Hungarian PM in new anti-EU tirade amid teacher protests – EURACTIV.com
On Sunday October 23, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán attacked the EU for its policy of sanctions against Russia, while in Budapest tens of thousands of people protested against what they described as negligence by the sector. ‘education.
Speaking in the western town of Zalaegerszeg, Orbán accused Brussels of “shooting” Hungary with the sanctions.
“Let’s not worry about those shooting at Hungary hiding in the shadows somewhere from the watchtowers of Brussels,” he said.
“They will end up where their predecessors ended up,” he added, hinting that the EU could disintegrate as the Soviet bloc did.
Since the start of the conflict in Ukraine, Hungary, heavily dependent on Russian energy imports, has maintained its relations with the Kremlin to continue to receive gas and oil.
At the same time, Budapest has repeatedly denounced EU sanctions as disastrous for its economy.
Orbán was speaking on the anniversary of the start of the 1956 Hungarian uprising against Soviet rule, which was finally crushed when Moscow sent in tanks to crush the rebellion.
Budapest last week launched a “national consultation” survey of citizens on EU sanctions. Posters plastered all over the country declare: “The sanctions from Brussels are ruining us.
Although Hungary voted with fellow EU member states for the sanctions, Orbán has regularly protested the damage they have caused to the country’s economy.
“War on our doorstep, financial crisis and economic slowdown in the European Union, migratory invasion in the south, (…) we have to face multiple problems,” Orbán said on Sunday.
But he insisted his “strong and united” government would overcome such challenges.
Meanwhile, in Budapest, tens of thousands have demonstrated against Orbán’s education policies, angered by what they say is the underfunding of schools and the intimidation of teachers who demand better conditions.
After years of unsuccessfully demanding pay rises, activists have hardened their stance, pushing back in February on a government decree that drastically restricted teachers’ right to strike.
Since the beginning of the school year, teachers and high school students have organized several protests in Budapest and in cities across the country, supporting teachers fired for participating in earlier protests.
Sunday’s march in Budapest was the largest yet, and organizers pledged to keep up the pressure in the weeks to come.
“Everyone in my school is exhausted from having to fight for the basics like enough teachers and equipment,” 17-year-old student Anett Bodi said at the protest.
“We fully support our teachers in their fight for their rights,” she told AFP.
Although the government acknowledges that salaries are too low, it has linked a planned increase to long-awaited EU funding.
This has been delayed by concerns in Brussels about corruption in Hungary and the shift in democratic standards.