Since Viktor Orbán reassumed power in 2010, the Hungarian government has taken a more active role in the Western Balkans, significantly expanding its political and economic influence. This shift raises questions about the driving forces behind Hungarian foreign and trade policy in the region. Who sets these foreign policy priorities in Hungary, and how do formal and informal actors interact? What economic interests shape Hungarian foreign policy in the region, and to what extent has the war in Ukraine impacted it? Furthermore, how does Hungary's position within the EU affect the accession process of the West-Balkan countries?
To address these questions, we are pleased to present a research paper from the Belgrade Center for Security Policy. In addition, we will engage in discussions with the paper's authors and Hungarian foreign policy experts from diverse backgrounds.
The event is organized by the CEU Democracy Institute, Political Capital, and the Centre for Euro-Atlantic Integration and Democracy (CEID). If you would like to attend, please register here.
Zsuzsanna Szelényi is the Program Director of the CEU Democracy Institute Leadership Academy, a foreign policy specialist, and the author of ‘Tainted Democracy, Viktor Orbán and the Subversion of Hungary’. Before joining the CEU Democracy Institute, Szelényi worked as a Richard von Weizsäcker Fellow at the Robert Bosch Academy. She was also a Fellow of the IWM’s Europe’s Futures program, focusing on autocratization within the European Union. In 2012, Szelényi co-founded the opposition party ‘Together’ and served as a Member of Parliament in Hungary from 2014 to 2018. During her tenure, she addressed foreign policy, migration, and constitutional affairs. With extensive experience in promoting democracy, Szelényi worked at the Council of Europe from 1996 to 2010, focusing on democracy development in Europe, including conflict regions like the Western Balkans and the Caucasus. From 2010 to 2012, she collaborated with international organizations in North Africa and Central and Eastern Europe. She began her career as a member of the liberal Fidesz party in 1988 and served as a Member of Parliament from 1990 until her departure from politics in 1994 to pursue a professional career. Szelényi holds a GMAP in International Politics and Economics from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, as well as MAs in Psychology from the University of Eotvos Lorand and International Relations from Corvinus University.
Srdjan Cvijic is the president of the International Advisory Committee of the Belgrade Centre for Security Policy. Before joining BCSP Team, he was a Senior Policy Officer at the Europe and Eurasia Program of the Open Society Foundations. He is a member of the Balkans in Europe Policy Advisory Group, an associate senior research fellow at the Italian Institute for International Political Studies ISPI, and a Fellow of the Europe’s Futures Program of the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna. Dr. Cvijic is a former high ranking Serbian diplomat, he also worked for the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe, the European Policy Centre in Brussels, as well as the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. Dr. Cvijic holds a PhD from the Department of Law of the European University Institute in Florence. He published numerous policy and academic articles and is the author of the “Democracy beyond the demos, bringing the immigrants (back) in” published in 2008.
Ivana Ranković is Junior Researcher at the Belgrade Centre for Security Policy. She joined the BCSP team in September 2022, after finalizing her 6-month internship. Her main fields of research are foreign influences in Serbia and the Western Balkans, and research in the field of international politics and security. After graduating in international relations from Faculty of Political Science, University of Belgrade, Ivana got her master’s degree in international security at the same faculty.
Edit Inotai holds a PhD in International Relations from Corvinus University, and having a background in journalism, she worked for 20 years at the Foreign Desk of Hungarian leading daily Népszabadság. Specializing in European affairs, and in Spanish-speaking countries, she worked as special envoy to Madrid, Buenos Aires and Santiago de Chile. She also worked as the Berlin correspondent of Népszabadság and served as Foreign Editor for four years. She is currently the Budapest correspondent of German public TV ARD and a regular contributor of regional online news site Balkan Insight. Edit speaks English, Spanish and German. She is a Senior Fellow of Budapest-based independent thinktank, the Centre of Euro-Atlantic Integration and Democracy.
Péter Krekó is a political scientist, social psychologist, disinformation expert. He is a senior fellow at the Washington-based CEPA think tank and a PopBack Fellow at the University of Cambridge. Earlier, he was a guest researcher at the Europe’s Futures - Ideas for Action program of the Vienna-based Institute for Human Sciences (IWM), and a non-resident Associate Fellow at the Johns Hopkins University SAIS Bologna Institute of Policy Research. Peter is an associate professor with habilitation at the Department of Social Psychology at ELTE PPK. During 2016-2017, Péter worked as a Fulbright Visiting Professor in the United States at the Central Eurasian Studies Department of Indiana University. He wrote his PhD dissertation on the social psychology of conspiracy theories in 2014, and he habilitated in 2020. He has been the executive director of Political Capital since 2011. His main areas of expertise are disinformation, Russian political influence in the West, and European populism and radicalism. He was the co-chair of the EU Radicalization Prevention Network PREVENT until 2015. He is the owner of Political Capital. He has written two books: Tömegparanoia, which has been published in two editions, introduces the social psychological foundations of fake news and conspiracy theories in a scientific and informative manner, and The Hungarian Far Right – which he wrote together with Attila Juhász – on the politics of the Hungarian far right after the democratic transition. The latter is published by Ibiden Verlag and distributed by the Columbia University Press.
Ferenc Németh holds a Master’s degree in International Relations from the Corvinus University of Budapest and pursued post-graduate studies at the Universities of Graz and Belgrade as part of the Interdisciplinary Joint Master’s Programme in Southeast European Studies. He is currently a PhD-student at the Doctoral School of International Relations and Political Science at Corvinus University of Budapest. Besides his studies, he was a lecturer at the Eötvös József College. In addition, he gained experience as an editor/journalist at the Balkán Expressz column of the Figyelő newspaper (2015-2017) and as an intern within the Press Office of EULEX Kosovo (2019). As Research Fellow of the Hungarian Institute of International Affairs (HIIA) since 2019, his fields of expertise include Southeast Europe (Western Balkans), Euro-Atlantic integration, and security studies. Ferenc also oversees as Program Manager the Western Balkans and Eastern Europe Research Program at HIIA.
Márton Dunai writes about South-East Europe for the Financial Times, including Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Albania, and the territory of the former Yugoslavia. Before he joined the FT, he was a correspondent at Reuters and the Wall Street Journal, and worked for newspapers in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Source of photo used in the cover: Belish / Shutterstock.com