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Orban wants a lot from Zelensky and Europe. What is it?

Orbán Viktor
Orbán Viktor

The fact that Orban is ready to meet with Zelenskyy is obvious. The question is, on what terms?

Ukraine is hosting a Hungarian guest, Peter Szijjarto, the Hungarian Foreign Minister. Of course, many people don't like the visit itself, no matter the outcome. So, the meeting, regardless of the outcome, is a fascinating story. Of course, Szijjártó is not an independent politician in Hungary. He always follows Viktor Orban's instructions, and he follows them quite clearly. So I think that the visit is a significant story, especially since this is happening on the eve of the EU summit, during which a decision will or will not be made (and we all hope it will) on aid, and not only on 50 billion euros. There are nuances - whether it will be re-approved every year, for example,

From this visit, I expect, first of all, an understanding of what we can and should do together. I expect to establish some purely business contacts. Let's see what game Orban will play because he has not started the game for the sake of trade alone. He wants to become the leader of the European conservatives. He believes that he deserves it. Viktor Orban is seriously preparing for the European elections to the European Parliament. He believes the right wing will become the second force and play a unique role in Europe for at least the next ten years. In addition, Orban has built a robust system of contacts with Republicans in the United States, not just with Trumpists. He has his web of connections with China and, of course, Putin. So, he is playing strategically. Orban believes that his time has come. But this does not mean we cannot play our game while he plays his.

Orban believes that his time has come

On the eve of the visit, the leader of the far-right party, Laszlo Torotskai, said that if Ukraine loses the war, his party will claim part of Transcarpathia. This is definitely not a personal statement by Torotskai. Right-wing parties, especially those in Hungary, are constantly being used. The question is whether Orban uses them, Putin uses them, or if it is more of a joint production. I have a suspicion that they are using them together. The Russian embassy is very active in Hungary. They have strong ties with Hungarian right-wing parties. The whole structure of these right-wing parties is being rebooted there. Now, Orban's party is dominant, but there have always been other parties to Orban's right, and new ones are emerging.

The statement about Zakarpattia is, of course, a manipulation, and it is no coincidence that it was made on the eve of Szijjarto's visit to Uzhhorod. Should we pay attention to it? Of course, yes. Or be afraid of it - definitely not. Torotskai's party is marginalized in Hungarian politics. But it can still be useful.

The Financial Times recently wrote that the European Union is allegedly developing a plan in case Budapest refuses to continue supporting Ukraine. The EU is allegedly ready to undermine Hungary's economy. This is unlikely due to how integrated the economy is with the EU. For example, German business feels very good in Hungary because Orban has created a favorable space for work there. Look how German business feels. Even Rheinmetall, which works with us a lot on weapons, has decided to build new production facilities - partly, of course, in Hungary. So, no one will undermine the economy there. But to squeeze it, to limit the right to vote, for example, which is possible under Article 7 of the EU Treaty, or to restrict the payment of money in the future are on the table. So the European Union, if it wants to, has a lot of leverage. The question is whether it will use them and, most importantly, how it will use them. This is now, if not the main focus, one of the main foci of European solidarity.

Orban knows that applying restrictive measures to him on the eve of the European elections is a harrowing story. As I said, he is playing a strategic game, and the timing is very well calculated. I tend to believe that Orban will compromise. The question is only what price he will sell his politics for. And again, this is not only about money. This is a trade, among other things, about future positions in the European Union. This is a trade so that he is not touched and left alone after the European elections. Orban wants a lot of things. We will see what he gets.

Orban is ready to meet with Zelensky. The question is, on what terms? Orban will not meet without getting something for himself. Anything he can sell on the eve of the European Parliament elections will be helpful to him. His policy towards Hungarians abroad is now suffering, and he is being criticized in Hungary, even by people who are in his orbit. Look at what is happening. The number of Hungarians is smaller. In Slovakia, which we are talking about a lot now, Hungarian parties used to have a golden share. Do you see them now having any golden share in the Fico government? Zero. In Romania, there are also fewer of them. In fact, these are pretty painful issues for Hungarians. Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, was once the capital of Hungary.

All of Orban's foreign policy towards Hungarians is gradually leading to a decrease in the number of Hungarians in historic communities. There are fewer and fewer Ukrainian Hungarians. We also see this in Zakarpattia. They simply leave first for Hungary and then further afield. As I am told in Budapest, they go to Canada, Australia, and everywhere else in the world. So, this story is very complicated. Orban needs a lot from us, especially on the eve of the election. He needs to show, as they say, that his policy is working. Orban is an experienced political player, and he will continue to play this game. So, I tend to believe that the Orban-Zelensky meeting will take place soon.

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Read the original article on The New Voice of Ukraine