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Time to Help Hungary
by Prof. Michael R. Czinkota
2018-10-01 08:58:27
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Hungary’s revolution against its Soviet occupiers in 1956 was three generations ago. Back then, Hungarians had come to believe that their uprising would be supported by American might. But no U.S. intervention ever arrived and the Soviet Union employed a tank force larger than the number of tanks used in WWII Germany, to destroy mostly unarmed Hungarians.

Hungary is a frequent sacrificial lamb on the altar of international conflict. Hungarians well remember occupation by the Ottomans and Islam. Those 150 years brought de-population, destruction of land and buildings, uncontrolled migration and major displacement of resources.

hung01_400On many other occasions, Hungary has been obligated to take risks, invest its manpower and subjugate its own political ambitions for the sake of Western security. The gratitude for such dedication and depletion of resources has been scant. Steps by the West which share resources, offer equal treatment or extension of the partnership are still absent. Hungary continues to suffer from being too close to the East and too far from the West but is damaged in any conflict between the two.

Today one would expect a new era for Europe. Since its founding, the European Union is to be driven by cooperation and cohesiveness which leads to progress for all of its members. Not an easy task since joint undertakings with a large diversity of regions and people require adjustment and flexibility. In a  U.S. comparison, the absence of any separation of states or physical altercation is no coincidence but rather the result of bypassing any abyss through thoughtful and restrained approaches.  President Trump and his team recognize that ‘hanging together’ presages global capability. And it occasionally may mean biting one’s tongue when it comes to disagreements.

The European Union would do well to learn from the United States. Right now, this large group of states is taking punitive measures against some of its members, particularly those from Central Europe. Sanctions are undertaken to demonstrate displeasure with immigration restrictions, judicial appointments, retirement policies, and the regulation of foreign universities. Hungary and Poland are at the forefront of EU attacks, particularly for restrictions of immigration. Migrant streams rolled into the EU by the hundreds of thousands from Libya, Syria, and Lebanon, via the first open southern borders of Hungary.  Hungarian prime minister Orban put an end to it by using EU rules on registration, documentation, and control. Massive human inflow without the ability to understand and plan for the resulting displacements cannot be accepted in a small country with very limited resources.

It turns out that even large nations with many resources cannot disregard the consequences of unplanned for pressures due to unexpected and unrestricted policies. Years after the delimitingvHungarian first steps, Germany is beginning to recognize how fallacious and consequential its missteps are.

    One might assume that Chancellor Merkel would express her gratitude for Hungary’s policy and implementation leadership. Alas – the contrary is the case. In EU debates there are always the displeased looks, the invisible barriers and the ignominious ignorance of Hungary and its government. No matter the strong democratic elections and popular support, things in Hungary are seen as ‘just not right’.

EU politics towards Hungary are wrong. Many of the loudly pronounced disappointments are nothing but envious party hacks trying to retain votes in upcoming elections. Some of the EU steps might even reflect an unwillingness to tolerate and develop new approaches and change. The U.S. government should not accept such overpowering opposition to local priorities. Careful examination will demonstrate that Hungary’s actions are, akin to governmental adjustments in the United States, a new direction with a new emphasis.  The U.S. should exercise global leadership and help a nation whose democratically elected government moves beyond long-term traditions. “No bullying” also applies to European politics. Member nations have the right to self-determination, particularly after more than one thousand years of history. We should smilingly help them along when they intend to do what has made America so successful.


Professor Czinkota teaches International Business and Trade at Georgetown University and the University of Kent in Canterbury. His forthcoming book in October is “In Search For The Soul of International Business. 


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