Hungary snubbed on fifteenth anniversary of EU membership

It’s May Day in Hungary — a national holiday where major political parties hold picnics and rallies, Budapest’s Városliget (City Park) fills with families, games for children, barbecues and vendors, and the almost moribund Munkáspárt, the hard-line successor of the country’s pre-1989 Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party, shows signs of life by marching on Andrássy út and serving zsíróskenyér (bread with lard) in the park.
This May Day, however, was also the fifteenth anniversary of Hungary’s membership in the European Union. The EU’s 2004 enlargement brought in seven former Eastern bloc countries once aligned with the Soviet Union, as well as Malta, Cyprus and Slovenia. The ten countries together were the recipients of more than 365 billion euros in funding from EU structural and cohesion funds. In Hungary alone, EU funding created 115,000 jobs, 3,724 kilometres of new roads and 415 kilometres of railway tracks.
Europe is here. Poster from 1 May 2004.
The anniversary was, at best, a muted celebration in Hungary. More significant and telling, however, was the way in which Hungary was snubbed on this day during a meeting of the United Nations Security Council. In a headline article appearing in The EUObserver, we read that the Finnish ambassador to the UN ignored the fact that Hungary vetoed a joint statement drafted by the EU on how Europe was “alarmed” and concerned about the expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, Palestinian deaths and the lack of progress on finding a two state solution to the long-standing conflict. Finland is about to assume the rotating EU presidency in July, hence why it presented this statement.
The Finnish ambassador made it clear that he was speaking on behalf of 27 EU member states, which of course did not include Hungary–due to the Orbán regime’s opposition to criticism of Israel and, more specifically, his close ally–Benjamin Netanyahu. No mention was made of Hungary’s opposition to the statement.
The snub was deliberate–diplomats within the EU are reportedly “irritated” with the Hungarian government, particularly because the Orbán government waited until the last minute to object to the joint statement and also failed to explain its objections. Even after the snub, Hungary’s EU mission refused to clarify to EUObserver journalists what precisely they had found so objectionable in the EU statement. This marks the fifth time that the Orbán government vetoes an EU statement that is critical of Israel and which otherwise had widespread support among EU member states.
With Hungary throwing a wrench in the EU’s desire to speak with a united voice on the world stage, the European Commission is now seriously exploring the possibility of deciding joint foreign policy matters through a qualified majority.
Hungarian publications took the situation today in the UN for what it was: an embarrassment for Hungary. “It appears as though we are not being taken seriously at all anymore” — wrote Népszava. The 444.hu website went further, remarking that Hungarian diplomats in the EU are nothing more than trolls: “Never has the trolling Hungarian diplomatic corps been so humiliated.”

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Author: HungarianFreePress.com

Established in 2014, Hungarian Free Press is an English-language online newspaper offering informed opinion on current events in East/Central Europe. While we focus primarily on Hungarian political news, we also aim to explore broader regional trends, as well as diaspora-related issues. Our paper seeks to build on the longstanding tradition of free, democratic discourse in European coffee houses and aims to develop into a dynamic and energetic news source for inquisitive English readers interested in the political, cultural and economic pressures in Hungary, whilst offering succinct, pertinent information and insightful commentary on broader developments in this region. The Hungarian Free Press is a non-partisan news source, with all of our content (whether news pieces or op-eds) reflecting the following democratic values: - Social justice for all, and especially for those living on the margins of society; - Cultural, linguistic and religious diversity, and a respect for individual creativity and ingenuity; - A respect for minority rights, including those of ethnic, linguistic, cultural, religious or sexual minorities; - Support for rigorous checks and balances within our political system; - Healthy, democratic public institutions where a plurality of backgrounds and views are accepted and encouraged and where party interests do not override public interest; The responsible and sustainable use of our natural resources in business practices, when implementing public policy and in all activity. A growing segment of Hungary’s media has either shied away from defending these core liberal democratic values in its reporting, or has come under the political influence of the Orbán government, which enjoys a supermajority in parliament, has declared the termination of liberal democracy as one of its primary objectives and exerts unprecedented control over the judiciary, the public service, cultural and educational institutions, as well as the press.