Azeri-Hungarian futsal and how to act dumb

It was predictable that we would have to return to Azerbaijan. After all, it is still the center of attention in Hungary as well as in Armenian communities all over the world. It is enough to read some of the news items about rather large demonstrations from Los Angeles to Moscow to realize that this problem is not going to go away as quickly and quietly as Prime Minister Viktor Orbán hoped.

Today I am going to write something light-hearted about this deadly serious business. The first topic will be futsal. Yes, futsal. In case you have never heard of futsal, it is a variant of soccer that is played on a smaller pitch and mainly indoors. The game is played on a hard surface with a smaller ball with less bounce than a regular football.

Hungary is not exactly a giant in futsal. I couldn’t find Hungary in the top twenty-five national teams. As of now, Spain heads the list with Brazil, Italy, and Russia following. The best team in Azerbaijan is Araz Naxçivan, which apparently is pretty competitive on the international scene. In 2010 the team reached the semi-finals in the Union of European Football Association’s Futsal Cup, and they repeated that performance at the UEFA European Futsal Championship that was held in Hungary.

Péter Szijjártó in action

It was Zsófia Mihancsik’s article on Galamus entitled “Két kérdés Safarov-ügyben” (Two questions about the Safarov affair) that piqued my interest. She noticed a small MTI item on August 17 to the effect that Ottó Vincze, a well known soccer player, had joined “the office of the prime minister’s futsal team, the Dunakeszi Kinizsi.” Dunakeszi Kinizsi last year received a silver medal in the second string of the National Championship competitions (NB II). MTI added that “the players mostly come from the ranks of the employees of the prime minister’s office … including Péter Szijjártó, undersecretary in charge of foreign affairs and foreign trade.”

A few hours later János Lázár, the new head of the prime minister’s office, announced that “there isn’t, never was, and never will be any kind of football team of the prime minister’s office.” There had to be some kind of misunderstanding here. It is true that many people working for the prime minister participate in sports and that is a good thing, but the prime minister’s office doesn’t give its name or taxpayer money to in-house sports clubs.

Meanwhile Dunakeszi Kinizsi was preparing for the big game with “one of the best futsal teams.” It was a truly special occasion because the match also celebrated the opening of the refurbished sports arena of Dunakeszi Kinizsi in the Miklós Radnóti Gymnasium. Szijjártó’s club made it clear to MTI that this team from Azerbaijan is really tops. The spokesman for the club added that the Dunakeszi Kinizsi lately has also become a serious opponent because some strong players joined the team. The friendly meet, it was announced, will take place on September 10. MTI reported the event under the headline:  “The Dunakeszi sports arena will be opened with one of the best futsal teams of Europe.”

Then came the release of Ramil Sarafov on August 31. On September 3 several newspapers reported that the game was still on. But on September 5 we learned from the manager of the futsal club of Dunakeszi Kinizsi that “the club doesn’t want to give anyone an opportunity to use a sports event as a provocation.” The match was cancelled. So Péter Szijjártó, the chief negotiator of the Azeri deal, won’t have an opportunity to show off his I’m sure inimitable skill against Azerbaijan’s best futsal club.

Another story that caught my imagination focused on the Hungarian Foreign Ministry’s Institute of Foreign Affairs (Magyar Külügyi Intézet). The historians and political scientists working for this institute have two main tasks: (1) to prepare background information for the use of the diplomats working for the ministry and (2) to give advice to the government in case of a diplomatic blunder.

Well, you can imagine what happened within twenty-four hours after the news reached Hungary that Ramil Sarafov had received a hero’s welcome upon his arrival in Azerbaijan. The experts at the institute immediately sat down and wrote their recommendations. After they summarized the events and the suspicion abroad that the Hungarian government had exchanged a murderer for 2-3 billion euros, they came out with “sound” advice. Azerbaijan is more important to Hungary than vice versa and therefore the Hungarian government shouldn’t claim that the Azeri president had conned the Hungarian prime minister. Instead, one ought to play dumb.

Act dumb / flickr

If you think that I’m exaggerating, I’m not. The chapter that discusses this strategy is entitled “Let’s dare to be stupid!” (Merjünk buták lenni!) The suggestion was to take all the blame. The author/authors of the document suggested that Hungarian diplomats rely on sentences such as: “We believed that the promise coming from the Azeri ministry was sufficient and we didn’t count on the presidential pardon.” The Hungarians were told that they would even have to bear the odium of being considered incompetent: “Azerbaijan is far … there is no true expertise of that region in Hungary…. We had no knowledge of the Azeri legal system.”

Further suggestions included the use of official silence in the first couple of days as proof that the Hungarians were totally unprepared for such a development. At the same time, they wrote, the Hungarians must emphasize that as far as international law is concerned Budapest acted legally. Such a strategy, according to the authors, gives Hungary a way out in the international community while “it doesn’t endanger the Hungarian goals in Azerbaijan.” Through unofficial channels Hungarian diplomats could tell their foreign colleagues that Baku didn’t keep its promise. Such a strategy will work with the Armenians and the Americans. (I guess, because they are naive babes-in-arms.)

The document coming from the Hungarian Institute of Foreign Affairs naturally “wasn’t for the public,” but by September 6 it was in the hands of the editors of Népszabadság. It was leaked, just as the July letter of the IMF/EU delegation and the letter of the European Commission sent to Budapest on August 31 had been. These leaks indicate to me that some of the people working for the Hungarian government came to the conclusion that they cannot support Viktor Orbán’s hazardous games and therefore they are willing to assist the Hungarian opposition by making secret documents that in one way or another reflect badly on the government public.

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41 comments

  1. Funnily enough, Araz went through to the next round after the final matches in the uefa tournament tonight. They needed a draw against hosts Győr to progress. Result. 5-5. Araz were 1-4 down but scored 4 goals in seven minutes against a decidedly lethargic host team that looked a shadow of their usual selves in the scond half. Győr and Araz go through at the expense of a disgusted Eindhoven. I’ve heard that even the Győr fans were making “money” gestures during the match…

  2. I just love when the truth comes out. I wonder what Kovach’ next official German statement will contain now that it has been proven again that Orban and his gang will lie for no ending to save face. They have no moral left and it has been proven over and over.

    I also would like to add here something, in case whoever leaks those document reads this blog or any of his/her friends read this blog. I tried to look up the info about what I am going to write here but I cannot find it. Anyway. I clearly recall some situation somewhere where some documents of large company or a government were leaked, and the way they found it who it was responsible for getting out the material. Everyone who received a copy of the document had a slightly different version, like a different word or a small spelling mistake that was not obvious. THey logged each document, so they knew who had what copy. The next time the press published the copy of an official document, they knew who was the person who released it to the press. Be aware!

  3. Dangerous times. Extremists are plotting to create anarchy in Hungary and Europe.
    The weak leadership must wake up. Italy’s Monti called for a summit.
    (In US relation, our short-term failed president Obama must be voted out, and replaced by a pragmatic capable president, who is not too attached to the Republicans and Democrats.)
    The major task is to unite the old Hungarian nation with calm, pragmatic policies.
    The oligarchs must be charged with their crimes…
    The courts must be stabilized. All judges must be rehired.
    The police and army must be stripped of the extremists.
    Long wish list, and not too much hope for realization.

  4. “The chapter that discusses this strategy is entitled “Let’s dare to be stupid!” (Merjünk buták lenni!)”

    They don’t need any courage (or anything else) for this. It’s reality.

  5. London Calling!

    Some1 – and the ‘leaking’ civil servants in Hungary!

    The Civil Servants in England have been using this technique for years – every copier that could be used for sensitive documents has a unique imprint for every copy – so it’s location can be identified.

    From memory I think Clive Ponting – a ‘leaking’ civil servant who passed documents to an MP – in the 80’s was identified in such a way.

    Regards

    Charlie

  6. CharlieH :
    London Calling!
    Some1 – and the ‘leaking’ civil servants in Hungary!
    The Civil Servants in England have been using this technique for years – every copier that could be used for sensitive documents has a unique imprint for every copy – so it’s location can be identified.
    From memory I think Clive Ponting – a ‘leaking’ civil servant who passed documents to an MP – in the 80′s was identified in such a way.
    Regards
    Charlie

    And yet the tidal wave of leaks continues…

  7. I’d never heard of Futsal until tonight. Apparently, although it’s quite popular in the rest of Europe and much of the world, it’s only just taking off in the UK, mainly in universities.

    Our usual variants on ‘normal’ football are 5-a-side and 7-a-side. Futsal sounds like a development of 5-a-side – the major difference being that 5-a-side has to be played indoors on an enclosed court as the walls are used to bounce the ball off.

    So, thank you, Éva – as unlikely as it might seem, tonight you taught me something about football!

  8. CharlieH :
    London Calling!
    Some1 – and the ‘leaking’ civil servants in Hungary!
    The Civil Servants in England have been using this technique for years – every copier that could be used for sensitive documents has a unique imprint for every copy – so it’s location can be identified.
    From memory I think Clive Ponting – a ‘leaking’ civil servant who passed documents to an MP – in the 80′s was identified in such a way.
    Regards
    Charlie

    Thanks Charlie. I could not recall when or what it was.

  9. The leaks may well be disgust with the Orbán government. It may also be that well-known bureaucratic tactic of “covering your own ass”. Leak it – “hey, we gave you sound advice – you can’t blame us.” Their must be a lot of people wiping Orbán’s egg off their own faces in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, including not least, János Martonyi – oh for the far more profitable life of a partner in an international law firm which gets the lion’s share of all government contracts.

  10. Éva – back in late July, you wrote a couple of pieces about Béla Varga and kuruc.info. The first piece identified him as the likely US supporter of kuruc, the second said that apparently he was not – he was just the owner of a little Hungarian shop. (I may have this wrong, as I freely admit to being confused by the time I’d read both pieces!)

    However, a link on the Contrarian Hungarian’s Facebook page seems to confirm that you were right in your earlier suspicions: http://healdsburg.patch.com/articles/healdsburg-shop-owner-denies-ownership-of-far-right-hungarian-website.

    He claims that he ‘just’ organised the web hosting and opened a bank account in the States for kuruc, but I suspect he did/does a lot more than that.

    (apologies to enufff, who posted this link on yesterday’s thread)

  11. One last one from me tonight – before we get too carried away with the intricacies of anti-leak cleverness, I think we should remember that we are now in the 21st century, and most leaks these days are not paper copies.

    If you know what you’re doing, it’s easy to make a computer file completely anonymous.

  12. O my, no one has yet dared to comprehend the duplicity of the Felcsutian!

    IT IS ALL A CON.

    Everything is a ‘blind’ to cover the real truth: that Orban has been paid off–let’s guess at 30 million euros (ie. 30 pieces of silver)–which has since be safely deposited in Cyprus or somewhere else. All the other stuff is ‘cover stories’. Everyone is looking at the crumbs left around to be picked up.

    The Felcsutian gets the last laugh.
    No matter what the elections bring–supposing that he hasn’t already left the scene for ‘health’ reasons–can he ever again be considered a loser?

  13. Paul :
    One last one from me tonight – before we get too carried away with the intricacies of anti-leak cleverness, I think we should remember that we are now in the 21st century, and most leaks these days are not paper copies.
    If you know what you’re doing, it’s easy to make a computer file completely anonymous.

    This is why the small spelling mistakes. Copy and paste into one computer file to other will still leave in the misspelling or various words used. Example: growing economy = expending economy. In a whole document there are hundred of words that can be changed.

  14. “We believed that the promise coming from the Azeri ministry was sufficient and we didn’t count on the presidential pardon.” One should add to this post the FM state secretary Zsolt Németh admitted to the public service television on Wednesday morning that the Government did calculate with a presidential pardon. Thus Németh has managed to ruin the whole childish governmental PR with a single sentence.

  15. OT
    Can anybody confirm that there is going to be a meeting between Merkel and Orbán next week?
    If it is true I hope that Orbán will get some kind of ‘silk rope’ . Not that I’m very optimistic about it.

  16. London Calling!

    Some1

    Yes you are right – the methods are getting more sophisticated.

    I was just answering your first point.

    Naturally there will be many ways to circumvent these techniques – one of them is to photograph the documents with the ubiquitous mobile phone.

    You can then type up the documents yourself and change many words without changing the essence of the documents.

    The very careful ‘control’ of such documents becomes meaningless and they could never be used in evidence – and you may well change the very part that is ‘cycled’ to differentiate it. It would – and does – negate this technique

    You can even ‘improve’ them!

    The equivalent is done on electronic documents by changing the metadata (the comprehensive information ‘about’ the document that many people don’t know exist- but more and more people are!) – or wiping it all together – but I know you know about these things!

    In my work this has been useful evidence – but its ‘weight’ becomes more doubtful by the day!

    Regards

    Charlie

  17. Turkmenbasi :

    “We believed that the promise coming from the Azeri ministry was sufficient and we didn’t count on the presidential pardon.” One should add to this post the FM state secretary Zsolt Németh admitted to the public service television on Wednesday morning that the Government did calculate with a presidential pardon. Thus Németh has managed to ruin the whole childish governmental PR with a single sentence.

    When I first read the article in Népszabadság about the Institute’s recommendation I immediately inserted in red (in order to distinguish my comments from the text) that this is not what Németh said.

    In this post, however, I thought that I shouldn’t go into any detail about the actual situation, just let’s concentrate on the recommendations.

  18. Cherry17 :

    OT
    Can anybody confirm that there is going to be a meeting between Merkel and Orbán next week?
    If it is true I hope that Orbán will get some kind of ‘silk rope’ . Not that I’m very optimistic about it.

    I don’t think that anyone knows. What Szijjártó said was vague. Moreover, one cannot believe one word that guy utters.

  19. “Moreover, one cannot believe one word that guy utters.”

    That could be this regime’s motto.
    MTI (Orban’s Press Agency) report “… Ottó Vincze, a well known soccer player, had joined “the office of the prime minister’s futsal team””; Orban lapdog
    János Lázár, announces that “there isn’t, never was, and never will be any kind of football team of the prime minister’s office.”

    It is but only one example of how the right hand of the regime not knowing what the left-hand is up to. It could optimitically be the signs an internal turf war starting or much more plausibly it could be down to the fact that the State is now entirely and run populated by completely incompetent but loyal arse/licking morons.

  20. Turkmenbasi :
    “We believed that the promise coming from the Azeri ministry was sufficient and we didn’t count on the presidential pardon.” One should add to this post the FM state secretary Zsolt Németh admitted to the public service television on Wednesday morning that the Government did calculate with a presidential pardon. Thus Németh has managed to ruin the whole childish governmental PR with a single sentence.

    Lovely. Do not worry, there are still plenty Hungarians who love to create lies in order to worship the corrupt souls of this government, are there are plenty of Hungarians who buy into it. The scary part is the later group, as there are many educated people in that group who play a “pretend” game. They are the three monkeys.

  21. CharlieH :
    London Calling!
    Some1
    Yes you are right – the methods are getting more sophisticated.
    I was just answering your first point.
    Naturally there will be many ways to circumvent these techniques – one of them is to photograph the documents with the ubiquitous mobile phone.
    You can then type up the documents yourself and change many words without changing the essence of the documents.
    The very careful ‘control’ of such documents becomes meaningless and they could never be used in evidence – and you may well change the very part that is ‘cycled’ to differentiate it. It would – and does – negate this technique
    You can even ‘improve’ them!
    The equivalent is done on electronic documents by changing the metadata (the comprehensive information ‘about’ the document that many people don’t know exist- but more and more people are!) – or wiping it all together – but I know you know about these things!
    In my work this has been useful evidence – but its ‘weight’ becomes more doubtful by the day!
    Regards
    Charlie

    Charlie, I simply answered to Paul’s point about why photocopying will not work. I am with you.

  22. oneill :
    “Moreover, one cannot believe one word that guy utters.”
    That could be this regime’s motto.
    MTI (Orban’s Press Agency) report “… Ottó Vincze, a well known soccer player, had joined “the office of the prime minister’s futsal team””; Orban lapdog
    János Lázár, announces that “there isn’t, never was, and never will be any kind of football team of the prime minister’s office.”
    It is but only one example of how the right hand of the regime not knowing what the left-hand is up to. It could optimitically be the signs an internal turf war starting or much more plausibly it could be down to the fact that the State is now entirely and run populated by completely incompetent but loyal arse/licking morons.

    A year also ago, I put dow a Hungarian expression. At the time many were confused what it exactly means. Let me repeat the sentence again. THink of the Orban government’s communication when you read it.
    “Even the opposite of what they say is a lie.”

  23. Eva S. Balogh :

    Cherry17 :
    OT
    Can anybody confirm that there is going to be a meeting between Merkel and Orbán next week?
    If it is true I hope that Orbán will get some kind of ‘silk rope’ . Not that I’m very optimistic about it.

    I don’t think that anyone knows. What Szijjártó said was vague. Moreover, one cannot believe one word that guy utters.

    October?
    http://www.kormany.hu/en/prime-minister-s-office/news/peter-szijjarto-announced-the-prime-minister-s-visit-to-berlin

  24. In the crucial, last round of the chess olympiad, Armenia beat Hungary 2.5/1.5.

    Who said there’s no justice?

    (Yes, Kovacs, I wanted Hungary to lose.)

  25. Some Power is wielding, and swinging, Capitalism by the Tail.

    “The United States, despite an all-out effort to secure the 2022 World Cup, lost out to Qatar.”

    Qatar is a country of 300,000 with insufficient stadiums and roughly 50 degree heat in the summer. Now who,
    pray tell, would want to rub the Americans’ nose in
    a public relations defeat?

    The above decision was in 2010. The lovely folks that brought you that fiasco are no doubt instrumental in this: Baku has been chosen as the site of the chess
    Olympiad, 2016. Nice, friendly, stable choice, yes?
    Armenians, who this year will win the silver or bronze
    medal at the Olympiad in Turkey will not be attending.

    Amazing. Where did Qatar and Azerbadjian find such
    awesome world influence?

  26. Another quick correction:

    Although Armenia and Russian tied on total pts., Armenia was awarded the gold medal on tie break.

    They will not be attending the next Olympiad in Baku.

  27. The West and America should support the liberal enlightened Hungarians, but their Kadar era affiliation is a problem.

    The social democratic thinkers must perform the mind change, to be ready for the new Europe.

    If they can not clarify their total commitment to Democracy and Enlightenment then they will not be trusted by the liberal West.

  28. Turkmenbasi :
    “We believed that the promise coming from the Azeri ministry was sufficient and we didn’t count on the presidential pardon.” One should add to this post the FM state secretary Zsolt Németh admitted to the public service television on Wednesday morning that the Government did calculate with a presidential pardon. Thus Németh has managed to ruin the whole childish governmental PR with a single sentence.

    Actually, I’ve read and reread the fax which supposedly proving Orban’s statement, but I’ve failed to find any promises, whatsoever in the text. In this fax the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Azerbaijan explaining in general terms, how the Republic of Azerbaijan treating transferred prisoners, but they don’t say a word about their intention regarding just Safarov.
    Seems like a well-fed common misunderstanding here, some heavy-duty BS being spread all over..!
    However, I include the body of the text and if anybody find the “promise” what Viktor Orban referred to, please, let me know!
    Otherwise I forced to think, that the Almighty Leader trying to mislead everyone – once again.
    Thank you in advance!
    ——————————

    Ministry of Public Administration
    and Justice of Hungary

    Your Ref.: 06.08.2012
    XX-NBSKF013743/412012

    The Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Azerbaijan presents its compliments to the Ministry of Public Administration and Justice of Hungary and has the honor to inform the following.
    As a response to your inquiry about Ramil Sahib Safarov, who is serving his sentence in Hungary, we inform you that the execution of the courts decisions of the foreign states regarding the transfer of sentenced persons to serve the remaining part of their prison sentences in the Republic of Azerbaijan is carried out in accordance with Article 9 paragraph 1 point a) of the European Convention without any conversion and without having to go through any new judicial procedure.
    Please be also informed that in accordance with Article 57.3 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Azerbaijan the punishment of a convict who is serving a life sentence could only be replaced by court with an imprisonment for a certain period or he could be released on conditional parole, only after he has served at least twenty five years of his sentence.
    The Ministry of Justice of the Azerbaijan avails itself of this opportunity to express the assurance of its highest consideration to the Ministry of Public Administration and Justice of Hungary and thank in advance for cooperation.

    Vilayat Zahirov

    Deputy Minister of Justice
    Republic ofAzerbaijan

  29. I feel less guilt in my private life if I have to lie to somebody who is a habitual lier. I sort of think that he will go easy on me if I get busted.

    Orban the 5th and his government has nothing to be surprised of. They are lying day and night. So of course everybody is lying to them.

  30. London Calling!

    Oh! ZsuZsa! ZsuZsa! ZsuZsa!

    I think you have had a senior moment! – And it’s quite typical of some people to get nasty when they are not confident of their ground. “Moronic Londoner, would-be Hungarian macho man” (I’ve made more sense of it with correct punctuation) is an interesting concept – but I think Hungarian macho-man would not have been using a sewing machine like I have today! Your insult is a bit too strong for Eva’s blog – but anyway it’s unnecessary. I accept your apology(1)

    Au contraire – now look at your comment #39:

    “……..Meanwhile the same leaders recklessly borrowed money and promptly frittered all the money away. Western banks moved in and just like in the good old USA the people were given personal loans they could not afford and now Hungary is bulging at the seams with homeless families………”,

    This was the first time that American Loans entered the debate – introduced by you – and I only countered your argument. I accept your apology(2).

    I think you should go and lie down for a while – but don’t let the Pogácsa burn. And try and leave the cooking sherry alone?

    Hearsay – not factual? Really ZsuZsa – you do need to have a sound basis for your statements – what on earth do you mean? Are you on the same planet?

    Maybe you can take the woman out of Hungary – but you can’t take Hungary out of the woman?

    I anticipate it’s probably Au Revoir confused woman – although I might prefer Adieu.

    However drop the insults.

    Regards

    Charlie

  31. London Calling!

    This has gone to the wrong post! – Sorry Eva!

    I have copied it to the correct place.

    Regards

    Charlie

  32. These Orban, Vona, Morvai, Szijjarto…..are lying day and night.

    Time for a new Janos Brody song.

    Have you heard this song on youtube?

    Bródy János- Szabadnak születtél

    Itt születtél ezen a tájon, itt ringatott az édesanyád
    Itt indultál el az útra, s itt jártad ki az iskolát
    Itt élnek a barátaid és itt találtad meg szerelmedet
    A nagyvilágon e kívül nincs máshol helyed…………..

  33. Particularly well-chosen photos for this entry–the first one made me LOL.

    As for government sports teams, they’re not necessarily a bad idea. Every summer the National Mall in D.C. is covered in softball teams from different public agencies and private businesses. For example, Senator So-and-so’s Office versus the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. All strictly voluntary and self-funded (no tax $ used), and it’s a great morale boost.

  34. Mutt :
    Orban the 5th and his government has nothing to be surprised of. They are lying day and night. So of course everybody is lying to them.

    Do you think Gyurcsany actually has foreseen the future and that is what he spoke about at Oszod? I always though he was right.. almost all government lied (lies). Gyurcsany did not get the time wrong but forgot to imply the future.

  35. Some1 :
    Do you think Gyurcsany actually has foreseen the future and that is what he spoke about at Oszod? I always though he was right.. almost all government lied (lies). Gyurcsany did not get the time wrong but forgot to imply the future.

    You certainly have a point about Gyurcsany. His government certainly “lied” – that is falsified a lot of government reports as he actually admitted it. But they didn’t throw it into your face day after day. He didn’t stand in front of you a couple of times a week to make you feel like a genetically challenged moron, who will not know he’s telling the exact opposite what he was telling a month before. Orban’s two years should make Hungarians appreciate what Gyurcsany did. That speech could have been a start of a new era. It seems we blew it not him. Of course this is just a “what if” …

    Apropos Gyurcsany. What do you guys think about the hunger strike he started Sunday? Is he planning a new diet book – the “Protest Diet” weight loss program? Why the voter registration? These things are good publicity but if they are the only activity they can easily backfire and make him the butt of jokes. The Internet meme machine has already started. Watch your Facebook page. The Fleto food jokes bonanza is coming ..

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