Brussels Not Moscow, and Orbán No True Statesman

„Fortunately, Brussels is not Moscow,” said the Prime Minister of Fidesz to a carefully
selected, private audience at the state commemoration on 23 October. This is not the
first time Orbán has used the words „Brussels” and „Moscow” in the same sentence; the
last time was three years ago when he said that „there is not much missing” for Brussels
to become Moscow.
His words exactly: „Sometimes history repeats itself, but luckily what was a tragedy the
first time around is a farce for the second. Moscow was a tragedy, while Brussels is a
contemporary parody gone wrong. And when Moscow whistled, we had to dance, but
when Brussels whistles, we don’t dance if we don’t want to.” Few people need to be told
how profoundly untruthful, misleading and ridiculous Orbán’s words are, and I am
almost certain that even he himself does not believe a single line of this quote to be
true. It is simply that he needs to keep his own people together and in a combative
mood in order to maintain his support. If Orbán is serious in his rant against Europe,
something must be wrong in his head.

It is indeed not the first time that the phrase „Brussels is not Moscow” has appeared in
Fidesz scripts, but few people know that it was first written down in the last official
written election programme of Fidesz, when it was still in opposition. The programme,
which is radically at odds with the current Fidesz narrative (and therefore provides an
endless supply of quotes), was written for the 2009 EP elections under the title „Yes,
Hungary can do more!” and is signed by eminent conservative thinkers such as János
Martonyi, who has obviously not been in the front line of Fidesz’s Putinist foreign policy
since then.
In the programme referred to, there is a whole paragraph on why Brussels is „not
Moscow”, but with a very different approach from the current government rhetoric.
Among other things, it contains sentences such as „Brussels is not Moscow.
Recognising that membership of the EU is an opportunity, not a prize in itself, also
means that the Hungarian government must finally understand that we cannot always
point the finger at Brussels; we ourselves are the EU. The decisions taken by the EU
institutions are not external dictates: we participate in them. So our task is to shape
Community decisions along our own lines. In doing so, we must not just focus on the
next few minutes; we have a responsibility to create a liveable world for the long term.
For this, Fidesz calls for responsible, coordinated, professional action in the EU
institutions, based on the broadest possible national consensus.”

But in the same chapter, we can also read the following excerpt: ‘Membership of the EU
is both a safeguard and an opportunity for us. It is a shield to the outside world, because
in an increasingly risky international environment it offers protection against the adverse
consequences of globalisation and can also be seen as a crisis management mechanism
in times of international conflict and crises (including economic and financial crises,
foreign and security policy threats, and global problems ranging from climate change
and demography to energy security). The financial crisis has also highlighted the benefits
of the euro, of being part of the euro zone. While eurozone members were protected by
certain instruments and measures, the same was not true for EU members outside the
zone (…)Membership of the EU is also a protection inwardly, because unfortunately
Hungarian democracy, in its current state, is in dire need of control, of being held
accountable for following democratic norms.”
At a time when Fidesz is constantly talking about an „anti-Hungarian conspiracy” in the
European Union and using double standards to try to control the NER government,
which they believe to be innocent and a true champion of the rule of law, the phrases
that were also in this programme sound rather peculiar. They say: „One of the
weaknesses of the European Union today is that it has difficulty in enforcing the values

and principles it espouses. Fidesz, however, is convinced that the assertion of our
common values and principles cannot be subject to debate. The European Union must
therefore be equipped with the means to ensure that its Members constantly uphold its
values and principles; without this, there is no strong Europe. The EU must have a
human and minority rights protection system. It is a contradiction in terms to expect the
EU to make Member State governments enforce standards, while being reluctant to give
them a mandate that might undermine our sovereignty.”
And let’s have yet another quote here from the same Fidesz programme that Viktor
Orbán somehow forgot to recall in his Brussels and Moscow-bashing „ceremonial”
speech. A few years ago, Fidesz, now seeking Putin’s favour, wrote among its
commitments: „If Europe allows sovereign states in its neighbourhood to fall victim to
undisguised imperial despotism, it is also endangering its own security. Only united can
the European Union take effective action against Russia, which is once again openly
proclaiming its expansionist ambitions, and only united can it strengthen its international
role in a multipolar world, thus guaranteeing the security of its citizens. We believe that
Europe and America are interdependent in many areas and that, as a consequence, the
renewal of the Transatlantic Partnership is of paramount importance for Europe.”
Brussels is indeed not Moscow. And Viktor Orbán, although an exceptional politician, is
not a true statesman. A true statesman uses his talents to benefit his nation, not to hold
it hostage and rob it blind. There is a big difference.

dr. István Ujhelyi
Member of the European Parliament
Founder of the Community of Chance

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