Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán once again defied his critics to overwhelm his political opposition and emerge victorious in Sunday’s general election, however, a number of top Czech politicians are less welcoming of the result, underlining a growing split among Visegrád Four (V4) allies.
Unlike in the last Hungarian elections, Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala did not publicly congratulate Orbán. Four years ago, he wrote that Europe should not turn up its nose at the Hungarian leader. His silence following the election speaks volumes about his current stance towards Hungary.
As Remix News previously reported, there were already signs of a growing split between the V4 countries of Hungary, Poland, Czechia, and Slovakia. Czechia, for example, has signaled it supports the rule-of-law sanctions against both Poland and Hungary. However, the war in Ukraine has accelerated divisions between the allies.
Is Czechia about to abandon Hungary and Poland?
Czechia signals it is ready to break ties with Hungary and Poland on key issues such as rule of law and judicial reform in what could be a sign that the Visegrád Four is no longer a functioning alliance
Hungary has refused to support Ukraine with arms supplies, choosing the route of peace. Orbán also banned the transport of weapon supplies through his country and opposed sanctions on the importation of Russian energy. Although the move has sparked criticism from some in the West, Hungary’s electorate overwhelmingly agreed with the stance, as evidenced by Orbán’s strong electoral win.
Markéta Pekarová Adamová, the Czech Chamber of Deputies speaker, has a long-standing contentious attitude to Orbán’s administration.
“Hungary has chosen its future in the years to come,” she wrote in a tweet. “It is necessary to respect this and, at the same time, keep in mind that a large part of the Hungarians wanted to choose a different path.
“The future of the Czech Republic is in alliance with partners who respect the same values and are aware of the risks posed by Putin’s Russia,” she added.
Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský also took a shot at Hungary.
“As a liberal politician, I am naturally not pleased with the result of the elections in Hungary. However, as a foreign minister, I must look for partners with whom I will promote Czech interests,” he stated, calling on Hungary to “decide on whose side it will stand and whether it belongs to the EU and NATO.”
Hungary still has its supporters in Czechia
Under the previous Czech administration of Andrej Babiš, Hungary and Czechia featured warm relations, however, that has quickly changed over the last year. Nevertheless, there are still politicians in Czechia supportive of the Orbán government. According to Czech news outlet Echo24, Czech President Miloš Zeman was among the first to congratulate the Hungarian leader, who he described as his friend.
In a letter to Orbán, Zeman stated that the unequivocal victory on Sunday — his fifth election win — is “proof of the long-term trust you enjoy from your nation.
4 lessons from Orbán’s historic victory
PM Orbán’s landslide win is a major blow to the EU’s left-liberal establishment
“The Hungarian people support you because they know that you always put Hungarian interests first. The service of your country is your mission. Such a long period at the head of the state is unique in today’s times of constant change.
“I am therefore honored to be able to call you my friend,” Zeman wrote.
The Czech president also insisted that cooperation within the Visegrád Four “must remain a priority.”
It should be noted, however, that Zeman is expected to soon end his term as president, meaning the possibility of a politician more hostile to Hungary could assume the presidency in the near future.
On the contrary, civic democratic MEP Jan Zahradil expressed satisfaction, saying that Orbán is “undoubtedly the most successful politician in the ‘post-communist’ part of Europe.”
“Orbán is often criticized for his political ideology. However, it is legitimate, whether anyone likes it or not. It is time to start respecting it,” Zahradil stated.