Russia ‘actively sponsoring’ assault on Hungary’s democracy


The European Union should determine if Hungary is at risk of breaching shared European values of democracy, rule of law and fundamental rights, members of the European Parliament said today, raising concerns over the situation of civil society.

Russia is actively sponsoring Europe’s right-wing and populist movements, creating across the EU a network of allies sympathetic to the Kremlin, says analyst James Wilson. Moscow’s main goal is to create new regions of instability along the EU’s borders, and to split EU unity on the policy of maintaining sanctions against Russia, he writes for EU Observer:

A key strategic target for Russian sponsored actions is Hungary. Europe’s leaders appear to be blind to what is happening, and are failing to recognise the potential threat to civilised democracy. Viktor Orban, the Hungarian conservative, together with Italian and Czech populists, are campaigning to lift sanctions imposed against Russia for military aggression in Ukraine.

If there is one painful lesson that we have learned in the 100 years since the end of World War I, it is that democracy’s friends on both sides of the Atlantic must speak up when it is under assault, according to Brookings Institution fellow Norman Eisen and Jeffrey Gedmin, editor-in-chief of The American Interest and former CEO of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

They have joined with members and supporters of the bipartisan Transatlantic Democracy Working Group “to warn that the Hungarian government is about to hit another milestone in its move away from democracy — by ejecting a leading university from its capital. And we are calling for a tough American response,” they write for CNN:

We commend the stance our government has taken so far. For the US government understands, as do we, that this is not only another tear in Hungary’s democratic fabric. With CEU, Orban is banishing an institution with roots in the United States.

We believe the State Department and White House should publicly state that they are downgrading the level of meetings below the current level of regular access with Hungarian officials. And Secretary of State Mike Pompeo should hold off on meeting again with his Hungarian counterpart, as he did in May, until Hungary demonstrates reciprocal principled engagement. The Trump administration must also publicly censure Hungary for its attack on academic freedom — the latest in a series of assaults by the Orban government on Hungary’s democratic culture.

They also call for an end to fawning public appearances with Orban and increased assistance to independent civil society and media in Hungary. RTWT

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