Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has kicked off his campaign for the upcoming European Parliament elections with sharp criticism of the EU, calling Brussels a "bad modern parody" that he believes can still be fixed. The deep-seated distrust between Orban and EU leaders has grown over disagreements spanning the past 13 years.
These disputes revolve around issues such as gay rights, Hungary's approach to migrants, and what is seen as a tightening of control over non-governmental organizations, academics, the courts, and the media within Hungary.
"History sometimes repeats itself. Fortunately, what was a tragedy the first time is a comedy at best," Orban told supporters in a speech on the anniversary of the failed Hungarian uprising against Soviet rule in 1956. He likened Moscow to a tragedy and Brussels to a "bad modern parody." Orban's defiant stance was clear when he said, "Even if Brussels plays, we dance according to our taste.
And if we don't want to, we won't dance." He emphasized that while Moscow might be beyond repair, Brussels and the EU still have the potential to be fixed. "The current leaders of the bloc have failed to protect the security, freedom, and well-being of Europe," Orban pointed out.
The EU has suspended multibillion-euro aid payments to Hungary over rule of law concerns, further complicating Orban's efforts to pull the country's economy out of its longest technical recession. Orban's handshake with Putin stirred not only EU unease but also attracted the attention of the United States, traditionally a staunch ally of Western Europe.
The move gave rise to questions about Hungary's foreign policy alignment and its willingness to engage with Russia in an era marked by heightened geopolitical tensions. This episode reflects Hungary's increasingly assertive stance on the international stage, making its election campaign all the more pivotal.
The outcome of the European Parliament elections will resonate far beyond Hungary's borders, shaping debates on the balance between national sovereignty and EU integration, and potentially influencing the broader trajectory of European politics.