If a real conservative commentator existed, and if he would be allowed to ask Orbán – he would be asking these questions.
Conservatives have some well-justified criticism of the EU spending so much taxpayer money on harebrained schemes, smacking of well-meaning but ultimately (and inevitably) ill-conceived central economic planning.
This, however, doesn’t seem to bother “conservative” Orbán. Quite the opposite, in fact.
Is the spending of EU funds going more rationally in Hungary than elsewhere? How does conservative Orbán stop the scourge of corruption triggered by easy and dumb EU-money – if he stops it at all.
Questions about the European Union and its money
- You ferociously refuse accountability alongside European subsidies. You even refuse subsidies if they come with strings attached, even if it leaves your country worse off. Don’t you think it appears as though you are trying to steal those funds?
- You refuse to participate in the cooperation of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office, even though corruption in EU funds will be international, by definition. Aren’t you concerned that your country will become the safe haven for those who might be vile enough to misappropriate EU funds?
- Your critics claim that you have spent the astronomical sums of EU funds arriving in Hungary since 2015 to enrich your friends and family and to build your base of loyalists. Is that fair criticism?
- What have you spent it on instead?
- How would you govern without European Union funds that represent almost all the investment now in our country, to name just one staggering fact?
- Other European politicians are in hot water if they are caught taking EU money and winning public tenders while on power. Aren’t you concerned that the fairy tale wealth of your own family members will raise concerns that you might be one such politician?
- Few remember now, but the Hungarian-Russian diplomatic relations have been quite cold until you announced the building of a new, Russian nuclear power station in Hungary (Paks 2) alongside some smaller, but still substantial orders placed in Russia. Did the mega-order have anything to do with the improvement of Russian-Hungarian relations? Was it your choice or Putin’s?
- You chose to take out a Russian loan for the project – even though the terms were not known at first, and then they proved to be worse than a market-rate loan. Then you classified the entire project. Is there an economic rationale to the project?
- Illiberalism is terrible indeed. Yet, you have openly, publicly and proudly promoted your vision of “illiberal nation”. Other commentators mistakenly refer to it as “illiberal democracy” but that’s not what you said, is it? And “nation” is a predominantly ethnic term in Hungarian, it does not refer to a country. What does that mean in your vision of an “illiberal nation”?
- Putin visited your country more often than any European leader. Have you invited him each time?
- You allowed the Russian International Investment Bank (IIB) to open its office in Budapest with exemptions from oversight by Hungarian authorities so vast that it might be called full sovereignty within Hungary, an EU country. The only thing IIB cannot do is to issue its own money, but Putin has its own country for that. Doesn’t it feel like an encroachment on your sovereignty?
- Why do you think Russian influence operations and state-sponsored propaganda and fake news sites like Sputnik don’t have Hungarian iterations?
In 1956, Hungarians rose up against Russian occupation. After a few days of resistance, Moscow sent in the tanks and the country was doomed. In 1989 young Orbán has made his political bones by demanding that the Russians go home – at the funeral of the very martyr of the 1956 uprising, Imre Nagy.
After rekindling the good relations with Russia, Orbán has chosen to remove Imre Nagy’s memorial from its symbolic place outside of the parliament building and place it somewhere else. He knew it would be controversial and that it is a slap on the face of both the country’s proudest moment – and his own.
- Both your government and Putin’s Russia is big on symbolic politics. Whose idea was it to remove Hungary’s memorial of the 1956 anti-Russian revolution from its prominent place outside of the Budapest parliament (in the middle of the night, unannounced)? The Russians’ or yours?
Orbán didn’t just ignore Tucker Carlson’s question/comment bashing China, Orbán’s team cut the question out of the transcript they helpfully circulated to foreign journalists in Hungary. (The method of helpfully delivering their own versions and their own translations is standard propaganda, by the way. No self-respecting journalist would use it, yet they do.) But Orbán’s track record on China should upset Carlson and American Republicans.
- You are presenting yourself as an anti-communist now. Why are you taking orders from the Chinese Communist Party? I mean taking out a 10 billion+ loan for a railway line of no use and the proposed Budapest campus of the Chinese Fudan university that has literally written into its charter that it pursues the interests of the Chinese Communist Party.
- You claim to be protective of national sovereignty – yet you keep taking out loans from Russia and China to build Russian and Chinese mega-projects. These projects are even carried out by Russian and Chinese contractors – the Hungarian taxpayers are only footing the bills. Why does an affluent country like Hungary need to participate in China’s debt trap diplomacy in the first place?
- Some of these Chinese mega-loans in the world have already come to fruition by bankrupting the nations whose leaders took them out. Montenegro built a highway bridge on Chinese money – and is now forced to give China access and control to land and assets as collateral. Countless countries in Africa and Asia are forced to surrender strategic assets and infrastructure to China because of loans they were never able to pay back on projects that never looked even remotely feasible. But you are the only leader in Europe to let such disgrace happen to your country (even Czechia retreated from it due to public pressure) – and for no apparent reason. Can you enlighten us about the rationale of the deals?
The residency bond scheme
- Other countries have golden visa/passport schemes they offer to rich people in exchange for tangible investment in their economy – buying real estate, invest in businesses, living on their soil. You have enacted a similar residency scheme for rich, non-EU citizens – but they are only supposed to buy government bonds and hold them for a few years. Then they collect interest – paid for by Hungarian taxpayers. Thousands of Chinese, Russian, etc. citizens took advantages of the generous offer. Don’t you think you could have charged actual money for the privilege of an EU-residency – not just sell some bonds that your taxpayers will have to pay back with interest?
- Yes, the EU is awful and bureaucratic, etc. But if the most precious asset your country can sell is its membership in the European Union – don’t you think you should reassess its value?
- You allowed rich Chinese and Russians settle in your country (and thus in the EU). How do Chinese and Russian business interests influence your government?