Populist nonsense from Orban

May 15, 2014

A few days ago, Prime Minister of Hungary Viktor Orban, made the following statement.

Hungarians living in the Carpathian basin are entitled to have dual citizenship, are entitled to community rights, and also autonomy.  This is our clear expectation from the new Ukraine which is taking shape now.”

The Ukrainian Constitution forbids dual citizenship – so unless that is about to change in any constitutional reforms – dual citizenship will remain constitutionally forbidden.  Minority rights are already constitutionally and statutorily in existence – albeit like so many other rights paid little more than lip-service by consecutive feckless Ukrainian governments.  As for the right to autonomy, just as there is federalisation and there is “federalisation”, there is autonomy and there is “autonomy”.  Much depends upon the degree of decenteralisation that will be necessarily be forthcoming from Kyiv – but full autonomy based upon the statement of Viktor Orban there will not be.

Once a populist – always a populist.   To be quite clear the statement was deliberately aimed for his domestic audience rather than directly aimed at Ukraine.  It was his first speech to his domestic audience having been returned as Prime Minister for a second term.

It brought the following comments from some very smart foreign policy wonks:


OK, some very smart people – and then me as well.

Despite his rhetoric, it is not something over which he will try and press Ukraine over – unless due to this untimely and ill-considered comment The Kremlin now sees the opportunity to push him far further than he ever intended it to go.   Perhaps it earned him a thank you telephone call from The Kremlin, perhaps a few million knocked off the price of the Russian atomic contract in Hungary, or perhaps some other reward – but it is not a Russian-Hungarian conspiracy to divide Ukraine or even anything approaching that.

It will have intensely annoyed his EU neighbours with ethnic Hungarian populations – perhaps more so than Ukraine – when also taking into consideration EU solidarity that is currently under the microscope on various fronts – and is clearly found to be faltering.

His comments are not likely to have been part of a Kremlin strategy – quite simply because no Kremlin strategy is readily apparent regarding Ukraine.  There are tactics aplenty – and an unambiguous goal – but a clear strategy to achieve that lasting goal there isn’t.


Perhaps after the start of The Kremlin’s Asia-Pacific pivot on 20th May, a so far hidden strategy will become apparent, one that will be able to take far less regard of EU/US sensibilities over Ukraine – though if so it remains very well hidden.

Meanwhile the EU region collectively sighs, tuts, and rolls its eyes at yet more populist nonsense from Viktor Orban.

After all, if he is truly intent upon rolling the clock backwards and reviving the geopolitical boundaries and  ghosts of centuries past in concert with Mr Putin, he would do well to remember that the dismal days of the Warsaw Pact will come long before any heady days of the Austria-Hungarian empire.




  1. I am fairly sure you will already have seen: http://ftalphaville.ft.com/2014/05/14/1851292/ukraine-gazprom-and-the-full-faith-and-credit/?

    • Yes I saw it but thanks for insuring I did. There are some quite strange goings-on in Naftogaz Ukrainy currently about which I am yet to comment as I am still to make sense of it all in its entirety. The IMF money, US guarantees etc play only a small part of these goings-on within Naftogaz.

      If and when I fully grasp what is trying to be done I will write something.

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