Neither Foreign Affairs, Nor Minister – an Article by Nóra Hajdú

In the past few weeks, more articles appeared in the printed and online press about Hungarian foreign policy than altogether since 2010. The public's long-time indifference towards the subject is one of the reasons of the current crisis of foreign policy, and that is also why the topic demands now – with full force – to make it to the front pages.

It has been evident even before, though, that Hungary – on the grounds of its geographic and historical features and because of the current situation in the region and Europe – is extremely exposed to the effects of international developments.

Foreign policy is a long-time stepchild of political parties, too. Parties' first-rank politicians do not care about it seriously, and regard it as a waste of time: it cannot be used to obtain mandates, it is not interesting in the campaign, and the issues related to it cannot be easily communicated to voters. It is one of the consequences – amongst others – of this general indifference that by now, the professional forums of foreign policy formulation and almost its entire institutional framework either disappeared or have been deprived of content.

There are a number of signs of foreign policy dilettantism, such as "non paper" (for a piece of paper), frequent and repeated changes in personnel in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which increases incompetence, an ambassadorial corps ¾ of which is once again replaced, the dissolved Institute of Foreign Affairs – but all of these are only superficial symptoms of the current crisis. The appointment of the new Minister of Foreign Affairs – unequivocally rejected by almost all, irrespective of political affiliation – is like a symbolic end point of this fatal process: there is now no need for a Minister of Foreign Affairs. This is also reflected by the fact that EU affairs, which is a key area of Hungarian foreign policy, will be dealt with by the Prime Minister's Office from now on.

The programme of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, which has obviously been prepared without the help of any professional background studies (and which has absurdly been qualified as "final and irrevocable") failed at the very moment of its announcement.

One of the major aims of the new foreign policy, i.e. to make sure that the proportion of exports in Hungary as a percentage of GDP will be the highest within the EU, will have absolutely no effect on the crisis in Ukraine, for example.

As regards the Hungarian initiative to save Christians (only Christians!) living in northern Iraq, Hungary had to turn to the NATO, the leading power of which – the power that has all the necessary equipment, e.g. fighter-bombers – is the United States, the US with which the Government now faces an unprecedented diplomatic conflict. This is a situation which really should be amongst the writings of [István] Örkény [a notable Hungarian satirist]. The Prime Minister, in its notorious 'illiberal democracy' speech delivered in Tusnádfürdő [Băile Tuşnad], announced his rupture with the community of values of the Western alliance system, and also that he will attempt to re-orientate Hungary towards the sphere of influence of e.g. Russia, which has by this time become rather aggressive.

This is also one reason why Orbán has been constantly performing a peacock dance ever since his Tusnádfürdő speech, and has been preoccupied with managing the damages to Hungary's foreign policy that were caused by him.

The explanation for this absurd situation is obvious: foreign policy has been distorted and became a projection of internal politics. The running-amok as regards foreign policy has the same purpose as [his] politics itself: keeping together the electoral camp by satisfying their tempers and their simplistic way of thinking about the world. Even if the price of this is that Hungary becomes a laughingstock and an object of contempt amongst its allies.

The Hungarian state leadership, which is now patently seriously weakened on the international scene, will have to face the fact: with this Minister of Foreign Affairs and with this Prime Minister, Hungarian foreign policy cannot achieve any credible turnaround.

As a first step, the current Minister of Foreign Affairs – who does not enjoy any internal support, and who, on the other hand, became completely discredited and unwanted by our foreign partners because of his impolite quips – must step down. On account of the proclamation of the illiberal state and the designation of the new major foreign policy orientation (Russia, China and Turkey) the PM also became discredited within his alliance system. And indeed, the person that becomes discredited amongst his own allies is not a suitable person to lead the country.

That is why Orbán, too must step down.

Source: Népszabadság