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An Unintended Consequence: Is the Hungarian Commitment to the EU's Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy Weakening?

Andras Racz

The Orbaacute;n-government that came to power in 2010 has brought a considerable shift to the foreign policy priorities of Hungary. While the general commitment to a strong European Union remains unchanged, much more attention is paid to the Hungarians living abroad (granting citizenship, etc.), than it was done before. Besides, the concept of 'global opening' has appeared in a new strategic document on the foreign policy priorities of Hungary following the EU-presidency, adopted in December 2011.However, due to the financial crisis, the government has to considerably reduce public spending, including the resources allocated to foreign policy. This leads us to the research question: when available funds are decreasing, may the emergence of the above-mentioned new foreign policy tasks result - though unintentionally - the weakening of an old one, namely the Hungarian commitment to a strong EU enlargement and neighbourhood policy? Political commitment is, of course, unlikely to change. However, in terms of practical bilateral actions the paper argues for a differentiated answer. Supporting the European integration of the Western Balkans - the traditional priority region of Hungarian foreign policy - is likely to remain high on the agenda, due to the Hungarian minorities living in Serbia and Croatia, security and business interests, etc. However, in Eastern Europe bilateral Hungarian engagement will probably decrease, with Ukraine being the sole exception, due to minority-related considerations. It remains to be seen, whether and how multilateral actions - including the Visegrad cooperation - will be able to fill this gap.



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