Unexpectedly the Hungarian right-wing and far-right parties and organizations do not reject the Russian standpoint in the Georgian conflict. While Viktor Orbán and Fidesz’s main experts in foreign affairs use pro-USA rhetoric, right-wing journalists opposed Committee on Foreign Affairs chairman Zsolt Németh and former minister of foreign affairs János Martonyi for their commitment to the United States. Meanwhile, the Hungarian far-right – breaking with its traditions – is taking sides with Russia.
1. Right-wing standpoints after the Georgian-Russian conflict
Fidesz: Pro-Atlantic position
Before his visit to the US Republican Party the president of the greatest oppositional party harshly criticised Russia for their military attack against Georgia, comparing the action to the 1956 Soviet invasion in Hungary. Viktor Orbán’s statement was backed by Atlantist Fidesz-politician Zsolt Németh (Committee on Foreign Affairs chairman) and by János Martonyi, former minister of foreign affairs in the Orbán administration.
Pro-Fidesz press against Fidesz
Journalists considered as being close to Fidesz are more cautious than the party itself in taking sides in the conflict. Some articles called for a more moderate opinion referring to the energy dependence of Hungary and to the strengthening influence of Russia. A right-wing daily called “Magyar Nemzet” went even further when it accused János Martonyi of establishing very close links to the US with his private law offices, Martonyi & Kajtár, Baker & McKenzie Attorneys at Law.
The daily’s standpoint is even more inconsistent, seeing as it turned against the initiation of Fidesz to urge Hungary for months to quit the building of South Stream Pipeline which is linked to Russia, and that they should only back Nabucco (which avoids Russia). Formerly both Fidesz and even the oppositional press criticized PM Ferenc Gyurcsány for (also) backing the building of the South Stream.
Viktor Orbán at a public meeting in August condemned Népszabadság’s position in the Georgian-Russian conflict (this daily is considered to be pro-governmental) and also criticized Magyar Nemzet for its “instinctual anti-USA attitudes”.
There has been a notable turnaround within the Hungarian extreme right: several leaders are standing by Russia. The root of their perspective is the keen anti-USA attitude which derives from the anti-Semitism, which overshadows any other topics. A well-known character of the far-right would even summon Russia to protect Hungary from the “Zionist occupation”. Within this subculture the pro-Israel and pro-US Georgian leadership is eagerly condemned, and so is the Fidesz standpoint.
2. Possible reasons and potential aftermaths
Snap within Fidesz
Contradictions in the process of preparing for a governing role
The party, which is preparing for victory at the next elections, is trying to get rid of populist rhetoric and aims to win foreign supporters (especially in the EU and in the USA) and thus come up against difficulties.
The strengthening right-wing anti-capitalism which has been intensified by the rhetoric of Fidesz in recent years plays a significant role in anti-USA attitudes. In the eyes of most right-wing voters the USA is a symbol of “neoliberal” and “anti-humane” capitalism.
Receding from the radical right-wing
Cut-throat competition between the pro-Fidesz mediums
The political consequences of Georgian-Russian conflict in Bulgaria
The Bulgarian Government`s position on the Georgian-Ossetian conflict and the Russian federation`s intervention was a moderate one. The government had to comply with common EU position and with its own loyalty and deep connections with Moscow. Our Minister of foreign affairs Ivailo Kalfin took every precaution not to insult Moscow and at the same time to present a moderate European position. But he emphasized that sanctions against Russia are not a reasonable option.
For this particular reason the government did everything in its power to soften the debate about this particular conflict. In fact it was never a major topic of conversation, because Bulgarian citizens do not know the historic value of the conflict, nor the perspectives it opens for Bulgaria.
The political opposition wanted to summon the National Security Council, to emphasize their own political engagement, but the president refused and they had to drop the subject since they had boycotted the last NSC meeting for PR reasons.
The most vocal oppositional party ATTACK could not define a reasonable anti-government position on the conflict since they have been criticizing the US for too long in the past, but flattering Russia will not earn any public support in this situation.
Entangled in their inconsistent political moves both government and opposition parties chose to drop the subject. Only expert opinions were published in the papers and aired on TV with very little effect on the public. This conflict will not have a permanent effect on public opinion.