Hungary needs to redefine its position within Nato, says Orban

Hungary needs to redefine its position within Nato, says Orban
Fidesz latest campaign billboard with the caption "peace". / bne IntelliNews
By Tamas Csonka in Budapest May 27, 2024

Hungary needs to "redefine its position within the military alliance" as regards the conflict in Ukraine, and our lawyers are working on this", Prime Minister Viktor Orban said in a regular radio interview on May 24.

He said that Hungary, as a Nato member, has representatives in those groups, “but we do not want to participate in the conflict, either by providing financial contribution or by sending weapons; not even within Nato’s framework”.

Hungary’s nationalist leader has built his campaign for next month's European Parliament elections on the agenda of avoiding deeper involvement in the conflict, saying the vote could determine the course of war and peace in Europe.

Orban’s propaganda has accused his opponents of a pro-war stance for supporting the delivery of arms to Ukraine. Streets were flooded with billboards with the caption of Stop War with the contours of opposition leaders, and in recent days similar billboards appeared with the caption Peace showing the face of the Hungary’s leader in the background.

Long regarded as Putin's closest partner in the EU, Orban shrugged off the concerns of some other Central and Eastern European countries that Russia's military wouldn't cease its aggression if it wins the war in Ukraine, saying that the chances were very slim that anyone would dare to attack a Nato member.

It was illogical, according to the prime minister, to assume that Russia, which cannot even defeat Ukraine, would all of a "sudden come and swallow the entire Western world."

He drew comparisons to the pre-WWI and WWII era. "What’s happening today in Brussels and Washington, or currently more in Brussels than in Washington, is setting the mood for an eventual military conflict, which we might as well describe as preparing Europe’s entry to war," he said.

He expressed concerns about how long the European strategy would take, the resources needed and the potential for a direct confrontation between Nato, the EU and nuclear-armed Russia, which could lead to catastrophic outcomes. Hungary faces a difficult situation as it adheres to Nato’s original defensive mission, while Nato appears to be preparing for involvement in the Russia-Ukraine war. Orban emphasised Hungary's reluctance to participate in the conflict, either financially or militarily.

Hungary's nationalist leader continues to question the effectiveness of sanctions against Russia and has staunchly opposed arms deliveries to Ukraine, making him isolated within the block. At the February 1 summit Orban dropped his veto, and agreed on a €50bn military assistance but at the same time Budapest looks ready to block Nato’s proposal to provide €100bn in military aid to the war-torn country.