Col.(r) Dmytro OLKHACHUK
On November 4th, the Romanian Parliament supported the appointment of the new government, in which Ludovic Orban took the post of the Prime Minister. The Parliament supported him after the President Klaus Iohannis appointed Ludovic Orban as a Prime Minister in October 2019 following the resignation of Viorica Dancila’s cabinet.
On the presidential elections during the upcoming weekend, on November 9-10th, Klaus Iohannis will seek the right to remain in office for a second term. At the height of political instability associated with the presidential election and the start of the new government, neighboring Hungary is trying to generate a new wave of ethnic tensions in Romania.
The political crisis that has been going on in Romania since the last parliamentary elections in December 2016, make the country susceptible to durable and systematic Hungary’s policies aimed at destabilization in the country. In the context of ongoing political crisis in Romania, the period of presidential elections, appointment of a new government as well as approaching of the so-called ”Centennial of the Treaty of Trianon”, which will be celebrated by Hungary, Romanian experts predict that Hungarian side will become more active in strengthening its irredentist sentiments towards Romania. In order to counter the abovementioned sentiments Romanian National Command Au-thority holds in October 2019 interdepartmental exercise ”Concordia 19” in Transylvania. In this manner, Bucharest sought to demonstrate to Budapest its military capabilities in the area which is densely inhabited by Hungarian minority, wary of future provocations.
Budapest makes heavy use of Romania’s political instability. In Romania, the country with a population of almost 19 million, there live around 1.2 million of ethnic Hungarians, including 700,000 of the Székely people in Eastern Transylvania who have been in the center of a political feud between the two countries for decades. Budapest continues to encourage ethnic Hungarians of Romania to vie for national autonomy. The issue of granting autonomy to the Székely Land is raised annually by the Hungarian side during various events, and is also initiated by the pro-Hungarian political forces in the Romanian Parliament.
The aggravation of Romanian-Hungarian relations is not hard to follow in light of recent visits and statements by Hungarian politicians. For example, at the end of September this year, the Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Hungarian Parliament Mr. Zsolt Németh, a lawmaker from Fidesz party (the party in office), speaking at the Congress of Deputies of Hungarian People’s Party of Transyl-va-nia (EMNP), stated, ”Hungary is stable and its international weight is growing, and Hungarian communities can rely on it as a strong mother country” … Romania’s
Hungarian minority in Transylvania needs a ”new kind of Transylvanism”, based on their alliance with both the Romanian and Hungarian governments, against the ”globalist mainstream” … Transylvania – Bucharest – Budapest alliance lies at the root of new kind of Transylvanism”.On October 4th, 2019, the Chairman of Fejer County Chamber of Commerce and Industry Jenőt Radetzky visited the village of Rimetea, Alba County to participate in the 5th Carpathian Basin Economic Forum. During this event he noted that on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Treaty of Trianon there is an urgent need for economic integration and expansion of Hungarian business in the Carpathian Basin. Another highlight was the meeting of Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó with the president of Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (UDMR) Hunor Kelemen in Arad, Romania October 7th, 2019. During this meeting Szijjártó pointed out that Hungary supports the Romanian national minority and counts on the same attitude of the Romanian authorities to the Hungarian national minority. In addition, Hungary calls on Romania to impose restitution on the property taken by the Romanian communist government and expects the opening a Hungarian medical faculty at the University of Medicine and Pharmacy of Târgu Mureş.
Hungary’s policy on neighboring countries is seen as a consequence of the country’s demographic crisis, political rapprochement with Russia, the electoral needs of the Fidesz party outside the country where the Hungarian national minority live in a relatively compact ethnic block. At the same time, the Hungarian side is not limited to statements aimed at consolidating the electorate outside Hungary. The strategy for the establishment of Hungarian autonomy in Romania is a long-term, systematic work based on the cooperation with the three center-right political parties of the Hungarian national minority: the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (UDMR), the Hungarian Civic Party, and the Hungarian People’s Party of Transylvania. In its turn, the Romanian government’s response to Budapest’s policy is weak and limited by cautious MFA statements. This is primarily due to the need for the ruling coalition of the Social Democratic Party and the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE) in parliamentary support from the UDMR.
Romanian governments of recent period failed to implement major infrastructure projects in the areas of transport, energy and telecommunications in areas where the Hungarian minority live in a compact ethnic block. The Romanian state’s inability to manage the real needs of the citizens of the Hungarian national minority leads to the use of financial leverage by Hungary to demonstrate to the local population the benefits of autonomy in these areas. During his visit to Romania back in November 2018, Szijjártó noted that in 2017, Budapest allocated 4.7 million euros for the develop-ment of small business and farm projects. According to Szijjártó, the budget of 2019 provided for the allocation of 50 billion Hungarian forints (about 155 million euros) to economic development programs, much of which goes to Transylvania and the Székely Land.
On the issue of the Hungarian national minority in Romania and the Ukrainian Transcarpathia, Budapest uses similar information warfare Russian-inspired tools, a vivid confirmation of this is Hungarian nationalist-initiated incident at a military cemetery in the Valea Uzului in early June this year. In this context, the provocation of unrest in Transcarpathia, attacks on the Hungarian cultural center in Uzhgorod in 2018, in which there were seen Russian traces, can be considered as different stages of a single Kremlin and Budapest operation aimed at destabilization based on national contradictions.
Despite the fact that the Paris Peace Conference in 1947 declared both Vienna arbitrations (1938 and 1940) invalid in accordance with which Hungary lost part of the territories under the Treaty of Trianon, Budapest does not abandon its revenge ambitions. Budapest’s geopolitical ambitions are in line with Russia’s plans to undermine NATO and the EU from within and regain dominance in Eastern Europe, and hence Russia is providing cheap energy resources to Viktor Orban’s corrupt government in exchange for an appropriate set of services in the foreign policy arena.
According to the International Energy Agency, 95% of imported gas and 78% of imported oil come from Russian supplies. 100% of nuclear fuel is obtained exclusively from the Russian Federation, although in 2015 the EU requires mandatory diversification of sources of fuel supply to nuclear power plants. In 2014, the Orban government, without a tender, selected ”Rosatom” to complete a project to build two new units of Paks NPP with a capacity exceeding four available. The Russians immediately promised to provide 10 billion euros loan with a maturity period of 21 years, which covers 80% of the estimated cost of the project. This project became a perfect symbol of the Hungarian ruling elite corruption, a mega scheme to enrich the Hungarian Prime Minister and his clan. A number of articles in the Russian-Hungarian nuclear contrivance have been classified for 30 years. According to the Paks-2 agreement, 40% of the work will be done by local companies. This means that 5 billion euros of the 12.5 billion total project budget will go to Hungarian contractors. Orban‘s government is proud of the high percentage of involvement of the Hungarian business in the nuclear project. These really are dubious schemes through shell companies, because in Hungary there are no big companies that specialize in nuclear engineering or service. How dubious schemes are organized can be seen from the example of a company Energetikai Divizio founded by two others – Mészáros és Mészáros Kft and West Hungaria Bau. Mészáros és Mészáros Kft is controlled by V. Orban through a figurehead. The motive behind the implementation of the Paks-2 project in Hungary is receiving by Orban clan profits through dubious schemes using an administrative resource. However, the multibillion-dollar loan will have to be repaid or worked off by foreign policy services, as Budapest is doing now. Orban’s kleptocratic regime has far-reaching plans in common with the Kremlin – to reshape the map of Europe. In exchange for opening a ”Western front” against Ukraine and Moscow’s consent to the annexation of Ukrainian Transcarpathia, it receives ”a nuclear doping”.
With the approaches of the year of 2020, a year of centennial of the Treaty of Trianon which was signed in 1920, the expectations of strengthening the Hungarian Government’s aggressive policy towards Romania and the Ukrainian Transcarpathia are rising. Moreover, the year of 2020 is declared a year of national unity in Hungary. In the light of Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s open play in favor of Russia’s interests in ruining NATO and the EU from within, recent statement by President Emmanuel Macron of France on the ”brain death” of NATO, political crisis in the USA, Kremlin hands to continue aggressive behavior are unleashed, and Hungary’s revanchist sentiment and desire to take advantage of political vulnerability of neighboring Romania and Ukraine will only grow. Therefore, Romania should consider closer cooperation with Ukraine in counteracting the Russian-Hungarian tandem in the hybrid war already launched against them.