Lately Viktor Orbán has been making one, sometimes even two speeches a day. First of all, there is his Friday morning interview on MR1. Second, every time a new business opens Orbán makes sure that he is there. After all, not too many new enterprises have been opening their doors of late in Hungary. The rate of investment hasn’t been so low for decades. But with Orbán’s ribbon cutting the less politically savvy portion of the population will most likely gain the impression that the economy is booming in Hungary.
Then there are the unveilings of statues that certainly wouldn’t need the presence of the prime minister, but Orbán seems to grab every opportunity to be seen and heard. Finally, his foreign trips–mind you, mostly to places like Azerbaijan or Georgia–also give him an opportunity to say something about foreign trade and foreign policy.
I just heard from a well informed journalist that arranging a meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel was not exactly easy. But it gave Orbán the opportunity to grant a long interview to Handesblatt, a well respected German newspaper dealing mostly with finance and economics. His trip to Berlin also allowed him to arrange an appearance at the Konrad Adenauer Foundation where he delivered a speech that I already touched upon. And we mustn’t forget about his joint press conference with Angela Merkel and his comments on his trip on the Hungarian public radio Friday morning.
Here I would like to write a little more about the interview with Handelsblatt. First of all, the interview is not available in its entirety online. In fact, I managed to find only a couple of paragraphs summarizing the very long interview which appeared only in the print edition of the newspaper. Fortunately, Galamus has a contributor who is able to translate from German, English, and French, and therefore the readers of this excellent Internet paper can read about news on Hungary in the western press. Something that is very much needed given MTI’s often less than adequate reporting.
Speaking of MTI’s reporting on foreign news, I have to share a funny story with you. Normally on October 9 the city of Leipzig celebrates its “Festival of Lights.” Under the heading of “Overcoming Borders,” the focus of this year’s content was the historic events that took place in Hungary in 1956 and 1989 and the effects they have had on Germany and Europe. This year commemorated the 20th anniversary of the signing of the German-Hungarian friendship treaty. The invited speaker was György Dalos, a Hungarian writer living in Berlin. But Zoltán Balog was also there representing the Hungarian government.
Boris Kálnoky of Die Welt mentioned the presence of Balog which was then translated by MTI as “The minister, who is not a member of any party, is one of the most glittering and most independent personalities of the conservative Hungarian government. ” Well, Balog as glittering is quite something, especially since the original went like this: “eine der schillerndsten und unabhängigsten Persönlichkeiten der konservativen ungarischen Regierung.” There are all sorts of alternative translations for ” schillern,” from “non-transparent” to “hypocritical,” but my German-English dictionary offers the English word “colorful” which sounds appropriate to me given the context. Indeed, one must be careful with MTI, and not just because of their translations.
As I said, Orbán’s interview was very long and here I will mention only those points that I found significant. According to Orbán, for Hungary’s very poor economic performance of late, especially since he took office, “the forty-five years of communism is responsible.” Let me reiterate that Hungary was always behind the West in economic development. When a journalist inquired about his proposed economic policies, he claimed that “the example for Hungary is Great Britain” where the economy is barely growing but employment is on the rise.
When the conversation moved on to energy, Viktor Orbán said that until now the natural gas that supplied 85% of Hungarian households “came only from Russia.” But he “promised that he will free Hungary from this dependence. Very soon we will be buying natural gas through Slovakia. That pipeline will be ready next year and we can already import gas from Romania.” And, I ask, where does that gas come from? From Russia, of course. The journalists also asked about Nabucco: “Are you not interested in Nabucco?” Answer: “Exactly the opposite. We want to import natural gas from Azerbaijan and there are other alternatives that interest us. For example, a factory in Georgia that makes liquefied natural gas.” Again, he didn’t answer the question head on, so I assume that he is no longer interested in Nabucco, perhaps for the same reasons that Ferenc Gyurcsány was not wholly committed to the project.
Another interesting part of the interview dealt with leadership. According to Orbán, hard times require strong leadership “and we try to be equal to the task.” At this point a journalist interjected: “Your leadership style is controversial, putting it politely.” Answer: “Only the people who don’t like me say that.” The journalist: “It seems that there are quite a few of them. Why?” Answer: “That has something to with my political views and my character.”
So, the conversation moved on to his character. According to Orbán, he has very decided views and some people don’t like that, but “this behavior also often solicits admiration even from those who hate me.” Another embarrassing question followed that exchange: “Do you like yourself in the role of a polarizer?” Answer: “I admit that sometimes it may look that way, but this is part of my job and I cannot run away from conflicts.”
This was not the first time that Orbán expressed his doubts about the “leadership structures of democratic regimes, especially under the present circumstances.” We should remember his admiration of the Chinese model as well as of the country’s economic growth. Here he expressed his conviction that a “presidential system of government is much more suitable for times that require the implementation of far-reaching reforms.” However, Hungary has a fairly solid foundation as far as the parliamentary system is concerned–the arrangement set up in 1848 and again in 1867–but none in presidential or half-presidential systems. But who knows. Perhaps six months before the elections Orbán will introduce a half-presidential system and make himself president for seven years!
Orbán is certain that his “political style suits Hungary’s political culture,” which I’m afraid doesn’t reflect well on Hungarian society. He sees himself as “the man of the people.” He even had the temerity to say: “My message to the Hungarian people is that I never lie to you, I will never betray you, and I will fight for you.”
Finally, Orbán was asked about his plans concerning the introduction of the euro. Hungary had pledged to switch over to the euro once the country met the eligibility requirements for admission to the eurozone. Even though not explicitly, he seems to have rejected the idea of Hungary’s joining the seventeen countries currently using the euro. He claimed that when Hungary signed the agreement the situation was very different and that today adherence to the zone cannot be automatic. “No decision was made whether Hungary will ever join the eurozone.” I would like to call attention to the fact that after his conversation with Angela Merkel Orbán was less feisty. He simply said that the time is not here yet–and indeed it isn’t–but when the circumstances are such that the introduction of the euro will be beneficial it will be done.
And finally, an important Orbán quotation from his speech given at the Konrad Adenauer Foundation. It concerns the constitutional court and the rule of law. According to him, Hungarians respect the institution of the constitutional court “but they are a bit ambivalent” toward it because, after all, this body can annul decisions of the representatives chosen by the people. “The Hungarian way of thinking, the Hungarian stomach finds this more difficult to swallow than the people of Germany seem to.” An incredible statement. Practically a negation of the rule of law, which is the foundation of democracy.
Are you surprised, Eva?
What does a Felcsutian know, or care, about Law. Orban believes in the ‘golden rule’: he who controls the gold makes the rules. And after 2 years in power and a little tango with the Azeris, Orban has no shortage of lucre.
You did drop an interesting bomb about the Presidential System. If polls go against Orban, I can see him manufacturing a reason
to establish a Presidential system with voting every 12 years.
HAJ-RA MUS-TA-CHIOED MAGYAROK!!!!
(Orban’s Hungary: a hall of mirrors with no
exit in sight.)
Eva is viktor only doing bad , nothing positive ………. or you look a the empty part of a glass because sombody drank it bebore you did
Very badly written article with lots of factual mistakes. Poos English too. No wonder Fidesz has 2/3 majority.
Let’s first, for the 20th time, remember that 2/3 of 51% of the voters is only 33% of the electorate.
But more importantly, when you set up a constitution by people–whether in 1989 or 2011–that have absolutely no practice or learning in the subject–then this is what you get: total nonsense that a madman can pervert to his wishes.
Why can’t Hungarians ever admit that they don’t know something?
Couldn’t they have at least had consulted with constitutional experts from Britain and the US about writing a constitution?
No, they couldn’t. They could twirl their mustachios and be confident that no one could do it better than they themselves.
I have read the interview and I thought what a vain and deeply stupid, stupid man.
It is so easy to see through it. He does nothing but self-praise, always trying to prove that he is strong, ahead of his time and oh, by the way, that HE IS NOT FAT (that’s the most recent thing, apparently). And yet, every time he gets asked a question about any logical, rational explanation or basis for his claims, he wriggles out with more populist bla-bla.
Unfortunately, he also said:
“we must be allowed to ask the question whether the leadership structures of democracy are still suitable. (…) And in our democratic systems today there are inherent leadership weaknesses.”
What he means by this, he soon explains: democratic leaders can’t do anything against the will of the people.
There is no need to comment on that.
By the way when “He claimed that when Hungary signed the agreement the situation was very different and that today adherence to the zone cannot be automatic. “No decision was made whether Hungary will ever join the eurozone.”
– he is wrong. Nothing has changed. The EU is a supranational legal institution, which will let Orban know if legally anything has changed.
“total nonsense that a madman can pervert to his wishes”
We need to also remember that unless someone gets a 2/3 at the next election (including Orban) the country will be ungovernable. Even the flat tax is in a 2/3 law – nobody will be able to change that without the support of the opposition. As I understand it, simply voting Fidesz out of government will not be enough.
Bernadette, it seems your glass is empty … (wink).
The remark about the constitutional court sounds like another subtle warning about a system that he calls “presidential”. A one man rule without democratic controls, because “the people want it that way”.
Orban doesn’t need 2/3 after the next elections. Everything is carved in stone. They can bumble along with a simple majority (50%+). I wonder what will he do if they will have to govern with less then 50%. That can be the pretext to the presidential system.
sure go and ask some other country what to do and never learn with your own mistakes so you allways be looking at what others do ja ja grow up dont grow old,
the way I see it you will wonder for a longggggggggggggggggggggggg time young need a strong parent
Did you take your medication today?
Loopholes and traps–Hungarians caught in their own nonsense.
Very interesting (and sad …) interview, I’ll try to get more of it.
Just a small correction:
The word is “schillerndsten” from schillernd aka colourful or ambivalent !
Have a nice sunday everybody! And don’t get too excited about “Bernadette”, she’s almost the nicest troll I’ve seen here lately …
PS and not too much OT:
Sometimes I’m almost glad that I’m at a late stage of my life – spending our last years after having had more than 60 years of peace in Europe and a lot of opportunities to see the world e g. On the other hand I pity Hungarians (like my wife) and other East Europeans because they didn’t have those chances that people in Western Europe and North America had … At least I try to make up for her!
Following Wolfi: If you elect to alter your originally posted text, Prof Balogh, the newspaper is not Handes- but Handelsblatt.
Thank you. That was my fault. Schillerndsten was unfortunately Galamus’s.
yes my medication are your hate answers, and seeng how old people never grew up.
I see hate only in your and the other Trolls’ posts – where do you see hate ?
All the regular posters here have a connection to Hungary and love the country and its people – that is why they are sad about what’s going on and about the treatment that Hungarians get fro Orbán and his government.
If you want to see real hate (by Hungarians) go to politics.hu and read the comments by “Magyar” and “Karpatok” or other Nazis ….
I see you’re ‘titled’.
Does that mean
that, like most affectatious Hungarians, you carry you carry a lunch in your leather briefcase to your
waste disposal job?
Not quite, Wolfi.
Let’s say I started off that way with my idealistic notions of literate, intelligent, Hungarians who, in the modern world of the 21st century, had nothing in common with the rabid fascists on the 1940’s and before. No matter that I heard countless tales of young jews who were beaten to a pulp, time and again, back in the 1930s for no other crime than being jewish. No,
I was going to return to Hungary and let bygones be bygones. (My father was on one of those trains–as well as my uncle–for which Csatary now sits, at home,
the protected ‘hero’…something in the mold of the Azeri axe murderer.)
So here we are, then, having returned and finding a quagmire of uneducated, terminally greedy, envious,
lazy, racist Hungarians. What on earth happened?
And, to top it off, an elected madman stoking the mindless rabble to actions befitting a past century.
As if this wasn’t enough, few recognize the extreme danger of the country heading down the road to totalitarianism, and even fewer who want to do something about it. Let’s not even try counting how many CAN do something.
There is, of course, one person–Bajnai, but I keep hearing accusation of goose murderer and the like.
Regardless of the many decorations this man has received outside of the country; or the simple fact that he has already run Hungary successfully for a year, few see him, or, are ready, to rally behind him. I won’t get into the putrid state of Hungarian political culture which has as its fulcrum the maximum gain for self at the expense of the populace. I can’t possibly understand how the MSZP pre-2010 crooks can have the nerve to offer themselves as an alternative to Fidesz. The people are confused. And to make
matters even worse, a proto-typical member of the opposition is Schiffer Andras of the LMP who stands in the way of any concerted effort against Orban; and seems more concerned at frustrating Gyurcsany than anything else.
So, ‘love’ this country and these people..? How can a person steeped in the Judaeo-Christian Civilization do that?
Where is the Decency?
Where is the Honesty?
Where is the Integrity?
Petőfi, I think you misunderstood Wolfi. He wasn’t talking about you.
There are all sorts of alternative translations for ” schillern,” from “non-transparent” to “hypocritical,” but my German-English dictionary offers the English word “colorful” which sounds appropriate to me given the context.
– Eva, what about ‘iridescent’?
If we look at the definition: ‘varying in color when seen in different ligts or from different angles’ – fit just right to the character, don’t you think?
Otherwise the interview suggest, that more and more people able to see through the orbanist smoke-screen of an European statesman and recognize the authoritarian little twit behind with an over-sized ego and a load of very dangerous ideas.
I can understand your feelings – or at least I’m trying to. The Hungarians I know personally (ok, there’s not too many of them outside my wife’s family) are really decent people, some are a bit on the conservative side, but most are as liberal as me and my wife.
Maybe I was extremely lucky there, finding someone like this – especially at my age …
I know that you have all kinds of people in every country – just look at the US tea party, those people make me shudder, and of course we Germans have our number of Nazis too.
But I’m still hoping that in the long run tolerance and wisdom will prevail against fundamentalism of all kinds – although here in Hungary it might be a very long run …
PS and OT:
I just read in the German SPIEGEL that one of Einstein’s last letters is being auctioned off:
This letter from 1954 about religion is in German like all his letters. Some years ago I went to a museum in NYC where they had an exhibition on his personal life and there I learnt that until his death he wrote in German – if it was something official (like the famous letter to Roosevelt) his secretary would translate it and type it in English for him to sign.
I was really moved then as I was just now reading this:
“The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish.”
Why don’t you just help us along and name some of the positive things? You certainly have quite a lot to refer to, otherwise you wouldn’t mentioned, would you?
Otherwise, for your information – I’ve just find the missing amount from the glass, even a very likely culprit, look:
I’m a regular poster here and I have a connection to Hungary as I was born there.
Albert, meet Dr. Eben Alexander…
But he was talking to Bernard and other trolls and not you.
I was just reporting on an interview with Viktor Orbán. In this case he is the one who must be doing bad things.
at least he is doing something others just coment from the outside wich is very easy I am not so sure if it is good or bad .but at least he tries
I think it would be better if he’d of done nothing.. and this is why one should hope never to see a majority government ever again. The changes OV made should be hard to get done. They should involve gathering a consensus across all groups inside the country. In non majority conditions this would involve this being involved in an unthinkable activity called negotiations. What makes OVs constitution illegitimate IMHO is that it’s a document that has been stuffed down the throats of every Hungarian without any form of consultation or negotiation. It takes in a single POWS which means it’s no better than a document created by any other dictator on the planet. The 2/3’s argument is (to use the term Biden seems to like) malarky. I’m glad that father OV seems to know what’s best for his flock even though they don’t… but that’s not how a true democracy functions. In the meantime his government is allowing terror groups to run through the country creating a climate of fear because he knows that with that he’ll get the support he needs to take further steps to ensure the populations security and intrench his power base. If that is the type of country you want to live in and build.. I pity you.
As for attacking Eva’s grammer… sure there are a few oddities in there but as you read the entries in this blog you quickly discover that this is simply her voice… and it certainly doesn’t take away from the veracity of her message.
Yes, he does ‘try’ certain things, doesn’t he?
–freeing the Azeri axe-murderer (That was a great move, right, Bernadette?)
–giving his soccer academy 2.8 billion forints…No problem there, right, Bernie? Great move?
LwiiH: “I think it would be better if he’d of done nothing..”
I just wanted to say that it does matter what someone does. “He does at least something” is meaningless because unfortunately he is doing bad if not evil things.
Orban has spoken his usual nonsense to the Handelsblatt, Just to whip his supporters in a frenzy. The rest of us do not count for him. Schillern can be probably easily translated as shrill in this context. Otherwise sparking, but here it is more sparks are flying,
FIDESZ has became an antidemocratic Polgari Part (Bourgeois Party, Restoration to the Glory of Noble Hungary). Along the failed Horthy pattern.
While Horthy was incompetent in most fields, Orban is more a criminal operator than incompetent.
The loss will be greater.
Let us wake up the sleeping Hungarians, and demand early election, with a referendum on all legislations under the Orban dictatorship.
“While Horthy was incompetent in most fields, Orban is more a criminal operator than incompetent.”
József Debreczeni was the first person who said that what Orbán is plannaing to do is not the restoration of the Horthy regime but much worse, the regime Gyula Gömbös would have liked to establish in Hungary. Meaning fascism.
please inform me of a country of true democratic gorvenements I will gladly move to it
some people like soccer. maybe more than some undisclosed pedofil
I don’t know why it’s taking people so long to realize that Orban is one angry mother who, above all, is looking to ‘punish’ Hungarians…maybe for booting him out in 2002 and keeping him out for 8 years. I don’t know. What seems clear, at least to me, is that what he’s doing is rooted in anger and retaliation.
I just read that Orbán said a few hours ago that if Fidesz wins again in 2014 Hungarians will return from abroad!!! Unreal. It was after the 2010 elections that people left Hungary in hordes and don’t plan to go back either.
Did anyone see this evening ATV’s Szabad szemmel? Péter Juhász, Ágnes Vadai, and Tibor Szanyi! I’m not going to tell you what my opinion was of the encounter, but I would be very curious of the opinion of those who happened to see the program.
horthy must have done something rigth. he died pacefully in is bed as far as I know in portugal.please let me know if wrong
This statement from Orban doesn’t actually make any logical sense if you think about it for more than about 10 seconds. Shows how much respect Orban has for his electorate’s intelligence.
I just saw about 15 minutes of it. Vadai was hugely disappointing and did herself no favors by accusing Juhasz, twice, of calling her anti-democratic. Then she went on to defend 8 years of MSZP by crowing about the highways that were built…yeah, at about
five times the normal cost. Then Szanyi, who was ok until then, chimed in defending 8 years of MSZP governance which, for the high level of corruption, is really indefensible…with the exception of Bajnai’s successful last year.
Juhasz came off best and touched on what I consider the great failure of the opposition–not dealing with the corruption of the past with concrete suggestions of what they would do to combat it in the future.
Both Vadai and Szanyi shied away from any mention of corruption–an aspect of shame and collusion in my eyes. Both Vadai and Szanyi must, indeed, realize that the past is not
to be forgotten and they must answer for it.
Forgiveness and Reconciliation…but first, own up to your crimes.
I wholeheartedly recommend Hungary for you. You will love it!
It is just about to be repeated on TV and internet an hour later.
Here is the link: http://atv.hu/videotar/20121015_szabad_szemmel_2012_10_14
It starts in the middle of this video.
Beware you may become depressive.
To Petőfi about Szabad szemmel. My reaction was the exact opposite.
You may recall that after the Orbán visit to Berlin I mentioned that at that time I didn’t have the German original of what Merkel said about the “open” discussion. Now, I have the original and that is even stronger: ” „Wir haben ein sehr offenes Gespräch gehabt.“ So, it was “very open” that means “very candid, very frank.”
I was thinking the same thing. He really started to enjoy this “I can say whatever I want” game. It’s scary how he totally doesn’t care about the consequences. He is already living the dictatorship.
I am trying to catch up a bit, and this statement of OV: “after all, this body can annul decisions of the representatives chosen by the people. The Hungarian way of thinking, the Hungarian stomach finds this more difficult to swallow” seeing a strong role for the electorate
‘a “presidential system of government is much more suitable for times that require the implementation of far-reaching reforms.” ‘
do not fit. I know this is not surprising but just for the record.
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