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Orbán and Márki-Zay rally supporters on national holiday
Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and his challenger Péter Márki-Zay both showed confidence as they rallied supporters less than three weeks before the general elections.
“We have to win these elections, and we will triumph, and at that point: we will have peace, security and calm in Hungary,” Orbán said before the crowd gathered on Kossuth square.
March 15 is the National Holiday of Hungary, when the country commemorates the anniversary of the 1848 revolution against the Austrian Empire. Nationwide, plenty of ceremonies remember the revolution that started 174 years ago, and had been crushed in 1849 with the help of the Russian empire.
Orban made little connection to the historic events, he used the occasion to concentrate on the upcoming elections, where he aims to get a fourth consecutive term in power.
“Neither the war, nor the left can divert us from our path,” he stressed.
The supporters of Orban, who filled up the whole square, and some of the surrounding streets, came to the capital city from the countryside with buses, and marched a couple of kilometers in a show of force for Orban's support, ahead of the general elections set for April 3.
Orban's campaign has been focused on a fierce anti-immigration and anti LBTQ message, mixed with a strong anti-EU rhetoric, but was forced to alter its message to one called “strategic calmness” because of the Russian aggression against Ukraine.
Orban accused his opposition of wanting to drag Hungary onto the conflict by wanting to send soldiers and weapons directly to Ukraine: “We cannot get caught between the Ukrainian anvil and the Russian hammer.”
He did not mention Russian President Putin by name, nor did he talk about who he thought was responsible for the war.
He spoke in length about the results of his government during the last twelve years, such as the creation of “a million new jobs” the “decrease of the price of utility bills, the birth of 200,000 more children than under the reign of the opposition”, and made it clear, that if the opposition lead by Peter Marki-Zay were to win, all the results would vanish.
He finished his speech with his trademark slogan “Let’s go Hungary let’s go Hungarians,” and the crowd replied by shouting: Viktor! Viktor!
On the other side of the Danube River, before the University of Technics, the united opposition also organized a big rally, drawing tens of thousands of supporters.
Following other party leaders, Márki-Zay accused Orban of “having committed a terrible crime against the people, because he divided the country, he turned Hungarians against one another, and corrupted the words such as ‘people,’ or ‘nation’.”
“On election day, we must vote to be a one nation again: we cannot be outsiders in our own country,” he underlined.
Orban’s Fidesz party is leading in the polls, but the margin of error in Hungary is larger than usual, and analysts warn that the next elections could be the hardest for Central-Europe’s strong man.
“Orbán showed confidence.. of course, it’s what all politicians do, but he is one who had already lost elections, even ones where polls said he would win,” analyst Gábor Török said following the demonstrations.
Orbán misses the train to Kyiv
“It is here, in war-torn Kyiv, that history is being made. It is here that freedom fights against the world of tyranny. It is here that the future of us all hangs in the balance. EU supports UA, which can count on the help of its friends - we brought this message to Kyiv today,” the Prime Minister of Poland, Mateusz Morawiecki tweeted.
He traveled to the besieged Ukrainian capital in the company of his colleagues the Czech Petr Fiala and the Slovenian Janez Jansa, and the Deputy Prime Minister of Poland, Jarosław Kaczyński,.
The message sounds especially interesting in Hungary, not only because the country celebrated the Hungarian War of Independence on March 15, but because the Hungarian government was not represented in this Central European mission.
A spokesman for Orbán said the prime minister knew about the visit but was not going to Kyiv at this time.
The Hungarian-Polish political alliance seems to be weakening because of the war. It seems that Hungarian foreign policy is basically just waiting for the elections, while the government’s main ally Poland has become a dominant player, trying to seize the moment through its commitment to Western values and tries to settle its relations with the West.
Solidarity with Ukraine in Poland is now limitless.
According to a study by Political Capital, the government media is trying to communicate the issue in two directions (pro Russian and Western) at the same time, the results is that the Polish and the Hungarian governments now have radically different ways of speaking of the war.
The resignation of the Honorary Hungarian Consul in Szczecin, Poland a few days ago is also related to the recent conduct of the government. Balázs Artur, who previously held a ministerial post in Warsaw has been representing Hungary for ten years.
He found the official Hungarian position on the war untenable, after waiting in vain for Hungary to hand over arms shipments to Ukraine or for Viktor Orbán to completely and clearly stand up and speak up for Ukraine.
According to a leaked letter from the Hungarian embassy, Artur also coordinated his move with the leadership of the Polish party in power PiS, making the resignation an unofficial warning to Fidesz.
Not enough fuel?
The government introduced new measures to stop panic buying at local fuel stations.
Last weekend, several customers tried in vain to fill up their cars or trucks, as many fuel stations simply ran out of fuel.
The Hungarian government introduced three new measures at the end of last week to curb the panic buying and fuel tourism that developed in recent days at Hungarian fuel stations across the country.
The new measures announced last Thursday late night went into effect immediately after the announcement: heavy vehicles over 7.5 tons will only be allowed to fill up at specified gas stations where fuel is available at market prices.
This applies to both Hungarian and foreign trucks, and also applies to smaller foreign trucks and lighter utility vehicles weighing more than 3.5 tons.
People spreading false news or creating panic about lack of fuel or supply problems will be severely sanctioned.
The government also decided to lower the excise tax by 20 forints per liter. However, the price cap of 480 forint per liter for both diesel and gasoline will certainly be maintained until May 15.
Finally, the government also decided to introduce a truck driving ban in effect over the long weekend (because of the National Holiday on March 15, Hungarians have a long weekend from March 12 to 16).
Authorities investigate drone that crashed in Zagreb
“Our authorities are investigating what happened, as according to the currently available data, the airspace of several NATO member states, including Hungary, was involved in the flight of the drone,” Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said in a Facebook post after a Soviet military-tactical reconnaissance robotic plane crashed near Lake Jarun in the center of Zagreb last Thursday.
A three-meter-diameter crater was formed at the crash site.
“We are working closely with the Croatian authorities and other NATO allies on the investigations,” Szijjártó also said, adding that he has already consulted with the Croatian Foreign Minister, Gordan Grlić Radman.
According to the data collected so far by the Croatian authorities, the drone entered Croatian airspace from east to west, i.e. from Hungarian airspace, at a speed of 700 kilometers per hour at an altitude of 1,300 meters.
Benedek Jávor, the mayor's chief adviser on EU affairs, pointed out that the escaped drone could have easily hit anyone, and it passed through the Hungarian airspace in such a way that the Hungarian army did not see it, let alone shoot it down.
According to him, the fact that the Hungarian Air Force did not do anything about the most probable type of threat (an unknown aircraft moving from the neighbor), raises many questions.
Criminal and military investigative authorities are also involved, and international consultations are under way, in particular with NATO, to explore all circumstances of the incident.