News / Europe

Ex-Communist Nations Nudge Obama Amid Feelings of Neglect

U.S. President Barack Obama celebrates after winning the U.S. presidential election in Chicago, Illinois, November 7, 2012.
U.S. President Barack Obama celebrates after winning the U.S. presidential election in Chicago, Illinois, November 7, 2012.
Stefan Bos
Ex-communist countries of Central and Eastern Europe are closely watching how the re-election of U.S. President Barack Obama will impact them amid uncertainty about their economic future. Hungary's deputy prime minister said there is concern that American foreign policy has shifted away from the former Soviet satellite states.

The Hungarian Airforce Band played American classics as Hungarians, U.S. citizens and others gathered in Budapest for what was dubbed Europe's largest election-night event.

Roughly 1,500 invited people crowded a ballroom and adjacent areas decorated with balloons, life-size pictures of the presidential candidates and a replica of the White House Oval Office in one of the Hungarian capital's most luxurious hotels.

Residents from Hungary, a still young democracy, watched with amazement as large television screens displayed the election results, which eventually showed a clear victory for President Barack Obama.

Though leaders of Hungary and other Central and Eastern European countries later congratulated Mr. Obama on his re-election, celebrations were overshadowed by concerns.

Russia's growing influence

Hungarian Deputy Prime Minister Tibor Navracsics said he hopes the president will focus more on Hungary and other countries that were occupied for decades by Soviet Union forces, amid worries about the growing influence of Russia.

"I think the Central European nations now somehow vanished in the eyes of the American foreign policy," said Navracsics. "The American foreign policy think tanks and analysts think that Central Europe is in a safe and dry place and it is not in danger of a possible Russian influence.  We sometimes think differently."

High on his wish list are Washington-backed American investments as crisis-hit Hungary is forced to negotiate more than $19 billion in financial assistance from the International Monetary Fund and the European Union.

Navracsics said he believes a deal will be signed this year or early 2013, despite tensions between Hungary and the organizations that reportedly demand austerity measures and the end of controversial taxes on banks and mainly foreign companies.

Hungary is among several ex-communist European Union member states demanding closer ties with the United States.

US-EU fatigue

These sentiments are shared by European Parliament President Martin Schulz, who on Wednesday met the wives of political prisoners from autocratically ruled Belarus.

"In the last two-to-three years, from time to time, we felt a certain kind of 'fatigue' in the relationship between the EU and the United States of America," he said.

"The re-election of Barack Obama on the basis of his program is an encouragement for all of us, for more cooperation on the basis [of] our common interests in the fight against worldwide speculation, [the] fight against the problems of climate change and in cooperation for peace, justice and development worldwide," Schulz said.

But Poland's foreign minister is not optimistic that will happen immediately. He told a Polish radio station that President Obama is expected to focus on the Middle East, following his election victory on Tuesday.

Minister Radek Sikorski said in a statement that "traditionally, second term presidents, especially from the Democratic Party, try to do more to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” He was quoted as saying Mr. Obama "has already promised to help establish a Palestinian state."

But the leaders of former Eastern-bloc nations hope President Obama will include their turbulent region, with its newfound freedom, in his busy four-year schedule.

You May Like

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

There is growing uncertainty over whether West’s response to ISIS is adequate More

China Crackdown on Dual Citizens Causes Concern

New policy encourages reporting people who obtain citizenship in another country, but retain Chinese citizenship; move spurs sharp debate More

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

Losing ground to Islamic State fighters, Syria's government says it is ready to cooperate with international community More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid