia annexed Crimea and the situation with the separatists escalated at the East of Ukraine.
Orban meets Putin annually since 2014 and 2017 became culminating: there were two meetings (February, August) and two phone talks (March, May). The Hungarians even started to joke that Putin arrives in Hungary as in his own home and the local bards compose the songs where they call Orban ‘mini-Putin’. If we talk seriously, the issue is about that the policy of Orban is directly connected to the money income. He acts due to the principle ‘money is money’ and ‘we will support those who pay more’.
The inscription on the poster of Hungarian opposition party DK (Demokratikus Koalíció): "Orban or Europe?"
In addition to rapprochement with Russia, the Hungarian authorities have recently made many other mistakes that have reduced the level of confidence, both to the Fidesz, and personally to Orban.
First, at the end of March, the parliament changed the law on education in such a way that it actually made it impossible for the Central European University to operate at Hungary. Its founder is George Soros, the personal enemy of Orban. This happened despite the many thousands of protests from students and opposition parties.
Secondly, Orban is increasingly showing its Euroscepticism, questioning the decision of Brussels. The key event in this regard was the refusal of the Hungarian government to accept 2,000 refugees according to EU quotas and contesting this issue in court. We are talking about the mass migration of illegal immigrants from the countries of the Middle East in 2015.
Then Orban decided to turn the migration crisis in his favor. Despite the fact that the refugees did not intend to stay in Hungary and wanted to leave for other European countries (in particular, with a higher salary), Orban instructed not to let trains with migrants who moved to Austria, enter his country, arguing that by defending the eastern borders of the EU from the invasion of immigrants. Because of this, thousands of people had to live for almost a month at the Budapest railway station, which had a terrible appearance in the eyes of the Hungarian population. Over time, pro-government media began to report murders, robberies, rapes and other atrocities allegedly committed only by migrants towards Hungarians. Of course, the indigenous population of the country began to feel not only disgust, but also fear and rage towards refugees. Therefore, when in all Hungarian cities anti-immigration banners in Hungarian language began to appear ( they assured that only Fidesz with its tough policy against refugees would solve this problem), the concerned electorate joyfully agreed with this. The government built a wall with barbed wire on the southern border with Serbia, and the ratings of Fidesz began to grow. The scheme "he created the problem - he heroically solved it" has successfully worked.
But at the end of last month Orban made a key mistake, turning his own weapon against himself. And this error can greatly shake the confidence of the Hungarians in their leader. So, the owner of the boarding house in the Hungarian village of Őcsény planned to place free of charge legal refugees. When his fellow villagers learned about this, they seriously damaged his car and threatened him with physical violence. A few days after the incident, the journalists asked Orban what he thought about this, and received an answer: "It is right that they (ed., Residents of Őcsény) have firmly, loudly and cleverly expressed their opinion."
After this statement, a wave of accusations poured at the politician. "The fact that the elected political leader stands on the side of violent criminals in such an apparently obvious case is the moral bottom of the dark periods of world history, what is now represented by the government of Orban, and, unfortunately, the Hungarian society ...", writes one Hungarian journalist Sarkadi Zsolt.
All these situations, as well as the general discontent of the Hungarian population with the level of corruption in the state, the rapprochement of Orban with Putin, low wages, can significantly affect the reputation of Fidesz and its leader. And in April 2018, Hungary will hold regular parliamentary elections. And although the Fidesz ratings are now the highest among all political forces in the country, last month the chairman of the opposition party Együtt announced the unification of 8 Hungarian political parties for the victory over Orban. The leader of the country is forced to look for a new electorate. And his exemplary concern for the linguistic rights of ethnic Hungarians living in Transcarpathia is aimed precisely at this.
But Ukrainians need to understand that the Hungarian people and Orban are not the same thing. Whatever the political intrigues of the latter are, Ukraine and Hungary should remain friendly countries.