Hungary s govt pursues more confrontational foreign relations, say analysts
<p>Budapest, December 29 (MTI) - Hungary s centre-right Fidesz government has been readier than its predecessors to take on political conflicts abroad, political analysts told MTI on Wednesday.</p>
Political scientist Zoltan Kiszelly said that Fidesz had brought a marked change in Hungary s foreign policy after sweeping into power in April.
Whereas its Socialist predecessor had generally aimed to form a consensus on foreign policy issues, the current government is more determined to represent national interests, even if it involves taking on conflicts with other countries, Kiszelly told MTI, adding that whereas the government did not seek to be antagonistic, "conflicts are among the political tools of the government".
Kiszelly, a member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences Political Sciences Institute, said that the government was seeking to broaden its room for movement in creative ways. He said, however, the government would do well to avoid risking controversy in the future. He said, for example, that if the European Union to take Hungary to task for reducing the salary of the head of the central bank, the government would have to change its position.
Concerning Hungary s new media law, which has drawn sharp international criticism, Kiszelly said that the law was bound by EU directives and so Hungary need not fear any punitive action. He added that he thought that the situation would calm down.
"I don t believe that it will entail any serious strife," he said.
Kiszelly said the government was making "a strong opening to the east" and referred to Prime Minister Viktor Orban s recent visits to Russia and China. Eastern relations will be further strengthened due to economic necessity, he said.
Attila Juhasz, analyst for Political Capital, gave warning about possible drawbacks of the government s "more energetic" moves. It is "unfortunate" that Hungary has a "negative image" abroad, especially at the time of taking over the EU presidency, he said.
"Hungary may easily find itself on the losing side; the EU presidency is not helped by the international environment that has developed over the past one or two weeks because of critical remarks over the media law," Juhasz said. He said that the government had firmly rejected those criticisms, and made "little effort to dispel concerns". He added that "this might work at home, but hardly in foreign policy."
Juhasz noted that EU president countries may sometimes be ridden with internal problems -- such as Belgium, which had no government at the time of taking over -- but Hungary has a stable government and the internal political situation "theoretically ensures" the success of the Hungarian presidency. He said that the EU was interested in Hungary s success, but warned that "if the country s reputation continues to be as bad as in the past two weeks, the government may suffer a great loss of prestige at home as well."