Orban's government opts not to commemorate 20th membership of EU accession

Orban's government opts not to commemorate 20th membership of EU accession
The wealth of Istvan Tiborcz (left), son in law of Viktor Orban (right), has soared in recent years to close to HUF500bn (€1.2bn), according to opposition leader Peter Magyar. / bne IntelliNews
By bne IntelliNews May 2, 2024

Hungary marked the 20th anniversary of joining the EU on May 1 but populist strongman Viktor Orban's government opted not to hold an official commemoration. Instead the ruling Fidesz party used the occasion to criticise Brussels for being "pro-war" instead of promoting peace in Europe, in line with the campaign slogan of the radical rightwing party ahead of the June European and local government elections. 

The ruling party issued a short Facebook post on the anniversary. At the time of joining the bloc, Hungary and the EU had two shared goals that there should be peace and prosperity in Europe, Tamas Menczer, the communications director of ruling Fidesz said. "But today we're missing two of these: peace and prosperity," he said. "That's why we say that change is needed in Brussels." He accused the EU of blackmailing Hungary for its pro-peace stance.

Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, said in her video address on Wednesday, "Twenty years ago today, our family was finally united in a common home. Hungary has always been at the heart of Europe. Twenty years ago you chose to reclaim your rightful place at the centre of our continent. You chose Europe," she added.

However, on the streets of Budapest and across the country the ruling party's billboard potrays the EC President as the boss of the opposition with opposition leaders pictured as waiters. The caption on the billboard reads "the humble servants of Brussels", accusing the Orban regime's opponents of serving the interest of the EU instead of Hungary.