March 23-29, 2023 | Issue 6 - EUCOM and Behavior and Leadership
Gabriel Helupka, Megan Khalife, Sophia Ritscher, Elvire Vérant
Radhika Ramalinga Venkatachalam, Editor; Jennifer Loy, Chief Editor
Vladimir Putin and Viktor Orbán
Date: March 23, 2023
Parties involved: Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orbán; Chief of Staff Gergely Gulyas; Hungary; Hungarian government; Fidesz political party; Hungarian opposition coalition; pro-Orbán supporters; Russian President Vladimir Putin; Russia; Ukraine; International Criminal Court (ICC); EU; NATO
The event: Gulyas announced Hungary would not enforce ICC’s arrest warrant against Putin for alleged war crimes in Ukraine, should he enter the country. He stated the warrant has no legal grounds because the Rome Statute, which gives signatories legal enforcement obligations, is not integrated into Hungarian laws. In the 2022 Hungarian parliamentary elections, a united opposition coalition challenged Orbán’s Fidesz political party for power, criticizing it for isolating Hungary from European institutions and countries. Party members and supporters are critical of Orbán’s close ties with Russia.
Analysis & Implications:
Hungary will very likely refuse to alter its statement toward enforcing Putin’s arrest warrant, very likely facing increased divisions with EU and NATO members. This will likely weaken Hungary's position within both institutions, very likely disrupting their solidarity actions for Ukraine. The divided foreign policy stance will likely threaten a unified approach toward Russia, likely stalling additional actions to address Russia's alleged war crimes in Ukraine.
Orbán will very likely lose support from the Fidesz party over his government's refusal to enforce the arrest warrant, likely causing a shift toward supporting the opposition coalition. This will very likely threaten his leadership role, likely amplifying political divisions within the ruling party. These divisions will likely cause political instability, likely leading to internal debate over Orbán’s contradicting relationship with the EU, NATO, and Russia on geopolitical issues.
Date: March 24, 2023
Location: Belgrade, Serbia
Parties involved: Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic; Serbian government; Serbian right-wing political opposition parties; Serbian right-wing groups; ethnic Serbs; Kosovo; Kosovo government; EU; NATO; international organizations
The event: On the anniversary of the 1999 NATO bombing of Serbia, supporters of right-wing Serbian opposition parties protested and demanded the resignation of Vucic and his government over an EU-backed plan to normalize relations with Kosovo. Protesters denounced the plan as a “de-facto recognition” of Kosovo by Serbia. Under a verbal agreement, Serbia agreed not to block Kosovo's membership in international organizations, while Kosovo committed to granting greater autonomy to Serb-majority areas. Serbia will implement the agreement but not sign any legally binding document because it does not recognize Kosovo’s independence.
Analysis & Implications:
Serbian right-wing groups and political opposition parties will almost certainly continue to challenge the Serbia-Kosovo agreement, likely organizing additional protests before future agreement negotiation meetings. Protesters will likely target government facilities to disrupt the negotiations, with a roughly even chance of undermining the implementation of the accepted provisions. They will likely attempt to portray Vucic’s government as weak and ineffective in maintaining Serbia’s territorial integrity, likely increasing pressure on Vucic to reject the deal.
Protests denouncing the EU-backed agreement will likely spread across Serbia and spill into the majority-Serb regions of Kosovo. Right-wing groups in both countries will very likely exploit dissatisfaction to gain more support, very likely increasing ethnic tensions in Kosovo. They will likely encourage the ethnic Serbs to conduct roadblocks and close borders again, likely disrupting daily life and decreasing regional stability.
 “Vladimir Putin, Viktor Orbán” by Kremlin.ru licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0
Hungary would not arrest Putin, says PM Orban's chief of staff, Reuters, March 2023, https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/hungary-would-not-arrest-putin-says-pm-orbans-chief-staff-2023-03-23/
 Russia's war ignites Orban's tightest election challenge in Hungary, BBC News, April 2022, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-60952882
 Hungary’s Viktor Orban faces watershed moment on Russia and Ukraine, Financial Times, March 2023, https://www.ft.com/content/4f1a05cb-f879-43bc-84f0-ce2fd6880033
Serbian right-wing opposition protests West’s Kosovo plan, AP, March 2023, https://apnews.com/article/serbia-kosovo-rightwing-protest-nato-bombing-8b6a3d5d76baeaee38a37fa4df5f52fa
Serbia wants to normalise ties with Kosovo but will not sign any agreement, Reuters, March 2023, https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/serbia-wants-normalise-ties-with-kosovo-will-not-sign-any-agreement-2023-03-19/