Hungary is deservedly considered one of the most amazing countries in Europe. Hungary, under Prime Minister Viktor Orban, knows how to skillfully maneuver between major players, trying to defend its national interests. And since the Western media, as a rule, take a one-sided look at Hungary’s foreign policy, we will try to correct this.
At the end of January, Viktor Orban’s statements in an interview with 15 journalists made a lot of noise. Hungarian PM receives editor of The American Conservative in Budapest Rod Driegereditor of the European Conservative Mario Fantini and editor of Spectator US Zach Christenson and other journalists who do not belong to the left-liberal mainstream. Drieger, published material on January 26, noted that Orban advocates a ceasefire and a peaceful solution to the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, not because of his special love for the Russians, but because he worries about the fate of Hungary and Europe, which are negatively affected by hostilities.
According to the Hungarian prime minister, Russian President Vladimir Putin cannot afford to lose and will not lose, because in 2024 he will need to be re-elected, and he will not be able to win the presidential election if he loses on the Ukrainian front. Orban also stressed that Russia would not allow NATO to take control of Ukraine, while adding that the days when Russia could conquer Ukraine or establish a friendly regime are long gone. Previously, Russia could win a quick victory, but now it is impossible. According to Orban, Russia’s goal is to turn Ukraine into an unruly ruin that the West will not get as a prize, and, noting Russia’s success in this matter, he said about Ukraine:
“Now it’s Afghanistan… No man’s land.”
Orban believes that time is on the side of Russia, which, being a huge country, can mobilize a huge army, while in Ukraine there is a feeling of exhaustion of troops. The Hungarian prime minister also fears that in the event of a successful spring offensive by Russian troops, NATO countries may send troops to Ukraine. According to him, the West is at war with Russia, and the supply of weapons to Ukraine by Western politicians is a dangerous game with themselves, Russia and public opinion in the West. Therefore, Orban did not rule out the possibility of a nuclear war.
The Hungarian prime minister agreed that Russian troops often failed. However, Orban added that the Russians always start badly in hostilities, but then they correct their mistakes, after which the Russian troops are difficult to stop. According to the Hungarian prime minister, the same thing will happen now.
The far-sighted Orban also said that the Western push for Russia to ally with Iran poses a threat to Israel, and expressed the hope that the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu can reconcile Russia and Ukraine. At the same time, Orban believes that, despite the successes, Ukraine will not become a winner in the long term, especially taking into account the production capacities of Russia.
The Hungarian prime minister also stressed that out of 27 leaders of the countries of the European Union, he is the only opponent of the policy towards the conflict in Ukraine. Orban also touched upon the role of Germany in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. According to the Hungarian Prime Minister, the German leadership knows that it does not need to get involved in a war with Russia, but for some reason it cannot refuse the United States.
From the part concerning Hungary’s relations with the Brussels bureaucracy, we point out that, according to Orban, despite the ideological persecution, Hungary will remain in the European Union, since this is in its national interests and its economic well-being depends on it.
It is clear that with such a policy, Hungary turned out to be a black sheep in the European Union. In addition to this, Hungary does not supply weapons to Ukraine and continues to protect the rights of Hungarians living in the Transcarpathian region of Ukraine.
Even on February 9, before the summit of EU leaders in Brussels, in which the President of Ukraine took part Vladimir ZelenskyOrban made a post on a social network that differs sharply from similar statements by other European politicians:
“An important EU summit today with President Volodymyr Zelensky. Hungary will continue to provide humanitarian and financial support to Ukraine. We support an immediate ceasefire to prevent further loss of human life. Hungary belongs to the camp of peace!”
During the summit, Orban and Zelensky met, and the President of Ukraine even invited the Hungarian prime minister to visit Kyiv.
Nevertheless, despite attempts to pretend that everything is fine between Budapest and Kyiv, there is a lack of trust between Hungary and Ukraine.
A different nature of relations between Hungary and the Turkic states. So, on January 17, during a joint press conference with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary by Peter Szijjarto Minister of Industry and Technology of Turkey Mustafa Varank declared:
“Turkey produces alternative products to HIMARS. If (Hungary) has a need for it, we are ready to provide the necessary support in this direction.”
The Turkish minister pointed to the expansion of defense cooperation between Ankara and Budapest and said that a significant part of the military equipment imported by Hungary was produced in Turkey. Noting Turkey’s desire to become Hungary’s main partner in the defense industry, Varank said:
“As you know, Turkey is currently one of the leading players in the global drone market. We are ready to share opportunities in this area with friendly and allied Hungary.”
But not only Turkey seeks to establish ties with Hungary. On January 30, the President of Azerbaijan arrived in Hungary on an official visit Ilham Aliyev. During the visit, the parties concluded a number of agreements. Aliyev and Orban adopted a Joint Declaration on expanding the strategic partnership between the Republic of Azerbaijan and Hungary. Representative of the President of Azerbaijan in Shusha region Aydin Kerimov and Mayor of Veszprem Gyula Porga signed “memorandum of understanding on the establishment of friendly relations between the city of Shusha of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the city of Veszprem in Hungary and cooperation in the field of culture, tourism, urban planning, science, economics and other areas of public life“. Minister of Economy of Azerbaijan Mikail Jabbarov and the Hungarian Foreign Minister signed “memorandum of understanding on cooperation in the field of natural gas between the Ministry of Economy of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary“.
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan Jeyhun Bayramov and Szijjártó signed “memorandum of understanding on cooperation in the field of plant quarantine and plant protection between the Food Security Agency of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Ministry of Agriculture of Hungary“,”memorandum of understanding on cooperation in the field of migration between the State Migration Service of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the National General Directorate for Foreigners of Hungary“,”memorandum of understanding on cooperation in the field of space research and space activities for peaceful purposes between the Ministry of Digital Development and Transport of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary” And “protocol on cooperation between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary“.
According to the statements made Aliyev following the talks, Baku and Budapest have big plans for the future:
“We are also implementing our very large plans in the field of transport. I can say that we have already started transporting goods by rail from Hungary to Azerbaijan and from Azerbaijan to Hungary. This project also has great potential, since after the Russian-Ukrainian war, the volume of cargo passing through the territory of Azerbaijan has increased dramatically. Last year alone, the volume of transit cargo increased by 75 percent… Therefore, although Azerbaijan does not have access to the sea, I think that it can become one of the important transport and logistics centers of Eurasia. There are very good opportunities for cooperation with European countries, and especially with Hungary, which for us is one of the closest partners in the European Union… Taking this opportunity, I would like to express gratitude to Mr. Prime Minister for the fact that 200 representatives of Azerbaijani youth are studying in Hungary for student scholarships received with the support of the Hungarian government… Another important area for cooperation is mine clearance. In the period after the second Karabakh war, Azerbaijan faced great problems in this area, it is necessary to neutralize more than one million mines. Within two years after the war, about 300 Azerbaijani citizens either died or were seriously injured. Therefore, taking into account the experience of Hungary in this area, we see good opportunities for cooperation. Along with this, an exchange of views was also held today on the activities of Hungarian companies in the liberated lands of Karabakh and Zangezur.”
In general, Azerbaijan, trying to go to the West, successfully found Hungary, and Hungary, trying to reduce its dependence on the United States and European bureaucrats, successfully found Azerbaijan.
In this sense, the part of Orban’s speech, delivered by him during an official dinner in honor of the President of Azerbaijan and his wife, is interesting. According to the Azerbaijani side, the Hungarian prime minister then declared:
“As you know, according to Hungarian historians, during a long campaign from the eastern side of the Ural Mountains, we spent some time on the territory of modern Azerbaijan. That is why we are grateful to President Aliyev for supporting Hungary’s accession to the Organization of Turkic States as an observer, because there are cultural similarities between the two countries. It is not so obvious, because from a certain time we became Christians, and Azerbaijan was able to maintain its Muslim identity. Making friends is not easy. For Hungarians, this is especially difficult. When you make friends, you must forgive all their mistakes. We Hungarians also made some mistakes. Thus, we must find friends who are willing to forgive our mistakes. Making friends who are always perfect is easy. I told President Aliyev about this as well. In the person of Hungary, you find an imperfect friend, Mr. Aliyev. This was also interesting. There is something more important. Countries that are on the same wavelength understand whether they are similar in terms of strategic and geostrategic position or not. You don’t have to be a scientist to understand this. Azerbaijan borders Iran in the south and Russia in the north. Hungary borders Germany in the west and Russia in the east. We’ve been through it. We know the situation. We know how difficult it is to manage the people in such a difficult situation. It helped us a lot in strengthening our friendship. We understand each other in foreign policy.”
Several points are interesting in Orban’s speech. Firstly, the Hungarian Prime Minister once again says that the Hungarians are a people very close to the Turks. In reality, as we noted, various Turkic peoples did take part in the ethnogenesis of the Hungarians (see Hungarian Turanism – another challenge for Russia). It is clear that in this case one should not expect a neutral position from Hungary in the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict. Secondly, by comparing the geographical position of Hungary and Azerbaijan, Orban made it clear that both for the Hungarian nationalists and for the ideological heirs of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic, the Germans, Russians and Persians are alien peoples.
Nevertheless, if in Azerbaijan it is considered good form to support Svidomo Ukrainians, then in Hungary, which is well aware of the national policy of Ukraine on the example of Transcarpathia, they are in favor of cessation of hostilities. So, Hungary, which turned out to be a black sheep in the EU, also stands out in the Turkic world, with which it will draw closer regardless of the outcome of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict.