László Sólyom’s newest assessment of the Hungarian political situation

Only the other day I was complaining about an annoying habit of liberal journalists:  they gush over government criticisms coming from earlier supporters of Fidesz. They triumphantly quote these people by way of saying: “You see, even X or Y thinks that there is something very wrong with Viktor Orbán’s revolution at the ballot box. We have been saying the same thing for two years but now maybe Orbán will listen to his pal X or Y.”

First of all, they are wrong. Orbán will not listen to his old pals. He will look upon them as enemies to destroy. Second, the gushing reporters in their enthusiasm completely forget what these “converts” said or did in the past. Or are doing in the present, for that matter.

This happens time and again. Not long ago István G. Pálfy, whose “fame” or perhaps better put “notoriety” derived from his less than illustrious role in the “media war”of 1993-1994, was hailed as a changed man who had discovered the blessings of the free press. All that because he wrote a couple of self-critical articles in ÉS.

I myself mentioned the case of Sándor Demján, one of Orbán’s favorite “oligarchs,” who as a hard-nosed businessman at last discovered that his favorite government’s “unorthodox” economic policies are ruinous even for Hungarian businessmen whom Orbán favors against foreigners. Demján’s one-hour speech was studded with incomprehensible sentences like  “there is no such thing as unorthodox economic policy. . . . On the contrary, today’s economic policy is the most orthodox.” Did anyone inquire what this means? No one.

My third example is László Sólyom, the first chief justice of the Constitutional Court and president of the republic between 2005 and 2010. He was a disaster of a president and if you think that I’m too biased here is what American officials said about him in a cable sent to Washington in late 2008 entitled “President Sólyom’s injudicious activism.” The author of the cable reported that his supporters call Sólyom “principled” while his critics refer to him as “pedantic.” The Americans were no fans: “his minimal experience in economics and international affairs [is] combined with his personal animus toward the Prime Minister [Ferenc Gyurcsány].” In addition, he is incapable of political compromise. He was described as “both myopic and politically tone-deaf.”

The politically tone-deaf politician, because after all the president of the republic is a politician, has decided since his forced retirement from the presidency to “raise his voice” about twice a year. The last time was in October 2011 when he announced that “this regime is not constitutional.” At that time I castigated Sólyom for delivering his verdict in front of a group of high school teachers instead of using his considerable international connections and calling the attention of the world to the deteriorating Hungarian situation. In that post which, upon rereading, I consider one of my better ones, I severely criticized the man. Nothing has happened since then that made me change my mind.

This time Sólyom “raised his voice” in the tiny village of Aszófő (population 401). Why  Aszófő? Gábor Török, the political scientist known for usually not taking a stance, became a member of the town council half a year after his family moved there. Török’s position on the town council has its benefits. Earlier he managed to get Foreign Minister János Martonyi to deliver a speech on Hungarian foreign policy in the village, and this year László Sólyom accepted his invitation. As is clear, Török has friends in high places. Thanks to the good relationship between the two men, we are able to read Sólyom’s whole speech on Török’s blog.

László Sólyom and Gábor Török in Aszófő
Népszabadság — Photo by Simon Móricz

Sólyom, as his wont, tries to be balanced. He sees wrong on both sides. “On the one hand, there is the underrating of the intelligence of the population that derives from the aggressive governmental steps taken without any explanation, and, on the other, there is the loud noise in the defense of democracy that is coming from the discredited opposition.” Surely, the two are not of the same weight, but Sólyom is trying. However, in the latter part of the speech the comparison between the sins of the government and the sins of the noisy opposition in defense of democracy simply doesn’t hold up, as it shouldn’t. After all, the government has power while the noisy opposition doesn’t. Moreover, can’t a discredited opposition complain about the lack of democracy? Even loudly? Or, are they not entitled to do so, as we often hear from members of the current government?

Sólyom continues in a manner that only seems balanced on the surface. Yes, Hungarians are right in being offended by unfair criticism coming from abroad. The debate in the European Parliament on the Hungarian situation was appalling and disillusioning and therefore the protests at the Peace Walk were understandable. And now comes the “however”: “politics mustn’t stay at the level of sentiments and conspiratorial theories.” There are well founded and objective criticisms that should be listened to instead of considering the critics enemies or even “counterrevolutionaries, a word we haven’t heard in this country for a good twenty years.” The reference here is to Viktor Orbán’s calling Máté Szabó, the ombudsman, a counterrevolutionary because Szabó found the law on public education unconstitutional.

Another balancing act follows. “Stealth fascism and dictatorship? Nothing of the sort. The greater part of the criticism of the Basic Laws–like marriage between a man and a woman, the defense of the embryo, the mention of God–is specious. On the other hand, there are still serious problems,” and here Sólyom mentions the criticism of the Venice Commission and the European Court of Human Rights which he considers well founded and very serious. Surely, no one is worried about stealth fascism and dictatorship because of the mention of marriage between a man and a woman in the constitution. But then why bring it up?

While a few lines earlier Sólyom assured his audience that there is no danger of inching toward dictatorship, half way through his speech he talks about “the loss of constitutional culture in the legislature and in the government. The two-thirds majority knows no limits. It feels entitled to do anything. The constitution no longer sets limits to politics but has become the instrument of politics…. They incorporate obviously unconstitutional paragraphs into the constitution in order to avoid a constitutional challenge to them.” But if this is the case, how can we believe Sólyom’s claim that there is no danger of stealth dictatorship?

And now we come to perhaps the most objectionable part of Sólyom’s speech which shows his hopeless misunderstanding of the goals of the Orbán government. Sólyom assumes that the large majority of Hungarians agree with Viktor Orbán’s stated goals: more jobs, a growing economy, high international reputation of the country, the unity of the whole Hungarian nation. The majority must agree on these issues because otherwise they wouldn’t have punished the former government as badly as they did at the 2010 elections. So, the problem is not with the stated goals but with “the style of their execution.” He quotes Comte de Buffon’s famous saying, “the style is the man himself” (“Le style c’est l’homme même“) and adds, in my opinion mistakenly, that “the style is the regime itself.” No, Mr. Sólyom, the problem with this regime is not its style. The problem is the regime itself.

The speech is also full of internal contradictions. Although he just told us that the style is the regime itself and that its goals are admirable, a paragraph later he states that “beyond cementing its political and economic power and introducing centralization the most we can notice is momentary tactical goals.” So, where are those long-terms goals that have the support of the majority of the population? Sólyom just said that the only goal seems to be power grabbing, preferably for decades.

I can only suggest to László Sólyom to give up this phony balancing act. Let’s not beat around the bush. Orbán’s regime is leading the country into something that no longer can be called democracy. Spelling out all the signs of stealth dictatorship while defending Viktor Orbán’s regime can only further discredit “the politically tone deaf” former president of Hungary.

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44 comments

  1. It all sounds horribly ‘Hungarian’.

    I sometimes wonder if this country, government or opposition, could fight their way out of the proverbial wet paper bag.

    There are times when I read this sort of account and I feel ‘is it really worth it?’. After all, it’s only a tiny, insignificant country, with a loony and incompetent government. If I hadn’t married a Hungarian and bought a place here, would I care – would I even know?

    And this isn’t the despondency of being 1,000 miles away – I’m actually writing this in Hungary!

  2. Solyom is a failed product of the Kadar era.
    A hopeless creation. Educated to be a liar.
    The good generation will be further delayed if FIDESZ/JOBBIK can further marginalize the liberal parties.

  3. Very good article, Eva. Thanks.
    Anyone knows where can we read or watch Demjan’s hour long speech? Cannot find it.

  4. Another good post.

    I don’t think it is necessarily bad of “the liberal media” (I feel like Fox News) to ‘triumphantly quote these people’

    In fact I think it would be bad of them to assassinate the characters of recently converted critics of the government

    Just because someone does things we don’t agree with in the past, it doesn’t mean that what he or she says is not correct.

    The more people who criticise Fidesz, the better. Because Fidesz’ normal answer to critiques is just that whoever said it can’t be trusted because they are former communists/socialists/liberal media/defenders of international finance or whatever. They immediately “play the man and not the ball”, and as Hungarian society is so polarised, it is a relatively effective tactic for their own base.

    So when people like Sólyom, incompetent git that he is, but who was Fidesz’ candidate for President back in 05, criticise them, it can be more useful. The attacks against him have to be more nuanced, and maybe even mention the issues. Or in Sólyom’s case probably completely ignored. But maybe he might expect a NAV audit.

    Incidentally, I think of a lot of the Fidesz fellow travellers, like Sólyom, but also a lot of business people, are very disappointed. With their two-thirds majority, Fidesz simply doesn’t need them and has made this feeling plain. Some people are not getting any of the gravy from the train, while the inner clique of true believers is guzzling the stuff like fröccs. And like other Hungarian trains, this particular gravy train is getting more and more rickety, and will break down, or be cancelled eventually.

  5. This is indeed a very Hungarian post. Every person must be pushed in a camp. You’re either with us or against us. The almost complete blindness toward the failures of the own camp matches the unforgiveness toward the other camp. No one is allowed to exist on a middle ground. If you are not my friend, you are my enemy. If your attitude toward FIDESZ does not agree with mine, you must be a FIDESZ puppet. Conspiracy theories on the right and conspiracy theories on the left. This fully agrees with my everyday experiences in Hungary. I actually like this blog and as a foreigner living in Hungary I draw lots of information from it. But the self-righteous tone is sometimes unbearable. Let an old man draw his conclusions. His criticism of the government will be heard by people, who other critics will never reach. And his criticism of the opposition maybe is worth being considered as well.

  6. I will never forget Sólyom remaining silent during and after the inauguration of the neo-nazi
    Hungarian Guard members,which took place right outside his palace on Castle Hill.

  7. I agree with M. Riedl, that this post is very much “playing the man and not the ball”, but I agree with Éva and Cherry17 that Sólyom’s behaviour as president was unforgivable.

    I welcome his change of heart, but I still hold him in contempt. He was too busy playing the role of Fidesz’ useful idiot rather than even trying to discharge his responsibilities when he was president. He bears some measure of responsibility for the dysfunction which lead to the current situation.

  8. Professor you wrote ** “László Sólyom, the first chief justice of the Constitutional Court and president of the republic between 2005 and 2010.” **.

    Ok he may have been a might indefinite as the ‘Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court’ and a total wimp as President, but he held BOTH offices. However he has the characteristics of many judges in that he tries to seeall sides of the argument. I think this is what is holding him back and making him reluctant to come down forcibly on one side or the other.

    He seems reluctant to attack the ‘stealth fascism and creeping dictatorship’ in the way that he should.

    Ok he was president of a small and now worrisome little central European republic with very ‘Ruritanian’ idea, but as he was president he could (and should) be speaking to much more influential people outside Hungary. But he does not. Why what does he fear?

  9. @ Dubious: I’m sorry if I have overstated my point. And I would like to reiterate that I really appreciate this blog and rarely ever miss a post. My main point is this: if the primary goal is to overcome the Orban government then a very broad coalition of forces will be needed. It is evident that Jobbik cannot be part of this coalition. So it will be necessary for the opposition to win over a great number of former Fidesz voters. This will not be possible by constantly telling the people: “See how vicious this Orban is. We have always told you so, but you did not want to listen. We were right, you were wrong. Now you have the mess.” Such a self-righteous attitude will rather push them back into the Orban camp. If I see correctly a great number of former Fidesz voters already learned that their hope for less corruption, less opportunism and more prosperity have not become true. This disillusion and disappointment – which may also speak from the words of Solyom – should be used productively. Any former Fidesz supporter uttering doubts should be appreciated as a sign of hope. Without these people the opposition will not win elections. What is needed is some optimism and forward-looking, and an alternative political vision which must have an appeal to the majority of the electorate. For the opposition this will require painful acts of self-criticism, forgiveness, concessions, and compromises. But the alternative is four more years of Orban. Please tell me if I’m wrong.

  10. Thanks Solyom for this heavy hitting remark:
    És hogy egyre kevesebben viselik el azt a lebecsülést, ami a magyarázat nélküli, erőszakos kormányzati lépésekből éppúgy árad, mint abból, amikor megérdemelten hitelüket vesztett ellenzékiek lármáznak a demokrácia védelmében.”
    In a nutshell, the on-going work of FIDESZ has been dripping from violence.
    He has to lie at the same time about the opposition.
    Non-violent demonstrations of the decent people of Hungary must be the answer.
    With police permit, but also spontaneously, the private residences of the FIDESZ and JOBBIK must be picketed, until Orban and the allies disappear from the political arena.

  11. If Sólyom wanted to be really balanced then he could have complained about the disunity of the opposition for which his favorite party, LMP, is largely responsible. He could have complained about MSZP only ciriticizing and not offering any program. He could have done all sorts of things. But he simply complained that those discredited people are too loud. Contemptible.

  12. Yeah Eve, you’re absolutely right.It was because of LMP that Fidesz managed to win a mandate in Dunaújváros the other day.They refused to join forces with the socialists.
    Besides , Sólyom still thinks that he is supposed to give a ‘balanced’ opinion.

  13. “Any former Fidesz supporter uttering doubts should be appreciated as a sign of hope. ” I only halway agree with this statement. I see a lot of opportunists emerge (again) who had no problem to serve any side of the winning camp. The International condemnation of Fidesz and Jobbik can’t be ignored. And their shrinking popularity at home is evident. Although attention should be given to any voice, I would be very aware of the opportunists that suddenly arrive with questionable “carriers” to the table of the last supper.
    Also as Ihave stated before I am 100% against protesting or picketing at any politicians’ private home. Those things always start out peacefully but it only need one or two bad apples to turn this gatherings into questionable events. These politicians have families and children. What’s the point of intimidating them? If you have some business with these politicians you have to deal with them and not with their families.

  14. London Calling!

    M Riedl: I do like your analysis/strategy as far as it goes – which in any balanced democracy would be all that’s needed to prevent ‘the alternative of four more years of Orban’.

    In fact I think you should have said ‘twenty-four’ more years of Orban.

    He has so calculatedly sewn up all the agencies of state that just to do what a normal democracy can do will not be enough.

    He has the perfect circle – An unnervingly large majority; an unbelievably passive electorate; a very disorganised and uncompromising opposition; and a constitution fraudulently skewed towards his power base.

    To unite the opposition – the biggest single redeeming factor – does certainly require more than telling them not to be so noisy. A really close alliance is required – which is about as likely as rocking-horse manure.

    What is required is nothing short of ‘magic’.

    In the absence of that there needs to be an unlikely combination of events, with a concomitant rising of an, as yet unknown, political star.

    And/Or as some on here have suggested – ‘extra-democratic’, ‘unortohdox’ measures. No less.

    Yes – I am implying that it will be almost impossible.

    But that is what you have. No less.

    Good luck

    Regards

    Charlie

  15. As Eva knows (and respects), i don’t share her dim view of Solyom. I believe he was an extraordinary constitutional court president. He developed a jurisprudence that is the envy of the constitutional world. As national president, he still acted as if he had the last word on the constitutionality of laws, perhaps because he didn’t trust the constitutional court (which was the target of efforts to mute it after his departure) to get constitutional law “right.” I agree that Solyom is not a gifted politician — perhaps that is what made him a great constitutional judge. For my published opinion of him, see https://www.law.upenn.edu/journals/lawreview/articles/volume154/issue6/Scheppele154U.Pa.L.Rev.1757%282006%29.pdf .

    As for Solyom’s silence in the face of the Fidesz consolidation of power: i don’t have any first-hand knowledge of this, but I suspect that he is taking an extreme personal risk by speaking out as much as he has. He never enriched himself personally in the state positions he held; his only assets are the pension and other benefits he gets as a retired head of state and constitutional judge. Fidesz could take those away in a second. I, too, wish he could be braver but, if he is under the pressures I expect he is, his statements are really quite admirable. He is not the only potential critic that Fidesz can keep in check through financial threats, but he may be one of the few that nonetheless tries to say what he thinks, however gingerly.

    (Full disclosure: I worked at the Constitutional Court for four years while Solyom was president and came to greatly admire him for his constitutional vision. But I have not exchanged more than pleasantries with him since the Orban takeover started, so I have no personal knowledge of what he really thinks — or why he does what he does — now. So this is all just an educated guess.)

    best,
    Kim

  16. @ Kim Lane Scheppele, although I agree with crediting Solyom with his strong commitment to the (previous) constitution, I am also familiar with his great commitment to Fidesz while serving as the President of Hungary. I will never forget the great appraisals he received from the Canada published Hungarian, far right, nationalistic papers, how they hang onto every word he said against the ruling party at the time, and all in support of Orban’s questionable actions. His visit to the Toronto Magyar Haz was the big event of all the Big Hungary supporters too. Yes, I do blame him for being shortsighted with Orban. He dismissed not only the warning signs but many of Orban’s actions ( not showing up in parliament, etc.) and only started to cry when he was betrayed by the same Orban.

  17. 1. Many more Hungarians are invited to aborb the words of Eva Balogh and Kim Scheppele, in the defense of their freedom, and to stop the growing reactionary criminal destruction by Orban, Matolcsy, Vona…
    2. In light of their extreme actions, daily protest must follow them everywhere they go.
    3. The protest movement could be lead by Dr. Ferenc Donath. He is not a politician. He is an ordinary Hungarian with the right sense of justice. Support him.

  18. Kim Lane Scheppele :
    As Eva knows (and respects), i don’t share her dim view of Solyom. I believe he was an extraordinary constitutional court president. He developed a jurisprudence that is the envy of the constitutional world. As national president, he still acted as if he had the last word on the constitutionality of laws, perhaps because he didn’t trust the constitutional court (which was the target of efforts to mute it after his departure) to get constitutional law “right.” I agree that Solyom is not a gifted politician — perhaps that is what made him a great constitutional judge. For my published opinion of him, see https://www.law.upenn.edu/journals/lawreview/articles/volume154/issue6/Scheppele154U.Pa.L.Rev.1757%282006%29.pdf .
    As for Solyom’s silence in the face of the Fidesz consolidation of power: i don’t have any first-hand knowledge of this, but I suspect that he is taking an extreme personal risk by speaking out as much as he has. He never enriched himself personally in the state positions he held; his only assets are the pension and other benefits he gets as a retired head of state and constitutional judge. Fidesz could take those away in a second. I, too, wish he could be braver but, if he is under the pressures I expect he is, his statements are really quite admirable. He is not the only potential critic that Fidesz can keep in check through financial threats, but he may be one of the few that nonetheless tries to say what he thinks, however gingerly.
    (Full disclosure: I worked at the Constitutional Court for four years while Solyom was president and came to greatly admire him for his constitutional vision. But I have not exchanged more than pleasantries with him since the Orban takeover started, so I have no personal knowledge of what he really thinks — or why he does what he does — now. So this is all just an educated guess.)
    best,
    Kim

    As one who has admired many of your articles, I must here take exception with the sophistry of “…I…wish he could be braver…(yet) his statements are really quite admirable..”

    I must admit to knowing very little of the ex-President. What I do know is the foolish attempt to cross into Slovakia to unveil a statue of a Hungarian king–an event to which no Slovakian government members were invited. Politically inept? In spades, I’d say. He can probably
    assume some responsibility for the ridiculous actions of Speaker Kover which mirror Solyom’s past attempt at populism.

    Wouldn’t you say that ‘the style is the man himself’?

  19. Re: “foolish attempt to cross into Slovakia to unveil a statue of a Hungarian king”

    It also was the anniversary of the day that Soviet and Hungarian forces entered in 1968 – really stupid …

    We all wondered what Solyom was thinking that day.

  20. To Kim Scheppele: I very much appreciate that you shared with us your view on Laszlo Solyom. I wish you are right.

    Based on what I know of Mr Solyom as president, I fully share Eva’s criticism. I think it was not really helpful for a young democracy to have a “low energy” president who argues as if that country were a mature democracy with a functioning judicial system and with people who respect the democratic system. That is unfortunately frequently done in Hungary: you are told in general terms how a “modern” democracy looks like (implicitly it is suggested that Hungary is such a functioning democracy) – but the real challenge is not to repeat from books but to find out how to put it into practice in a society that has up to now functioned on a rather different set of principles and that puts the nation (its survival) above everything. Laszlo Solyom has in my impression very much followed this approach.

    Also, I hear it frequently that there is no black and white in Hungary, but most often this is not meant because people have some idea of “black” and “white”, which they wish to balance (and which it would be possible to balance), but because they do not want to make a clear statement. This not only makes it difficult to find out where this country should be heading for, people also appear to simply have no opinion. But the worst in that is that they often only pretend to have this position of an outside observer, if you dig deeper you find uncompromising views, too… This suggestion to have “balanced views” actually makes the balancing of ideas and interest in Hungary very difficult because instead of finding compromises between clearly stated interests, there are some people with frankly uncompromising views and other people with nearly equally uncompromising views but who mask it with appeals to a “balanced approach” which should be followed in a “mature democracy” but which actually is no more helpful in dealing with (or learning how to deal with) diverging interests in a democratic political system.

  21. wolfi :
    Re: “foolish attempt to cross into Slovakia to unveil a statue of a Hungarian king”
    It also was the anniversary of the day that Soviet and Hungarian forces entered in 1968 – really stupid …
    We all wondered what Solyom was thinking that day.

    “the anniversary of the day that Soviet and Hungarian forces entered in 1968″ Some years earlier, the Slovakian Prime Minister happily had met the RUSSIAN president or PM in Pozsony, on the very same day, on the anniversary of the invasion by RUSSIAN troops. How come, this had not hurt their national feelings?

  22. @Rettego Ivan,

    So they do tit-for-tat, what else is new? Children will be children.

    The point here is that the Presidency is largely a ceremonial position; something like the Queen of England.

    Would the Queen go to Northern Ireland and attend an Orangemen’s march? Or would the Queen go to Quebec and yell out “Vive la langue anglais”?

  23. petofi :
    @Rettego Ivan,
    So they do tit-for-tat, what else is new? Children will be children.
    The point here is that the Presidency is largely a ceremonial position; something like the Queen of England.
    Would the Queen go to Northern Ireland and attend an Orangemen’s march? Or would the Queen go to Quebec and yell out “Vive la langue anglais”?

    Bad comparison.
    St Stephan was the king of everyone here. What is more, he is a saint. His legacy is not a divisive one. Even the Slovaks admire his work, otherwise why would they organize coronation ceremonies, with his crown, remembering him?

    http://www.slovakia.travel/entitaview.aspx?l=2&idp=3404

    According to his famous statements, a country which has one language and tradition, is a weak country, that is why we must welcome foreigners. I don’t really understand how You could compare him with separatist movements.

    By the way, the answer to Your question is: Yes, of course, she would go. Just like De Gaulle who not only visited Quebec, but encouraged its separatist movement, saying: Vive le Québec libre!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vive_le_Qu%C3%A9bec_libre

  24. “the Slovakian Prime Minister happily had met the RUSSIAN president or PM in Pozsony”

    Why not ? In his eyes probably the Soviets liberated them from the Nazi Hungarians …

    BTW: Regarding”Saints” – most here are probably atheists and I always say: To be called a saint by the catholic church (one of the worst criminal organisations of all times imho) you must have killed an exorbitant number of people …

  25. wolfi :
    “the Slovakian Prime Minister happily had met the RUSSIAN president or PM in Pozsony”
    Why not ? In his eyes probably the Soviets liberated them from the Nazi Hungarians …
    BTW: Regarding”Saints” – most here are probably atheists and I always say: To be called a saint by the catholic church (one of the worst criminal organisations of all times imho) you must have killed an exorbitant number of people …

    Unfortunately, St Stephen is called saint by the orthodox church as well.

    It is a simplification when You say that saint must kill people. For example this guy did not kill:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maximilian_Kolbe

    Liberated Slovakia from the nazis? Must be kidding! They were 100% nazis! They were the first to attack Poland in 1939, and there was some massacre made by them there.
    The Slovaks PAID for the nazis to exterminate jews of Slovakia. The leader of the First Slovak Republic, Jozef Tiso is now a renowned historical personality in Slovakia, with statues, etc:

    http://www.google.com/imgres?q=Cakajovce,+Tiso&um=1&hl=hu&client=ubuntu&channel=fs&biw=1243&bih=776&tbm=isch&tbnid=vdnsY4Vg5FkxgM:&imgrefurl=http://www.topky.sk/gl/81683/Pri-soche-Tisa-spominali-na-Slovensky-stat&docid=9xaolXwH2on4DM&imgurl=http://img.topky.sk/big/249013.jpg/spomienka-tiso-slovensky-stat-sita-13-3-2010-cakajovce.jpg&w=600&h=433&ei=whIhUJrrEMrmtQbWnIGQBw&zoom=1&iact=hc&vpx=938&vpy=289&dur=1280&hovh=191&hovw=264&tx=167&ty=80&sig=110876297244415265765&page=1&tbnh=122&tbnw=180&start=0&ndsp=26&ved=1t:429,r:11,s:0,i:104

    http://zilina-gallery.sk/picture.php?/23/category/12

    http://www.google.com/imgres?q=jozef+tiso+ulica&um=1&hl=hu&client=ubuntu&sa=N&channel=fs&biw=1243&bih=776&tbm=isch&tbnid=9LLtwXQ7YsQOjM:&imgrefurl=http://zilina.sme.sk/c/5765694/pamatne-tabule-a-ulice-maju-aj-dalsie-kontroverzne-osobnosti.html&docid=NGUix4H7x5dRzM&imgurl=http://i.sme.sk/cdata/4/57/5765694/tiso.jpg&w=490&h=368&ei=ohAhUMibC8XBtAbNmIDQBw&zoom=1&iact=rc&dur=490&sig=110876297244415265765&page=1&tbnh=135&tbnw=158&start=0&ndsp=24&ved=1t:429,r:11,s:0,i:107&tx=56&ty=75

    http://www.google.com/imgres?q=jozef+tiso+ulica&um=1&hl=hu&client=ubuntu&sa=N&channel=fs&biw=1243&bih=776&tbm=isch&tbnid=If92ZJitV1CZZM:&imgrefurl=http://zilina-gallery.sk/picture.php%3F/9822/category/987&docid=NIFPTygO8DCi8M&imgurl=http://zilina-gallery.sk/galleries/Okolie_Ziliny/Varin/Varin_obec/xIMG_2747.jpg&w=800&h=600&ei=ohAhUMibC8XBtAbNmIDQBw&zoom=1&iact=hc&vpx=296&vpy=148&dur=473&hovh=194&hovw=259&tx=161&ty=122&sig=110876297244415265765&page=1&tbnh=132&tbnw=158&start=0&ndsp=24&ved=1t:429,r:1,s:0,i:76

    When Mr. Solyom wanted to visit the inauguration of the statue of St. Stephan, the SNS was in the Slovak govmnt, Its leader simply called Hungarians a tumor.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J%C3%A1n_Slota

    When You’re talking about the nationalism and extremism in Hungary, please do not forget that these small East European countries are connected to each other. You can not understand what is going on here, if You exclude the other countries.

    The only reason why they Slovaks did not let Mr. Solyom is that they hate Hungarians, They are building up their own national identity attacking Hungarians:

    http://books.google.hu/books?id=GghxFpyBH7MC&pg=PA120&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q&f=false

    http://www.bumm.sk/21814/a-szlovak-15-evesek-a-magyarokat-utaljak-a-legjobban.html

  26. rettegő iván :

    wolfi :
    “the Slovakian Prime Minister happily had met the RUSSIAN president or PM in Pozsony”
    Why not ? In his eyes probably the Soviets liberated them from the Nazi Hungarians …
    BTW: Regarding”Saints” – most here are probably atheists and I always say: To be called a saint by the catholic church (one of the worst criminal organisations of all times imho) you must have killed an exorbitant number of people …

    Unfortunately, St Stephen is called saint by the orthodox church as well.
    It is a simplification when You say that saint must kill people. For example this guy did not kill:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maximilian_Kolbe
    Liberated Slovakia from the nazis? Must be kidding! They were 100% nazis! They were the first to attack Poland in 1939, and there was some massacre made by them there.

    I have news for you! Most of the Polish and Hungarian Jews look for the Soviets as their liberators! THey certainly liberated my father the Hungarian nazi’s, the Americans liberated my grandfather from the Germans, the Soviets liberated hundreds of Jews in Warsaw. Yes, I did speak to Polish survivors, and a writer who wrote a play about Warsaw at the time. The threat from Hungary (Horthy) that was eager to serve the Germans in order to receive a slice of the pie (whole Slovakia s promised by Hitler) was way bigger then the threat from the Soviets, who actually at the time freed them. THat is an other story what happened after, so just for history sake, keep your facts straight! Bratislava was liberated form the Germans on April 4th, and some of the other places on the 5th by the Red Army.
    By the way look up the Slovak upraising in September 1944 that was helped by soldiers and partisans from the Soviet Union, France, Czechia and Poland. Hungary was just waiting for the outcome.

  27. We are not talking about the same thing.

    Slovaks were as nationalists/nazi as the Hungarians were. The Slovak uprising was wonderful, unfortunately they revolted only when the Soviets were coming, just like the Roumanians, and Hungarians tried to cross bench. Beforeward, they eagerly followed Adolf Hitler. The Slovak regime imposed as though legislation (or even tougher) on Jews as Hungary did – and they were happy about it! That is why many Jews fled to Hungary.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Jews_in_Slovakia
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slovak_invasion_of_Poland_%281939%29

    All they had done, had been fulfilling the demands of the strongest power in the regions. When it was Adolf Hitler, they became nazis, when it was the Soviet Union, they became partisans. They sell themselves under this later label in international publications, it sells better than the Hungarian status: guilty nation, last henchman etc. This prevents Slovakia from facing its past. Present Slovakia roots in the First Slovakian Republic, in its discriminative policy:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J%C3%A1nos_Esterh%C3%A1zy#cite_note-2

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bene%C5%A1_decrees#Impact_on_today.27s_political_relations

    Hungarians became sensible to minority issues, that is why there are so many publications/news on the situation of romani, jews etc. In Slovakia, there are ghettos, with walls even today, and no one cares:

    I accept that You, and others saw the Soviets as liberators. They saved Your lives, no question about it. I don’t blame You for that. I deeply regret Your loses!

    But Your personal feelings, sufferings and losses cloud Your eyes. It is about international politics: everyone was Adolf Hitler’s ally in the region, except for the Checzs maybe. Even Poland participated in the partition of Czechoslovakia! I see a tendency in the international scene that since Hungary was on the losers’ side of the 2. World War, it gives automatically excuse for Slovakian and Roumanian nationalists’ rudest provocation, since Hungarian nationalism has a bad reputation. That is why Hungarian politicians (in this case Mr. Solyom), who want to do anything for those Hungarians, who live in the neighboring countries, are seen nationalists, protonazi etc. While the others here continued to build up nation states, using their “antifascist” reputation to underpin it:

    See further in Randolph L. Braham: Román nacionalisták és a holocaust. Kitaláltt (!) mentőakciók politikai kiaknázása. Bp., 1998,

    And when You or others face that it’s the Hungarian minority now which needs help, than it tends to be the reaction that: “Aaahhhhh, the hortist neofascist Orbán revisionist policy etc. again.” Why Mr. ORbán et Co. are doing this, they are fascist.” While simply forgeting, that it is a real human right issue here, in this region. Just because it is about Hungarians?

    ” It also was the anniversary of the day that Soviet and Hungarian forces entered in 1968 – really stupid …
    We all wondered what Solyom was thinking that day. ” Someone wrote that.

    It is just PR from Slovakia’s part, they didn’t give a d…n about the anniversary, they happily met with some Polish politicians in Warsav on the anniversary of some Slovakian massacre commited on Polish people in the 2. World War. They just had to find a reason to prevent the Hungarian president from entering the country. And the author automatically blamed Mr. Solyom, while his action (inauguring the statue of a tolerant king with Europan values)
    was absolutely in accordance with European behaviour. And You compared him to some separatist movement? He was absolutely right, the Slovaks were hysterical.

  28. Some1: “By the way look up the Slovak upraising in September 1944 ”

    Well, their upraising was just about the same from the time the Panslav circus started to this day. Recently, I have re-read the so called Slovakian submittal to the US Senate when they were discussing the Peace Treaty with Hungary. A fascinating pack of lies about Hungarian history that is rarely matched even by the commenters of this blog. I will post the Congressional Volume #, which has the discussions.

    The “Slovak”s were very active in the 1848 “uprising”: “and “After Russian intervention by Tsar Nicholas I brought about the gradual fall of Kossuth and Hungarian independence. During this period, the corps was revived one final time to ‘mop-up’ isolated Magyar units until the eventual capitulation of Magyar forces at Világos (what is now Şiria in Romania) on August 13, 1849.”
    The Good Russians probably wouldn’t even had a chance if the Slovak units have not helped them to beat down the Hungarian revolution.

    In that second earth shuttering uprising in 1944, it was part uprising against the Fascist Slovak govt and part of an attempt to diminish the impact of the strong Slovak alliance with Hitler abd reestablish a Checoslovak and not Slovak entity. It was fought by both the Germans and the Slovak Armies : ” On September 19 German command replaced SS-Obergruppenführer Berger, who had been in charge of the troops fighting the Uprising, with General Höffle. By that time Germans had 48,000 soldiers; they consisted of eight German divisions, including four from the Waffen-SS and one pro-Nazi Slovak formation”……

  29. Ivan Rettegö: “According to his famous statements, a country which has one language and tradition, is a weak country, that is why we must welcome foreigners.”

    And also try to integrate with the West, ie Western Europe in his case. And that was the message that Laszlo Solyom wanted to convey to the Slovaks in 2009 and which he could not? Hungary is so misunderstood! Perhaps it has even tried to welcome and integrate “foreigners”, but how bad that Roma (today) or Slovaks (before 1918) could not claim to be foreigners…

  30. @Louis:

    Very interesting – or not ? How many Hungarian divisions helped the Germans invading Russia ?

    This discussion is about ex-pres Solyom and why he may not be so popular with some/all ? people …

    BTW: He was Fidesz’s favourite once – now even the Orbán freaks don’t like him anymore …

  31. Kirsten: “And also try to integrate with the West, ie Western Europe in his case.”

    Where did this ardent love for and desire to integrate with the West came from? The Nazis came from the west, the Communist theory came from the west, did those “western” ideas, movements did so much good to Hungary?

    and no Kirsten, Solyom probably did want to convey anything to the Slovaks, he was most likely was trying to convey to the Hungarians in town, that they are not forgotten.

  32. Louis: “Where did this ardent love for and desire to integrate with the West came from?”

    I admit I have not met Stephen in person so I repeat what I learned from books: he wished to live on more civilised and peaceful terms internally and externally and the coronation as a Christian king contributed to that.

    But I reacted to the statement of Ivan Rettego who claimed that St Stephen and his peaceful message was the main interest in Laszlo Solyom’s visit. What you wrote perhaps makes it more likely why he was denied access to Komarno. Have you visited the place? It is very unlikely that any visitor to Komarno could have the impression that Hungarians there are “forgotten”. Is there not a “European square” presenting architecture from all over Europe and in front of that statues only of Hungarian kings? Very much worth a visit. It is a nice place and says a lot.

  33. wolfi: Lets start at the beginning. “Slovakia was the only Axis nation other than Germany and the Soviet Union to take part in the Polish Campaign. With the impending German invasion of Poland planned for September 1939, the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (OKW) requested the assistance of Slovakia. Although the Slovak military was only six months old, it formed a small mobile combat group consisting of a number of infantry and artillery battalions. Two combat groups were created for the campaign in Poland for use alongside the Germans. The first group was a brigade-sized formation that consisted of six infantry battalions, two artillery battalions, and a company of combat engineers, all commanded by Antonín Pulanich. The second group was a mobile formation that consisted of two battalions of combined cavalry and motorcycle recon troops along with nine motorized artillery batteries, all commanded by Gustav Malár. The two groups were organized around the headquarters of the 1st and 3rd Slovak Infantry Divisions. The two combat groups fought while pushing through the Nowy Sącz and Dukla Mountain Passes, advancing towards Dębica and Tarnów in the region of southern Poland.”

    This is something our Slovak neighbors do not often publicise….They were active participants in the attack on Poland in 1939. Of course that attack did not have any consequences on Poland’s Jewish population……or maybe it did…..The Slovaks just can not be that bad….

  34. @Louis:

    Are you really such an idiot that you think it necessary to quote from wiki without saying so ?

    Wiki also says:

    “On 14 March, the Slovak parliament convened and heard Tiso’s report on his discussion with Hitler as well as a declaration of independence. Some of the deputies were sceptical of making such a move, but the debate was quickly quashed when Franz Karmasin, leader of the German minority in Slovakia, said that any delay in declaring independence would result in Slovakia being divided between Hungary and Germany. Under these circumstances, Parliament unanimously declared Slovak independence. Jozef Tiso was appointed the first Prime Minister of the new republic. The next day, Tiso sent a telegram (which had actually been composed the previous day in Berlin) asking the Reich to take over the protection of the newly minted state. The request was readily accepted

    On 23 March 1939, Hungary, having already occupied Carpathian Ruthenia, attacked from there, and the newly established Slovak Republic was forced to cede 1697 km² of territory with about 70,000 people to Hungary. See Slovak-Hungarian War for more information.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slovak_Republic_%281939%E2%80%931945%29

    You seem to be fond of quoting (or stealing ?) texts from other sources while taking them out of context …

  35. Maybe I misunderstood You, but I got the feeling that You proved my point. It seems to me that is simply unacceptable for You, that in this case the Slovaks were paranoid.

    We can always find a reason to blame a nation. (roma, slovak sufferings before 1918). Let me not present what Slovaks did to the Hungarians. How about the civilized western nations massacres in Africa? Comparing the minority policy of France / UK with that of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy? Ireland? Easter Massacre of Dublin?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Easter_Rising

    This leads nowhere. History does not work as a fight between good guys and bad guys. Hungarians=bad guys, Slovaks and oppressed minorities=good guys? What is next? All the Germans are nazis, all the Americans are idiots, all the Jews are evil? We have to get used to it: roles are always changing. A Hungarian can be a good guy, and a roma can be racist, for example. We have to decide upon a case by case analysis.

    In this case (Mr. Sólyom-case) the Slovaks were interested in the escalation of the tension.
    In his speech on the bridge Mr. Sólyom invited the Slovakian politicians to come to Hungary any time they want to visit their fellow Slovaks in Hungary. Was there any gesture like this from the Slovakian Govmnt? Nope, he was declared a threat to the Slovakian Nation.

    Mr. Sólyom had already signaled his intention to the Slovakian Gvmnt months before the event. And what happened? On the anniversary of the 1968 invasion, the Slovakian President or PM participated in any commemoration or something? Nope, the previous went swimming, the later played football or what. It must be a real sad and moving anniversary for the Slovak Nation!!!!

  36. Mr. Rettegö, thank you very much for sparing me the entire story about how Hungarians were maltreated throughout their history, how nobody can understand their sufferings and how well the intentions (misunderstood by the rest of the world) have always been. That service was provided already earlier by a number of your compatriots. I know already that all other nations have misbehaved at least as much as Hungarians (and that the latter point might be a bit unfair to Hungarians because when thought about it twice, Hungarians have not misbehaved – these are myths spread by anti-Hungarian forces), and that other nations were never punished as severely as Hungarians. And certainly I have already heard of arguments such as ” A Hungarian can be a good guy, and a roma can be racist, for example”. The choice of properties asigned by you to these two groups of people are purely accidental, I know. And if not, this is because these are undeniable facts.

  37. 1. “sparing me the entire story about how Hungarians were maltreated throughout their history,”

    Misunderstood intentionS? “IntentionS”? It was a specific issue: Mr Solyom and his case.

    I don’t really understand what You are trying to tell me. Where did I say that Hungarians were “maltreated throughout their history”? That is exactly what I am opposed to:
    generalization from a specific issue. Just because I wrote that the Slovakian gvmnt’s arguments were lame and they lied, and added some background info, I am already some “conspiracy against Hungary” promotoeur?

    Where did I denied that Hungary did horrible things?This whole blog is enumerating Hungarian evil acts. Saying that every nation did awful thing is an excuse? This is all about PR. Watch an American movie and You will find Serbs as villains, and Croatians as innocents. It is not about misunderstanding, it is about interests.

    All I wanted is to point out the importance of the “case-by-case” analysis. The second world war thought us the lesson not to use prejudices. In this case, Mr Solyom was right, Slovak gvmnt was idiot.

    2. In my understanding, humans are the same everywhere. If a Hungarian/Slovak/German can be a racist, why can’t be racist an American/Chinese/Japanese/Jew? What prevents them from being that?

    Undeniable facts? A Hungarian can be a bad guy too. And a Roma nice guy as well.

  38. @Louis and Iván:

    Sometimes I wonder where you live and whether you’ve ever been to Hungary or Slovakia …

    Whenever a Fidesz or Jobbik politician is criticised you seem to believe that all of Hungary is in danger.

    Let me tell you a story:

    Last summer my wife’s young ones visited us at the Balaton for a holiday but then the boss called and asked the son to program something. Now the problem was that that program had to be physically transported on a USB-stick to the machine – which was in Komarno …

    So after the programming was finished instead of sending it via post my wife and I agreed to travel there, meet the engineer and give him that stick. It was a nice journey though the Hungarian countryside and shortly before our arrival in Slovakia I phoned the guy and he said: Let’s meet at the hotel “Pokol” near the Danube – sure, I answered, I can already see it on the other side of the street …

    After business was done we went to the pedestrian zone of Komarno – all the shops had of course their ads in Hungarian and Slovak and prices in € and in addition in the old Slovak currency …

    Then we decided to sit on the terrace of a cafe where the waitress immediately talked to us in German (maybe because I’m blond and six feet tall …) but when my wife asked something in Hungarian she switched automatically to Hungarian too …

    After some small talk we asked her if she knew of some kind of “welcome package” containing the new Slovak € coins – no she said but after a few minutes she brought a set of coins which we gladly accepted – a German friend of ours collects the € coins from the different countries and Slovak and Slovenian coins are hard to find.

    Reality is very different from what you guys try to make us believe …

    Anyway it’s funny: When I open my purse I find a mixture of € coins from all countries which to me is a really good sign.

  39. wolfi: “On 23 March 1939, Hungary, having already occupied Carpathian Ruthenia, attacked from there, and the newly established Slovak Republic was forced to cede 1697 km² of territory with about 70,000 people to Hungary. See Slovak-Hungarian War for more information.”

    Do you know, how many Poles (including Jews) could this way escape to and through Hungary when Slovakia and Germany attacked Poland????? You obviously think it would have been better if the Slovaks could attack from that region also and cause a more complete massacre.

  40. Do you know, how many Poles (including Jews) could this way escape to and through Hungary when Slovakia and Germany attacked Poland????? .

    YES, yes. “More than half of those who fled Poland went to Romania and Hungary.
    Thousands of refugees escaped to the south and booked passage on ships leaving Black Sea ports in Bulgaria and Romania.
    After the German occupation of Hungary in March 1944, however, Hungarian authorities deported both Hungarian Jews and Polish Jewish refugees alike. The Germans murdered the majority in Auschwitz-Birkenau in the spring and summer of 1944.” http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005593
    Thank you Kovach for reminding us what is the deal that Horthy made with the Germans! Maybe the Polish Jews would of been better off to leave out Hungary.

  41. wolfi, that was exactly my experience in Komarno, too. You are spoken to in the language that you speak. In the bookshop Slovak books in one window and Hungarian books in another. A Slovak in the street telling me “this is the house where Jokai lived!”. No tensions visible. The provokations from both sides, which were easily visible too, did not dominate and instead appeared to come from outside.

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