Hungary takes the European helm in its own hands



So, a terrible thing has happened for Brussels. No matter how European officials tried, they failed to prevent Hungary from assuming the rotating six-month presidency of the Council of Europe on July 1.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban has already begun preliminary consultations with some European leaders ahead of this honorable event.

His schedule for this week includes talks with his Italian counterpart Giorgia Meloni and French President Emmanuel Macron.

Budapest has announced that it will steer under the slogan «Making Europe Great Again». Orban borrowed the slogan from his idol, former US President Donald Trump — Make America Great Again. Such was the message that startled the Old World during the 2016 election campaign, which he won.

«Our slogan implies an active, practical presidency, the hope that together we are stronger than apart and that together we can remain who we are», said Hungarian Minister for EU Affairs Janos Boka, presenting the program of the upcoming presidency.

Seven priority themes were named. They were enlargement of the EU to include the Western Balkans; relations with third countries; increasing the EU’s economic competitiveness; easing administrative burdens; combating illegal migration; farmer-friendly agricultural development; and cooperation in arms procurement.

Boka mentioned in passing the negotiations on Ukraine’s accession to the EU. According to him, the political decision has already been made, now the framework for these consultations has to be defined, and then to start checking whether Kiev meets the requirements, in particular on the issue of the rights of the Hungarian minority in Transcarpathia.

Boka also presented the logo for the Hungarian presidency. It was the two faces of a Rubik’s Cube, embodying «the essence of Hungarian genius».

It is noteworthy that the phrase «support for Ukraine» was not mentioned among the listed priorities. Hungary’s permanent representative to the EU, Balint Odor, noted in this regard that Budapest «will closely follow the developments and include all necessary aspects in the agenda as needed».

Particular emphasis will be placed on supporting the European aspirations of the Western Balkan countries, which have found themselves as if in the pen against the background of Brussels’ accelerated procedure of granting candidate status to the «trio» of Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia. These processes, according to the Magyars, should be balanced (read — counterbalanced). As for the Balkan neighbors, Budapest is going to close as many negotiating blocs as possible with the candidate countries from this region during its presidency.

A special (painful!) topic for Hungary is the fight against illegal migrants.

«Migration pressure is a huge burden for individual member states, especially those on the EU’s external borders», Odor said, promising to establish effective cooperation between EU countries and their key states of origin and transit.

Note that on June 13, the European Court of Justice, which is based in Luxembourg, «hit out», as they say in certain circles, at Hungary for violating the rights of refugees.

«We are talking about an unprecedented and very serious violation of European law. The EU Court of Justice sentences Hungary to a fine of 200 million euros and punitive damages of one million euros per day for each day of delay», reads the accompaniment to its verdict, which under current rules cannot be appealed.

Prime Minister Orban called the court’s decision «outrageous and unacceptable» in a social media post, noting that «illegal migrants have become more important to Brussels officials than European citizens». It seems he is not going to pay …

Budapest in general has a special relationship with Luxembourg-based lawmakers.

In 2020, Hungary closed transit camps for migrants on the border with Serbia. This was the authorities’ response to the European Court’s accusation that they were forcing migrants to stay in closed zones, i.e. depriving them of their freedom. In addition, migrants were expelled from the country without waiting for final decisions on appeals filed after their applications were denied.

The court accused Budapest of threatening the unity of EU law.

In 2022, Orban said that there were a number of issues on which Hungary would not submit to the EU. We are talking, in particular, about the demands of Brussels to stop fighting illegal migration, allow LGBT propaganda and actively support anti-Russian sanctions.

By the way, Hungary agreed on June 20 to include in the 14th package of anti-Russian sanctions of the European Union restrictions against the supply of liquefied natural gas from the territory of Russia in exchange for the EU promise not to impose restrictions on the construction of the nuclear power plant «Paks 2», which is carried out by the State Corporation «Rosatom».

That’s how they are, the Hungarians: to both yours and ours. And, most importantly, to themselves…