- Stay updated on the latest news from Hungary by signing up for the free InsightHungary newsletter:
Viktor Orban was one of the few EU leaders who declined to clap for the Ukrainian President
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited Brussels this week and held a speech at the European Parliament saying the region was defending itself against the “biggest anti-European force of the modern world.” EU leaders took a group photo with Zelensky, who was applauded when he walked towards the group before taking the picture. One of the few EU leaders who declined to clap against the Ukrainian President was Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orban.
Orban's critics often highlight his close ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin and for a long time, he has been accused of representing Russian interests in the EU. Last year Hungary vetoed an € 18 billion EU aid package to Ukraine.
Szijjarto: What the US ambassador thinks is completely irrelevant
David Pressman the U.S. ambassador in Budapest, gave a comment to Politico last week, saying “political leaders in the government of Hungary often speak of promoting peace, but, from condemning sanctions to embracing Russian ‘cease-fire’ proposals, they continue to push policies endorsed by Putin.” Pressman added that they join the Hungarian government’s call for peace, "but those calls should be directed to Vladimir Putin.”
After the Politico article was published, Hungary's Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto was quick to respond to the criticism: "What he or any other ambassador thinks about domestic political processes in Hungary is completely irrelevant, because it is none of his business, it is not his job to interfere in Hungary's domestic affairs (...) If he wishes to use his stay in Hungary to criticize the activities of the government elected by a fairly clear majority of the Hungarian people, which has the mandate of the Hungarian people, then he will have a very difficult job in terms of working effectively to improve cooperation between the two countries," Szijjarto said.
The US ambassador reacted to the foreign ministers' words on his social media stating they "do not consider Russia’s attempt to unilaterally redraw the borders of Europe as just a “domestic political development in Hungary.”
Respectfully, we do not consider Russia’s attempt to unilaterally redraw the borders of Europe as just a “domestic political development in Hungary.” pic.twitter.com/UWCtFhc4Dl— Ambassador David Pressman (@USAmbHungary) February 2, 2023
Delbos-Corfield retracts her comments on Hungary leaking classified intelligence to Russia
French MP Gwendoline Delbos-Corfield took part in a panel discussion called the "Cities for the Rule of Law" event in Brussels where she said that developments in Hungary are not only worrying from the point of view of corruption and democracy but because the Hungarian intelligence services are "leaking to the Russians", which poses a security risk. "We have known for years that government agencies, the secret services, are leaking to the Russians," Delbos-Corfield said. Later, she retracted her comments.
According to Delbos-Corfield, there are articles about the threat Russia poses to the region daily, but no one talks about the involvement of an EU country. The politician also spoke about the extent of misinformation present in Hungary
On Wednesday, Delbos Corfield clarified her words to the Hungarian Daily, Nepszava: "I was inaccurate when I mentioned the leak, which I have no evidence of, and I hope that is not the case." She stated that she only wanted to point out why the Hungarian government is not a reliable partner for other EU member states in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict.
Social acceptance of the LGBT community has not decreased significantly in Hungary
According to a poll conducted by Medián Public Opinion and Market Research Institute on behalf of Háttér Társaság social acceptance of LGBTQI people has not decreased significantly among Hungarians, hvg. hu reports.
Almost half of the respondents said that they have LGBTQI acquaintances, while in 2018 this was true for only one in five people, and the majority of the respondents believed that same-sex couples can be good parents. The survey also revealed that nearly three-quarters of Hungarians believe transgender people should be allowed to change their gender and name on their documents. In 2020 the Hungarian parliament has voted to end legal recognition for trans people.
Luca Dudits, spokesperson of Háttér Társaság commented on the results of the survey saying "our research also confirmed that the government's homophobic and transphobic propaganda of the past year and a half has not substantially worsened acceptance."
Hungary's Foreign Minister: Protest against the battery factory serves foreign interest
Several groups have protested against the construction of a Chinese battery plant in Debrecen. CATL, the largest Chinese electric vehicle manufacturer announced in August that it would build a 7.3 billion euro battery factory in Eastern Hungary. Protesters cited a lack of consultation with residents about the project. This was the first time in Hungary that localized grassroots activism on environmental issues set off protests outside of Budapest.
CATL said that construction of the 100 GWh plants in Debrecen, its largest overseas investment, would start this year after receiving approvals and should last no more than 64 months, Reuters reported.
This week, Peter Szijjarto, Hungary's foreign minister, said "it is the interests of other countries that are agitating against the electric battery factories in Hungary".