Does Energy Fragility of Europe Vindicate Hungary?

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Russia, the successor of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) after the Cold War, has turned to develop good relations with the West. In this process, Western states, especially Germany, tried to develop a relationship of mutual dependence with the Moscow administration through energy. The aim here has been to prevent new conflicts, therefore wars, through the incorporation of Russia into the international system. However, the Kremlin, especially after Vladimir Putin became the President of Russia, has designed relations in the energy dimension as a strategic weapon. Eventually, the Russian energy giant Gazprom has reached a monopoly position in the European energy market. This has led to the emergence of a one-way dependency between the European Union (EU) countries and Russia. Especially after Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine, Moscow’s application to the energy card has brought about energy crisis at the global level.

It should be noted that after the Russia-Ukraine War, the European states tried to develop a collective attitude and took care of displaying a monolithic image. This approach has shown itself in the sanctions against Russia. The EU has announced seven different sanctions packages aimed at making the war unsustainable for the Moscow administration and showing the Kremlin that its actions will not go unpunished. In this process, Hungary has been touted as an actor reflecting the fragility within the EU. Because the Budapest administration has been the main actor expressing reservations and objections to the sanctions imposed on Russia on various issues, especially energy.

Nonetheless, Russia’s application to the energy card in order to reduce the sanctions pressure on it by turning the upcoming winter months into an opportunity indicates that the vulnerability in Europe will increase in the recent period. Because Russia has twice briefly cut off the flow of gas to Europe through the Nord Stream-I Gas Pipeline, citing technical reasons. The third cut off took place on September 4, 2022, and the Kremlin administration announced that the flow of gas will not take place until the sanctions imposed on Russia are lifted.[1]

Following the statement, there have been a number of developments showing that the fragility of European states on energy has increased. First of all, it should be reminded that Hungary does not want to end its energy relations with Russia. It should also be underlined that Bulgaria is negotiating with Gazprom, moving away from the quest to diversify its energy suppliers, which it turned to in the early days of the war in Ukraine. However, in terms of developments that will deepen the fragility, there should be look into to the events that took place after Russia cut off the flow of gas through Nord Stream-I. Because, it was understood that the interruption was not a long-term situation before, a demonstration was organized on September 3, 2022 in Prague, the capital of the Czechia, attended by about 70,000 people.

Reacting to the rising gas prices during the protests, people demanded that the Czech Government take a neutral stance in the Russia-Ukraine War.[2] Moreover, it is seen that similar protests have been organized in Germany and France.[3] This is “Europe’s Energy Vulnerability: What Do the Protests in Czechia Mean?”[4] as I underlined in my analysis titled, it is a harbinger that the fragility in the Russia policy, which the West has built on “values,” will increase in parallel with the upcoming winter months. At the same time, this situation also suggests that time will vindicate Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who has been criticized with exaggerated criticism by European actors since the beginning of the war.

At this point, the issue that needs to be considered and emphasized is that Orban is not a leader as some EU countries reflect; on the contrary, he advocates and takes steps towards the implementation of a multifaceted foreign policy that takes into consideration the balances between power centers like every nation-state that takes into account Hungary’s own national interests.

Essentially, the Hungarian Prime Minister has been making an “Eastern Opening” since 2010, when he brought the Fidesz Party to power. The eastern opening of the Hungarian leader is based on two main pillars. The first of these is that he wants to attract investments to his country not only from the West, but also from the East. Certainly, the aim here is Russia and China.[5] The second is the growing opposition to Open Society Institute of George Soros design of states through social movements. In this sense, it is known that Hungary, which has realized an Eastern Opening, has also established close relations with Russia.

Currently, Hunexit issue is not on the agenda of Hungary, as reflected by some European power groups, that is exit scenario from the EU.[6] On the contrary, Orban announced that an anti-corruption commission would be established in accordance with the expectations of the union in order to become a strong member of the EU and showed that he is actually a determined leader in terms of transparency.[7] However, like the other states that make up the EU, Hungary, as a   level. This is the main reason for Budapest’s multi-faceted understanding of diplomacy.

Due to this understanding, Hungary has developed a stance that prioritizes its own national interests regarding the sanctions imposed on Russia. In this case, Hungary’s dependence on Russia in terms of energy is decisive. Budapest, which does not want to experience difficulties in the winter months, prioritizing its own interests, has caused Western actors to portray Budapest as a “game changer.” In addition, there are important relations in the field of economics, especially in banking, in Hungary-Russia relations. All this situation has led Budapest to approach the issue much more rationally.

On the other hand, it is seen that the fragility has increased in the EU countries that have come together over values in the face of the Russia-Ukraine War and criticized Budapest. It is clearly seen that Moscow, playing the energy card, has increased the discomfort among the peoples of Europe. Therefore, it can be argued that the process has vindicated Orban and that the number of states in the EU that will internalize the line adopted by Hungary due to their own national interests will increase.

Consequently, the process in the Russia-Ukraine War indicates that the number of actors who will internalize the attitude adopted by Hungary from the very beginning will increase. The developments that reveal the fragility in Europe also confirm this. However, it would be wrong to say that this situation will serve Russia’s interests, as it is supposed. Because, as Orban pointed out, Russia and Ukraine need to be reconciled by someone. Therefore, the fragility on energy could open the door to a European reality that can negotiate with Moscow. Moreover, as the Hungarian leader stated, the adoption of such an attitude by the EU can create new opportunities not only in terms of energy, but also in economic terms.

[1] “Russia Blames Sanctions for Gas Pipeline Shutdown”, BBC,, (Date of Accession: 07.09.2022).

[2] “Tens of Thousands Protest in Prague Against Czech Government, EU and NATO”, Euractiv,, (Date of Accession: 06.09.2022).

[3] “A Bitter Pill to Swallow for Europe: Locals Gripped with Severe Energy Crisis Protest Paying Price For Political Games”, Global Times,, (Date of Accession: 07.09.2022).

[4] Doğacan Başaran, “Avrupa’nın Enerji Kırılganlığı: Çekya’daki Protestolar Neye İşaret Ediyor?”, ANKASAM,, (Date of Accession: 14.09.2022).

[5] Hadas Aron-Emily Holland, “Is Hungary Ukraine’s Biggest Problem in the European Union?”, War on the Rocks,, (Date of Accession: 07.09.2022).

[6] Sevinç İrem Balcı, “Macaristan Dışişleri ve Ticaret Enstitüsü Başdanışmanı Prof. Dr. László Vasa: “Hunexit Meselesi Macaristan’ın Gündeminde Değildir.””, ANKASAM,, (Date of Accession: 14.09.2022).

[7] “Macaristan AB Fonlarını Alabilmek İçin Yolsuzlukla Mücadele Ajansı Kuruyor”, Milliyet,, (Date of Accession: 07.09.2022).

Dr. Doğacan BAŞARAN
Dr. Doğacan BAŞARAN, 2014 yılında Gazi Üniversitesi İktisadi ve İdari Bilimler Fakültesi Uluslararası İlişkiler Bölümü’nden mezun olmuştur. Yüksek lisans derecesini, 2017 yılında Giresun Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstitüsü Uluslararası İlişkiler Anabilim Dalı’nda sunduğu ‘’Uluslararası Güç İlişkileri Bağlamında İkinci Dünya Savaşı Sonrası Hegemonik Mücadelelerin İncelenmesi’’ başlıklı teziyle almıştır. Doktora derecesini ise 2021 yılında Trakya Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstitüsü Uluslararası İlişkiler Anabilim Dalı‘nda hazırladığı “İmparatorluk Düşüncesinin İran Dış Politikasına Yansımaları ve Milliyetçilik” başlıklı teziyle alan Başaran’ın başlıca çalışma alanları Uluslararası ilişkiler kuramları, Amerikan dış politikası, İran araştırmaları ve Afganistan çalışmalarıdır. Başaran iyi derecede İngilizce ve temel düzeyde Farsça bilmektedir.