Slovakian Prime Minister Lajos (Ľudovít) Ódor took part in a public discussion at Festival Atmosfera in Hontnémeti (Hontianske Nemce), Slovakia last week. There, he made some controversial statements about his Hungarian counterpart, Viktor Orbán.
According to PM Ódor, PM Orbán is ‘not in a comfortable position’.
He explained that while people are willing to talk to Orbán at EU summits, Ódor believes he still has very little support, saying:
‘The things they [the Hungarian government] want to get through, they are either alone on those, or are backed by so few countries that I can count them on one hand.’
Ódor also talked about another topic involving the Hungarian Prime Minister, namely Orbán’s statements at the Bálványos Summer Free University and Student Camp, colloquially called Tusványos, in Tusnádfürdő (Băile Tușnad), Romania last month. There, PM Orbán referred to parts of Slovakia as ‘torn-away parts of the country [Hungary]’, which triggered an official response from the Foreign Ministry of Slovakia at the time.
Now, PM Ódor also addressed the controversy, saying:
‘I view this as folklore. He says these things to keep his voters at “operating temperature”…I don’t think it should be given too much weight. However, we are in the campaign season, and that’s why everything resonates ten times as much as if it had been said last year. I view them as political statements, which are quite unfortunate for us and for the ethnic Hungarian minority in Slovakia as well.
In whose interest is it to have the majority and other ethnicities look at each other with suspicion? This was the public sentiment during the time of Mečiar or Slota, but thankfully we have moved past that by now. I don’t see any problems with the relations between different ethnicities in Slovakia’, PM Ódor, an ethnic Hungarian living in Slovakia himself, stressed.
Fidesz MP Responds
Tamás Menczer, a Member of Parliament and State Secretary for the ruling Fidesz party, took to Facebook to offer a rebuttal for the statements made by PM Ódor of Slovakia about the purported isolation of Prime Minister Orbán in international politics.
In that post, he takes a jab at Ódor, pointing out that unlike him, PM Orbán got to be head of government by actually winning an election. What’s more, he won four in a row with a constitution-amending supermajority, while Ódor was appointed to his post by President Zuzana Čaputová in May of this year, in the midst of a political crisis in the country.
MP Menczer also added that, therefore, Viktor Orbán is backed by millions of Hungarians; and on top of that, he has been proven right in all of his convictions that were initially unpopular with other European leaders and the Western mainstream. In the latter statement, one of the things that Menczer is likely referring to is the 2015 migration crisis in Europe, where the Hungarian government was among the first to take strict action against the wave of illegal immigrants, a stance that is commonly held now by most European nations.
Menczer ended his post by saying ‘thus,
many people would like to be as alone as Viktor Orbán is’.
Lajos Ódor On His Hungarian Ethnicity
At Festival Atmosfera, Ódor also told the audience that he never tried to hide his Hungarian ethnicity, and has even held lectures in Hungarian in the past. This was in response to some criticism coming from Hungary, for instance, after he ignored a reporter asking a question in Hungarian right after his inauguration. Previously, he had also claimed that President Čaputová did not know he was ethnic Hungarian when she asked him to assume the Prime Minister’s office.