Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán made a surprise appearance at a farmers’ protest in Brussels ahead of a crucial European Union summit regarding the Ukraine conflict with Russia.
It came on the heels of a controversy involving a leaked EU plan allegedly aimed at “damaging” the Hungarian economy should Orbán refuse to back the delivery of a European €50 billion aid package for Kyiv.
Speaking to farmers late on the evening of January 31, Orbán criticised his fellow EU politicians, accusing them of no longer “listening” to their own electorate.
— Orbán Viktor (@PM_ViktorOrban) January 31, 2024
“The voice of the people is not taken seriously,” he said. “They are not taken seriously by the leaders. That is the number-one problem.”
He went on to state that the EU “needs” a new European Parliament that is more “willing to listen” to the views of the general public.
“We have to find new leaders who really represent the people,” the Hungarian leader said, arguing that such a change was the “only way out” of the EU’s current “problems”.
“We will stand up for the voice of the people! Even if the bureaucrats in Brussels blackmail us,” Orbán exhorted.
Viktor Orbán and the European Union remain on a collision course over the hotly contested subject of aid to Ukraine after the Hungarian prime minister accused Brussels of trying to “blackmail” Hungary. https://t.co/w3P8y4lsnc
— Brussels Signal (@brusselssignal) January 30, 2024
His talk of EU “blackmail” has been a trend in recent days.
Hostilities between Hungary and the European institutions have spiked in the wake of a Financial Times report on January 29, which claimed that the EU planned to “sabotage” Hungary’s economy should Orbán fail to agree to the package during the European Council meeting on February 1.
The report was met with outrage from Budapest, with Orbán in particular keen to paint his Government as having worked for compromise with the EU until that point.
“We made a compromise proposal. In return, we were blackmailed by Brussels,” he wrote online.
“The cat is out of the bag. Forget about the rule of law, Hungary is blackmailed for having its own opinion on migration, the war in Ukraine and gender propaganda.
“We will defend our interests,” he added. “Hungary cannot be blackmailed!”
Some have questioned the viability of the EU’s alleged sabotage plans, with economist Philip Pilkington calling the people who put it together “confused”.
“I assume we are seeing the same phenomenon we saw around the failed Russian sanctions: non-economists drafting economic proposals that make no sense and won’t work,” he told Brussels Signal on January 29.
“No one has seriously explained what leverage, exactly, the EU has over the Hungarian economy – and the data suggests it has very little,” he said.
Secret documents show the European Union is planning to intentionally damage Hungary’s economy if the country decides to reject more funding for Ukraine at an upcoming meeting in Brussels.@philippilk | @JanosBoka_HU https://t.co/6Ge9nqTb6v
— Brussels Signal (@brusselssignal) January 29, 2024