by Peter Franklin
Wednesday, 31
March 2021
Spotted
14:07

Where Viktor Orbán leads, the EU follows

Anti-Russian resistance to the Sputnik V vaccine is crumbling
by Peter Franklin

Last year, the Hungarian government raised eyebrows when it moved to secure supplies of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine — thus circumventing the European Medicines Agency.

Another example of the EU’s rogue state going rogue again? Not quite. The truth is rather more disturbing and it’s this: where Viktor Orbán leads, the EU follows.

Yesterday, it emerged that Austria is in advanced negotiations with Russia to obtain a million doses of the Russian vaccine. Sebastian Kurz, the Austrian Chancellor, telephoned Vladimir Putin to get the ball rolling.

Not coincidentally, Kurz is among the EU leaders most critical of the EU’s joint procurement programme — and the fact that countries like Germany have exploited loopholes to obtain extra supplies for themselves.

Having missed the boat on that one, the Austrians are now joining the Hungarians in looking to Moscow instead of Brussels for help.

However, much of the EU establishment remains opposed to the influence of Russian and Chinese ‘vaccine diplomacy’. Angela Merkel, who’s had 16 years of dealing with Putin, is sceptical — as is her protégée, Ursula von der Leyen. Charles Michel, President of the European Council, had this to say about the matter:

We should not let ourselves be misled by China and Russia, both regimes with less desirable values than ours, as they organise highly limited but widely publicised operations to supply vaccines to others
- Charles Michel

And yet the anti-Russian resistance is crumbling. Merkel’s stance is softening and she’ll soon be gone anyway; Von der Leyen’s credibility is in tatters; and Michel isn’t exactly flavour of the month either.

Indeed, an EU-wide roll-out of the Russian and Chinese vaccines looks increasingly likely. Just look at today’s reports of a conference call between the German, French and Russian leaders to discuss the possibility. Merkel and Macron are thus following Kurz’s example who, of course, followed Orbán’s.

A key question now is whether individual EU states will wait for the European Medicines Agency to approve the Sputnik V and Sinopharm vaccines or whether they’ll jump the gun, Hungary-style.

Of course, if these treatments are safe then the propaganda coup for Putin and Xi is a price worth paying for the safety of millions of people. But make no mistake, the literal injection of Russian and Chinese diplomacy into EU veins will extend the influence of “regimes with less desirable values”.

Meanwhile Brexit Britain, supposedly the product of Russian interference, has quietly got on with the job of inoculating itself with vaccines developed in the West, with the support of western governments and produced to western standards.

If Putin did orchestrate Brexit, he clearly backed the wrong horse.

Join the discussion


To join the discussion, get the free daily email and read more articles like this, sign up.

It's simple, quick and free.

Sign me up
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
37 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Marcus Leach
Marcus Leach
1 year ago

The idea that Hungary is leading the pure EU and the likes of Germany in to morally questionable cooperation with Russia and China is absurd.
Firstly It is the EU’s failure that drove Hungary and other member states to protect their borders and seek assistance from Russia in procuring vaccinations.
Second the EU and Germany are not new to cooperating with the brutal Communist regimes. Angela Merkel’s disastrous “Energiewende” has left Germany energy dependent on Russian oil and gas. The EU’s failure to get a grip on the migrant crisis resulted in a devil’s bargain with Erdogan, in which a blind eye was turned to human rights abuses in return for keeping migrants from Europe.
The EU revealed itself as completely morally bankrupt with recently completed EU-China Comprehensive Investment Agreement.
The Agreement will allow the Chinese to scoop up in a fire sale the best European businesses that have been left struggling by the Covid 19 induced economic downturn. Worse, the agreement was signed against the background of the persecution of Christians, Uyghurs, Tibetans, Hong Kong pro-democracy advocates, ethnic Kazakhs and Uzbeks, many of whom currently sit in Communist Party-run internment camps.
When the EU criticizes Hungary for failing to meet the EU’s standards under the Treaties and the Charter on Fundamental Rights, the abject hypocrisy in nauseating.

Last edited 1 year ago by Marcus Leach
Armand L
Armand L
1 year ago
Reply to  Marcus Leach

Will you sing the same tune when the UK grovels at China’s feet for a trade deal? When SportsDirect and John Lewis are ‘saved’ by Chinese direct investment?

The UK has grovelled at the feet of Saudi Arabia and Qatar and UAE plenty bin recent years. And of course been played like a fiddle by the US State Department.

Brexit is done and dusted, move on lad.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago
Reply to  Armand L

Perhaps he does! But none of those countries is remotely in the same league as China as a threat to freedom and human rights worldwide. And what has that to do with the subject? At least the UK is supporting greater international resistance to China after being far too willing to kowtow for reasons of trade in recent years.

What does seem indeed particularly ‘nauseating’ about the EU is the enormous gulf between its endless pious virtue-signalling and finger wagging, and the often grubby reality of its policies. These include its deal to close the immigration and asylum gates, not through an honest reappraisal of its policies, but through a deal with an autocrat in Turkey. We have the proposed EU-China trade deal, the appalling treatment of Greece over the debt crisis (austerity, anyone?) and the utter disaster of the Euro for southern Europe. And the sudden closure of the intra-Irish border after years and months of claiming that any restrictions would be tantamount to inciting sectarian war.

While the UK for example undoubtedly has a lot of poor governance, it can change its trajectory according to circumstances and in relation to public opinion.

Not so the EU Commission, which appears to be entirely incapable of any honest reflection, often showing not the slightest scintilla of any understanding of issues (eg. Brexit) let alone remorse. Its only response is the advocacy and often surreptitious accumulation of more and more centralised power, even when this is not supported by the treaties.

Last edited 1 year ago by Andrew Fisher
Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
1 year ago

The writer describes this development as ‘disturbing’. In what sense?
Orban is an elected leader who has demonstrated a high degree of competence across multiple areas of governance. The EU is an anti-democratic racket that has demonstrated serial incompetence across most areas of governance for the last 30 years.
In particular, Orban has probably saved many Hungarian lives by securing the Russian vaccines. The EU has almost certainly killed thousands of people with its disastrous vaccine ‘strategy’. (Strategy is to the EU what ‘tactics’ were to Ally McLeod, Scotland’s manager at the 1978 World Cup). So, following Orban is not disturbing, it is entirely rational.
Moreover, had the EU followed Orban in areas such as immigration, the continent would be a much happier place. Again, this is another area where Orban has almost certainly saved Hungarian lives while the EU has caused numerous deaths in many of its countries.
Then this:
‘But make no mistake, the literal injection of Russian and Chinese diplomacy into EU veins will extend the influence of “regimes with less desirable values”.’
As we have seen time and again, the EU has no values worth speaking of, at least when it comes to embodying any values it might claim to possess. At least Putin is, sort of, elected. And at least the Russian and Chinese leadership is broadly competent.

Last edited 1 year ago by Fraser Bailey
Johannes Kreisler
Johannes Kreisler
1 year ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Again, this is another area where Orban has almost certainly saved Hungarian lives 

Even in regards to Covid he did. Back last year when Covid was still new / just taking off, out of the first 12 or so diagnosed cases in Hungary five were Iranian students. (Of course they were put into an isolated ward immediately, where they threw an almighty tantrum – throwing furniture & stuff -, the police had to be called out.)

janos.boris
janos.boris
1 year ago

Hungary has the second highest Covid mortality rate per million in Europe (21,000 to date) and one of the world’s highest, surpassing nations like Italy and éven the US. Saving lives indeed!

andersongabriella3
andersongabriella3
1 year ago
Reply to  janos.boris

JUst becuase there are no other types of death anymore… Anyway, if you look at this statistics, you clearly see that the Hungarian opposition is lying every day about this. https://www.euromomo.eu/graphs-and-maps

Armand L
Armand L
1 year ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

I’ve never seen Fraser Bailey post a song coherent or correct comment. Orban’s Hungary has been circling the drain for years. Tory Brexiteer extremists really do live in an alternate reality.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
1 year ago

I’m not a great fan of Orbán in terms of his rule of law shenanigans and attacks on press freedom in Hungary…but you have to hand it to the guy: he’s not afraid to call a spade a spade. Plus, he has a hide as thick as a rhino’s and just takes the flak for whatever he does from the EU…only to beam like a Cheshire cat when they quietly climb down and go with him. (Although no one will ever, EVER admit this apart from a few brave journalists who have very secure gigs).
Re: Austria. This country has a fabulous line in two-faced dealings, including where Russia is concerned. In the aftermath of the Skripal incident in Salisbury – Austria tooted rather loudly and self-righteously about supporting the withdrawal of the EU’s ambassador from Moscow…while quietly keeping its national ambassador to Russia firmly installed. Sneaky, but smart. Or “Schein, nicht sein” (literally: “appearing to be something while not actually being it”) as they say in German.

Last edited 1 year ago by Katharine Eyre
Johannes Kreisler
Johannes Kreisler
1 year ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

 his rule of law shenanigans and attacks on press freedom in Hungary…

Do you rely on English-language sources? I follow the events via the Hungarian press/media in original (it’s my mothertongue), and i can reassure you that both claims are confabulations. Hungarians are well-informed and quite amused (bemused, even) about how the “western” media paints the country; in turn we do laugh a lot at the West’s daily bizarro-fest. (The Batley school thing is making the rounds right now…)

andersongabriella3
andersongabriella3
1 year ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

I can assure you that there is no problem at all in terms of his rule of law shenanigans and attacks on press freedom in Hungary. In fact, Hungary has teh most balanced media presence, about 50%/50% conservative/liftliberal. Unfortunately Hungary has not cleaned out the communist after 1989 from the political arena, therefore those once being the true dictators are back and use their communist western friends to smear Hungary.

Johannes Kreisler
Johannes Kreisler
1 year ago

Thanks Gabriella, absolutely correct on all points. Don’t know when was it the last time that the Anglo press was as balanced as the Hungarian is, certainly not in decades. At the very least the half is leftlib, including many of the legacy publications – sad to see what became of papers like the ÉS or the MN (once upon a time Fidesz’s own weekly).
Yes, it took over 20 years after ’89 for any meaningful ‘change’ to begin. But better late than never. Quite telling was the much-maligned Antall’s response when asked why nothing is happening: “Perhaps you should’ve made a revolution instead.” Seems he was privy to things most of us had not started to see until decades later.

Tom Fox
Tom Fox
1 year ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

You forgot to mention I think that Putin was at Karin Kneissl’s wedding (she was the Austrian Foreign Minister) – this I think after the Salisbury matter,

Last edited 1 year ago by Tom Fox
Peter de Barra
Peter de Barra
1 year ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

… that Continental territory is in fact now termed EU Province 19 ( a area once known as Austria ) – run by Berlin Centre from EU Province 1.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
1 year ago

“the Hungarian government raised eyebrows when it moved to secure supplies of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine — thus circumventing the European Medicines Agency.”
Probably didn’t raise any in Hungary. What was he supposed to do tell his people sorry folks we have to wait for the bumbling EU to get its act together. Even Germany, biggest beneficiary of the EU, snuck around to try to get vaccines.

Johannes Kreisler
Johannes Kreisler
1 year ago

Probably didn’t raise any in Hungary.

Not indeed – it may sound farfetched here, but Orbán’s government has by-and-large the trust of the citizenship (that’s because they earnt it), and the people don’t presume that Orbán would fob them off with some shoddy ruski vaccine (he wouldn’t), and the state of Hungarian medicine is decent enough to determine whether the vaccines are OK or not.
Curiously, in Hungary the majority are fully behind the govt.-imposed lockdown measures – it’s the small & frazzled leftist opposition who are doing their anti-lockdown / antimask protests and generally are crying blue murder about ‘but muh freedomz’.

David Fülöp
David Fülöp
1 year ago

Orban is in government due to extensive gerrymandering, building a one party state where all the funds are directly or indireclty channeled to his party, using his cronies to buy up popular media outlets and cynically building on the ignorance of a very large and elderly portion of the population.
I am happy to debate the dismal state of Hungary as I have once been a resident. It’s a cleptocracy where real wages have been mostly stagnant in large swathes of the country despite a high level of FDI while housing is becoming unaffordable.
I am sorry to say but Western Europeans completely misjudge the Hungarian PM. Orban is not a conservative. He is more like the godfather, a master tactician who would do anything to remain in power.
Still, you are absolutely right that Hungarians have continously elected him since 2010 and the opposition is almost insignificant and busy quarrelling over the scraps between themselves.
Constant dismissal and rejection from Western Europe is partly to blame for Orban’s drift towards the Russians and the Chinese.

Johannes Kreisler
Johannes Kreisler
1 year ago
Reply to  David Fülöp

Balderdash, Fülöp.

andersongabriella3
andersongabriella3
1 year ago
Reply to  David Fülöp

Wow…. I guess you have no idea waht is really going on in Hungary anymore. I think you should look at all the cities the opposition grabbed power 2 years ago and see what is a true cleptocracy is… Orban has faults as every politician, he favors his lobbying circles, but to say that this money is channeled to Fidesz is an flat out lie. I guess you read too muvh 444 (financed by Soros)

andersongabriella3
andersongabriella3
1 year ago

Many people in Hungary actually prefer the Russian vaccine as were vaccinated for decades with Russian types with no problem. It is developed by old technology not like the wester RNA/DNA modified once and seem to be longer resistent to the virus. Politics is really dividing people and get in the way of common sense. Unfortunately the entire western press is working like the communist propaganda under Soviet ruling.

Last edited 1 year ago by andersongabriella3
Johannes Kreisler
Johannes Kreisler
1 year ago

Unfortunately the entire western press is working like the communist propaganda under Soviet ruling.

Precisely. The only difference is the the much broader array of consumer goods to keep the populace distracted with.

Paul Goodman
Paul Goodman
1 year ago

On what basis does Charles Michael claim that China and Russia have less desirable values than the EU? They all seem to be more focused on their own image and survival rather than in serving their populations.

Armand L
Armand L
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul Goodman

Much like when the UK posts a sternly worded statement about Saudi misdeeds while its special forces act as mercenaries for Saudi’s genocidal campaign in Yemen. It’s all balderdash.

Last edited 1 year ago by Armand L
Tom Fox
Tom Fox
1 year ago

It astounds me that the safe AZ vaccine has been so rubbished by EU governments and sometimes their medics. I am now inclined to think that most of the crises that have been thrown up, particularly by political leaders are actually political ploys designed to hide the ineptitude of their procurement policies. A handful of blood clots in women who are also likely to be taking blood clot linked contraceptive pills is not a reason to stop using a vaccine which prevents a disease which will kill thousands of people in the same population.

andersongabriella3
andersongabriella3
1 year ago
Reply to  Tom Fox

As I said before… THe current EU has practices exactly like the Soviets communist comerads had… “Anyone is not with us is an enemy” – let it be a vaccine (Brexit) a culture (Poland and HUngary) or social ideas (People against gender fascism)

Rory Ferguson
Rory Ferguson
1 year ago
Reply to  Tom Fox

If you lock people up for 6 months, a year even, there’s bound to be more blood clots than usual, people sitting down all day, not walking to work etc

Kerie Receveur
Kerie Receveur
1 year ago
Reply to  Tom Fox

No untested gene-editing therapy masquerading as a “vaccine” is safe

Adrian Smith
Adrian Smith
1 year ago

The big question is do the Russian vaccines work. If you compare population normalised cumulative vaccination graphs of Germany. Hungary and UK you can see Hungary was tracking along the German line until end of Feb. It broke away in March and has been vaccinating at a similar and sometimes higher daily rate than UK. However at about the same time as vaccinations picked up Hungary’s death sky rocketed overtaking Belgium on the global list of shame about a week ago.
A lag between vaccination and the recipient achieving protection of 2 to 3 weeks is expected and it also takes a while for the the effects of protection to impact on deaths at a societal level, so the jury must remain out on the big question. Arguably the current situation in Hungary presents the perfect test for answering it one way or another over the next month or so.
The point that the EU misses in its attempts to deflect criticism from itself, is the UK did not get up early for once and put towels on all the best sun loungers (ie out German the Germans). The UK not only helped by designing its own effective sun lounger but also funded the development of manufacturing facilities for various sun loungers, taking a huge risk on whether or not any or all would be a complete failure and therefore be a waste of public money (it is considered better by all bureaucrats to spend a small fortune making sure you can’t be accused of wasting any money than it is to do some intelligent gambling with it). By doing this UK has created quite a bit of the supply it now enjoys, to the envy of the hopeless EU. Rather than going about this in normal overly bureaucratic and indecisive EU fashion. The EU could have done as a whole what UK did. Ie appoint a highly competent person, tell them to get it done and back them with the funds they needed to get it done. Obviously that would have presented a massive challenge to the EU psyche – the concept of appointing someone genuinely highly competent, rather than a Eurocrat crony, would have blown their tiny minds, let alone the rest of it.
In other pathetic attempts to deflect attention from its own failings Italy is acting as the sock puppet. Italian police raided a vaccine storage facility which housed millions of vaccines last week, claiming they were stockpiling doses to be sent to the UK. The reality was different though, as what they found was vaccines labelled for EU Member States – and some were even destined for export to developing countries for free. None were destined for the UK.
On Monday, a large shipment of meningitis vaccines – made by UK company GlaxoSmithKline and destined for the USA – was blocked for export by Italian customs officials – even more ridiculous, they have now demanded the vaccines are tested to make sure they are not secret COVID-19 vaccines!

Mike Wylde
Mike Wylde
1 year ago

If Bill Gates was trying to inject people with microchips in the vaccine as sceptics say can we be sure that the Russian and Chinese vaccines are not doing the same thing? Maybe the Russian trolls got the microchips idea from the Russian vaccine!

Andrew Baldwin
Andrew Baldwin
1 year ago

Serbia’s National Medicines Agency authorized the use of vaccine Sputnik V on December 31. Inoculation with the Russian vaccine began on January 5. In February it was also agreed that Serbia would become a production site for Sputnik V. As of April 1, according to Bloomberg Serbia had administered enough inoculations to cover 16.7% of its population, as opposed to 14.1% for Hungary and just 8.2% for the EU as its own. Nothing against Hungarians, who are, after all, two thirds of the economists behind the celebrated EKS formula (Éltető and Kovës; the other economist was a Pole). Just the same shouldn’t Peter have written an op-ed called “Where Serbia leads, the EU follows”?

Phil Bolton
Phil Bolton
1 year ago

I disagree with the headline of this piece. Does the writer believe that the EU will muzzle the press, imprison opponents, control the judiciary like Orban ? Mr Franklin has highlighted a case that demonstrates the fact that the EU is not a single unit and never will be despite it’s constitution calling for ‘ever closer union’. But to say that Orban is showing the way to go is not true, unless he can show other examples ? What it DOES show is that the world is splitting in two between the autocrats and the free democrats. And you can always tell them now when they stick together like glue like when they refuse to condemn the atrocities in Myanmar … because they think it is a good plan and something they’d do themselves.

Johannes Kreisler
Johannes Kreisler
1 year ago
Reply to  Phil Bolton

will muzzle the press, imprison opponents, control the judiciary like Orban

Except that Orbán does none of those things. You must be mistaking him with the press and judiciary in other, more “western” parts of Europe, including this island.
You’d come across as a good deal less ignorant if you made at least an attempt to inform yourself before you sound off on a public platform.

andersongabriella3
andersongabriella3
1 year ago
Reply to  Phil Bolton

Wow…. Tell me one example of anyone inprisoned for political opposition in Hungary. Tell me one media that was muzzled in Hungary 🙂 🙂 :). Please, really, let us know JUST ONE EXAMPLE.

Johannes Kreisler
Johannes Kreisler
1 year ago

Bolton probably thinks it’s still the Kádár era…

andersongabriella3
andersongabriella3
1 year ago
Reply to  Phil Bolton

Free democrats :):):)???? Who are those??? THe ones that change th eoutcome of an election because they do not like it (Germany and AfD), or those who plant edited videos to smare the opposition leader (Austria and FPO) or those that boot out the strongest party from teh government (Italy- Salvini)… Are those the ones???? Please, do not show this much ignorance…

Johannes Kreisler
Johannes Kreisler
1 year ago

Gabriella – don’t know if you read / watch any of the “western” press (do it only if you have a very strong stomach). I flick through the Guardian regularly, and the BBC’s output isn’t much better either. Unbelievable amount of lies and slander. Those rags should be dragged to the cleaners. Only good thing is that the sane majority of Brits aren’t falling for that rubbish.

Duncan Hunter
Duncan Hunter
1 year ago

I fear sanity, context and balance are very much the preserve of a minority here in the UK. Fear, ignorance, media credulity and dogmatism/ sheeplike passivity seem to have afflicted a majority.