As I noted in Morning Insurrection last week, I will be spending 18 days touring Central Europe and the Balkans. During our stop in Budapest, Hungary, motorcades are rolling down our street continuously and Israeli flags are flying high.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in town, and he is now making news with a rather stark assessment about his country’s relationship with the European Union.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu launched a blistering attack against the European Union during a closed-session meeting Wednesday morning in the Hungarian capital of Budapest, telling the premiers of Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia that the EU’s behavior toward Israel is crazy.

Although the meeting had been behind closed doors, Netanyahu’s remarks were accidentally transmitted to the headphones distributed among reporters, though his people discovered the transmission and shut it down within a few minutes.

“The European Union is the only association of countries in the world that conditions the relations with Israel, that produces technology and every area, on political conditions. The only ones! Nobody does it,” Netanyahu said.

“It’s crazy. It’s actually crazy,” he continued, referring to the EU’s insistence to condition the EU-Association Agreement on certain terms related to the peace process. “It’s not about my interest. I’m talking about Europe’s interest.

The hot mic dialog can be found in this video:

Netanyahu is asking the Central European leaders (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia) to help expedite the EU Association Agreement with Israel. These four nations will act as a bloc with the European Union. Netanyahu specifically asked the V4 to help persuade the rest of the European Union to stop undermining his nation.

“I think Europe has to decide if it wants to live and thrive or if it wants to shrivel and disappear,” he said. “I am not very politically correct. I know that’s a shock to some of you. It’s a joke. But the truth is the truth – both about Europe’s security and Europe’s economic future. Both of these concerns mandate a different policy toward Israel.”

…“I think that if I can suggest that what comes out of this meeting is your ability perhaps to communicate to your colleagues in other parts of Europe: Help Europe … don’t undermine the one western country that defends European values and European interests and prevents another mass migration to Europe,” added Netanyahu.

“So stop attacking Israel. Start supporting Israel … start supporting European economies by doing what the Americans, the Chinese and the Indians are doing,” he said, referring to increasing technological cooperation.

Additionally, during the two day talks, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban acknowledged Hungary’s “sin” in not protecting the country’s Jews during World War II, hoping to mend fences over his recent praise for Hungary’s wartime leader and Hitler ally Miklos Horthy.

“We are aware of the fact that we have quite a difficult chapter of history behind us. And I wanted to make it very clear to him that the Government of Hungary, in a previous period, committed a mistake, even committed a sin, when it did not protect the Jewish citizens of Hungary,” Orban said. “I want to make it clear that it is our belief that every single Hungarian government has the obligation to protect and defend all of its citizens, regardless of their birth and origins.”

The leaders of the these four nations have a coalition among themselves called the the Visegrad Four (V4). The V4’s goal is to further their European integration, as well as advancing military, economic, and energy cooperation with one another. The name of the group is derived from a meeting of the Bohemian (Czech), Polish, and Hungarian rulers in Visegrád in 1335.

Meanwhile, no matter where I go in the world, I can’t escape the “Trump-Putin Collusion” narrative. I spotted this outside a cafe in Budapest:

Eastman Photograph