Don’t blame Obama for the Orbán-Putin love affair

A couple of days ago Prime Minister Viktor Orbán held talks in Budapest with the CEO of the Russian Atomic Energy Corporation (Rosatom), Alexey Likhachev. The Rosatom delegation discussed the Paks II nuclear power plant project. Rosatom, created by Russian President Putin in 2007, is considered (even by Russian standards) to be one of the most corrupt organizations in the world. Leaders of the company have been charged with money laundering in Russia and the United States alike. (Read more here.)

Alexey Likhachev (Rosatom) left and Viktor Orbán at a recent meeting in Budapest.

Orbán is also scheduled to meet with Putin in Moscow on September 18. Relations are excellent and the two leaders have developed a close friendship. Putin has even promised Orbán free judo lessons!

Viktor Orbán and Vladimir Putin are having fun at the World Judo Championships 2017 in Budapest.

Hungary is a useful friend. It has lobbied against the American and EU sanctions recently imposed on Russia. Orbán has also been a loyal ally in Putin’s fight with Ukraine by using the Hungarian minority’s language issue to stir up trouble for Kiev. Hungary is considered Putin’s Trojan Horse in the EU.

Less than 30 years after the last Russian soldiers left the country the Kremlin’s influence in Budapest is stronger than ever. Many of us in Canada and the US are puzzled and dismayed. I never thought that Hungary would be under Russian influence again.

Yet Mr. Orbán has a small group of supporters in the US who have an intriguing explanation of the close relationship with Putin. The Hungarian Lobby is an “online club” run by Mr. Béla Lipták and its members are asked to submit letters to newspapers.

The Lobby recently distributed a letter blaming “previous US administrations” for the growing Russian influence. The letter is a response to a New York Times opinion piece entitled, “Steve Bannon Has Found His Next Trump.” (Read here.)

To: Letters to the Editor

Critical and often threateningly reproachful policies and attitudes of previous US administrations may have nudged Viktor Orbán’s politics toward the East, but that has now been reversed under the present administration. Mr. Orbán’s politics is by force of its geography a balance between East and West, but cannot and should not be placed in league with Russia’s Putin. He is most assuredly standing on the side of US policies regarding the condemnation of Russia’s actions in Syria and the Ukraine, and is demonstrably not out to destroy the EU, as he has repeatedly declared his support of it – albeit critical of its leftward shift regarding national sovereignty and the migrant issue. These, of course are not only Hungary’s issues but that of Central Europe. Neither should he be classified as far right, as that title belongs to the Jobbik party. Any fair observer of Hungary’s political spectrum should know that.

Steve Szappanos, Cleveland, OH

Mr. Szappanos has every right to express his views but blaming previous US administrations– I assume he is referring to President Obama– for Orbán’s love affair with Putin is a stretch by any measure. In my view, evidence shows no reversal in the cozy Orbán-Putin alliance under the Trump presidency; Hungary has no intention to break with Moscow.

György Lázár

19 Comments

  1. Robert Morrison says:

    I wonder if your opinion about the meeting would be the same if Mr. Orbán met the president of Candu Energy Inc. It is amusing how a bias attitude can lead to writing judgmental articles against the duly elected Hungarian government and the PM while the facts steer clear from the writer.

  2. Robert Morrison says:

    “blaming previous US administrations– I assume he is referring to President Obama– for Orbán’s love affair with Putin is a stretch by any measure”
    Really? Are you sure that if Obama had some realistic unbias relationship with Orbán Victor and the former US administration treated Hungary as friend rather than an enemy the current situation would be the same?
    I don’t think so.

  3. Just why are you always attempting to build this Orban guy up, like he was some one internationally important. As far as the half century Soviet rule sure left its mark on a small national group that migrated from Russian land anyway. As far as Paks ,it’s a former Soviet produced power supply source, they really have no choice but have the same company maintain and improve it. Or they have to go back to the candles and carosine lights. Anything else would cost them a hell of lot more that they just can not afford. Beside, to decommission a nuclear power plant, it cost as much as building a new one. Why did you not ask Bela Liptak on that ?

    • Christopher Adam says:

      Béla Lipták opposes Paks and uses his mailing list to share his critical views on Russian involvement. He has launched a futile bid to stop this project and naively believes that the Orbán government will seriously consider his arguments.

  4. Nagyon helytelenitem Magyarország keletre tolódását (nevetséges érvnek tartom, hogy “keleten kel a nap”) és tragikusnak tartom a magyar ennergia-ellátás kiszolgáltatását az oroszoknak (földgáz 85%, urán 100%). Az alábbi levelet irtam az illetékes miniszternek:

    2018 Szeptember 3, Stamford

    Dr. Paulovics László
    Innovációs és Technológiai Miniszter
    Budapest

    Tisztelt Miniszter Úr, Kedves László,

    Levelem célja kettős: az MTA-ra és a magyar energia függetlenségre vonatkozik. Kezdjük talán az energiával:

    Nem mondok újat azzal, hogy Magyarország energia ellátása kiszolgáltatott és elavult. Fő energia forrásaink: a barnaszénnel működő, szétesőben lévő öreg erőművek, illetve a földgáz (85%-ban) és uránium (100%-ban), melyek mind orosz forrásúak. Csak Paks2-re a kormány több pénzt ad az oroszoknak, mint a Te minisztériumod sok évi költségvetésére és ezzel elveszi a pénzt saját forrásaink és azon keresztül az energia-függetlenségünket biztositó innovációk kidolgozásától, kutatástól és fejlesztéstől. Persze ezt Te jobban tudod, mint én. Amit viszont talán nem tudsz, hogy könyveket irtam úgy az ócska és veszélyes orosz atomerőművekről[1], mint a jövö energia-tehnológiról[2], illete tanulmányt arról is, hogy Magyarország miként válhatna önellátóvá, tehát energia-függetlenné (melléklet) az oroszoktól.

    Talán azt is tudod, hogy a kormány ellenzi a Paks2 szerződés teljes nyilvánosságra hozását is és a szerződés felmondására vonatkozó referendum megtartását is. A következőkben látni fogod, hogy miként kapcsolódik levelem második témája – az MTA sorsa -, a magyar energia-függetlenség kérdéséhez:. Gondolom tudod, hogy a Magyar Tudományos Akadémia több tagja támogatja az én, Paks2-t ellenző álláspontomat és félek, hogy ennek is szerepe volt abban, hogy – szinte büntetésként – a kormány elhatározta, hogy az MTA kutatási pénzei felett mostantól kezdve a Te minisztériumod rendelkezzen.

    Mivel Kanadában is dolgoztál, biztosan tudod, hogy a nyugati demokráciák szemében, a tudományos élet átpolitizálása, autonómiájának megsértése a demokratikus berendezkedés megsértését jelenti. Azt is tudod, hogy az Európai Tudományos Akadémiák Szövetségének (ALLEA), tehát Európa 40 tudományos akadémiájának álláspomtja szerint, ha a kormány elveszi az akadémiától a kutatóintézeteit, és a minisztérium kezébe adja a kasszakulcsot, az beláthatatlan káros következményekkel járna a teljes magyar tudományos életre.

    Mindezt miért éppen Neked irom? Egyrészt azért, mert Magyarország energia-függetlensége és a modern tehnológiákkal kapcsolatos innovációk a Te minisztériumod alá tartoznak (lásd a mellékletet, mely az én és barátom Oláh Gyuri gondolatait tartalmazza a magyar energia-függetlenség eléréséről) és igy sokat tehetsz azért hoghy ne viosszafelé (Paks2) hanem előre haladjon e téren az ország.
    Másrészt azért, mert mint a kormány tagja, Te jobban tudod, hogy miként lehetne a demokráciákban független intézmények (biróságok, tudomány, felsőoktatás, sajtó, stb.) átpolitizálását megfékezni? Annyi biztos, hogy ha a kormány elveszi az akadémiától a kutatóintézeteit, és a Te minisztériumod kezébe adja az MTA kasszakulcsát, attól még Te még finansziriozhatod az MTA folymatban lévő kutatásait.

    Üdvözlettel, Lipták Béla

    [1] https://www.isa.org/templates/one-column.aspx?pageid=111294&productId=115942
    [2] http://www.amazon.com/Post-Oil-Energy-Technology-Solar-Hydrogen-Demonstration/dp/1420070258

    Béla Lipták Associates PC
    President
    Automation and Safety Consultants
    84 Old North Stamford Rd., Stamford CT
    T: 203 357 7614, E: liptakbela@aol.com
    Homepage: http://belaliptakpe.com/
    Books:https://www.amazon.com/bela-liptak-Books/s?page=1&rh=n%3A283155%2Ck%3Abela%20liptak

    • Robert Morrison says:

      I am not sure who you are but found it highly improper to post the letter in Hungarian on an English language blog.

      • Engem nem zavar.

        Nagyon erős véleményed van Magyarországról. De nem tudsz magyarul olvasni?

        He provided a link to his homepage, so you can easily find out who he is and what his views are.

  5. Since Russia supplies Hungary’s energy, it would be foolish to be at war. The EU is continually threatening Hungary, it is nice to have a friend around to stop rabid EU globalists wanting to take away Hungary’s sovereignty.

  6. Glad you did not have to ask Bela Liptak. I felt for some times now, that he just had a better idea. Yes, Hungary is depended on Russia for its energy source, and several other things. Unless they decide to go and be independent.

    Hungary has some coal. While many allege that it is “dirty”. It is dirty as long as they just pump it all up into the athmosfere.
    But any who could remember grade school science that carbon participates in water. That is H2O+CO2=H2CO3 You add lime to it and have H2O+CaCO3. Drain the water off and can sell it to the cattle-feed lots. Beside Hungary has couple of flowing rivers. NO, no need to dyke them up, just use the flow of water for energy, like centuries ago. As long rivers flow you just need to place big pedal-wheels in it and a generator on the end of the axel. As long as the river flows it generate electric power. And possible to have them all along the full lenght of the rivers. The cost is a fraction of any other source. Just what could be less expensive and reliable source of electrical energy?

    And there is no left over nuclear waste while some parts of it remain radio-active as long as 100,000 years. Who has technology to store radioactive waste safely for so long, even if it taken back by Russia ?

    Like the old saying; as long there is the will, there will be a way ! And the simplest solutions are the best and least expensive solution !

  7. Any of this “anti” anything ideology of todays’ Hungarians is just like a mental disease.
    It will likely takes another human lifespan to recover from all the evils that settled in their mind.

    But they should be willing, even if not able to recognize that it is strictly for their own benefit to try to get along with any body and every body in this world. Starting with their closest neighbours.
    The past needs to be put aside and they need to be realist. But they just keep fighting it.
    So, do not hold your breath !

  8. I wonder if it is worth to keep the comment section open. Total stupidity flood!

  9. That is it folks. Everybody is an idiot, only Banfi shines his brilliance.
    His comment is self-evidence !

    But on the subject of title of the article.
    Nobody but Obama is responsible for Putin running wild creating blood-sheds in the world and his cliant Iran and Assad.
    Obama was actually a whimp as president.

  10. Christopher Adams;
    Paks is an old Soviet built power plant.
    They provide the fuel, take back the used fuel, assist in all phase of operation,maintenance of the plant.

    The plant is out dated,need to update and refurbish it to have a few more decade of use out of it.
    Russia offered the best deal in doing so, as well the financing of it.

    So just do you think is a better alternative for Hungary that they might be able to afford ?

    In a way, they are lucky they have Paks and the present Russian offer.
    Whatever any one may feel or think of Russia.

    • Bende
      Wrong on several accounts:
      – the use of the existing reactors could have been extended under certain provisions,
      – the new Russian reactors are not the latest technology
      – the post factum feasibility studies are a lie or a primitive hack job, in all probability the energy produced will be too expensive to sell,
      – the planned 5000 billion Ft cost will certainly become 10 000 at best, add another 5-8 000 billion for dismantling the closed ones- adding 15-18 000 or 60-70% to the existing 26 000 GGDebt with the respective financial consequences.
      And “Rosatom … considered (even by Russian standards) to be one of the most corrupt organizations in the world..” is the “right” partner for Orban, the most corrupt official in Europe.

  11. OBSERVER;
    To the present understanding, the present plant will NOT be decommissioned, only up-dated and extended.
    The decommissioning of a nuclear plant cost as much a the construction of a new one.

    Rosatom may well be corrupt, so what ? As long as they can fulfill the contract.
    Those that made your cloths and shoes may also be corrupt, so do you want to shed them and go naked ?

  12. “Orban -Putin love affair..”

    Hmmm?

    A neo-nazi and a KGB boss ?

    Just what have you had for midnight snack ?
    Had to be very toxic for sure !

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