Home > Uncategorized > László Kövér’s interview: On foreign threat and charge of    anti-Semitism (I)

László Kövér’s interview: On foreign threat and charge of    anti-Semitism (I)

July 10, 2012

Yesterday an incredible interview appeared in Magyar Hírlapa newspaper that often criticizes the government from the right. Fittingly, it was László Kövér, speaker of the house and a high party official in Fidesz who belongs to the right wing of Fidesz, who gave the interview to this particular paper.

The interview covered a lot of topics, and Kövér’s answers to the reporters’ questions tell us a lot about this man and his view of the world. I must say that this interview filled me with increasing anxiety about the direction in which the current government is leading Hungary.

Let us start with his view of the criticism of the Fidesz government from the United States. The occasion was the letter Viktor Orbán received from the fifty American congressmen and women concerning the growing anti-Semitism in Hungary. Kövér complained that “as a member of a small Central European country it is somewhat tiresome to hear all the admonitions by various personalities of some of the great powers.” According to Kövér, this has been going on for twenty-two years, and prior to that “another power’s leaders were reprimanding us, admittedly using different methods, but the mentality is the same.”

One against all

And the United States is more than annoyingly meddlesome. According to Kövér, there was a serious plan in Washington to remove Orbán from his position. “We can believe, for example, Charles Gati, the influential adviser to any given Democratic secretary of state, who in several interviews talked about the realistic possibility of Viktor Orbán’s removal as the result of a coup d’état.”

This accusation is a lie. Charles Gati gave an interview to Heti Válasz on January 17, 2012,  in which the reporter of the weekly asked him in what manner Orbán could possibly be removed. Gati outlined five possibilities: (1) in 2014 Fidesz loses the elections; (2) Fidesz decides to hold early elections in 2012 or 2013 yet the party still loses; (3) the economic situation of the country further deteriorates and a part of the Fidesz leadership insists on the retirement of the Matolcsy-Orbán duo and therefore similarly to the Greek and Italian situation, a conservative, not a populist, government is formed; (4) this new government wanting to increase its legitimacy includes some real economic experts from both right and left, for example, Gordon Bajnai, Péter Ákos Bod or perhaps Lajos Bokros; and (5) civil war breaks out because of the people’s recognition that Fidesz’s promises were empty. But, Gati added, “God save us from such an outcome.” It was this interview that Kövér rewrote and accused both Gati and the United States of preparing a coup d’état against Viktor Orbán. And, by the way, Gati is not a confidential adviser to Hillary Clinton. They have never met.

Another topic, somewhat connected to the above, is Elie Wiesel’s letter to Kövér that I published in its entirety. I also wrote about the Israeli parliament’s decision to withdraw Kövér’s invitation to attend the centennial celebration of Raoul Wallenberg’s birth. As for the Israeli disinvitation, Kövér brushed the whole thing aside as if it were entirely his decision not to attend. One of the reporters suggested that in certain circles Kövér has become the “the Hungarian government’s anti-Semite.”

At this point Kövér gave a long lecture on the general attitude of the ” post-communist left” that must get accustomed to the fact that “in Hungary there are free elections and occasionally the conservative parties [actually " polgári pártok" in the original] have the temerity to win.” And as far as “the holder of the Nobel Peace Prize is concerned,” Kövér “never uttered a sentence saying that he must make space in his soul for hatred,” as Elie Wiesel did.

I don’t have a thorough knowledge of Elie Wiesel’s work, but I found it rather difficult to believe that Wiesel was properly quoted. In this connection I found the following interview with Winfrey Oprah:

Oprah: Did you ever hate your oppressors?

ElieI had anger but never hate. Before the war, I was too busy studying [the Bible and the Cabala] to hate. After the war, I thought “What’s the use?” To hate would be to reduce myself.

Oprah: In your memoir Night, you write of the Hungarian soldiers who drove you from your homes: “It was from that moment that I began to hate them, and that hate is still the only link between us today.”

Elie: I wrote that, but I didn’t hate.

Is this what Kövér is talking about? Maybe, but if it is there is quite a bit of distortion in his description of Wiesel’s own feelings.

And finally, let’s see what Kövér had to say about József Nyirő, a writer about whom we talked quite a bit on this blog Since then more evidence has surfaced that Nyirő was a wholehearted supporter of Hitler and the Third Reich. Although officially he was not a member of the Hungarian Nazi party (Arrow Cross), he was one of the few members of parliament who followed Ferenc Szálasi and his murderous gang all the way to Germany. Even after the war he was active in Arrow Cross emigré circles and even accepted a ministerial position in a “government-in-exile.” Although government officials promoting his “rehabilitation” claim that in his works Nyirő didn’t exhibit any sign of anti-Semitism, as it turned out this claim is also false. Ágnes Huszár, a linguist, analyzed his last novel, Silent Struggle (1944), in which she found plenty of evidence to the contrary.

Yet in this interview Kövér maintained that “everything that is being said of Nyirő is a lie.” If it were true, how could it be possible that even the Ceauşescu regime granted a pension to his widow?–asked Kövér. “From the work of Nyirő the love of mankind radiates and that’s why we honor him and not for anything else.” From the description of Ágnes Huszár, however, Nyirő’s “love” is restricted to Hungarians. Otherwise, he shows plentyof hatred toward the inferior Romanians and the alien Jews against whom the Transylvanian Hungarians are carrying on a deadly struggle for survival.

As we will see in the second part of this summary, Kövér’s own view of the relationship between the Hungarian minorities and the Romanian or Slovak majorities is very similar to Nyirő’s views in Silent Struggle. That is, I think, what attracts Kövér to Nyirő.

To be continued.

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  1. petofi
    July 10, 2012 at 5:33 pm | #1

    Personally, I’m willing to contribute some bucks to getting a book on the role of the Speaker in Parliament and sending it to Kover.
    In the meantime, some pertinent points from http://www.parliament.uk
    and for those officious Fideszers who’ll cry:” what do we care, we’re Hungarians!” I’d like to remind them that the role of Parliamentary speaker originated in England in 1377.

    So, a quote or two:

    “The Speaker is the chief officer and highest authority of the House of Commons and must remain politically impartial at all times.”

    “The Speaker has full authority to make sure MPs follow the rules of the House during debates. This can include:

    directing an MP to withdraw remarks if, for example, they use abusive language
    suspending the sitting of the House due to serious disorder
    suspending MPs who are deliberately disobedient – known as naming
    asking MPs to be quiet so Members can be heard.”

    I see nothing in here about a ‘parliamentary guard’ available for the Speaker
    to keep order. This ‘parliamentary contingent’ is, of course, an innovation of the brilliant Parliamentarian, Laszlo Kover.

    As for Kover’s twisting of the truth…whether quoting Wiesel or referring to Nyiro…well, he wouldn’t be a leading Fideszer if he couldn’t do that, could he?

  2. July 10, 2012 at 9:49 pm | #2

    I don’t think Kover particularly likes Jozsef Nyiro’s works. The fellow got tangled up in the Nyiro cult when he went to Transylvania to promote some lame insignificant ultra-right party against the RMDSZ in an attempt to divide the Hungarian community in Romania. What is really sad is how the petty idiotic politics become national cultural values. Part of this Ponzi scheme in the public education they are building up in Hungary.

  3. Karl Pfeifer
    July 11, 2012 at 2:11 am | #3

    Thank you Eva for this excellent analysis and I am looking forward to read the second part of it.
    Kövér stepped into the political swamp and instead of trying to get out he does everything to go deeper into the brown quagmire.

  4. Odin’s Lost Eye
    July 11, 2012 at 2:31 am | #4

    Petofi
    If I may there is at least 3 folk who are responsible for security in the U.K. Parliament. The House of Commons is looked after by “The Serjeant-at-Arms” and the house of Lords has two. The senior is “The Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod” and his assistant “The Yeoman Usher of the Black Rod”. Their various security duties include the admission and ejection of stranger to the public galleries, the ejection or detention of members of the various houses for ‘outrageous conduct’ etc.

    Of course Mr Speaker has a ‘Cell’ or ‘lock-up’ in which he can lock away naughty M.P.s.. This cell is under the control of Serjeant-at-Arms. I think it is somewhere in the bottom of the Clock Tower (now called Queen Elizabeth’s Tower)

    Oh what fun Kover could have if he had a clock tower with a cell in it. and a Serjeant-at-Arms to look after it!

    The reason for their Lordships having two ‘maties’ to do the security work is simple no Lord worth his salt could be touched by a ‘commoner’ so they have a ‘Gentleman’. No gentleman would soil his hands ‘feeling a collar’ so he has a Yeoman to do it for him.

  5. July 11, 2012 at 2:57 am | #5

    PREDICTION or WARNING!
    What is happening now in Hungary is the final stage before the absolute autocracy and combined ‘fascist- mafia-dictatorship’ in the middle of Europe!! The World must learn, if they will not do any serious steps against the “Orban-Regime’’ in 2014 the FIDESZ will be reelected with the full coalition with the JOBBIK. The US Senate already realized the problem. Everybody must see that we have some ‘’self-proclaimed’’ CEZARS, NAPOLEONS and GODFATHERS, and they have no real rivals at all. VICTATOR ORBAN ‘’Virus” will spreading in Europe!
    The “white trash” in Hungary came in to power and now they have their own Constitution, with the stone-engraved ‘’NYENYI’’ (the written version of the FIDESZ matrix philosophy) and the “We will be no Colony freedom fight” against the imperialists! The democratic World don’t believe, that the country will step again to the same river and we will be isolated again because of some ‘’NAZI-ONALIST’’! That is a psychological question, not a society problem! Like the 2/3 is only a theoretical number, not a majority of the Hungarian citizens and mostly not the free will of the Country! Laszlo Kover immediatelly need a good doctor! He is totally lost his mind and the connection with the reality. Poor Hungary!

  6. petofi
    July 11, 2012 at 4:31 am | #6

    Odin’s Lost Eye :

    Petofi
    If I may there is at least 3 folk who are responsible for security in the U.K. Parliament. The House of Commons is looked after by “The Serjeant-at-Arms” and the house of Lords has two. The senior is “The Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod” and his assistant “The Yeoman Usher of the Black Rod”. Their various security duties include the admission and ejection of stranger to the public galleries, the ejection or detention of members of the various houses for ‘outrageous conduct’ etc.
    Of course Mr Speaker has a ‘Cell’ or ‘lock-up’ in which he can lock away naughty M.P.s.. This cell is under the control of Serjeant-at-Arms. I think it is somewhere in the bottom of the Clock Tower (now called Queen Elizabeth’s Tower)
    Oh what fun Kover could have if he had a clock tower with a cell in it. and a Serjeant-at-Arms to look after it!
    The reason for their Lordships having two ‘maties’ to do the security work is simple no Lord worth his salt could be touched by a ‘commoner’ so they have a ‘Gentleman’. No gentleman would soil his hands ‘feeling a collar’ so he has a Yeoman to do it for him.

    Thanks, Odin.
    It’s interesting how Kover/Orban may yet, in their twisted fashion, point to the English model for their parliamentary gendarmerie.
    Difference is, of course, that English practices are constrained by past usage.

  7. Karl Pfeifer
    July 11, 2012 at 8:25 am | #7

    A brilliant article in Foreign Affairs

    Wrong Way Down the Danube
    How Hungary’s Democratic Backsliding Threatens Europe
    James Kirchick
    July 10, 2012
    http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/137772/james-kirchick/wrong-way-down-the-danube

  8. wolfi
    July 11, 2012 at 8:51 am | #8

    Thanks, Karl (I hope you don’t mind “Das Duzen”) for the link – this article collects all or at least most of the important points against Fidesz. The following made a big impression on me:

    “Liberalism is a word of abuse in Hungary,” she told me “If you are liberal that means that you are a Nazi or you are a Stalinist or whatever ‘liberal’ is.” Heller, whose life was shaped by Europe’s twin totalitarian legacies, sighs as if she’s seen this drama before. “If people feel themselves betrayed by the republic, then they turn to the strong man who will solve all their problems.”

    It’s really a sad story …

  9. Karl Pfeifer
    July 11, 2012 at 1:16 pm | #9

    Kövér could probably use this video about Eli Wiesel
    Syrian Lawyers Union Official Thaer Ahmad Ibrahim: “Elie Wiesel Is the Most Dangerous and Morally Base Human Being in the World”

    http://www.memri.org/clip/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/3488.htm

  10. Gretchen
    July 11, 2012 at 2:52 pm | #10

    “Elie Wiesel Is the Most Dangerous and Morally Base Human Being in the World”: Ibrahim appears to be confusing “deifying” with “respecting”. And it would seem easy enough to check the payments to French movie houses….Perhaps only the statements about Auschwitz and Buchenwald were correct.

  11. Karl Pfeifer
    July 11, 2012 at 4:05 pm | #11

    Gretchen this Syrian fellow makes the impression of not being entirely balanced.

  12. gdfxx
    July 11, 2012 at 6:16 pm | #12

    Karl Pfeifer :
    Gretchen this Syrian fellow makes the impression of not being entirely balanced.

    You are very kind to him…

  13. Odin’s Lost Eye
    July 12, 2012 at 3:31 am | #13

    Petofi Yes the parliamentary gendarmerie is huge and armed. Both the Serjeant-at-Arms and the “The Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod” wear swords and “The Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod” carries a stick.

    Since the start in about 1415 Serjeant-at-Arms was foisted on the Commons by the Monarch (and still is). He/She is the only person who may enter the House of Commons armed –with a sword-

    The position of “The Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod” is different he replaced another Serjeant-at-Arms late in the last or early this century during the beginning of the reforms to the House of Lords. Hum Ho what a mighty force 3 oldish gents with swords and two of them with sticks.

    There are policemen rented from the Metropolitan Police. They are selected for their size and their ‘diplomatic abilities’. I suspect that there is unit of H.M’s foot guards lurking somewhere nearby as well, H.M. Soldiers are not allowed in the palace of Westminster. I often saw a Thames division police boat patrolling the river.

    I think H.M. takes her Yeoman of the Guard to protect her when she visits the palace of Westminster. She also has one M.P. under ‘Lock and Key’ with sentries all around at Buckingham palace. The M.P. is a hostage for H.M. safe return. The M.P. is ‘unlocked’ when she returns to ‘Buck Pal’ safe and sound.

    Parliament is not allowed to recruit it’s own men and certainly cannot arm them. This was one of the causes of the English Civil war.

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