Columbia International Affairs Online: Policy Briefs

CIAO DATE: 02/2014

"A Beautiful Future for Central Europe:" Hungary's Regional Policy in the Period 2010–2013

Dariusz Kałan

October 2013

The Polish Institute of International Affairs


Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has, from the beginning of his tenure, made public declarations of his deep engagement with cooperation in the region, and outlined very ambitious visions about its future. The idea to make 2013, the year of Hungary’s presidencies of the Visegrad Group and the Central European Initiative, a Central European year, is a part of the policy of special attachment to regional matters too. However, there is a visible gap between politicians’ rhetoric and their activity. This is especially true regarding Hungary’s dialogue with Romania and Slovakia, which, due to many historical, social and psychological obstacles, has always been most challenging for leaders in Budapest. Orbán’s government, though, by taking steps to culturally and politically unify Hungarians from the Carpathian Basin, promoting historically ambiguous persons and inviting revisionists such as Erika Steinbach to parliament, not only fails to engender a good atmosphere in the region, but also proves how lively among the country’s governing elite are both resentments from the past and temptations to use them to achieve temporary political goals.