MOSCOW, October 22 (RIA Novosti) — Banning six Hungarians from entering the US on corruption charges sends “a very strong diplomatic message” to the government of Viktor Orbán, Hungarian political scientist Andras Racz told RIA Novosti.
Hungarian relations with Russia contributed to the US decision, believes the senior research fellow under the EU's Eastern Neighbourhood and Russia Research Programme at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs. “Hungary’s Russian policy is of key importance” in the latest American move, he said.
The names of the banned Hungarians have not been disclosed. However, they are believed to be public servants or people affiliated with the government, according to Reuters, citing Andre Goodfriend, the US Charge d’affaires of the US Embassy in Budapest. “The concrete names are not so important. The important thing is the general message that this American move sends,” emphasized Racz. It is a “strong sign in terms of diplomatic language,”he argued.
Moreover, the United States has long criticized the policies of the current Hungarian government, according to the expert. Some of the major issues under scrutiny involve the state of democracy and mass media legislation.
US diplomats have indicated many times that they disagree with [Orban’s] “eastern policy”, concerning particularly closer and closer relations with Russia,” Racz said. The South Stream pipeline, and the halted supply of gas deliveries to Ukraine via a “reverse flow” pipeline after Alexei Miller, Gazprom CEO, visited Budapest several weeks ago are cases in point. The absolutely non-transparent deal between Russia’s state-owned Rosatomand Hungary to build two new nuclear power plant reactors may also serve as a prime example.
However, the expert stated that everybody is striving to achieve good, pragmatic relations with Russia saying that it is absolutely normal. “The problem is not the relations with Russia per se, but how these relations are managed,” Racz stressed. The issue is that the Hungarian government seems to be acting against the already agreed will of the majority of the EU and NATO, according to the analyst.
The political analyst is convinced that Orbán cannot win this battle. “The US is the most important strategic ally of Hungary in terms of norms, values and military security. … If your primary ally, the most important friend is criticizing you, then you have to listen,” he underlined.
The expert refrained from calling the latest US move blackmail, rather referring to it as strong political signinstead. He also said that Hungary has reached the point where it must choose. There is no room for maneuvering anymore. Maintaining the strategic relationship with the US and meanwhile managing the relations with Russia in the way the government currently does, cannot be continued.
It is believed that the latest US move was triggered by theallegation that some unnamed officials from the Hungarian tax administration had tried to blackmail American companies in Hungary, the expert said, citing Hungarian newspaper reports. They allegedly wanted Americans to pay huge bribes to pro-governmental foundations in exchange for administrative support.