Racism and pro-Putin stance: anger over Orbán speech

In a speech to representatives of the Hungarian minority in Romania last Saturday, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán criticised the sanctions policy against Russia and the supplying of weapons to Ukraine and called for peace negotiations instead. He also caused a stir with comments about the supposed purity of the Hungarian race. Incensed, Europe's press examines the potential consequences for Hungary.

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Új Szó (SK) /

No money, no solidarity with Europe?

It looks like Orbán has lost all hope of receiving EU funds, writes journalist Katalin Juhász in Új Szó:

“Now I have started to believe that someone has already whispered to the Hungarian head of government that Brussels has no intention of giving him any money. ... And faced with this devastating information he has come to the conclusion that he no longer needs to keep up the pretence of being European. He is presenting his supporters with an oversimplified view of events and talking about the man-eating Hottentots who are determined to sully the purity of the Hungarian race.”

Jutarnji list (HR) /

This will end badly on all fronts

The prime minister is pushing Hungary into isolation, criticises Jutarnji list:

“Orbán has emerged as the main supporter of Russian interests in the EU in recent months, which is why he lost Poland's support and has become a pariah. Not Nato, but the US will remember Hungary's behaviour during the Ukraine war. A growing number of interest groups are also taking to the streets [in Hungary] because Orbán is cutting off the perks he used to buy their votes. Proclaiming that there will be no mixing with nations outside the Carpathian Basin will hardly help his cause when Hungarians start running out of money.”

Rzeczpospolita (PL) /

Why aren't Polish leaders distancing themselves?

Rzeczpospolita demands a reaction from Poland's government:

“Are Poles no longer a nation in Orbán's eyes because 'the races' are 'mixing' in our country? How much more will the Fidesz politician have to do and say for the PiS to see through him and break its alliance with Putin's stooge in the EU? Neither Jarosław Kaczyński [the head of Poland's national conservative ruling PiS party] nor [Prime Minister] Mateusz Morawiecki criticised the Hungarian prime minister's racist statement. ... As long as you have a friend of Putin as your ally you can't present yourself as an champion of Ukraine. You can't represent solidarity and openness and tolerate such divisive and socially dangerous statements at the same time.”

Aargauer Zeitung (CH) /

Europe's democrats must go on the offensive

The Argauer Zeitung warns against taking too soft a stance against Orbán:

“In many countries the Hungarian has long since become an idol of a new reactionary-conservative movement. Marine Le Pen is an Orbán fan. As is Giorgia Meloni, the leader of the post-fascist Fratelli d'Italia. ...Europe and Switzerland for their part should be very clear: a street fighter like Orbán who sees politics not as consensus-finding but as a bloody fistfight can only be confronted directly. The worst thing we could do would be to indulge in naivety and ignorance towards the populists, or even actively pursue them. If we do, we run the risk of waking up in a society where liberal values, openness and individual rights to freedom have long been buried.”

Deutsche Welle (RO) /

Hugely popular in Romania

The Romanian service of German broadcaster Deutsche Welle is dumbfounded by the popularity of the Hungarian prime minister:

“The greatest paradox is the admiration that many Romanians have for Viktor Orbán, an anti-European leader who describes himself as illiberal, who is putting the EU on the line for the sake of the alliance he has formed with the autocratic axis of Budapest-Moscow-Bejing. According to a recent poll (from the Nézőpont Institute), six out of ten Romanians have a positive opinion of Viktor Orbán. ... The Hungarian premier basically has a better image than any [political] leader in Romania. Sociologists observed that his popularity has doubled since the war and the energy crisis.”

Der Standard (AT) /

Vienna needs to send a clear message

Der Standard comments on Orbán's position with a view to his upcoming Vienna visit:

“Orbán continues to dig in his heels when it comes to the European Union. It's all part of his modus operandi. He denounces Brussels for telling Hungary how to do things; he opposes 'gender madness'; he deliberately discriminates against foreigners by offering cheap fuel to Hungarians; and he panders quite flagrantly to Russia. ... Perhaps Chancellor Karl Nehammer should consider talking openly to Orbán when he welcomes him in Vienna in a few days' time. Until now the chancellor has chosen to focus on good bilateral relations and commonalities in matters of migration. But it would be wholly inappropriate to look forward to anything like that now.”

Adevărul (RO) /

Putin must not be allowed to gain territory

Adevărul finds it incomprehensible that Orbán is pushing for Europe to seek peace talks and adopt a new strategy towards Russia:

“What sort of strategy could that be, when a country like Russia is attacking its sovereign and independent neighbours for utterly absurd reasons? The invasion has caused thousands of deaths on both sides, many of them Ukrainian civilians. ... And all this suffering just because Putin wants to go down in history as a hero, on a level with Czar Peter the Great. What negotiations are conceivable under such conditions? There can only be negotiations on the condition that Russia retreats to the borders that existed before the invasion of Ukraine.”

Magyar Hang (HU) /

A breach of civilisation

Orbán's statement that Hungarians are 'not a mixed race' is extremely irresponsible, complains Magyar Hang:

“[With this statement] Orbán could have been pursuing several goals: the usual throwing in of a bone of contention to divert attention. He also wanted to curry favour with far-right voters. ... But understanding for [his motives] cannot lessen the outrage of any well-intentioned person. The prime minister committed a breach of civilisation by identifying with white supremacists. He is hoping to make political gains by inciting the dark powers of the human soul - no matter what the price.”