Monday

12th Nov 2018

US diplomat lashes out at Hungary's Orban

  • Nuland earned a name for plain speech when she said 'fuck the EU' in a leaked conversation on Ukraine (Photo: mold.gov)

Victoria Nuland, the US' top diplomat on Europe, has indirectly criticised Hungarian leader Viktor Orban for the “cancer” of “democratic backsliding”.

Speaking at the Center for European Policy Analysis, a think tank in Washington, on Thursday (2 October), she said: “Central Europe is once again on the frontline in the fight to protect our security and values. And today, that fight is once again both external and internal”.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

She did not name Orban, but she alluded to his open criticism of Western sanctions on Russia.

“Implementing sanctions isn’t easy and many countries are paying a steep price”, she said.

“But … when [European] leaders are tempted to make statements that tear at the fabric of our resolve, I would ask them to remember their own national history, and how they wished their neighbours had stood with them”.

She also referred to Orban’s statement, made at a meeting of ethnic Hungarian leaders in Romania in July, that: “I don’t think that our European Union membership precludes us from building an illiberal new state based on national foundations”.

“Even as they reap the benefits of Nato and EU membership, we find leaders in the region who seem to have forgotten the values on which these institutions are based”, Nuland said on Thursday.

With Orban also accused of restricting press freedom and cracking down on rights NGOs, she added: “So today I ask their leaders: How can you sleep under your Nato Article 5 blanket at night while pushing ‘illiberal democracy’ by day; whipping up nationalism; restricting free press; or demonising civil society?”

She spoke of the “twin cancers of democratic backsliding and corruption” in eastern Europe, which create “wormholes that undermine their nations’ security”.

She also hit out at EU states who are preparing to build South Stream - a Russian gas pipeline through the Western Balkans to Austria and Italy, involving Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Hungary, Romania, and Slovenia.

“I ask the same of those who … cut dirty deals that increase their countries’ dependence on one source of energy despite their stated policy of diversification”, Nuland said.

Her remarks come after US leader Barack Obama last month put Hungary in the same basket as Russia in terms of threats to civil society.

"From Russia to China to Venezuela, you are seeing relentless crackdowns, vilifying legitimate dissent as subversive. In places like Azerbaijan, laws make it incredibly difficult for NGOs even to operate. From Hungary to Egypt, endless regulations and overt intimidation increasingly target civil society", he said at an event in New York on 23 September.

Hungary raids Norway-backed NGOs

Hungary has been accused of moving away from EU democratic values following a raid on two NGOs earlier this week.

Culture MEPs rebel against Juncker

A handful of Liberal, Green, leftist and anti-establishment MEPs dealing with culture have called for a boycott against the Juncker commission because of his Hungarian nominee.

News in Brief

  1. UK seeks swift use of new EU chemical weapons blacklist
  2. Barnier briefs EU ministers: intense negotiations continue
  3. Romanian minister preparing EU presidency steps down
  4. Finland says Russia possibly behind GPS jamming
  5. German AfD leader under fire for Swiss campaign funding
  6. Seehofer announces he will step down as CSU party leader
  7. EU condemns elections in Russia-occupied eastern Ukraine
  8. German Greens pick two top candidates for EU election

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. Romanian leaders trade jibes over upcoming EU presidency
  2. EU warns Romania not to abuse GDPR against press
  3. EU 'Magnitsky Act' must bear its proper name
  4. Fear of nationalist surge marks European memorials
  5. Liberals ally with Macron for election, but no candidate yet
  6. Revealed: Link between MEPs CO2 votes and domestic car jobs
  7. All Quiet on the Eastern Front?
  8. Merkel and Brexit in spotlight This WEEK

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us