Commentary: A clean slate for Hungary and Europe

“This is the beginning of a great friendship,” Rick Blaine famously said in the closing scene of Casablanca. It remains to be seen whether the relationship between Hungary and the European Commission’s new leader will stand the test of time, Magyar Nemzet columnist László Szőcs writes.

The Hungarian Prime Minister met Ursula von der Leyen in Brussels on Thursday. Their first meeting seems to have been promising: true, the bumbling Jean-Claude Juncker didn’t set the bar particularly high in the past five years.

Instead of having the much-touted strong Europe, we now find ourselves in a situation where most people would be hard-pressed to remember the name of the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs, Federica Mogherini.

In addition, since 2014 the Brussels leadership has done more towards further dividing Europe instead of uniting it. The Greek financial crisis reminded us how much more power the North is compared with South while the migration crisis highlighted the diverging world views of the East and West.

For us, Hungarians, a strong Europe is a must. We have many (seven) neighbors, five of which are members of the European Union and the two who are not (the Ukraine and Serbia) are home to sizeable Hungarian minorities whose fate should not be indifferent even for Brussels.

This is why the election of Ursula von der Leyen gives us hope, given that the German Christian-Democrat politician has a sympathetic eye for the differences between the East and the West. In recent days she took the time to meet the leaders of the Visegrád Group, who have also been instrumental in her nomination.

She has also come a long way since 2011, when she urged the creation of a European United States. It remains to be seen whether she will live up to our hopes, but chances are much better with her than they have been for the past cycle.

Title image: Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán meets European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in Brussels (MTI/Balázs Szecsődi)

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