Hungary’s new foreign policy – US is a competitor

Mr. Zsolt Németh, a founder of Hungary’s Fidesz party and leader of the Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee has published an unusual English-language essay entitled, Hungarian foreign policy after Covid-19.   It appeared in the pro-government daily Magyar Nemzet and it seems that it is intended to be Hungary’s new foreign policy “manifesto.”  (Read Németh’s thesis in English here)

In the past the Hungarian Free Press published several articles dealing with Mr. Németh’s frequently changing views and attacks.  Read here about Németh’s views about dealing with the Obama administration and here about his attack on Republican Senator James Risch of Idaho.

Mr. Németh claims that the post-coronavirus world will demand changes to Hungary’s foreign policy.  Since the country’s foreign policy criteria were last updated nine years ago, now it’s time to revise and summarize Hungary’s foreign policy thesis in eight points.

Hungary’s most important alliance is with NATO yet this new foreign policy roadmap has no reference to the country’s membership.  It seems that NATO has taken a backseat in Orbán’s world.  This is not surprising since President Trump singled out NATO countries who pay less than 2% of their GDP for defense and Hungary is one of them. Trump calls these countries “delinquents.”

As far as the US goes, Németh makes a surprising statement. He writes: “We must be aware of all the opportunities and simultaneous dangers in our relationships. The US is Hungary’s biggest military, but it is also Europe’s biggest economic competitor which is Hungary’s most significant market. While China also supports us economically and aided Hungary during the virus, it simultaneously poses a security risk to the US.”

It seems that Hungary now considers the US as a competitor, not an ally, nor a friend.  On the other hand, China poses a security risk to the US, but not to Hungary.

Mr. Zsolt Németh (left) and US Representative Andy Harris, Republican Co-Chair of the Hungarian-American Caucus in Congress

Németh’s thesis makes is clear that Hungary’s leaders are deeply suspicious of the West.  He writes “we cannot be remiss that no matter what happens in the West, it will affect our country. It is vital to work together and if we must, confront the West to defend Hungary’s interests.”  Confront?

Németh also covers the complex relations with Hungary’s neighbors.   He claims that relations are improving except with Ukraine and Romania. “The current level of cooperation in the region must be further developed in order to rebuild the area’s economy with special consideration in cultivating Romanian and Ukrainian relations in the same way as with our other bordering neighbors.”

Overall it seems that the government is steering away the country from NATO, EU and the US and searching for new alliances.  It is no secret that Orbán wants closer ties with Putin’s Russia and Communist China.   Hungary also maintains excellent relations with authoritarian states like Iran, Turkey and Azerbaijan.

US Ambassador Cornstein recently delivered a strong warning to the Orbán regime: “Your success and security in life are often determined by the friends you keep.  I’ll let the Hungarian public decide which friends are better for them and their country’s future.  That choice is clearer by the day, between freedom and democracy on one side and tyranny and authoritarianism on the other.  I feel confident which side Hungary and the wonderful, freedom-loving Hungarian people will choose.”  (Read more here)

Hungary’s foreign policy is in no man’s land.  It doesn’t look good…

György Lázár

3 Comments

  1. „That choice is clearer by the day, between freedom and democracy on one side and tyranny and authoritarianism on the other.  I feel confident which side Hungary and the wonderful, freedom-loving Hungarian people will choose.“

    The first is the EU and the second is Orban … of course Cornstein meant something else, if you are Cornstein not smart you have to write stupid things.

  2. The assesment that Nemeth makes of US relations is correct. It is an EU competitor, less and less an ally and friend. US relations with Germany in particular are worsening by the day. Germany is Hungary’s most important trading partner, therefore Hungary’s relations with US are indirectly affected. Nemeth also correctly points out that China and US are at each other’s throats. Hungary wants to stay neutral which is the position that is in its own interest, but US is the one pressuring everyone to pick sides, which is not a particularly friendly policy towards allies.

    And if Cornstein thinks that a country’s success is based on friends it keeps, then what are we to make of US friendly relations with countries like Saudi Arabia? I am a firm believer in equall assessment. US fails on this one. Hypocrisy is increasingly its position.

    Regional assesment is also correct. Hungary increasingly enjoys good relations with most of its neighbors, expcept Ukraine and Romania. Nasty behaviour of those governments towards ethnic Hungarians stands in the way. Personally I think Ukraine will chnange course and relations will thus improve accordingly. Romania on the other hand is headed in the opposite direction.

    Gyorgy Lazar firmly believes that Hungary should be America’s docile vasal state. Do America’s bidding, often to the detriment of its own interests. The readers can decide for themselves whether that is the correct path for Hungary. Friendships are based on mutual respect. US policy towards many of its allies, pressuring them, imposing extrateritorial sanctions against their companies is not what I would qualify as being in any way respectful.

  3. Gabriel Farkas says:

    The 20th century demonstrated the Hungarian governments’ talent in successfully selecting allies. Apparently, this government wants to continue the tradition.

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