Thursday

29th Sep 2016

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”.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

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.

Opinion

The EU’s new offer to Africa

The European Commission’s plan for a multi-billion African investment vehicle is mainly another incentive for African leaders to give higher priority to border management.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceWhy the Investment Plan for Europe Does not Drive the Sustainable Energy Transition
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region Seeks to Make Its Voice Heard in the World
  3. Taipei EU OfficeCountries Voice Support for Taiwan's Participation in ICAO
  4. World VisionNew Tool Measuring Government Efforts to Protect Children Released
  5. GoogleDid You Know Europe's Largest Dinosaur Gallery Is in Brussels? Check It Out Now
  6. IPHRHuman Rights in Uzbekistan After Karimov - Joint Statement
  7. CISPECloud Infrastructure Providers Unveil Data Protection Code of Conduct
  8. EFAMessages of Hope From the Basque Country and Galicia
  9. Access NowDigital Rights Heroes and Villains. See Who Protects Your Rights, Who Wants to Take Them Away
  10. EJCAppalled by Recommendation to Remove Hamas From EU Terrorism Watch List
  11. GoogleBringing Education to Refugees in Lebanon With the Clooney Foundation for Justice
  12. Belgrade Security ForumCan Democracy Survive Global Disorder?