The Central Eastern European region has gained more significance during the last 30 years, and now the question is how it can remain stable, or even a stabilizing force in Europe, says former Austrian vice-chancellor (ÖVP), Erhard Busek, who gave an interview to Hungarian news site Azonnali.
Busek explained that especially because of its proximity to Southern Eastern Europe and Russia, it matters what role Central Europe wants to play in the future.
“The influence of the Russians, the Chinese and to some extent of the Arabs is rising in the region, and we shouldn’t underestimate this,”
Western Europe “raised its index finger” to Central Europe
Busek thinks the big problem is that many regional politicians haven’t realised what kind of challenges they are causing. But he also said that he’s critical towards the Western European states, because they know only one way of speaking to Central Europe: “raising their index finger”.
According to Busek, Western Europeans never seeked the possibility to communicate correctly their problems with Central Europe. Western Europe took the role of the teacher, instead of truly welcoming Central Europe.
Orban’s private actions mean a shock therapy to the EU
Busek also said, that when it comes to Western criticism, it’s worth mentioning that “Orban was right about many things”, for example when he demanded the stricter control of refugees. “We should have started dealing with problems together, but for example Merkel has only started it now,” the former Austrian vice-chancellor thinks.
He also said that Orban’s private actions mean a shock therapy for the EU, but the Hungarian prime minister doesn’t want to exit the bloc.
Busek admitted that calls to expel Fidesz from the European People’s Party have long been heard in the party family, they say Orban doesn’t belong there. But he would categorically reject such step and says that the EPP should speak more to Fidesz and he also urged the ÖVP to pay more attention to Hungary’s ruling party.
The Austrian politician also said that there is barely any serious discussion between ÖVP and Fidesz. He thinks it’s not only Orban they have to speak with but those who are standing next to him, under him or behind him.
“Fidesz is not only Orban. I think the atmosphere can change very quickly in Hungary,”
he added. When asked whether he can imagine it inside Fidesz too, he said he meant mostly the intellectual circles arond Fidesz. He based his opinion on his frequent visits to Western Hungarian universities, where change can already be felt.
“The youth is not with Orban. And if I speak privately with some conservative teachers, they are rather critical too,”
He said it’s only wishful thinking that Orban wants to stay in power until 2030, because it won’t happen.
It’s “very easy to determine” Sebastian Kurz
Speaking of Austrian politics, he reacted to the idea that Austria can be a bridge between the East and the West. According to Busek, the current Austrian government likes to see itself this way, but this is not the case.
“It’s not an intermediary role to greet Putin with great love in Vienna, or that some Austrian politicians are connected to Russian companies,”
he pointed out.
He also told his opinion about Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who is “very easy to determine”:
“he’s doing everything to stay in power, this is the essence of his policies”.
Azonnali noted that people were saying the same about Mussolini too, that his only goal is power. Busek replied:
“Yes, Kurz is not alone with this attitude of his.”
Regarding the Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ), he said Kurz is acting in a clever way because he leaves enough space for his coalition partner, because he’s afraid that the FPÖ will simply fall apart in government, as they did after 2000. So now Kurz gives the FPÖ the opportunity to act freely in some issues.
Busek is not afraid that this will lead to “Orbanisation” in Austria, because the Austrian society is strong enough to prevent this. “But neither the ÖVP, nor the FPÖ wants Hungarian conditions in Austria,” he noted.