“Carthago delenda est” – Cato the Elder
With these words the famous Roman senator opened each of his speeches to the Roman senate after the Second Punic War. Carthage must be destroyed.
He believed a resurgent Carthage posed an existential threat to Rome, and that little else mattered unless and until that threat had been neutralized.
We at the Budapest Beacon believe Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán poses an existential threat to Fidesz, Hungary and the European Union, and for this reason should immediately resign. In exchange, he should be allowed to go into political exile in Switzerland where some believe he has built himself a sizable nest egg.
Whatever the economic merits of Hungary’s opening to the East, by clearly allying himself and Hungary economically with Putin’s Russia (Paks II, Southstream, MET), he has emboldened Russia’s president to up the stakes in the Ukraine in the hope that the EU can be bullied into removing economic sanctions against Russia which, by all account, have brought the latter to its knees.
Europe’s most powerful politician, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, is scheduled to visit Budapest for five hours on February 2nd. There has been much speculation as to what the purpose of her visit is. Some claim she is coming to tell Orbán to toe the EU line on Russian sanctions. Others claim she is coming to agree with Orbán on a partial lifting of sanctions (after all, Russia is Germany’s third-largest trading partner).
We at the Budapest Beacon think Merkel is coming to Budapest to tell Orbán that he can no longer have his cake and eat it, too.
Hungary’s foreign policy under Viktor Orbán over the past six months can only be described as a kind of reckless brinksmanship. Every time Hungary suffers a diplomatic setback of its own making, Orbán raises the stakes. If Hungary had an atomic bomb, he would probably be threatening to detonate one over Lake Balaton by now.
Regardless of whether or not Hungary’s Prime Minister is undergoing regular treatment in Austria for schizophrenia as widely speculated (hence his tendency to lick his lips), he is clearly not well mentally. The pathetic sight of Orbán allowing himself to be physically towed behind European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker at a recent photo shoot rather than release his hand will go down in history as the moment it became patently clear to everyone that the Prime Minister of Hungary is mad.
The current round of EU economic sanctions against Russia is due to expire in March. One can only assume that this is the reason for Putin’s visit to Budapest on February 17th. Regardless of whether Orbán invited him or Putin invited himself, nothing good can come of such a meeting. Nothing.
For the sake of Fidesz, and for the sake of his country and the European Union, Viktor Orbán must resign before such a meeting takes place. His doing so would send a clear message to Russia and the rest of the world that Hungary’s place is within the European Union and NATO, and that any country threatening the peace of Europe will be completely shut out of its 500 million-strong market.
It would also demonstrate that Hungary’s governing party alliance, Fidesz-KDNP, is capable of acting in a responsible manner, even if it means sending Fidesz’s chairman into retirement.
Fidesz is scheduled to hold a party congress on February 11th. Such a congress would afford a perfect opportunity for its chairman to announce his resignation and for Fidesz to elect a successor. Such a move would enable Hungary to cancel Putin’s visit in a manner that would allow all parties to save face.
History has not been kind to Hungary. Time and time again its leaders have failed to do the right thing. The time has come to break this self-destructive cycle. Starting with the immediate resignation of Viktor Orbán.