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Hungary has never fully adopted the EMU or the Stability and Growth Pact, so the rotating presidency team’s passive attitude is no surprise with the Competitiveness Pact. The Hungarian Presidency came back on track with the extraordinary EU Council on 11 March on Northern Africa.

Yesterday Hungary’s European Affairs state secretary, Ms Győri participated on the fact finding tour of Cathy Aston and Commissioner Georgieva on the Tunisian-Libyan border.

The fact that they met the interim government of Tunisia (where the situation is probably the clearest) is welcome, the statements is very cautious. Ms Győri starts with the words “The European Union should open its heart to freedom-seeking Arab nations”. Statement here

Well, a lot of freedom-seeking Arabs are waiting for the gates of the EU to be opened and not the hearts, as in several states the authoritarian regimes are still killing peaceful protesters. As we have seen, the EU member states are still very much individualistic with their relationships to EU Neighborhood dictators. Hope that the Commission, the rotating presidency team and Herman van Rompuy will coerce some joint policy on the  member states on 11 March.

What can be the Hungarian presidency addition to this? Probably the most obstructive member state was Italy, whose leader, PM Berlusconi had very close ties to Gaddafi. It was just last summer that they entertained each other in a big tent secured by female bodyguards, and drawing multi billion plans to, ironically, to build a road from Tunisia through Libya into Egypt. Coincidentally, Hungary’s leader PM Orbán is a friend or Silvio Berlusconi, Hungary may help here with some persuasion with the summit, if needed still.

Another coincidence is that the Hungarian diplomacy and Orbán has some first-hand experience. Mr Orbán was the last leader to visit ousted dictator Hosni Mubarak on a four-day stately visit, just one day before the Egyptian revolution began. The Hungarian FM claimed that this visited served EU presidency purposes and Orbán had no special Hungarian agenda. Hope it will be an important input to 10-11 March.

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