Wednesday

23rd Aug 2017

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”.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

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.

'Killer robots' are not about Terminator

A European signatory of an open letter about autonomous weapons says the imagery of fictional killer robots is distracting from a seriously dangerous issue.

News in Brief

  1. EU calls on Serbia and Macedonia to remain calm
  2. Schulz wants US to remove nuclear weapons from Germany
  3. Ukraine and Russia to announce another ceasefire
  4. EU to investigate Monsanto-Bayer merger
  5. US will ask Nato allies to send more troops into Afghanistan
  6. Greece to be absent at event on Communism and Nazism
  7. Czechs want observer status in Eurogroup meetings
  8. Putin sends EU-blacklisted ambassador to US

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressEuropean Governments Must Take Stronger Action Against Terrorism
  2. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceDoes Genetics Explain Why So Few of Us Have an Ideal Cardiovascular Health?
  3. EU2017EEFuture-Themed Digital Painting Competition Welcomes Artists - Deadline 31 Aug
  4. ACCABusinesses Must Grip Ethics and Trust in the Digital Age
  5. European Jewish CongressEJC Welcomes European Court of Justice's Decision to Keep Hamas on Terror List
  6. UNICEFReport: Children on the Move From Africa Do Not First Aim to Go to Europe
  7. Centre Maurits CoppietersWe Need Democratic and Transparent Free Trade Agreements Says MEP Jordi Solé
  8. Counter BalanceOut for Summer, Ep. 2: EIB Promoting Development in Egypt - At What Cost?
  9. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  10. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  11. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  12. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference