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Viktor Orban praises Merkel and relies on Donald Trump

At a panel discussion in Berlin, Orban criticized the EU’s sanctions policy and called for an immediate “ceasefire” in Ukraine. The greatest hope for peace, however, would be an election victory for Donald Trump.

Chancellor Scholz (right) welcomes Hungarian Prime Minister Orban in Berlin.

Imago / Kira Hofmann

Every other year, the Hungarian Prime Minister visits the German capital for political talks. Viktor Orban regularly clashed with Angela Merkel. On the issue of migration, the positions were and are further apart than Budapest and Berlin are apart. The inaugural visit to Olaf Scholz surprised in several ways: According to Orban, the conversation lasted two long hours, there was no joint press conference, instead the next day there was a panel discussion with journalists, in which Orban also praised Merkel: With her, there was the guest sure, there would be no Ukraine war today. The Chancellor would have known how to prevent it.

Half of the political Berlin was assembled, including those from the conservative camp, including Thilo Sarrazin and Hans-Georg Maassen, when on a cloudless autumn Tuesday morning the topic bundle of the hour shone on the back wall of a former power plant: “Storm over Europe – the Ukraine war , the energy crisis and geopolitical challenges.»

A difficult guest

The editor of the “Berliner Zeitung”, Holger Friedrich, the editor-in-chief of the monthly magazine “Cicero”, Alexander Marguier, and in the middle the 59-year-old Orban sat in front of the writing. A friend of Olaf Scholz’s party, Vice-President of the European Parliament Katarina Barley, had just called out to him from afar that Orban was the “most corrupt head of government” in the entire EU. The chairman of the SPD parliamentary group accuses him of “policies hostile to human rights”. Rolf Mützenich is not alone in this view.

The current Hungarian seesaw policy – ​​support for Ukraine without harming Europe and permanently annoying Russia – is also not helping all Berlin hearts fly to the difficult guest. Because Orban knows that, he was clearly trying to launch a charm offensive. No one, he insisted, understood the “heroic people” of Ukraine better than Hungarians. The Magyars experienced their “Butscha” in Budapest in 1956, the invasion of the then Soviet Russians, the violent end of the popular uprising, “and our Zelensky was hanged”. Orban was alluding to the fate of national hero Imre Nagy.

That is precisely why an immediate “ceasefire” and negotiations are needed under all circumstances. The Pope is also demanding this. Orban repeated the word ceasefire several times, including at the time when an air raid alarm was sounded about 1,000 kilometers to the east throughout Ukraine. But how, the moderators insisted, should the aggressor and the attacked nation be brought to the negotiating table?

Joe Biden is not a member of the peace party

Orban dodged the question by postponing it: This war can only be ended by Moscow and Washington. After all, it is the United States who, with their weapons, their training and their information, have enabled Ukraine to keep the outcome of the war open. Unfortunately, Europe has taken itself out of the game, that is the core of the problem, French President Macron is right: there is a lack of “strategic independence”.

Which brought Angela Merkel into play. “Thank you, Angela,” Orban said. The audience laughed in bewilderment. Orban meant business. In 2014, the former chancellor ensured that the Crimean crisis remained a local conflict. She traveled to the Crimea with other Europeans immediately and conveyed that “that was a diplomatic masterpiece”.

Today, the EU is paralyzing itself, pursuing a catastrophic sanctions policy that harms itself more than Russia, and lets the hardliners in the White House do as they please. In Orban’s opinion, unlike him, Joe Biden does not belong to the “peace party”. Therefore, the greatest hope for peace is Donald Trump. At this point parts of the auditorium clapped.

For the principle of unanimity in the EU

Apparently, Orban assumes that the Republican will run for office and win the elections. It became clear that Orban shares a thinking in interests with Trump. He is what sets him apart from Berlin politicians, the advocate of the interests of his own nation: “Putin doesn’t interest me at all. I’m interested in Hungary and Europe.” Good, Orban wrote in Berlin’s foreign policy register, a policy is good if it produces good results; good intentions were not enough. He went sharply to court with the German proposals to abolish the unanimity principle in the EU. “Little” Hungary could not agree.

But how did the two-hour conversation with the chancellor go? Scholz, said Orban with a smile, is a pleasant person to talk to, well informed and quick to grasp things. Of course, he, Orban, has achieved nothing. So everything as always and already in the Merkel era? Not quite. The chancellor constantly contradicted him, but the chancellor at least listened, without a yes or a no. That’s progress. In two years you can see further, again in Berlin. Then Hungary will hold the EU Council Presidency.

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