Skip to main content
School of Politics and International Relations

Public lecture by Dr Akos Kopper: Hungary balancing between the EU and Russia – a decade of manoeuvring

When: Thursday, May 26, 2022, 2:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Where: Arts Two Building, room 3.20, QMUL, Mile End Campus

Speaker: Dr Akos Kopper

Hungary balancing between the EU and Russia - A decade of manoeuvring

Date and time: Thursday 26 May 2022, 2pm

Venue: Arts Two Building, room 3.20, QMUL, Mile End Campus

Register to attend in person:

Register to attend online:

Since 2010 Hungary has been ruled by a populist and self-claimed illiberal regime, where norms of fair elections, open media and other constitutive features of European values have been constantly violated. Although the country is one of the greatest beneficiaries of the EU, it has been constantly bashing Brussels in its rhetoric, while it has been forging ever closer ties with China, but particularly with Russia, arguing that they represent the future as the West was in decline. Still, the regime has been very careful in its confrontations with the EU, always pulling the brakes before clashing with the EU head on and making symbolic gestures that in form followed the EU’s requests yet in substance contradicted them. That is, the regime has been in a constant manoeuvring to make the most out of EU membership, while creating an authoritarian regime in which the regimes’ leaders and their cronies profited greatly from EU funds, syphoning them into their own pockets.

The war in Ukraine seemed to pose a radical challenge to this practice of manoeuvring. Although it has been argued that populist leaders flourish at times of crisis, allowing them to buttress their power or to make political gains, the war on Ukraine was an external shock that posed an unexpected challenge for Hungary’s populist leader, Viktor Orbán. Orbán started his political career in the 90s with a speech in which he demanded Soviet troops to leave Hungary. How could the man who first made such a request openly in the 90s, react 30 years later to the war in Ukraine that reminded many of the Hungarian revolution of 1956? The fact that Hungary had elections just within a few weeks added a particular weight to the question. As we know by now, Orban triumphed and again secured a 2/3rd majority in Parliament. Still, clouds are gathering for Orban. The economy is in bad shape, public debt is increasing and the manoeuvring that characterized the regime’s relations to the EU may not go on as before.


Akos KOPPER is a Gerda Henkel Fellow working on a project on emergency and citizenship during the pandemic. Last term he was a visiting researcher at the University of Vienna and visiting lecturer at CEU (Vienna).

He received his PhD from Jacobs University Bremen (2009), MA from CEU (2000), BA from ELTE (1999). For five years with his colleague – Paul Row- he was coordinating editor of the Journal of International Relations and Development, the official journal of the Central and East European International Studies Association (CEEISA).

He is a member of CEEISA’s executive board. He has published in journals such as: Democratization, International Studies Review, The Pacific Review, East European Politics, Alternatives, Global, Local, Political, International Political Sociology, European Journal of International Relations, Cultures & Conflits, Millennium: Journal of International Studies.

Back to top