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Opposition MEPs in Die Zeit: Orbán ‘Trojan Horse of Dictators in Europe’

Fanni Kaszás 2020.11.25.

Europe cannot afford mistakes that could easily lead to the disintegration of the European Union, states the opinion article in the Zeit Online published on Tuesday from Hungarian opposition MEPs. Klára Dobrev, Attila Ara-Kovács, Csaba Molnár, Sándor Rónai (Democratic Coalition), Márton Gyöngyösi (Jobbik), and István Ujhelyi (MSZP – Socialist Party) responded to an earlier opinion piece in which the author, Alan Posener, wrote that Germany should back down in the EU budget conflict, even if for now it would show Viktor Orbán’s victory. However, liberal Momentum’s MEPs Anna Donáth and Katalin Cseh did not join the other opposition politicians.

Last week, Alan Posener published an opinion piece in which he said that “the tasks of the EU are too important for a ruinous budget dispute. Germany has to de-escalate, even if it seems from backing down that Viktor Orbán is winning in the short term. He said instead of trying to place the governments in Warsaw and Budapest under pressure through the Brussels institutions, the German parties should work on strategies to support the civil society opposition in Poland and Hungary, including creating an effective media presence, and persistently working on the “project Europe” itself.

On Monday, several Hungarian opposition MEPs reacted to the article in another opinion piece in which they said “the old continent has repeatedly made mistakes, for the grave consequences of which it had to pay for decades.” The MEPs cited the fall of the League of Nations and the Yalta Conference as examples, where “democratically-minded leaders of democratic countries had to negotiate with violent and cunning dictators like Hitler and Stalin.”

According to them, Posener’s opinion also conveys a point of view that would be a serious mistake to follow and cause irreparable damage to Europe. The MEPs said:

In the person of Viktor Orbán, we are once again dealing with a violent and cunning autocrat, who is abusing his political power and EU funds to enrich his own family and clientele while demolishing democracy and trampling on European values.

They added that Europe needs to realize that Orbán is anti-democratic and is proud to do so when he “sets himself up as the champion of illiberal thoughts.” The Hungarian representatives said:

Orbán has proven over the last ten years that he only understands the word ‘power’ and that he is a politician who is not affected by reason. In his apparently demagogic texts, he likens the EU to the Warsaw Pact, while serving as a Trojan horse for Eastern autocratic rulers in Europe and regularly seeking the company of dictators such as Alexander Lukashenko and Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow.

However, they add that Orbán is not equal to the citizens and interests of Hungary and no one should “fall into Orbán’s parliamentary majority,” as “thanks to personalized election rules, he reaches a two-thirds parliamentary majority with a quarter of those, who are eligible to vote.”

According to the politicians, the vast majority of Hungarians support the country’s EU membership, not Orbán’s “anti-EU position,” which they tried to point out after the veto with a joint statement from the Hungarian opposition parties. They added that “the citizens of Hungary expect the EU to show a clear direction and resist the destruction of Orbán.”

The opinion piece concludes with another reflection on Posener’s article, saying that “if Europe’s leaders make the mistake again of giving in to the demands of a tyrant, they will lose their credibility in the eyes of European voters.”

According to the MEPs, “it cannot be in the interests of hundreds of millions of EU citizens to continue funding Orbán’s group. And if it does, Europe will once again make a mistake that could easily mean the end of the European Union.”

featured photo: Vivien Cher Benko/PM’s Press Office