October 23: The speech of Viktor Orbán about revolution and freedom from speculators

First a few words about “the war of numbers.” Only the truly faithful can believe that while the Peace Marchers numbered 150,000, there were only 20,000 people at the Milla-Solidarity demonstration. Even the 150,000 figure wasn’t high enough for some; later the Fidesz organizers claimed that there were at least 400,000 demonstrators by the time the crowd got to Kossuth Square. There is no way that Kossuth Square can hold 400,000 people. Moreover, I looked at several photos taken on the spot, from which it was apparent that the square was not completely full and that people weren’t packed like sardines. Not like 56 years ago when one couldn’t drop a pin.Yesterday it was sparsely filled at best.

From journalistic accounts we learned that a lot of people didn’t even wait for Viktor Orbán’s speech and began to leave in order to beat the traffic. Andrei Stavilă’s pictures also show how dramatically Fidesz supporters have aged, an especially ironic turn of events since the party’s original name was Fiatal Demokraták Szövetsége (Association of Young Democrats) and only people under the age of 35 could be members of the party.

Listening  to or reading commentators’ reactions to the speeches, one cannot help being amazed at the widely divergent opinions about the same speech depending on political preference.  Tamás Pindroch, a right-wing journalist working for Magyar Hírlap, found Bajnai’s speech boring and flat. According to him, Bajnai was nervous throughout. His “instructors” told him to speak slowly and as the result he was unnatural. László Kéri, a former professor of Viktor Orbán and a political scientist, on the other hand, thought that Orbán’s speech was absolutely dreadful. One of the worst speeches of his career. The same Kéri found Bajnai’s speech inspiring and his delivery surprisingly good. Pindroch naturally thought the world of Orbán’s speech.

In assessing the contents of the two speeches I think ATV’s list of “most often used words” in the two texts might be useful. Orbán’s most often used word was “Hungarian” (30 times) followed by “accept” or “not accept,” mostly in connection with Hungary’s relations to the European Union (14 times). Orbán also liked the phrase “we were, we are, we will be able” to do this or that (11 times).

Bajnai’s most often used words were “new” and “politics” (42 and 27 times), “government” (25 times), “change of regime or government” (10 times), “change” (9 times), “together” (8 times), “Europe,” “solidarity,” “homeland and progress” (each 8 times).

I think from this simple list we can see that the two speeches were about two very different things. Bajnai emphasized a new direction, change, and a positive attitude toward the European Union while Orbán mentioned Europe only twice and both times with a negative connotation.

Kossuth tér, October 23, 2012
Photo by István Huszti / Index

Orbán in his speech attempted to compare the collapse of the Soviet system in Hungary in 1956 to the collapse of  Lehman Brothers in 2008. As you can imagine, the comparison is more than a little forced. The socialist system in Hungary was able to survive for a while, he argued, because it was “attached to the string of a world power.” That string broke or the hand that held it became weak and the whole edifice collapsed. “Just as on one fall morning an American financial giant in New York collapsed and the economy of the west was shattered.” It turned out, according to Orbán, that the economy of the western world, to which Hungary also belongs, “doesn’t stand on its own feet.” It doesn’t stand on the basis of “honest work but it is held by the string of a financial worldwide empire.” After this collapse there is no road back to the pleasant European way of life.

Europe is in trouble because it irresolute and it is a captive of ideologies instead of relying on the power of common sense. “Europe should understand that without nations it has no heart and without Christianity it has no soul.”

It was at this point that Orbán lashed out at the alleged sins of the European Union in relation to Hungary. According to him “there are quite a few people in Brussels who instead of renewing the European economy want to breathe new life into the decaying financial- and bank-capitalism. Instead of an economy based on work, they want to resurrect the regime of speculators. Instead of an equitable division they want to put all the financial burdens caused by the faltering economy on “the people.” His government cannot accept this way of handling the crisis. They also refuse to accept that “others tell us what we can or can’t do in our own country…. or that by however subtle means foreigners govern us.” Finally, “we accept that European institutions deserve our respect but we don’t accept that any of the institutions of the Union be disrespectful of the Hungarians.”

A few words of explanation about Orbán’s reference to the “equitable burden” that on paper sounds so enticing. What this covers is the incredible taxation of banks and certain sectors of Hungarian economic life, which played a large part in the recession that hit Hungary in 2012. Moreover, in the final analysis every penny the Hungarian government gets in the form of extra taxes from banks and businesses is paid by the Hungarian consumers.

As for the part of the speech that was devoted to 1956 there are some questionable assertions. For example, that the participants in the 1956 uprising “gave us the courage forty years later to drive out the Soviets, to topple the socialist workers’ party, to destroy the mines and the barbed wires that separated us from the free world.” Of course, Hungarians didn’t drive out the Soviet troops; they went on their own as a result of the Soviet recognition that their empire could no longer be maintained. The negotiations over the withdrawal were conducted not by the democratic opposition but by the last government of the Kádár regime. There were no mines on the Austro-Hungarian borders ever since the mid-1950s. By the way, that’s why 200,000 Hungarian refugees managed to walk across the border relatively easily in 1956-57. The barbed wire was also dismantled way before the change of regime. In fact, Hungarians by then had valid passports and went in hordes to Austria to buy items that were hard to come by in Hungary.

As for toppling the socialist workers’ party, this is a huge exaggeration. It needed no toppling. The reform wing of MSZMP (Magyar Szocialista Munkáspárt, and I don’t know why Orbán didn’t use its proper name here) organized MSZP while the hard-core communists organized their own party, the Magyar Kommunista Munkáspárt, which received no more than 0.11% of the votes in 2010. These are the dangerous communists Orbán implores his followers to fight against. But if there aren’t enough true communists, he can always make his followers believe that members of MSZP, many of them born in the 1970s, are the same communists who were turning against their own people in 1956. Orbán said as much when he compared October 23, 2006 to 1956, adding that “the aspirations of the revolution’s suppressors didn’t disappear from Hungarian public life.” Lajos Kósa, who is a great deal less subtle than the prime minister, went even further and announced that MSZP is the same party that suppressed the 1956 revolution and that is an impossible situation that this party is allowed to exist. “As if after the end of World War II a new reform Nazi party came into being hiding within parliament…. If there can be no reform-Nazi party there cannot be a reform communist party. We can close this era only if the successor to the party that suppressed the revolution disappears from politics.”

Kósa delivered this speech in Szentes, Orbán spoke in Budapest. But surely both used the same Urtext.

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35 comments

  1. Well, we have learned so far, that Mr.Kósa isn’t really at ease with arithmetic, this famous feature of him may account for the gross misplacement of events on the time line…

    However, he made it clear, that he treat the case of ever existing membership in the infamous MSZMP as ‘original sin’, or ‘ancestral sin’, which results total depravity even regarding the descendants of those sinners, probably up to the seventh generation, if we are at it!

    Sounds great, isn’t it, pure Hungarian, and most of all in accordance with the often declared Christian values!

    Never mind, though, that the notabilities of the ruling party – the name Fidesz – one way or another – with nearly no exception – also coming from the same infamous party – the name of this: MSZMP, or from it’s youth organization, KISZ – and they presently occupying quite a significant number of seats in the Hungarian parliament too!

    Oooops!

    So, how is it, Mr.Kósa, really?

  2. We had a revenge on Orban.
    He went to lay a wreath on the Imre Nagy memorial on June 16th.
    We went there in the afternoon, with our intrepid Ferenc Donath.

  3. Ask the Hungarian Catholic Church about stuff like Kosa’s notion of party sin carrying down through the generations, and the Church would probably say that they don’t get involved in politics….that is, until their fearless leader is deemed in trouble and then the call goes out from every pulpit to,
    “Pray for our Victor!”

    Hungarian hypocracy–there’s nothing like it.

  4. Apparently, there are two new statues in the centre of Yerevan: one is of the former chess champion, Tigran Petrosian; the other shows a dog pissing on Orban.

  5. Actually you will be suprised by the growth and prosperity the Hungary will start to feel in the next few months or year or two.
    Orban is doing a lot of good things for Hungarians against big business.
    North American and European Union philosophy is that poor people are paying for greed and mistakes of big banks.
    Orban actions which make not average people but big business acountable make press and mass media controlled by big business crazy about trying to defame him or hurt him.

    Hungary if not big international campaign against this country would be doing much better in terms of employment and growth.

  6. hulaaa :
    Actually you will be suprised by the growth and prosperity the Hungary will start to feel in the next few months or year or two.
    Orban is doing a lot of good things for Hungarians against big business.
    North American and European Union philosophy is that poor people are paying for greed and mistakes of big banks.
    Orban actions which make not average people but big business acountable make press and mass media controlled by big business crazy about trying to defame him or hurt him.
    Hungary if not big international campaign against this country would be doing much better in terms of employment and growth.

    Dear hulaa, Would you kindly also explain how the flat tax benefited the “poor people”you are speaking up for? Did you know that the flat tax provided extra money to rich, and at the same time the poor had t pay more?
    Do you understand that the tax Orban levies on “big business”is actually deferred to the consumers (the poor people)? Did you know that the poor people do not get the land leases that became available because it goes to unqualified Fidesz supporters? it is not the “big business” you should be afraid of, as those “big business” so far did very well in the West and lifted many people out of poverty, versus the current Hungarian model offered up by Orban and Matolcsy that actually works the other way around. Regards.

  7. To Hulaaa, I would be most surprised if your prediction would become reality. Some1 explained it pretty well. The Orbán government’s economic policies retard growth. In addition, the unpredictable and anti-business attitude of the government frightened investors away from Hungary. Investment rates are very low. The lowest in decades. And without investment there can be no growth, no prosperity.

  8. A tiny minority would harmless.
    The problem is that this tiny minority includes 90% of the Hungarian conservative intellectuals.
    They justify their brother Orban.
    I hope that this time the modern intellectuals of Hungary will rise up.
    We need a revolution of the new intellectuals, to sweep Hungary clean of the usual idiots, the Horthy restaurateurs..
    We have to end the usual regime purges. Gyurcsany will be a historical figure. The few fresh brains of Hungary. The new intellectual.

  9. “Actually you will be suprised by the growth and prosperity the Hungary will start to feel in the next few months or year or two.”

    “surprised” is putting it mildly!

  10. “As if after the end of World War II a new reform Nazi party came into being hiding within parliament…. ”

    Strange that the Mayor of Debrecen, of all places, seems blissfully unaware of Jobbik.

    Although, it may be the term ‘reform’ that’s confusing him…

  11. Re: hulaa’s “growth and prosperity”:

    The numbers: total gov’t debt in May 2010 (when Orban took power) was 19,933 billion HUF.
    Current debt (end of September 2012) 20,654 billion HUF. The gov’t also sucked in about 2,900 billion HUF from the private retirement funds. So Orban’s government created an extra 3,600 billion debt in two and a half years, an 18% increase. During the same time, the GDP has decreased. These are the numbers, the rest is smoke and mirrors.

  12. Viktor is doing a great job of ousting himself. Just wait and see:

    Portfolio.hu

    “IMF offended?

    The paper said the IMF has probably taken the cabinet’s recent media campaign to heart for the government emphasised in full-page paid ads the issues it would not let the Fund enforce.

    The paper cited Hungary’s chief aid negotiator Mihály Varga as saying on 23 October that ” we have once again in the clutch of foreign forces; once again a remote interest is bringing trouble on our heads.” Although presently “the boots of foreign soldiers are not trampling on our soil, our country is still in shackles.”

    “Now the EU once again found itself in a position that it can threaten Hungary with the sanction of freezing cohesion funds, and the Commission does not mean to give in as easily this time as it did in the spring,”

    Some deep apologies might help though.

  13. hulaaa :
    Actually you will be suprised by the growth and prosperity the Hungary will start to feel in the next few months or year or two

    The late László Komár, a Hungarian crooner, he just died a few days ago, had a song where sings at the end: “Hawaii, hol nem jártam tavaly” (A silly rhyme. It means Hawaii, where I wasn’t last year).

    You will be singing this song for years if Orban stays in power. This is the infamous third year when we were supposed to rise (“elrugaszkodás éve”). You have to admit he missed at least by one year. Why do you think the next will be different? If my spouse would tell me we’re going to Hawaii next year I would shake my head if I’m still delivering pizza.

    It’s just laws of physics. Falling GDP, huge deficit, unemployment, stagnating economy, rampant corruption don’t usually signal spectacular economic growth. And regarding the foreign conspiracy, the larger chunk of the GDP comes from direct foreign investments – so these evil foreigner conspired to pay your bills. Think twice before you chase them away.

    Your living standards will not rise in the near future. Orban is lying to you. He just introduced new austerity measures that some say is twice as much burden that the “infamous” Bokros plan was.

    So, you are not going to Hawaii for now …

  14. tappanch – you are clearly mistaken. Our Dear Leader tells us the TRUTH:

    “I am a prime minister of a country, which two years ago was in a worse shape, than Greece at that time. But now what I can report to you is that we succeeded to renew Hungary and put it ont he right track: we have done our homework, we have built up a workfare society.”

    Hajrá Magyarország! Hajrá Fidesz! Hajrá Viktor!

  15. According to the BRFK (Budapest Police Department), a man was arrested for disorderly conduct yesterday during the main Jobbik demonstration for disturbing the demonstration by constantly shouting anti-semitic slurs.

    I can imagine their indignation … Was this guy the Grand Master of Ceremonies?

  16. Paul :
    “I am a prime minister of a country, which two years ago was in a worse shape, than Greece at that time. But now what I can report to you is that we succeeded to renew Hungary

    “Two years ago we were standing at the edge of the cliff, but since then we took a big step forward …”

  17. So the actual gov’t deficit has been 7% a year under Orban, if we disregard the confiscation of the private pension funds.

    Of course, starting March 2013, Orban & Fidesz will have access to the reserves of the Hungarian National Bank (MNB) by appointing its new leadership.

    They can take away another 3000 billion HUF from the reserve and claim that the yearly deficit is below 3%, while it is still at 7%. If they take away more, they can create the appearance of an economical upswing just before the election in 2014. [They will create new laws to make this legal. The laws will be deemed going against EU law, but the money will have been spent by then]

  18. tappanch :So the actual gov’t deficit has been 7% a year under Orban, if we disregard the confiscation of the private pension funds.
    Of course, starting March 2013, Orban & Fidesz will have access to the reserves of the Hungarian National Bank (MNB) by appointing its new leadership.
    They can take away another 3000 billion HUF from the reserve and claim that the yearly deficit is below 3%, while it is still at 7%. If they take away more, they can create the appearance of an economical upswing just before the election in 2014. [They will create new laws to make this legal. The laws will be deemed going against EU law, but the money will have been spent by then]

    I’ve read about this scenario often enough now. And it might be what will happen. But supposing Fidesz get their hands on the MNB reserves and fix the 2014 elections. Then what? Food rationing? Energy blackouts? Mr and Mrs Orban keeping a helicopter ready in case they need to make a quick emergency exit?

  19. Eva S. Balogh :
    Another speech by Viktor Orbán. This time in Bucharest at the meeting of the European People’s Party where he decided not to run for vice-presidency:
    http://www.epp.eu/news.asp?artid=1922&fullview=1

    What a load of crap – again!

    Yes, I know, that what I show you are taken out of context, but would you, or any sane person read uo this rubbish loud, publicly?

    – So as a soldier from the frontline, I could be brave enough to use my five minutes to draw some conclusions of the crisis we are experiencing now.

    A real HERO, no doubt, the ‘smell of gunpowder’ and all that. Little more pálinka, Viktor?

    – Fifth: it is obvious that the economic success of our competitors also stems from a spiritual driving force. This means that rationality itself is not enough, we need spiritual inspiration and background in Europe as well. Let’s put it this way: common sense and sursum corda is necessary at the same time. We, as christian democrats should not forget about this.

    He’s telling the truth: the Shaman already started to work on it in the Hungarian Parliament, so, it’s only matter of time to the ‘great success’..! Or is it?

    – Six: once we have to answer the question, why the populist, extremist forces are the ones to become stronger during the crisis? Why do not we benefit from it? Why do extremist forces appear to be able to solve the people’s problem, and why the desperate, hopeless, crisis-hit people don’t believe the same about us?

    Let’s prepare us to take over the roll of the ‘extremists’, or even take over on them: be better in it what they doing – you know, to attract those ‘crisis-hit people’!

    – We are heading towards historic changes. We have to remind ourselves, that our opponents, the socialists>/b> have always failed on tresholds of historic changes and they always wanted to roll back the wheel of history. Had it been up to them: even today the Soviet Union would still exist, Germany would still be split and there would be no united Europe.

    So, Mr.Horn as a socialist worked hard on to keep Germany split, while let the DDR people go to west from Hungary?
    Or they worked against the united Europe by joining the EU, while in government?

    – Never mind! Cheers, Prosit, Skål, Egészségedre, Viktor!

  20. Hmmm…
    Next time I’ll read before posting – promise!
    Besides of my sloppy grammar a bunch of typos as well – sorry about that.

    Not the meaning, though!

  21. Bowen, what you need to understand about politics (sorry to be such a smartass) is that it is never a fundamentally long term project. You stay long in power by spending there lots of small increments of time. Spending the NBH reserves would enable them to stay until let’s say 2016, by which time they hope the growth will really, this time really, start. If not, well, then they have time until then to figure it out what to do next (who knows Bajnai will give up by then and they will have to fight against the weaker Mesterházy etc.). To stay in power is an imperative for these people that is probably beyond anyone’s real comprehension here at this blog (this is why we are not politicians). Exercising power and being in power relations are the most defining character trait of many of the top-echelon Fidesz people, and they also just love power games, plus most have nowhere to go (even if they have the Vienna or Zurich bank accounts full). In addition, as Prof. Szelényi mentioned in an article written around the end of 2011, he believes that Orbán is actually preparing for a default (i.e. on the foreign currency debt, you don’t default on local currency debt, only devalue it through inflation, although economically it is also considered default). When the reserves are completely spent away, well, then default is only natural. And you can be sure that whoever is in a position to be the first government after a huge crisis (such as a default or a system change, rendszerváltás) will be amortized very soon, given the extreme unpopular moves one has to take. Maybe they play for the role of MSZP which came back with a vengeance in 1994. MSZP almost won in 1998 despite Bokros, it was only Tocsik and the idea that Bős-Nagymaros might be built after all which brought the opposition to power – Fidesz hopes not to repeat ‘those’ mistakes (of course they will commit others). In any case, you may rest assured that they will use any and all means necessary to hold on to power.

  22. One cannot help but be totally disgusted with the Hungarian political culture as-is.
    Example #1: Javor Benedek from that august political association known as LMP has already come out flinging the proto-typical, old, communist, opaque slur–“There are problems (note the multiple) with Gordon Bajnai…” No explanation: no elucidation. Just the dark, all-suggestive “problems”.
    So I ask: how is this different than a Budai
    speech?

    Example #2: A leader of the MSZP (not Mesterhazy) has already come out with the statement that if they were to join Bajnai ‘in the middle’ then they would lose their left-wing supporters. Now, that’s a classic.
    Let’s ask ourselves: What is really important here–defeating Orban or (supposedly) maintaining our own voter base? Of course, the notion of losing your own voter base is nonsense, too.

    So, here’s the Hungarian political culture in a nutshell. Anyonse see the seeds of accommodation flowering from the heads of MSZP and LMP politicians?

  23. @Breki:

    Thanks for your insights …

    The negative side of this is that it makes me really depressive …

  24. I am still bemused by the drooling over the Oct 23 speeches…it is basically “we will march together…in different directions.”…..Nothing changed since the ga-ga-ga-ga started.

  25. Louis Kovach :
    I am still bemused by the drooling over the Oct 23 speeches…it is basically “we will march together…in different directions.”…..Nothing changed since the ga-ga-ga-ga started.

    Call yourself a patriot, Louis (or just a schmuck?) Here’s a man–Bajnai–who’s come out swinging with a speech noone expected him capable of and your 10 cent,
    truly Balkan, mentality can’t wait to mock it.
    You’ve missed your period by 400 years, Louis. You’ve just qualified yourself as a 4 carat, Orban cheerleader.

  26. petofi :
    One cannot help but be totally disgusted with the Hungarian political culture as-is.
    Example #1: …

    I would not overestimate these first reactions. Why should these two parties, who at least profess to have been the main opponents to Fidesz and OV so far, immediately take a back seat in the new Együtt movement? Also before Oct 23, the anti-Milla etc. propaganda was strong, why should one person and one speech change that quickly? The people within Együtt will have to come up with practical ideas how this cooperation should look like, etc. Something that gets support in the public and which then makes it difficult for MSzP and LMP not to join. I do not know with how many people Bajnai can come up, LMP has some people and supporters and MSzP has even money and positions. I expect then to join in only when “forced” by their voters. So some steady promotion of Együtt will be badly necessary, just as Gordon Bajnai said towards the end of his speech.

    Gyűjtsétek össze a változást akarókat: írjatok alá, jelentkezettek be a Millánál, a Szolidaritásnál, a Haza és Haladásnál vagy a választott pártotoknál! Tiltakozzatok és szerveződjetek. Mondjátok el a képviselőiteknek, a pártjaitoknak, hogy összefogást akartok, hogy együttműködést vártok tőlük és köztük!

    Assemble those wanting change: provide your signatures, get involved with Milla, with Solidarity, with Patriotism and Progress or with your chosen party! Protest and organize yourselves. Tell your representatives, your parties, that you want collaboration, that you expect cooperation from them and between them!

    That cannot be repeated often enough.

  27. @Kirsten

    “…why..immediately take a back seat..”

    Easy. Because there was great enthusiasm
    after Bajnai’s speech. Most people in opposition know that Bajnai is the best man to lead now. Any heming/hawing is just jockeying for a larger voice later. Unnecessary now. What the moment called for is “Bajnai by acclamation!” But Hungarians are not capable of that having their own interests (foremost) always in mind.

  28. Petöfi, the Hungarian voter should also find out that he has his own interests, and these are to get back to a “normalis, jol müködö orszag”. For that he will have to do exactly what Bajnai said. Politicians of MSzP and LMP will not change course only because this would be “decent”. There are not many other ways how to say what Bajnai urged people to do. I can cite other parts, equally useful for people to wake up. Masik Magyarorzagnak ket ellensege is van etc. But it is the average voter who has to put the pressure on politicians.

  29. Let peopel work in what they want to. free from politician power and stupid rules they will progress without their politicians starting with all your wonderfull followers

  30. Petofi: “Louis Kovach :
    I am still bemused by the drooling over the Oct 23 speeches…it is basically “we will march together…in different directions.”…..Nothing changed since the ga-ga-ga-ga started. ”

    “Call yourself a patriot, Louis (or just a schmuck?) Here’s a man–Bajnai–who’s come out swinging with a speech noone expected him capable of and your 10 cent,
    truly Balkan, mentality can’t wait to mock it.
    You’ve missed your period by 400 years, Louis. You’ve just qualified yourself as a 4 carat, Orban cheerleader.”

    Well read the Kakuk Gyorgy article in the Oct 27 Galamus…althogh in more words it says the same thing.

  31. Orbán Viktor is taxing the banks, bringing energy and utilities back into Hungarian hands, and blocking attempts by multinationals to open more supermarkets to suck the money out of Hungary. Attempting to protect Hungarian ownership. And he is the centre-right sided politician.

    No wonder he is so popular.

    As for the downturn in Hungary, get real, there is a downturn everywhere. You guys just better watch out you are not completely economically slaved to currently more successful european states.

  32. Reality Check :
    Orbán Viktor is taxing the banks, bringing energy and utilities back into Hungarian hands, and blocking attempts by multinationals to open more supermarkets to suck the money out of Hungary. Attempting to protect Hungarian ownership. And he is the centre-right sided politician.
    No wonder he is so popular.
    As for the downturn in Hungary, get real, there is a downturn everywhere. You guys just better watch out you are not completely economically slaved to currently more successful european states.

    Thanks for tuning in. You would benefit of following this blog as it would prove you wrong at every point you make, like benefiting Hungary, so popular, etc. His popularity currently is very low, his support is gone. He is benefiting Hungary?. hahahaha He does benefit many Hungarians for sure. Let me repeat a previous post just for your benefit. By the way his protection from multinationals is for the interest of the Fidesz oligarchs and not the general Hungarian public. Selling citizenship for Euro 250,0000 is also not the best interst of the country….
    “Dear hulaa, Would you kindly also explain how the flat tax benefited the “poor people”you are speaking up for? Did you know that the flat tax provided extra money to rich, and at the same time the poor had t pay more?
    Do you understand that the tax Orban levies on “big business”is actually deferred to the consumers (the poor people)? Did you know that the poor people do not get the land leases that became available because it goes to unqualified Fidesz supporters? it is not the “big business” you should be afraid of, as those “big business” so far did very well in the West and lifted many people out of poverty, versus the current Hungarian model offered up by Orban and Matolcsy that actually works the other way around. Regards.”

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