Orbán mocks Germany by doubling its support for China – POLITICO
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán now openly mocks the enraged German government with its ability to veto any unified EU response to China’s human rights abuses, especially in Hong Kong.
Budapest has become the only country to block attempts by the EU to take action – or even just issue a statement – regarding Beijing’s wide-ranging crackdown on the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong. For Germany, Orbán’s challenge means that the entire EU foreign policy decision-making process must shift from unanimous decisions to qualified majority voting among the 27 member countries.
Orbán – who has a strong personal relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping – is impervious to pressure from his EU peers and has stepped up his rhetoric about how other European countries are “frivolous” to criticize Beijing over rights of man. In an article published on his website this week, Orbán said he was at the forefront of preventing the “reemergence of Cold War politics and culture into world politics” and called EU foreign policy a “laughing stock” .
“The European left – led by the German left – is once again attacking Hungary in a contemptuous manner. This time it is for our country’s refusal to sign a politically inconsequential and frivolous joint declaration on Hong Kong,” Orbán said. . “We will exercise our rights guaranteed by the founding treaties of the European Union.”
Orbán’s government has invested heavily in a so-called “opening to the east” policy over the past decade, expanding its ties with countries like China, Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan. At the same time, Orbán forged friendly ties with the Kremlin, fueling unrest among EU and NATO allies.
On a more immediate level, China sees Hungary as fertile ground for its divide-and-rule tactic and has embarked on a series of joint ventures. Orbán has invited Shanghai-based Fudan University of China to set up a campus in Budapest, and Hungary has also vaccinated some of its citizens with China’s Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine.
“In recent years, this common foreign policy approach, motivated by domestic policy considerations, has led to the European Union’s foreign policy stance becoming the laughing stock,” Orbán wrote. “When eight of our joint statements are swept aside, as happened with China, the ninth will simply be greeted with more mockery.”
He lambasted what he called the “report-generating foreign policy bureaucrats” in Brussels, adding: “If he [a draft declaration on Hong Kong] is presented a hundred more times, the same result will be repeated a hundred times. “
Hungary not only blocked a statement that EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell wanted to publish on Hong Kong, but also a plan by the EU’s foreign policy arm to strengthen a package on Hong Kong. And last month, he blocked a unified stance on Israeli-Palestinian military hostilities.
Berlin calls for change
Germany took the lead by calling on Hungary.
“We can no longer afford to be held hostage by those who paralyze European foreign policy with their veto,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Monday.
“Those who do are sooner or later playing with the unity of Europe. That is why we have to say openly: the veto must go away – even if it means that one could be outvoted at some point.” Maas said, adding that he thought the issue would be debate at the Conference on the Future of Europe.
On EU-China relations, Maas called for a more vocal approach during his address to German ambassadors around the world on Monday.
“Where China more and more openly violates international law, violates human rights or calls into question our democratic system, we too must take stronger measures than in the past,” he said. declared. “And the bullying and threats won’t stop us.”
Setback in Budapest
Meanwhile, Orbán appears to have relaxed his stance on a plan to invite Fudan University to build a campus in Budapest, after a large-scale opposition-led protest over the weekend.
Gergely Gulyás, Orbán Chief of Staff, Told The Hungarian news portal Mandinate on Sunday that the plan could go to a referendum once it takes shape – a process it says could take a year and a half. “We argue that once the conditions of the project are known, the people of Budapest can decide in a referendum whether they want Fudan University,” said Gulyás.
Comments from the chief of staff suggest that the government is seeking to play down the unpopular project in the run-up to Hungary’s 2022 parliamentary elections.
Budapest opposition mayor Gergely Karácsony told POLITICO he would “use all means at his disposal” to block the university plan, which would imply the Hungarian government taking out Chinese loans to finance the plan. $ 2 billion.
Karácsony is currently the frontrunner to become the main opposition candidate challenging Orbán in next year’s elections. He uses the university as a means of embarrassing Orbán in front of his Chinese allies and has rolled out street names such as Dalai Lama Road, Free Hong Kong Road, and Road of Uyghur Martyrs.
Lili Bayer and Hans von der Burchard contributed reporting.
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