Saturday, 8 March 2014

Viktor Orbán, bought and sold

Regular readers of the Centre Left will be familiar with the unpleasant president of Hungary, happily chipping away at the constitution as he muzzles the press and turns a blind eye to rampant anti-Semitism.
However, if you wanted the clincher as to the direction his luckless country has taken under his leadership, the first few months of 2014 have surely provided it.
In January, Hungary did a $14bn nuclear energy deal with Russia on nuclear technology. Although it is clearly unlikely to have the bomb any time soon, the notable thing is that Orban, who spent the first four years of his presidency in decidedly anti-Putin mode, has started to see which side his bread is buttered. Last month he visited Moscow for a well –publicised bilateral with his new best friend, the Russian president.
Oddly, the deal bore more than a passing resemblance that Putin struck with the Ukraine’s Yanukovych, shortly prior to his overthrow by those unhappy with their country’s government being bought.
And so, a few short weeks later, who should be the only EU leader who remains quiet about the Ukraine invasion? Or, when he does speak, says that it is not Hungary’s problem?
Why, that of one of only three EU countries which borders it.
Step forward, Viktor Orbán: as Nye Bevan might have put it, a man fresh from having his mouth stuffed with gold.
In fact, my good colleagues at Harry’s Place note that a journalist on a government-sponsored network was dropping heavy hints that, not only it was (again!) those tiresome Jews selling out Hungary to the EU and America, but better: perhaps Hungary might take advantage of the chaos in the Ukraine to put in a bid for the Carpathian region, in the event that Russia might decide to offer Orbán some of the spoils of a future invasion. I kid you not.
I can thoroughly recommend to Mr Orbán the brilliant film “Mephisto”, based on Klaus Mann’s Faustian tale of Weimar Germany and directed by his Hungarian countryman István Szabó. It shows how a man, slowly learning to accept the unacceptable, loses his soul to the Nazis.
While it is admittedly not clear whether Orbán has ever had one to lose, it certainly is clear that he will no longer challenge anything which Moscow does, no matter how awful.
What is deeply disturbing is that he leads not a tin-pot Asian dictatorship but a supposed democracy, sitting well inside the territory of the European Union.

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