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Quo vadis Hungaria? (Where Is Hungary Heading?): Foreign Policy Dilemmas and Strategic Vision
Quo vadis Hungaria? (Where Is Hungary Heading?): Foreign Policy Dilemmas and Strategic Vision
By Istvan Szent-Ivanyi. Translated by Andy Clark.
Republikon Intezet, 2020, 180 pp

Szent-Ivanyi, a Hungarian opposition politician and top diplomat, delivers a devastating critique of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s approach to foreign policy. He claims that Orban has sold Hungary out to authoritarians such as Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and Chinese President Xi Jinping. The author blasts this turn as “a completely wrong direction,” inconsistent with Hungarian identity and long-term interests, and advocates a restoration of “the unequivocal western orientation of our homeland.” He clearly demonstrates how Orban and his allies cynically use nationalist ideology to promote one-off economic and political deals that provide some short-term benefit to Hungary but will harm it in the long run. He hints that such deals also aid Orban’s personal electoral fortunes and line the pockets of his corrupt associates. A transactional foreign policy of this kind, the book contends, is condemned to be “incoherent, confusing, and unsuccessful”—as some might see Orban’s recent surrender to the Council of the EU on legal disputes. Although such insider critiques of one’s country’s foreign policy are commonplace in the United Kingdom and the United States, this sophisticated account is a pathbreaking exception in central Europe and worthy of a wide readership.