Hungarian Conservative

No, Orbán Did Not “Deceive” Croatia

Zvonimir Troskot
A Croatian MP blamed the worsening energy crisis–among others–on Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán on national television. But the EU doesn’t work that way.

Croatian MP Zvonimir Troskot – of the Most (“Bridge”) Party, currently in opposition – seems to have a personal issue with Hungary and Viktor Orbán, because this is not the first time he made simply untrue or even ridiculous statements about the Hungarian prime minister, most likely only to bolster his own reputation by fanning the flames of political hysteria in the media. 

The last time he made a huge fuss over something similarly trivial was when PM Orbán discussed the means of energy transportation in his weekly interview on public television. When Orbán mentioned that landlocked countries face a disadvantage over the ones with sea access in terms of transportation, casually adding that Hungary also used to have a sea once, ‘which was taken away’, suddenly the whole Croatian media went into crisis mode. Of course, Orbán was talking about the historical personal union–and through that, the Adriatic coastline– Croatia and Hungary shared for over 800 years in peace, and his half-sentence remark was not even close to anything that could be interpreted as revisionist intentions. Among the professionally offended, the loudest of all was of course Zvonimir Troskot, who claimed earlier that Orbán was working intensively on the “Hungarianization” of certain Croatian economic sectors, and now he might want the whole country. ‘Croatia will never be a Hungarian country!’, he exclaimed, with at least as much pathos as the medieval hero he is impersonating.

Main causes of inflation in Croatia, according to him, are too much money and… Viktor Orbán

Now he seems to have gone further with this kind of nonsense. In a recent interview on Croatian national television, Troskot and another MP were discussing the causes of inflation, when Troskot made the following ingenious revelations. The two main causes of inflation in Croatia, according to him, are too much money being printed across the EU, and… Viktor Orbán. Yes, if you weren’t aware, the prime minister has somehow “deceived” Croatians by negotiating an opt-out for Hungary from the EU’s oil import ban. As Troskot explained, Orbán ‘deceived [Croatian PM] Plenković because it is not clear to anyone how we did not veto the import of Russian oil. Hungary and other countries have managed to stop it. We have come to the situation that in the next year Hungary will arbitrarily profit from the price of crude oil that will enter Hungary through the continental part and then sell those petroleum products in, say, Croatia.’ The logic is flawless, isn’t it? Anyway, Troskot continued by adding that therefore, the third factor is that ‘it is a lie that Russian oil will not end up on Croatian territory again.’ Oh, boy.

First, I just don’t see how Hungary’s relentless efforts to negotiate the opt-out from the oil embargo that would have caused unaffordable damages to the Hungarian households and economy could be considered “deception” of other countries. Hungary merely used its democratic right under EU provisions to veto the embargo until an acceptable compromise had been reached, in a transparent way, as one of the 27 member states which includes Croatia. Everyone was well aware of the diplomatic process, and anyone could have followed suit if they wanted. Some did–as Mr. Troskot so correctly mentioned– and now they also enjoy the effects of their opt-outs until they are ready to give up on Russian oil entirely. Croatia does not. Not because it was side-lined, deceived, or threatened into not using its veto against the embargo by anyone (let alone Hungary), but because of its own choice. 

Every leader in Europe knew that

Cutting off Russian oil overnight was a hard decision for every member state that made it. It was a decision that made sense from a strategic, political and moral standpoint, but not from an economic one. And every leader in Europe knew that, otherwise it would not have taken weeks to finally reach an agreement. Blaming others for the rising prices in this context makes little to no sense. It is like a child who chose the harder piece of homework for extra credit, then blames those who didn’t when he sees them playing outside. No, Prime Minister Orbán vetoed the oil embargo because he believed that is in the best interest of his country–not because he wanted to take advantage of the energy crisis other countries are facing–just like PM Plenković decided otherwise because he believed that was in the best interest of his country.

These accusations are ridiculous at best and malign at worst. Mr. Troskot seems to have found his everyday go-to bogeyman in the person of Viktor Orbán, whom he likes to use for whatever political points he hopes to score from such remarks. But we can assure him that Hungary neither wants to control Croatia’s energy sector nor take back its former shores. No, Mr. Troskot, this is the 21st century, we only want to keep the good relations our countries enjoyed for so long, so just sit down please and stop interfering.  

A Croatian MP blamed the worsening energy crisis–among others–on Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán on national television. But the EU doesn’t work that way.