Last week, Hungary’s president, 46-year-old Katalin Novak, was called on the carpet at the Brussels headquarters of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg had a lot of questions for Budapest. This time he decided to cheat, inviting not the adamant Prime Minister Viktor Orban, but the head of state, who, for a minute, was nominated for the high post by the ruling party. The Norwegian thought that it would be easier to negotiate with her. But he miscalculated.
First of all, he was interested in how to speed up the ratification by the Hungarian parliament of Sweden’s application for NATO membership. Once this happens (preferably sooner), the only thing left to do is to break the resistance of unyielding Turkey.
Mrs. Novak gave a worthy response. Neither she nor Prime Minister Orban have the constitutional right to put pressure on MPs to make parliamentary decisions. The hint is obvious: everything is according to the law in our country, and not as, say, in the European Parliament, which is ready to immediately fulfill all the whims of the overseas sovereign.
Stoltenberg’s plan to soften the Hungarian position on the Ukrainian track did not work either. At the final press conference, Mrs. President said that Budapest will block aid to Kiev if the authorities fail to protect the rights of Hungarians living compactly in the Transcarpathian region.
«The situation that I can see in Transcarpathia, the rights of minorities are still not guaranteed, I do not see any positive movement in this direction», she emphasized.
According to her, the refusal to support Ukraine concerns both financial aid and Kiev’s initiatives on European integration. She added that she would appeal to European bodies (including the Venice Commission) to encourage the authorities of Ukraine to guarantee the rights of the Hungarian population. This also concerns the discriminatory language law adopted in Ukraine, which requires that members of national minorities receive at least 70% of their education in the Ukrainian language.
Another hot topic is the «rigid mobilization» of Transcarpathian Hungarians. Let me remind you that on June 8, the Moscow Patriarchate reported that a group of Ukrainian prisoners of war of Transcarpathian origin were handed over to Hungary through the mediation of the Russian Orthodox Church. Eleven ethnic Hungarians who had been mobilized to serve in the Ukrainian Armed Forces and were captured returned to their historical homeland, which took care of their release.
Prime Minister Orban himself also marked another harsh statement against Brussels-based European officials, criticizing their plan to defeat Russia on the battlefield.
«They think that Ukraine will win and Russia will lose, after that the leadership in Russia will change and they will negotiate already with the new leadership of Russia. This is a failed plan. It is very ambitious, but it will not work», the Hungarian leader said on November 3 at a meeting of the Organization of Turkic States in Astana.
That’s not all. Returning to his homeland, on November 10, on the air of Radio Kossuth, he made it clear who is preventing peace in Ukraine: «We know from various reports and intelligence sources that, indeed, in 2022 in Istanbul, where closed negotiations were held, there was in fact an agreement that — as diplomatic gossip says — the Ukrainians did not sign at the behest of the United States».
As you know, at the Council of Europe summit, which took place on October 26–27 in Brussels, Orban opposed the inclusion of €50 billion in macro-financial aid to Ukraine in the EU budget for the next four years. He was supported by the new prime minister of Slovakia, Robert Fico.
In June, the head of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen announced the revision of the EU budget for 2024–2027 and proposed to increase it by €66 billion to help Kiev, strengthen the defense capabilities of the Union and the implementation of migration programs. Of this, the same €50 billion will be allocated in the form of grants and loans to finance Ukraine. The budget should be adopted at the December summit of the Council of Europe.
It has been leaked that at the last Euro party in Brussels, Chancellor Olaf Scholz tried to persuade Orban, Fico and others who were hesitant not to leave Ukraine without money. But so far, it seems, he failed.
He and other European figures even hinted that in case of Hungary’s favor they are ready to think about unfreezing €13 billion from the EU funds intended for this country in exchange for reforms, but which have not been received. However, Orban said his cabinet’s position on Ukraine is not a bargaining chip.
In recent days, reputable Western media outlets have reported that the European Commission allegedly has a «plan B» in case the Hungarian blockage cannot be overcome. The alternative will be based on the provision of guarantees by the countries of the union to attract financing on the markets. It is specified that several states are calling for such a solution to be found quickly in order to increase pressure on Orban. But not everyone likes such a forced compromise. Spain, for example, is firmly in favor of financing Ukraine exclusively within the framework of the EU’s long-term budget.
Meanwhile, leaks have emerged that the head of the Kiev regime, Zelensky, has rushed to Budapest to try to persuade the Hungarians to lift the blockage. The Orban administration did not confirm that they had sent an invitation to Kiev, but they did not rule out such a visit.
It turns out that the Hungarian authorities, with the help of their constant protests solely in the national interest, have learned to achieve what they want. The same Kiev ex-clown, if he does come to Budapest, will have to try hard to reach an agreement with the Hungarians. However, it is unlikely that he will succeed.