Home > Uncategorized > Charles Gati on the Orbán government and conspiracy theories

Charles Gati on the Orbán government and conspiracy theories

July 15, 2012

This interview with Charles Gati was conducted by Gábor Horváth, deputy editor-in-chief of Népszabadság and appeared in the July 15th issue of the paper.

* * *

László Kövér, speaker of the house, in an interview a few days ago accused you of organizing a coup. It is not a secret that you are closer to 80 than to 75.  Is it possible that you are still actively politicking and spending your days working on the removal of the Hungarian government?

Not at all. In the last two years my most important task was writing and editing a book on Zbigniew Brzezinski, which I just finished. This week I signed a contract with Johns Hopkins University Press, the oldest university press in the United States. I hope that the book will be published by the spring, just in time for Brzezinski’s eighty-fifth birthday. It might be strange but until now no book has appeared in English about this wonderful man and outstanding thinker although as national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter and as a scholar he has played a major role in the formation of U.S. foreign policy for half a century. Otherwise, regardless of age and years I’m already thinking of a new book.

So, you’re not thinking of retirement.

This past year I was department chairman at the university but I was asked to return to teaching in September. I’m still thinking about that offer. After all, I have been teaching for forty-nine years at American universities. I guess a fiftieth is still possible. But I’m also thinking about leaving teaching or even leaving Washington and moving back to New York. That depends on my family.

With all that work do you still have time to organize a coup d’état?

That’s ridiculous. Someone who doesn’t work in the highest circles of the American government or is not a congressman like, for example, Tom Lantos was cannot substantially influence events. It is also foolish to think that I’m being asked to provide information about Hungary. The U.S. Embassy in Budapest has almost 300 employees, many of whom are being paid to inform Washington about the political, economic, social, and cultural situation in Hungary. State Department employees are being inundated with information. Certain influential people outside the government might play a role in shaping American policy as was the situation in Tom Lantos’s lifetime but today that is not the case. György Soros might be a possibility, but as far as I know he isn’t involved with Hungary. If I could name anyone who has an indirect influence on the emerging American picture of Hungary it is Eva S. Balogh, formerly history professor at Yale University, whose English-language blog, Hungarian Spectrum, is exceedingly popular among American State Department officials.

Aren’t you too modest? After all, you also give advice to the U.S. State Department.

I haven’t been employed by the State Department for two decades. My contacts, despite claims from Hungary to the contrary, are disastrously outdated. This year, for example, I was called only once for a consultation. It is true that occasionally my former students ask me questions, mostly about Poland and Hungary, but it doesn’t happen too often.

Then how can you explain your unexpected “popularity” in the Hungarian right?

Every regime that is unable to fulfill the demands of the population needs enemies. Moreover, it is easy to remember my name. It is easy to pronounce, perhaps even László Kövér will manage to do it although his knowledge of English is meager. Lots of luck with the conspiracy theory.

You sound bitter, as if you were sorry that things worked out this way.

Indeed, I wouldn’t have thought that he or Viktor Orbán would one day look upon me as an enemy. We got to know each other at the end of the 1980s at one of the functions of the Századvég Publishing House. Then they called me Karcsi and I called them Laci and Viktor. We were on the same wavelength. They were liberal anti-communists like me. I remained the same person as I was then, but they changed because they discovered an empty space on the right of the political spectrum. I have met Laci many times since. Ten years ago at the party headquarters of Fidesz we argued for two and a half hours. He was practically yelling at me, demanding to know where my anti-communism had gone. I answered that “MSZP naturally has roots in the past but at least they changed in the right direction, not like you.” At the end, he shook my hand saying “well, we did have a good shouting match but come again.” Later, however, he didn’t answer my e-mails. To be sure, he plays a particular role in Fidesz. He tries to gain the votes of the Jobbik camp. Thinking back to 1989, I find this very surprising. Perhaps it is enough to mention that Laci was the editor of the Hungarian translation of my book, Hungary and the Soviet Bloc, published by Századvég. I had especially close relations with Orbán and his family. It was during the first Orbán government that I had breakfast with Orbán and his wife on one of the balconies of the parliament building. Afterward Orbán insisted on driving me himself to the Academy building where I gave a lecture. I heard that his driver was disciplined later for allowing him to drive.

Charles Gati with Viktor Orbán in 1998

Why is the Fidesz leadership so sensitive when it comes to outside criticism?

Yes, this is rather strange. Laci Kövér rudely lectures the Slovaks and the Romanians but he is terribly offended by Hillary Clinton’s polite, balanced although unquestionably also critical letter to Orbán. As if democracy was in the blood of the Hungarians. As if during our history it was part of our being. That might be the case in intellectual terms but certainly not in the sphere of political institutions. After all, this was the situation in the whole region with the possible exception of Czechoslovakia where between the two world wars there was an attempt to follow a democratic model. Laci and his comrades should welcome the assistance offered by the leading democratic countries. After all, democracy is a process which is nowhere perfect. It would be useful to admit past mistakes but Laci, captivated by the lure of power, believes that he knows everything. This is childish. They will pay for that attitude because the country cannot stand alone. The European People’s Party doesn’t criticize them openly yet, but what will happen if in the fall Angela Merkel and the exceedingly cautious Donald Tusk say something? Both of them know full well what’s going on in Hungary and I suppose that privately they have already rebuked Orbán. If they do that publicly the effect of such a reprimand will be immeasurable. The question of where Hungary wants to belong is slowly becoming a matter of civilizational choice.

Was there a time when the West thought it would be useful to remove Orbán from his position?

Never. Moreover, it cannot be done from the outside. What means do they have at their disposal? People shouldn’t judge western governments on the basis of films coming from Hollywood. Moreover—and I do not intend this as an insult—Hungary simply doesn’t attract that kind of high-level attention. It would be an error to mistake the press, for example the article about Hungary in Foreign Affairs this week, with the potentials and the intentions of governments. Western governments are in part very cautious and in part busy with entirely different matters. For example, with the Near East, with the possible developments after the withdrawal from Afghanistan, or with the transformation of U.S.-Chinese relations initiated by Hillary Clinton. Hungary is not in the top twenty-five most important topics, but the Hungarian right has difficulty coping with even the little attention Budapest receives. Of course, I’m not happy when I read in Foreign Affairs that Hungary is “a boil on Europe’s body politic which, if allowed to spread, might cause greater problems.”  Instead of creating theories about non-existent coup d’états they should realize that without the loan from the IMF and the EU Hungary’s economic situation is untenable and in the case of a serious economic meltdown not only will Economic Minister György Matolcsy most likely have to leave but perhaps even the prime minister. This wouldn’t be the result of French, German or American foreign intrigue but the consequence of internal developments. From the outside no one can replace Orbán. It can be done only from the inside. In my interview that appeared in Heti Válasz in January I outlined five possible scenarios: (1) Fidesz loses the elections in 2014; (2) they hold elections in 2012 or 2013 and they lose; (3) with the worsening of the economic situation the inner circles of Fidesz replace the Matolcsy-Orbán duo with a conservative government that remains in power but without the two of them; (4) this conservative government, in order to bolster its legitimacy, asks credible personages from both right and left, for example, Gordon Bajnai, Péter Ákos Bod, György Surányi and Lajos Bokros, to join the cabinet; and (5) if Fidesz’s new election law closes the door to free elections it is even possible that a civil war might break out. At the same time I added that God should save us from the last possibility. I may add here, for the sake of my former friend Laci Kövér, that I’m not the confidant of all prevailing Democratic secretaries of state. For example, I have never even met Hillary Clinton. Too bad that Kövér didn’t have the chance to study at a western university where he could have learned something about the democratic ways of thinking. Otherwise he wouldn’t imagine me hiding in a watchman’s hut and sewing secret messages into the skin of a ground squirrel somewhere near of the border—something László Rajk was accused of.

Like you, Ambassador György Szapáry spent decades in Washington. You know and understand each other. Couldn’t he mediate?

Unfortunately not. It turned out that this government feeds Szapáry’s worst instincts. I learned, and even discussed the matter with him subsequently, that he had informed Budapest that I was planning to attack the Hungarian government in a paid ad in The New York Times. One should first ask how on earth I would have $50,000 for that particular enterprise. I also managed to learn who his informer was. The Hungarian Embassy in Washington today hasn’t had such a bad reputation since the end of the Kádár regime. The officials of Congress and academic colleagues keep asking me why the Hungarian diplomats go to them for consultation when they don’t listen to what they are being told. Just the opposite, they regularly lecture the Americans. I’m really sorry that Szapáry, such a civilized and educated man, feels compelled to follow such a course. It is an open secret that he is practically in exile because he lost the fight with Matolcsy over the economic policy of the administration.

OK, tell me the truth. Would it be worth spending $50,000 for a critical ad?

You must be joking. I never paid to have anything published. They pay me. Last year I wrote an article in the Herald Tribune for which I received $250.

You, together with Mark Palmer, former ambassador to Hungary, and Miklós Haraszti, suggested restarting the Hungarian broadcast of Radio Free Europe. Hungarians really cannot learn the news?

The picture is not black and white. The readers of Népszabadság, HVG, and a few Internet newspapers are well informed. At the same time the government through the Media Authority and the oligarchs does its best to make the situation of the free press close to impossible. Over and above the sad situation of Klubrádió or Népszava the one-sided reporting of MTI is also worrisome. Unfortunately, not even Népszabadság has money for a Washington correspondent although a few years ago four or five Hungarian journalists worked here. In a significant portion of the country people must rely on MTV, whose news coverage is patently biased. Thus the Hungarian media is neither “free” nor “not free” but is somewhere in between. Moreover, it is heading in the wrong direction. This situation would not be altered even if the Hungarian program of Radio Free Europe was renewed.

Can you get away from politics at least within the family circle?

Charles Gati with his ninth grandchild in Washington

Having such a big family is a real pleasure. From my two marriages I have five children, nine grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. Among the grandchildren the youngest is a pure joy because she was born in Washington. So, we can pamper her. Twice a year we all get together, all twenty-two of us. During the summer on the North Carolina coast. During the winter at our place. In the summer during the day everybody does his or her thing but we always get together for dinner. On such occasions I try to come up with a good topic for table conversation. This year I have been thinking about marriage between gays. I never tell them my own opinion ahead of time.

As a young man in Budapest you were a referee at water polo matches and you are still deeply interested in the sport. The Olympic Games are coming. Are you going to watch them?

I wouldn’t miss them for anything. Dénes Kemény should be a model for Hungarian politicians. Unfortunately, I don’t know him personally, but as far as I know he is a modest, hardworking man who always wants to win but doesn’t look upon his opponents as enemies. And if he loses he looks for the fault in himself and not in others. If I could be there I would yell from the grandstand: “Hajrá, Kemény, hajrá magyarok!”

Translated by Eva S. Balogh

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  1. Minusio
    July 15, 2012 at 6:28 pm | #1

    Thank you, Éva. This was heartwarming and intelligent reading, although I don’t see the likelyhood of any of his five scenarios being followed within the foreseeable future. Also the article in Foreign Affairs Gati mentioned was worth reading.

    In addition, it was good to hear that your blog is also appreciated at the State Department. Rightly so!

  2. gyere-legyunk-tisztessegesek
    July 15, 2012 at 6:54 pm | #2

    Our friends on the right wants to hear that we understand their pain.
    The liberals must be rational, and patriotic, and totally attentive to the massive pain, the many patriots suffered under Kadar.
    The pain inflicted by Orban is not registering in their planet.
    Kadar remains a nasty dictator, while Orban is a great democrat.
    We have to find an art of communication to end this misunderstanding.
    The supporters of Orban accuse Gati but they are not listening to his logic.
    We can emphasize that we are not making the same mistake. We are listening to every logical policy of the right, but let us move away together from the Horthy worship and media slavery.

  3. petofi
    July 15, 2012 at 8:31 pm | #3

    gyere-legyunk-tisztessegesek :
    Our friends on the right wants to hear that we understand their pain.
    The liberals must be rational, and patriotic, and totally attentive to the massive pain, the many patriots suffered under Kadar.
    The pain inflicted by Orban is not registering in their planet.
    Kadar remains a nasty dictator, while Orban is a great democrat.
    We have to find an art of communication to end this misunderstanding.
    The supporters of Orban accuse Gati but they are not listening to his logic.
    We can emphasize that we are not making the same mistake. We are listening to every logical policy of the right, but let us move away together from the Horthy worship and media slavery.

    Unless your offering is cynical, you’re wearing pink-tinted glasses!
    You’re asking for ‘logic’ and ‘understanding’ in a country where,
    a) Jobbik members kick a police-dog and nothing is done to arrest them;

    b) where a lawyer is assaulted in a courthouse and the police report that
    ‘he got sick’;

    c) where the rule of law no longer applies as witness the court lunacy regarding Klub radio;

    d) where a country calls itself ‘Christian’, thereby immediately relegating
    members of all other religions to second-class status…etc.etc

    Presently, not much differentiates the Hungary of today from the Germany of the 1930′s…except that the shirts are black and not brown…

  4. gyere-legyunk-tisztessegesek
    July 15, 2012 at 9:20 pm | #4

    Petofi, you are right, but it is better to act without anger.

    I have to continue to honor and love my rightwing friends who are decent people.

    The task is to open their eyes, and turn them into allies against the extreme right.

  5. July 15, 2012 at 9:21 pm | #5

    gyere-legyunk-tisztessegesek :
    We are listening to every logical policy of the right

    Do you have anything in mind? Because I’m wrecking my brain and I can’t really find any right now …

    Great article! I like professor Gati very much! I wish him good health to be an example of sanity for a long time to come. I’m also very pleased to read that Hungarian Spectrum is exceedingly popular among American State Department officials. Are you reading me, Hillary? I know, your’re reading the articles (not the comments). Like I read the Playboy … Whoever you are, thank you for paying attention and please keep reading this blog.

  6. petofi
    July 15, 2012 at 10:01 pm | #6

    I missed a point above: Hungary, a country where the foremost war criminal is found in Budapest, and the police, reportedly, have been studying his file for 11 months.
    But let us remember: there are no nazis in Hungary….

  7. Odin’s Lost Eye
    July 16, 2012 at 4:41 am | #7

    “gyere-legyunk-tisztessegesek” I live in Hungary but I am not and never can be a Hungarian as many of their attitudes and ideas run totally contrary to my ‘Englishness’. I find them as a French General said “Les Hongoise son les enfant charmaint” (pardon my French spelling) which when translated correctly means that ‘the Hungarian people are adorable children’.

    I think that part of the problem for Fidesz was that during its formative period its ‘founding fathers’ had only two possible models to base their party structures on. One of these models was that of the ‘Communist Government’ under which they lived and the other was that of the Horthy period’ of the 1930s. One of them Orban Viktor went abroad for a time but I think he found the models he found in his Collage (Pembroke) and in the University (Oxford) too loose and difficult to understand as they require a knowledge of their history, the why and wherefore of how they came to be. They were and still are fluid and still developing. Nothing is cast in tablets of bronze so there is nothing really tangible they can bring back. In addition there are so many different working models all of which work, but all of which have the same or similar net effect.

    These models range from the softest type where there is no written constitution just a long series of acts and modifications to those acts going back 300 to 500 years. to a model where all is in tablets of stone and has large and powerful system of checks and balances. In this type of political system there is still ‘in-fighting’ going on to determine which part of the whole shall come out on top.

    You also wrote ** “Kadar remains a nasty dictator, while Orban is a great democrat. We have to find an art of communication to end this misunderstanding” **.
    Within the basic model of Government that Fidesz uses and has become a sort of ‘Gospel’ or ‘Holy Writ’ the idea of a free democratic vote was well entrenched. But the fact that the people turned against Fidesz and voted them out of office was like a very ‘hard kick in the pants’. They therefore decided that after their re-election they would never lose an election again. This is totally in keeping with both of the models of government they know. Their model of government is as I have said almost ‘Holy Writ’. That is why they proselytize their ideas they become angry when others reject them.
    Remember ‘the Hungarian people are adorable children’! and as such they need strict rules to live by. Nanny is always right! I hope they will grow up soon.

  8. Some1
    July 16, 2012 at 9:41 am | #8

    I think that Orban truly has a single plan and every policy put in to place is there to support this one, to stay in power forever. Professor Gati’s quotes (factual quotes from Orban) are there to prove this point. Orban is not there to look out for Hungary and for Hungarians in general but to embed itself. Why is this so important to him? Because of the great economical gains, and because his low self-esteem. There are only a handful of people who I came across who are so desperate to prove their power as Orban is, through lies, secret handshakes, giving out gifts, and “punishments”. He is like a child who cannot walk away from the playground fight without having the last kick and the last word and keeps running back, telling to everyone that he won because the other boy has gushes on his feet. I could care less about him personally but unfortunately this unbalanced individual is running a country and he has found great allies in people who has no shame in order to fill their own pockets.

  9. Trichet
    July 16, 2012 at 10:41 am | #9

    Petőfi: “b) where a lawyer is assaulted in a courthouse and the police report that
    ‘he got sick’;”

    I agree with your other points, but I’d be careful about Peter Dániel. He has been a laughing stock showing psychotic symptoms for a while and various sources suggest that he made up the issue and he was the one provoking the otherwise not very likable Gój motorists.

  10. July 16, 2012 at 10:51 am | #10

    Trichet :
    Petőfi: “b) where a lawyer is assaulted in a courthouse and the police report that
    ‘he got sick’;”
    I agree with your other points, but I’d be careful about Peter Dániel. He has been a laughing stock showing psychotic symptoms for a while and various sources suggest that he made up the issue and he was the one provoking the otherwise not very likable Gój motorists.

    Various sources? He? Daniel is a brave man who covered the Horthy statue with red paint. That’s why the gay riders threatened him but they couldn’t do better then a pussy jab in the courthouse.

  11. July 16, 2012 at 10:53 am | #11

    Charles Gati, in the past has seen more clearly some of the problems in Eastern Europe. In 1990 “Although the intoxication of the revolutions of 1989 has been followed by painful realizations of the pervasive legacy of the communist period (attitudes, bureaucracy),” and in 1977 “a third tendency may be observed in the international relations of the communist movement – the prospective export of what has come to be known as “Eurocommunism” from West to East, signifying a historic shift in the direction of influence and initiative within world communism.”….

    Considering his “options” for changes in Hungary, they are not realistic, my question is, if that is how he sees Hungary’s future, how realistic are his other current comments.

    BTW,I have better understanding now for the some of the causes of the great successes in US foreign policy. :-)

  12. petofi
    July 16, 2012 at 11:20 am | #12

    Trichet :
    Petőfi: “b) where a lawyer is assaulted in a courthouse and the police report that
    ‘he got sick’;”
    I agree with your other points, but I’d be careful about Peter Dániel. He has been a laughing stock showing psychotic symptoms for a while and various sources suggest that he made up the issue and he was the one provoking the otherwise not very likable Gój motorists.

    Perhaps–I know nothing about him. But the police report seemed to be all of a piece with
    what I did see on tv during the weekend where a skinhead kicked a police dog in the head yet there was no move to arrest him. If there is such a thing as the police giving the benefit
    of the doubt to someone….it’s all going to right-wingers.

    Speaking about the application of Law…I don’t think I’ve ever heard a financial penalty
    for a political demonstration such as the LMP’ers got. Is there such a thing in Britain or Canada? I think not. Even if there was, it certainly wouldn’t near the magnitude of the
    penalties that were given here.

  13. July 16, 2012 at 11:24 am | #13

    The daily Kovach:

    1. A random, irrelevant Google quote.
    2. Ex cathedra excrement tauri.
    3. A lame, offensive sounding joke, that nobody understands.

  14. Trichet
    July 16, 2012 at 12:59 pm | #14

    Mutt: “That’s why the gay riders threatened him but they couldn’t do better then a pussy jab in the courthouse.”

    If they really wanted to hurt him they’d do better then a pussy jab at the courthouse. He serves the right better as a laughing stock than a victim. Btw, brave man? For pouring red paint on a statue? Hmm, that’s an interesting choice of a hero. Then I guess who exhumed Kádár’s body should also be held in high regard, right? No, both are simple vandalism. Teenagers and right wing extremists usually do that.

    Petofi: As I said, I fully agree with you on the other points.

  15. wolfi
    July 16, 2012 at 1:06 pm | #15

    Mutt Damon :
    The daily Kovach:

    God forbid! Kovach every day seems undigestible, once a week is ok …

    Re his (usually undocumented ) quotes there’s a saying in German:

    “Aus dem Zusammenhang gerissen und falsch zitiert …”

  16. July 16, 2012 at 1:10 pm | #16

    Of course. They are not just bigmouthed ultra-right bozos who intentionally chose their name to be antisemitic. To me they look like the Village People from the 70s.

    Well I guess one man’s vandal is the other’s hero.

  17. July 16, 2012 at 2:03 pm | #17

    Meanwhile on Planet Hungary …

    The constitutional court (supreme court) found the forced retirement of 300 judges at age 62 unconstitutional. It was a narrow vote: 7 out of the 15 judges found it OK to dismiss the 300+ judges.

    Remember last year when the FIDESZ parliament diluted the constitutional court and added 5 FIDESZ warriors (4 new one replacement). The following were the 5 new judges: Egon Dienes-Oehm, István Balsai, Béla Pokol, Péter Szalay, Mária Szívós. Professor Balogh had a serious of posts introducing them. Guess how did they vote? All five supported the dismissal of the 300 judges.

    I hope the Google cache keeps their name and their shame available for a long time.

  18. Some1
    July 16, 2012 at 2:09 pm | #18

    Mutt Damon :
    Of course. They are not just bigmouthed ultra-right bozos who intentionally chose their name to be antisemitic. To me they look like the Village People from the 70s.
    Well I guess one man’s vandal is the other’s hero.

    That is exactly what I thought. They are so outdated, that is not even funny. Actually I feel sorry for them but I look at them as I look at Orban or Kovach for that matter. they try to find a spot where they are relevant, a void that nobody fills.

  19. Some1
    July 16, 2012 at 2:14 pm | #19

    Mutt Damon :
    Meanwhile on Planet Hungary …
    The constitutional court (supreme court) found the forced retirement of 300 judges at age 62 unconstitutional. It was a narrow vote: 7 out of the 15 judges found it OK to dismiss the 300+ judges.
    Remember last year when the FIDESZ parliament diluted the constitutional court and added 5 FIDESZ warriors (4 new one replacement). The following were the 5 new judges: Egon Dienes-Oehm, István Balsai, Béla Pokol, Péter Szalay, Mária Szívós. Professor Balogh had a serious of posts introducing them. Guess how did they vote? All five supported the dismissal of the 300 judges.
    I hope the Google cache keeps their name and their shame available for a long time.

    They want to keep their jobs of course, not to fulfill what their job requires. How long would it be before they dismiss them if they do not fulfill what they are hired to do?

  20. July 16, 2012 at 2:54 pm | #20

    Wolfi: Just for you: “http://www.foreignaffairs.com/author/charles-gati”

  21. July 16, 2012 at 3:08 pm | #21

    Mutt Damon :

    Meanwhile on Planet Hungary …

    The constitutional court (supreme court) found the forced retirement of 300 judges at age 62 unconstitutional. It was a narrow vote: 7 out of the 15 judges found it OK to dismiss the 300+ judges.

    Since then we also know that it doesn’t really matter what the Constitutional Court said. Orbán is intent on getting rid of the judges. He already announced that except some formal changes everything will remain the same.

  22. wolfi
    July 16, 2012 at 3:43 pm | #22
  23. Some1
    July 16, 2012 at 4:12 pm | #23

    Eva S. Balogh :

    Mutt Damon :
    Meanwhile on Planet Hungary …
    The constitutional court (supreme court) found the forced retirement of 300 judges at age 62 unconstitutional. It was a narrow vote: 7 out of the 15 judges found it OK to dismiss the 300+ judges.

    Since then we also know that it doesn’t really matter what the Constitutional Court said. Orbán is intent on getting rid of the judges. He already announced that except some formal changes everything will remain the same.

    No surprises there. Law for this so called “lawyer” is something that is only at use when supports him, otherwise is something that should be disregarded. He never misses an opportunity to bark for any right he supposedly deserves, but surely sweeps them under the rug if it is not aligned with his interest at the moment.

  24. July 16, 2012 at 4:25 pm | #24

    Eva S. Balogh :
    Since then we also know that it doesn’t really matter what the Constitutional Court said. Orbán is intent on getting rid of the judges. He already announced that except some formal changes everything will remain the same.

    “Hungary is a country, where the decisions of the constitutional court are mandatory for all. No excuses, no backdoors – this is one of the iron rules of the Hungarian democracy!”

    - Viktor Orban, June 29, 2007

    “Magyarország olyan ország, ahol az Alkotmánybíróság döntései mindenkire kötelezőek. Nincs kibúvó, kiskapu, ez a magyar demokrácia egyik vastörvénye.”

    http://orbanviktor.hu/interju/kuzdeni_akkor_kell_ha_van_ertelme

  25. CharlieH
    July 16, 2012 at 4:50 pm | #25

    Győr Calling!

    “…..Every regime that is unable to fulfil the demands of the population needs enemies…..”

    I think Charles Gati has hit on the reason for the increasing paranoia of Orban’s government. I think the disintegration will increase as Matolcsy’s ‘dream’ financials hit the reality buffer too.

    Enemies from within.

    I was in Tesco’s in Győr yesterday and found the customers’ bread-slicing machine out of order – and when idle ‘Kati’ refused to slice it out the back when politely asked – and as did a second assistant – I insisted on talking to the manager. While my partner translated the ‘conference discussion’ of two baking assistants and senior manager, I decided to approach yet another bakery worker and he agreed to slice my bread. I was advised while my bread was being sliced that ‘this is not ‘British culture’ – this is ‘Hungarian Culture’- “if we do it for you we have to do it for everybody” – even as my bread was being sliced the Manager decided that “Cut his bread – he is a troublemaker!” (“Csinaljatok neki, mert csak hepciaskodik itt”)

    Yes! Cut everyone’s bread if the machine is broken! It’s called the art of retail! If the customer’s machine isn’t working then you offer – with a smile preferably – to cut it out the back! By the time the ‘conference’ was over they could have sliced tens of loaves.

    I later engaged that manger in a chat when he was less flustered – (he still disliked me with a vengeance!) – he said “everyone is poor; everyone is frustrated – there is so much corruption here – and no one can live on their pay.”

    “Even me as a manager on a manager’s pay cannot make ends meet – I’m off to Munich next month for a better paid job.”

    I suggested that part of the problem might be the Hungarians themselves? Why did they not just cut people’s bread for them? Make life a little easier for fellow Hungarians in these circumstances? I think I was on a loser here, but I tried.

    I hope he learns to be more customer-focussed – and customer friendly. He will need to be in Germany.

    So paranoia and bad moods all over Hungary! Even a surprising awareness of the corruption.

    Regards

    Charlie

  26. July 16, 2012 at 6:21 pm | #26

    wolfi :

    The decision of the Curia is already in the German news:

    http://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/ungarisches-verfassungsgericht-stoppt-richterpensionierung-a-844728.html

    You mean the Constitutional Court. And very soon Spiegel will also know that Orbán doesn’t give a damn. He is not giving up his original plan. He will find the way.

  27. Some1
    July 16, 2012 at 11:06 pm | #27

    Eva S. Balogh :
    lAnd very soon Spiegel will also know that Orbán doesn’t give a damn. He is not giving up his original plan. He will find the way.

    I think at this point almost everyone laughs at the EU. They try to play nice, while Orban pulls a fast one. Actually I start to be on Orban side in this game, as I find it funny. I wonder myself how long can he play wit the EU before they will really do something.
    Does anyone form the EU actually gives any attention what Orban says to Hungarians about the EU and about the USA? To tell you the truth at this point, the fans of Orban (and there are still plenty) think that Orban is right, since if he would not be right the EU would of shot down this game, but he always teaches the USA and the EU a lesson, while giving out sallers on his way.

  28. enufff
    July 17, 2012 at 1:13 am | #28

    CharlieH :

    “Even me as a manager on a manager’s pay cannot make ends meet – I’m off to Munich next month for a better paid job.”
    I suggested that part of the problem might be the Hungarians themselves? Why did they not just cut people’s bread for them? Make life a little easier for fellow Hungarians in these circumstances? I think I was on a loser here, but I tried.

    From a friend, I learned that she has asked a relative who works in one of French Hypermarket to get her some toys for her daughter at a much lower price illegally.
    We’re not talking about employee’s discount here ; but manipulation of the inventory to achieve this. Then we heard there are managers who steal.. It just seems normal here to do this.
    Including a relative that works in the dairy factory that brings home tons of dairy products without paying… and they wonder why their company could not survive.

  29. gdfxx
    July 17, 2012 at 10:33 am | #29

    enuff:”From a friend, I learned that she has asked a relative who works in one of French Hypermarket to get her some toys for her daughter at a much lower price illegally.
    We’re not talking about employee’s discount here ; but manipulation of the inventory to achieve this. Then we heard there are managers who steal.. It just seems normal here to do this.
    Including a relative that works in the dairy factory that brings home tons of dairy products without paying… and they wonder why their company could not survive.”

    Just like the good old days. Except that then it was all “ours”, now it’s the shareholders’. But old habits are hard to kill.

    As Vaclav Havel said: it’s easy to make fish soup out of an aquarium, the reverse is much, much harder.

  30. An
    July 17, 2012 at 10:50 am | #30

    gdfxx, enuff: Employee theft is a problem everywhere. At least in 2009, US stores lost more to employee theft than to shoplifting.

    http://consumerist.com/2009/11/store-theft-in-the-us-jumped-88-last-year.html

    Well, the article is from 2009, but I’m sure it didn’t get any better.

  31. wolfi
    July 17, 2012 at 11:07 am | #31

    Back to Charles Gati:

    Pol.hu today linked to this article and as usual some Fidesz freak brought those allegations re disposing of Orbán – Gati himself answered clearly …

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