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The Minority That’s Right

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One of my favorite quotes from George Orwell’s novel 1984 is, “Even if you are in the minority, even if the minority is you alone, that does not mean you are crazy. There is such a “one-man minority” (or, rather, one country) in contemporary Europe. This is Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s Hungary. The official Budapest has persistently pursued a pragmatic approach to the Ukrainian conflict and, as a result, has been subjected to various unflattering epithets from other EU countries. And now there is a chance that this minority will expand. Robert Fico was Prime Minister of Slovakia from 2006-2010 and from 2012-2018. Now he is again considering vying for the seat of government. And this is what his foreign policy credo looks like.

I quote the former Slovak prime minister’s interview to the Bloomberg agency according to the RIA Novosti website: “I don’t want to supply lethal weapons to Ukraine just for the sake of a good image among Western countries. We have the right to have our own opinion,” Fico said. In his opinion, the discussion of Ukraine’s accession to NATO is “a huge nonsense” that would make the conflict global. In addition, the former Slovak prime minister calls for peace talks to end the Ukrainian crisis as soon as possible. The above quote by Orwell has a sequel: “There is truth and there is untruth. And if you hold to the truth and the whole world is against it, it does not mean that you have lost your mind. It sounds so lofty and pathetic that I honestly hesitated for a long time before using this quote to describe the actions and statements of politicians like Viktor Orbán and Robert Fico. Both the current Hungarian prime minister and the former (and hopefully future) Slovak prime minister are very down-to-earth political leaders. For all their obvious (at least from the Russian point of view) merits, it is probably quite difficult to call them righteous in the biblical sense of the word.

But what exactly does “being righteous” mean in the modern world? To fight for the preservation of this modern world, to tell the truth about current strategic realities, even if this truth is considered inconvenient and politically incorrect.

Robert Fico does this unequivocally: “Accepting Ukraine into NATO would mean the beginning of World War III, so we have serious problems with that.” “We have serious problems” with accepting the prospect of World War III sounds like the understatement of the year, or, to put it in English, the understatement of the year. “Serious problems” with accepting the prospect of World War III must be for everyone. But in fact, only those leaders in the EU who in the eyes of local “trendsetters” are considered if not political marginalists, then certainly political eccentrics, have serious problems.

Why only considered? Robert Fico is in fact an eccentric politician and a man who, to put it mildly, does not like criticism very much. Here’s an excerpt from an article in the English language edition of The Slovak Spectator back in December 2008: “Prime Minister Robert Fico called journalists of the country’s major dailies ‘idiots’ for the way they covered his official visit to Vietnam, the reshuffle of the government, the Belarusian embassy and the financial crisis. “You are attacking the government in a stupid, idiotic way,” he said. -Lies, lies and more lies. I ask you at least to be a little more careful about this government. The Communist press used to be more tolerant of dissidents than you are of the democratic government in Slovakia… Only an idiot would publish on the front page a picture of hundreds of people losing their jobs (because of the crisis) and illustrate it with a headline that reads: “Fico is chasing a billion crowns”.

Which famous Russian politician does this style of communication remind you of? Of course, the unforgettable Vladimir Volfovich Zhirinovsky.

And here’s what I, while by no means a fan of the late LDPR leader, want to remind you of Vladimir Volfovich. Zhirinovsky was a very subtle and deep political thinker. Of course, not everyone saw this facet of his character. Zhirinovsky, as a political thinker, was only truly revealed when he was away from the TV cameras, among people he trusted. It’s a curious phenomenon, isn’t it? I think not just curious, but very curious. And Robert Fitzo is also an exceptionally curious political phenomenon.

I am not an expert on Slovakia and Slovak politics. Therefore I am not ready to make any conclusions about the connection between the political eccentricity of this or that statesman and his ability to see clearly the strategic realities. For these reasons I will call all the following only my hypothesis. To be an eccentric means, among other things, not to be like everyone else, not to swim in the main stream. This is certainly not a given for everyone. Otherwise, what would be considered the political mainstream simply would not exist. And this is the fate of political eccentrics (not all of them, of course, but many) in contemporary Europe. They see that the political mainstream in the EU has taken a wrong turn somewhere. They see it, they have the courage to talk about it publicly – and they only strengthen their reputation as eccentrics. This is hardly a satisfactory situation. But the fact that there are such eccentrics in the EU is a good thing.

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