[spectre] CSIS on Hungary

Janos Sugar sj at c3.hu
Mon Nov 24 21:18:39 CET 2014

Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS):
In the case of Hungary, many of these trends have toxically blended 
to produce an increasingly authoritarian regime. Over the last 
decade, Hungary has maintained strong economic and political ties 
with Russia. Russia is Hungary's largest trading partner outside the 
European Union, and the country remains 80 percent reliant on Russian 
energy. As Russia's grasp on Hungary's economy has tightened, 
nationalist and xenophobic groups-such as the neo-fascist Jobbik 
party-have also risen to prominence, further undermining the 
country's Western, liberal orientation. Moreover, Hungarian Prime 
Minister Viktor Orban has articulated a significant shift in national 
direction and policy orientation, declaring in July that Hungary must 
strive to build "an illiberal new state based on national 
foundations" as evidenced by legislative motions to restrict free 
speech (including an oppressive advertising tax), centralize 
authority (Hungary's new constitution has been amended five times), 
and erode the independence of the judiciary. Noting that the 
geopolitical "wind is blowing from the East," Orban has credited 
Moscow for these latest Russian-styled Hungarian "reforms." These 
illiberal trends have been accompanied by distinctly pro-Russian 
foreign policies in Budapest. Orban has consistently derided the EU's 
sanctions against Russia, and Hungary abruptly discontinued its sale 
of excess gas supplies to Ukraine after a visit from the CEO of 
Gazprom this fall. Hungary received a 10 billion euro loan from 
Russia for a new nuclear power plant facility, increasing Hungary's 
energy dependence on Russian technology and financial support. 
Negative developments in Hungary and its neighbors threaten to derail 
wider European efforts to restrain Russian recidivism. Although the 
21st-century East-West confrontation does not bear the ideological 
vestiges of the Cold War, there is a clear ideological component. 
This contestation is between liberal versus illiberal, transparency 
and good governance versus corruption and "managed democracy." The 
unqualified success of Central Europe's transformation from Communism 
to liberal democracies and market economies is not immutable, and we 
should not trick ourselves into believing it is so.




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