Protesters attempt to disrupt Hungarian leader's speech
BUDAPEST - The Associated Press
Protesters and supporters of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban jostle during commemorations of the 1848 uprising against the Hapsburg rule in Budapest, Hungary, March 15, 2015. AP Photo.Supporters of Prime Minister Viktor Orban jostled with a small group of protesters on Sunday during commemorations of Hungary's 1848 uprising against the Habsburg Empire.
Some 40 protesters holding up posters and jeering Orban and his government - accusing them of limiting civic rights - were confronted by some of the several thousand supporters listening to Orban's speech outside the National Museum.
Security personnel steered the protesters, some blowing whistles and horns, a few hundred yards away from the museum and their heckling was largely drowned out by chants of "Viktor! Viktor!" from government backers.
Orban, who has clashed with the European Union and the United States because of "unorthodox" policies like heavy taxes on foreign companies, crack downs against civic groups and his vision for an "illiberal state," flaunted his contrarian ways.
"Europe is full of questions and Hungary is full of answers," Orban said.
Orban's latest conflict with the EU is over his deal last year with Russian President Vladimir Putin for the construction of new reactors for Hungary's only nuclear power plant. Russia is also giving Hungary a loan of 10 billion euros ($10.5 billion) to help cover costs.
Hungary has kept most of the plant's details secret for 30 years but it was revealed Friday that the EU has concerns about the expanded plant's fuel supply, which would also be provided by Russia.
"We know well that the future is not defined by the curvature of the cucumber but by the bearing of the European man," Orban said, referring to a popular example of the EU's sometimes unnecessary regulations. "We are part of Europe and want to shape its future together with the other nations."
Orban also seemed to address the scuffles at the commemorative event.
"We are either going to be successful together, or not at all," Orban said. "We are going to expand the country or we will all suffocate in petty, provincial shoving."
Orban's Fidesz party won three elections last year but a loss in a recent by-election ended its two-thirds parliamentary majority.