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Soul diver – to the Wikileaks disclosures

Maybe Gyurcsány felt well in the company of the Russians, maybe not. I don’t know about that since I’m not a soul diver. But I definitely think that if he really liked the Russians, then it was because of the complexes that he had amongst western leaders. This is the last thing I could imagine about him. Of course I might be wrong and the soul diver diplomats understood the situation well. However, even if that was the case, they should have thought a little bit beyond Gyurcsány’s allegedly personal motivations, about the reasons why the relations had become significantly deeper and intensive during his premiership. I wonder why these good diplomats never thought about that. Why did they think that it was all about personal motivations?
But it would not have been a big deal to realize that other than personal admiration, much deeper reasons drove Gyurcsány into a more intensive relationship with the Russians between 2005 and 2008. No particularly sharp mind would have been necessary to realize that.
1. The first reason to have a closer relationship with the Russians was the realization of the fact that in order to improve economic relationships, we needed to strengthen our political relationships first. Here, Gyurcsány did not do more than follow the path that was started by Péter Medgyessy (Gyurcsány’s predecessor). This approach came into fruition. The trade volume grew sharply between 2002 and 2008, until the start of the world economic crisis in both countries. The trade turnover between the two countries was USD 2,7 billion in 2002 (Hungarian export: USD 455 million, import: USD 2284 million), while six years later the turnover exceeded USD 14 billion (Hungarian export: almost USD 4 billion, import: USD 10,2 billion). This is a very sharp increase – 500% in 6 years –, and the best part is that Hungarian exports grew by 800%, while imports from Russia grew by 400%). This happened during the very years when the price of energy grew significantly. At year end 2003 the price of one barrel was below USD 40, then it peaked at USD 147 in the summer of 2008. I don’t know what would have happened if Hungarian exports hadn’t been able to grow that rapidly. In all circumstances we would have to pay for the energy – oil and gas – while we wouldn’t even have any other alternative to purchase gas. So I don’t get the point of the diplomatic cable that states that Gyurcsány had overestimated the importance of the economic relations with Russia. This is the situation when we say that nothing is too precious for a bystander.
2. The other circumstance bringing Moscow and Budapest closer to each other was the result of a development completely beyond our control. This was the active role of Poland in the political changes in Ukraine, which cooled down flourishing Russian-Polish relations immediately.
3. And finally there was a third reason that made intensive dialogue necessary. It was exactly these years when Russia launched the South Stream project. The launch of such a strategic plan itself rendered more intensive political dialogue necessary. (We should not forget that, although it is not common to talk about it, this had originally started out as a Russian-Italian plan. In relation to the connection to the South Stream it was not Putin, but Romano Prodi, prime minister of Italy at the time who approached the Hungarian prime minister. There was a very simple reason for this: Italy was too much dependent from North-African energy transports, and the South Stream would function same way for them: diversification just like the Nabucco project for us. So when the Hungarian prime minister nodded in approval to the project, he not only took into consideration the energy supply security of his own country but also the security of an allied EU member state. From the fall of 2008, however, it seemed to be obvious that there were obstacles not only facing the realization of the Nabucco project, but the future of the South Stream project also became uncertain due to the global financial crisis.)
Maybe this can be enough to see the reason how Gyurcsány – even if he had personal motivations – wasn’t influenced by his own personal feelings, but by very rational reasons. He tried – by representing the interest of the majority of the Hungarian political community – to improve the relations between Russia and Hungary.
Zoltán Sz. Bíró; galamus.hu; September 4. 2011.

Last Updated on Friday, 30 August 2013 09:11

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