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Hungary takes on European Union presidency amid considerations

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Hungary Prime Minister Viktor Orban toured key European capitals final week.
| Photo Credit: AP

Hungary takes over the European Union’s (EU) rotating presidency on July 1, promising to be an “honest broker” regardless of widespread considerations over what critics see as an authoritarian, Russia-friendly authorities.

Nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who has run the central European nation since 2010 aiming to rework it into an “illiberal democracy”, often clashes with Brussels over rule-of-law and human rights points.

He can be the one EU chief who has maintained ties with Russia regardless of its invasion of Ukraine. He has refused to ship arms to Kyiv and repeatedly slammed sanctions in opposition to Moscow over the conflict.

Last yr, the European Parliament adopted a non-binding decision highlighting Hungary’s “backsliding” on democratic values, and questioning the way it may “credibly” assume the bloc’s six-month presidency.

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“Ready to assume duties and responsibilities”

Budapest insists it is able to assume “the duties and responsibilities” steering the bloc of 27 international locations.

“We will be honest brokers, working loyally with all member states and institutions,” Hungarian EU Affairs Minister Janos Boka stated in mid-June as he unveiled the presidency’s programme.

“At the same time, we believe Hungary has a strong mandate to pursue a strong European policy. Our work will reflect this vision of Europe,” he added.

Hungary’s programme slogan? “Make Europe Great Again” — echoing the rallying cry of Mr. Orban’s “good friend” former U.S. President Donald Trump — which already induced a stir in Brussels.

After Hungary final held the EU presidency in 2011, Mr. Orban boasted about handing out “flicks,” “smacks,” and “friendly slaps” to the “excitable tormentors” of the European Parliament.

This time, the nationalist chief (61) is much more combative, having vowed to “occupy Brussels” through the marketing campaign for European elections in early June, banking on a right-wing breakthrough.

But though far-right events made positive factors, Mr. Orban’s Fidesz social gathering at the moment stands remoted, unable to discover a group within the European Parliament that fits it.

On Sunday, Mr. Orban introduced he needed to kind his personal group, along with Austria’s far-right Freedom Party (FPOe) and the centrist ANO social gathering of ex-Czech premier Andrej Babis. They nonetheless want events from at the very least 4 different international locations to affix them.

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Last week, Mr. Orban didn’t derail a deal to return Ursula von der Leyen as head of the highly effective European Commission and two others from a centrist alliance taking the opposite high jobs.

Meanwhile, Ms. von der Leyen delay a courtesy go to to Budapest, initially deliberate for the Presidency opening. A brand new date has not been set.

Seven priorities for EU presidency

To garner help for Hungary’s programme, Mr. Orban toured key European capitals final week. Among the nation’s seven priorities for its EU presidency are stemming “illegal migration” and bringing the Western Balkans international locations “one step closer” to EU membership.

Mr. Orban can use the presidency to set the agenda, however he can not obtain outcomes with out the fee’s help, Daniel Hegedus, a senior fellow on the German Marshall Fund informed AFP.

He additionally famous that the Hungarian premier has restricted alternative to behave as a spoiler, because the outgoing Belgian presidency and EU establishments have rushed to conclude essential selections.

Last week, the European Union adopted a contemporary sanction bundle in opposition to Russia and formally launched “historic” accession talks with Ukraine. “Everybody was striving to reduce instability, thus restricting the room for manoeuvre for the Hungarian presidency,” Mr. Hegedus stated. “But more “trolling on the communication front” is to be anticipated,” he added.

Among Hungary’s battles with Brussels, Budapest is trying to unlock billions of euros in EU funds frozen over points together with LGBTQ rights, the remedy of asylum seekers and public procurement.

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