Experts: Viktor Orban the embodiment of democracy 'fatigue'

Viktor Orban with Vladimir Putin.
Viktor Orban with Vladimir Putin. Source: SCANPIX/AP/Grigory Sysoyev

Prime Minister of Hungary Viktor Orban has shown again which side he and his government are on with regard to Russia and the European Union, some experts in Estonia say, while he is in many ways the quintessence of an apparent fatigue in the rule of democracy seen all around the world.

Orban's recent one-to-one with Vladimir Putin in China, and Budapest's blocking of European military aid to Ukraine, all of which makes for the risk of Hungary becoming a "Trojan Horse" for Russia when it comes to hold the rotational presidency of the Council of the EU in the second half of next year, it is feared.

MP Kalev Stoicescu (Eesti 200), a security expert who also chairs the National Defense Committee at the Riigikogu, told ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) that: "Hungary is swimming completely against the tide in the light of attitude towards Russia of other EU states – eg. to become wholly independent of Russian energy, as Russia obviously uses that as a weapon, and to manipulate us."

Holger Mölder, lecturer in law at Tallinn University of Technology (TalTech), called it a clash of values.

"Unfortunately, the world is such that there are certain countries that have joined the EU for the sake of certain values, but which ​​do not actually share them," Mölder said.

"This is a recent trend that we see in many cases, and it makes democracy by consensus quite vulnerable," he added.

In view of the fact that Hungary will become the "face" of Europe from next year, for six months – a role Estonia held in the second half of 2017 – Stoicescu said that: "Putin's Russia, let's be frank with ourselves, has broader interests in Central Europe, and Russia has a foothold in the shape of Hungary; in the worst case scenario, Hungary would become Russia's Trojan horse in the EU and in NATO."

Hungary is also a NATO member state.

Ahead of the Orban-Putin summit in Beijing last week, Russian state energy giant Gazprom announced that it had oversupplied contractually on natural gas to Hungary.

Meanwhile, Hungary has once again hindered a €500-million European Peace Fund offering to Ukraine.

The far West of Ukraine, close to the border with Hungary itself, is home to a Hungarian-speaking minority, which Budapest has claimed is repressed by policies coming out of Kyiv.

The U.S. Ambassador to Hungary, David Pressman, called the meeting between Orban and Putin "worrying," AK reported, adding that the deepening of Budapest-Moscow relations needs to be discussed.

Stoicescu also drolly pointed out the timing of this development, given the U.S. presidential elections in a little over a year's time.

"And no prizes for guessing who the Orban regime will be supporting in this election," Stoicescu noted.

Kalev Stoicescu

Holger Mölder noted that an apparent desire for a "strong hand" in leadership seen globally, twinned with a "fatigue" in democracy, have reached the EU too, and are dividing it.

"In Hungary, Orban has consolidated political power behind him. These are the same processes as we have been seeing in Turkey, or Russia. But these countries are not in the EU. What has taken place now is simply that this kind of wave of authoritarianism, which I would refer to as outright 'anti-democracy' [has taken a hold]. Democracy is no longer hip, " Mölder added.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Aleksander Krjukov

Source: 'Aktuaalne kaamera,' reporter Vahur Lauri.

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