Although I know that some of you have already discovered Kim Scheppele’s answer to Gergely Gulyás’s attacks on her scholarly credentials, those who haven’t should visit Paul Krugman’s blog on The New Times and read her rebuttal entitled: “Hungary, The Public Relations Offensive.” Her analysis of the public letter addressed to her highlights the way members of the Orbán government operate. And in case you didn’t see Gulyás’s letter to Scheppele, make sure that you read it now.
A couple of days ago I also wrote about the scandalous personal attack on George Kopits, this time by the new deputy governor of the Hungarian National Bank. This young and apparently unqualified upstart, who owes his position to his allegiance to Fidesz, Viktor Orbán and György Matolcsy, attacks a man with an impressive academic and professional background. I suggest taking a look at his curriculum vitae.
But the list doesn’t end here. The latest is an attack on Viviane Reding, Vice-President and Commissioner responsible for Justice, Fundamental Rights, and Citizenship, who happens to be a Christian Democrat. Just like Fidesz politicians in the European Parliament, she is affiliated with the European People’s Party (EPP). So her attackers can’t even claim that her criticism of the current Hungarian government derives from her left-liberal political leanings. One can read about Viviane Reding’s career here.
Regardless of how many degrees, prizes and distinctions she has received, the Hungarian minister of justice and administration, Tibor Navracsics, still thinks that she is unqualified for her job. Navracsics shouldn’t throw stones: his own legal background is minimal. After he graduated from law school he immediately switched to political science, which he taught at his alma mater until Viktor Orbán discovered him and made him the whip of the Fidesz caucus between 2006 and 2010.
It is obvious from the statements Navracsics’s ministry released lately that the minister of justice and administration either decided on his own or was instructed from above to launch an anti-European Union campaign. First, he came up with the bizarre explanation that the “renewed attacks” on Hungary have something to do with the German elections that will take place in five months and the EP elections more than a year from now. According to Navracsics, “the European left uses all means at its disposal to discredit the European right” through its attacks on Hungary. It seems that Navracsics, who is supposed to know something about political science and politics, considers Hungary a linchpin in the political war between right and left in Europe. Political commentators laughed at the very suggestion.
But why the renewed attack on Viviane Reding? She made the mistake of giving a lengthy interview to the Hungarian paper Népszava. In it she emphasized that she has no grudge against Hungary or the Hungarian government as Navracsics often claims. It is her duty to enforce the laws of the European Union. She expressed her disappointment that the Hungarian government didn’t heed José Manuel Barroso’s request for a postponement of the vote on the latest amendments to the constitution. She used some pretty strong words in connection with the Hungarian government’s lack of responsiveness when it comes to adjusting Hungarian law to conform to the laws of the Union. Here is one of the many statements she made during the interview that may indicate that the European Commission means business. “As President Barroso mentioned, if necessary we will not hesitate to use all means at our disposal–I repeat, all means at our disposal–if Hungary disregards the legal norms of the Union and those of the Council of Europe.” Reding repeated what she had said earlier: “a constitution is not a plaything that can be changed every few months. This is especially true when the independence of the judiciary is at stake.”
Finally, there seems to be a difference of opinion about the information flow between Reding and Navracsics. Navracsics complains that he finds out about Reding’s positions on certain issues only from the media. Naturally, Reding denies the charge, claiming that she and her staff are in constant touch with Navracsics’s ministry. As for the veracity of Navracsics, it is worth recalling his run-in with Nellie Kroes, European Commissioner for Digital Agenda in Brussels, about a year ago. Kroes and Navracsics had a long private talk after which there was a press conference during which Navracsics’s position suddenly changed. Kroes was furious and announced to Navracsics and all those present: “That is not what you told me half an hour ago.”
There are a couple of nasty international situations where Navracsics thinks that Reding is not sufficiently supportive of the Hungarian position. One is the so-called Tobin case. Tobin is an Irish national who caused the death of two Hungarian children. He was released on bail but left Hungary and went back to Ireland. For years Hungary has been trying to get Tobin extradicted to Hungary where he is supposed to serve his sentence. However, according to Irish law, Ireland extradites somebody only if the person actually escaped from the country asking for his extradition. Tobin didn’t, and therefore the Supreme Court of Ireland ruled in Tobin’s favor. As Reding explained, this is the law, whether we agree with the outcome or not. Under the circumstances she can do nothing.
Then there is another case in which Navracsics suddenly discovered that Reding didn’t do her best on Hungary’s behalf. A Hungarian woman in the middle of a divorce ended up with her husband and child in Bora Bora. The husband took her passport away and has been keeping her and her son captive. According to Navracsics, he wrote to Reding about the case on February 14 but has gotten no answer. By now it seems that Reding is really fed up with Navracsics and his ministry because she found it interesting that “these accusations surfaced only after the Commission announced that it is analyzing the legality of the constitutional amendments.” Reding claims that she answered Navracsics’s letter on March 19. Moreover, she got in touch with the French minister of justice and asked her to investigate the case. Reding sarcastically mentioned that perhaps Navracsics should check his mailbox because the Hungarian Embassy in Brussels acknowledged the receipt of her letter. And she added her final observation: “Such mistaken information surely doesn’t improve the relations between Budapest and Brussels.”
I doubt that Navracsics’s answer to Reding dated April 8 will mend the already strained relations between the commissioner and Navracsics. Here are a few choice sentences: “Your statements of late have plenty of factual errors.” He goes on to elaborate. He claims that he wrote a second reminder on March 17 to Reding which must have prompted her to write him on the 19th. He added that two of his letters have still been unanswered. The first he wrote on November 13 and second on November 16 about the Tobin case. In addition, Reding keeps talking about judicial independence in connection with the early retirement of judges when the European Court of Justice in its ruling wrote only of “discrimination on the basis of age”; the decision had nothing to do with the independence of the judiciary. And a final dig: “Madam, you asked me to check my mailbox. I ask you to check your facts.” So, relations between Brussels and Budapest are splendid!
I should mention that Hungary has problems not only with the European Commission but also with the European Parliament, which will discuss the Hungarian constitution on April 17. As far as we know Viktor Orbán was not invited, but Orbán is “theoretically ready to debate” with the MEPs. This weekend he will consult with József Szájer whether he should go. Meanwhile the European Parliamentary Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs prepared a document “on the situation of Fundamental Rights: standards and practices in Hungary (pursuant to the EP resolution of 16 February 2012)”–Rapporteur is Rui Tavares, Portuguese MP. Apparently even the European People’s Party members of the committee signed the report. Doesn’t sound too promising from the Hungarian point of view.
I’ve been reading some of the comments but to claim they are destroying Kim’s posting is a stretch at best.
As long as you cannot validly counter this argument – and you cannot, noone can -, this alone wins over Scheppele. It is not a counter-argument that dictatorships use this kind of reasoning too. This is like saying that because Hitler loved coffe, if you love coffee you are a Nazi. The two claims do not connect logically, that is.
Sheppele is, of course, free to voice her opinion, but I think it is contraproductive because she is so over the top that her claims wake up even the most dormant Fidesz voter in Hungary. So, I could as well say, go on Ms. Scheppelen and friends, full throttle, your attacks are so hostile and offending that Fidesz doesn’t even need to go campaigning as election gets close, you do all this for them.
May I refer all stubborn fidesz patriots to the articles written by scheppele carefully.
I have heard her in live. Very impressive. All legal people look up to her.
Nobody in America doubts her opinion.
Anybody with an independent intellect will take the side of scheppele.
1/3 of the hungarians already understood the criminal mind of orban,
2/3 is still searching.
Johnny, if your only probems is Professor Scheppele is American, then next time call me and I read her article for ya. Or re-send it. Or you can pick any other Hungarian.
This is truly amazing. How does a person’s zipcode determine the truth content of their writings?
By the way if you guys thing she is actually helping the Fidesz, then what’s up with that feeding frenzy on Krugman’s comment section every time when girl shows up?
And you want to know this because, why exactly?
Fidesz Troopers do not want “foreigners” to analyse their mass that they created, but have no problem bringing Jesus into the religion out of the Hungarian education system and from the Constitution to start with?
I actually know something about this. She herself.
OK, I should really, truly start to check my posts before it is published. WHat I meant to write is:
Fidesz Troopers do not want “foreigners” to analyze the mess they created in Hungary for Hungarians. The same time the same Troopers have no problem to bring in the concept of the bible into schools, and into the Constitution. They have no problem trying to convince the masses about Jesus, and about the Pope and the importance of foreign concepts related to religion.
Johnny Boy, it’s your country and if you can’t put 2 and 2 together can see the elegance and truth in Kim’s arguments then you’ve gotten what you deserve. Even the most hardened nationalistic Hungarians I know recognize the illegitimacy of the current set of cardinal laws
As for the undecided, my opinion is that they are only undecided because the opposition has yet to put up a credible choice. If they continue to waffle like they are currently waffling I would be willing to bet that voter turn out will be at it’s lowest ever because they will have nothing to vote for. If the opposition happens to put it together I would be very willing to bet that Fidesz and OV will be sent to the political history bin this time for good. All one could hope for is that this government use it’s super majority more responsibly. Unfortunately a opposition victory will mean 4 more years of political instability as the new government unwinds the damage at a time when stability is needed more than ever.
Heading the wrong direction? 69%: yes
Truth: 69% of Hungarians are disappointed.
The chauvinist power grab of Orban has been embraced only by the blind ones.
The foreign press analysis helped the 69% to understand that Orban is destroying Hungary.
In the corrupted election system a fidess/jossik/kssp coalition will keep the power.
Who has been ruining Hungary since 1867?
Tisza, Horthy, Bethlen…..orban….their unbalanced politics betrayed the majority.
They opened the door to extremism, and lost wars.
LwiiH:”Even the most hardened nationalistic Hungarians I know recognize the illegitimacy of the current set of cardinal laws.”
It is heart warming to read the eloquent words of LwiiH.
Gifted writer. Clear thinker. A treasure.
Truth content is one thing, the moral and legal rights to intervene into domestic affairs is another.
Even if you think you are right in some matters, you must (should) respect others’ right to choose for themselves whatever they want, even if you don’t agree with their choice.
This argument alone is enough to repel Scheppele’s violent and obviously exaggerating attack. Because attack is what it is.
On top of that, she is not right – in her response to Gulyás’ letter she counters some minor and insignificant arguments with full force, and leaves all points of the basic message intact.
To add to the picture: Most of Scheppele’s long writing contains her (dismissive) political opinion on Fidesz. This immediately puts her writing into one well defined perspective which immediately prevents it from being able to be considered as factual, objective and professional.
Interestingly how Fidesz deals with the opposition (with their own countryman) is the exact reason why you would like to dismiss Ms Scheppele.
Fidesz not only governs and accountable to those who went out and voted for the, or is it? THere are an other few million Hungarians out there. My parents, my nieces, and many of my friends have no problem with Ms Scheppele speaking in their names. They are not lawyers, and they welcome an expert opinion. Expert opinion is a concept that is hard to find in the decisions Fidesz makes, hence the fourth changes to the “rock solid Basic Law” in a few months.
Just imagine that Ms Scheppele is doing a volunteer job for Hungarians other than Fidesz, the same way as UK and USA PR and marketing firms work for Fidesz to benefit only Fidesz, except Fidesz does this from the money of tax payers.
But, Johnny. At least the half of the country if not more has a “dismissive” opinion about the Fidesz. So? I still don’t understand why can’t she give an opinion on the Orban government. Just because she lives outside of the border? So do the 400k spanking new Hungarian citizens who will vote in 2014.
Anyway. You like it or not she does give her opinion.
What part of Professor Scheppele’s response were you talking about when you said she countered Gulyas’ arguments with full force?
I was wondering when this line of argument was going to show up. How does that go? “If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit”? I know award you with the golden shovel… because if you go back and look at treaties that were signed you’ll see that Hungary has obligations that it must respect. You can’t just sign up to something and then say, well, here is a closed door and so I’m going to ignore it because it’s a domestic affair behind a closed door. Plus forgive us for having an opinion and expressing it in a public forum.. and forgive Kim for having an informed and professional opinion that people respect.
Johnny Boy, there is nothing violent or exaggerated in Prof.Scheppele’s text. It is factual and reality-based. She has made a substantial argument, based on facts and the government spokespeople, confronted with a scholar deeply familiar with her subject matter and able to read read the original materials directly, finds itself no longer able to use their old argument that an outsider has misunderstood Hungary, so instead they result to an assault on her person and her motives. There is nothing, anywhere, to read in Prof. Scheppele’s writings or testimony to indicate that she has anything less than the interests of Hungary, as a free and democratic state with justice, transparency, and success, at heart. Her criteria are not those of a wild radical from a far political wing, left or right, but those of a scholar well within the western democratic mainstream and academic consensus. Your inability, or unwillingness to recognize this makes one question _your_ motives. Why is it that you so hate Hungary and its people that you do not take well-thought-out and constructive criticism seriously? Is your pro-Fidesz partisanship really so strong that you would ignore, indeed so violently condemn, advice given in goodwill for the sake of the entire nation? Do you really believe that one party can be incapable of error and have a monopoly on facts and and always have the best ideas? Have you not learned the lesson of a previous era in which one party claimed such a monopoly. Why do you hate Hungary and Hungarians so, Johnny Boy, that you do not wish it to be better and its people to have better lives?
Very well put!!
For readers unfamiliar with Hungary, it’s probably hard to figure out if Scheppele or the Hungarian government is correct. Is Fidesz just standing up against an overbearing alliance of international banks? Well, thank goodness Johnny Boy comes to the rescue. Scheppele’s most recent post is about the type of rhetoric used by Fidesz supporters. Johnny Boy is an exact example of the ad hominem attacks that Scheppele predicted– Johnny provides the concrete proof that Scheppele is correct and that Fidesz supporters tend toward unbridled character assignation.
So, thanks a lot Johnny Boy!!! You have done a better job proving Scheppele correct than I could.
Scheppele on Fidesz:
“I just happen to stand in the way of what Fidesz wants”
“They are ruthless and relentless”
“what they have done to Hungary’s churches” (and all she writes on this topic is an outright lie btw – the law is about churches getting taxpayers’ money only, not banning or otherwise making their operation impossible)
“government is now seeking revenge”
“mega-amendment adds a new and nasty twist”
If these statements chock full of labels are “factual” for you, then you are completely incapable of differentiating solid facts from heavily biased opinions.
Why do you think Kim is lying? What is in it for her to lie? At best it might be factually incorrect but then.. from my experience, it’s exactly what happened. It’s not only about money, it’s about a whole host of activities. So I’d say it’s factually correct.
The other comments have been removed from context and so it’s hard to discuss them without adding that context back in. But the comments about ruthless and relentless and revenge I’ve seen first hand.
You see Johnny Boy, LwiiH is an abbreviation for Living with it in Hungary which means what’s going on is part of my daily experience. I come from a country that has a functional democracy and none of the things I’ve witnessed since coming to Hungary would happen back home, at least not without consequences. The statements by members of parliament would have resulted in their having to resign, the corruption would be normally prosecuted, and the re-writing of the constitution… the way it happened in Hungary is just beyond belief. Why don’t you go back and review how Canada negotiated and then wrote it constitution in 1982. Sure, the process wasn’t perfect but it was done in the open and it was an inclusive process that took months and involved groups from all aspects of society. These cardinal laws, as Kim correctly points out, are heap of steaming rubbish written by a few arrogant know it alls that had no intention of negotiating with anyone…… go read a bit and then come back as criticize the reports. Until then I’ll stick to things that match my experiences.
Johnny Boy for someone who insists on ‘factual, objective and professional’ analysis, your own posts are remarkably absent of these qualities.
If you insist on 100% objective analysis, and don’t allow the author to express some opinion you end up with a dry, unreadable statistical piece – when facts should be a servant of analysis and not the master.
Here are two classic statements that you made – which hardly practice what you yourself require of Kim Scheppele.
“If these statements chock full of labels are “factual” for you, then you are completely incapable of differentiating solid facts from heavily biased opinions.”
“Most of Scheppele’s long writing contains her (dismissive) political opinion on Fidesz. This immediately puts her writing into one well defined perspective which immediately prevents it from being able to be considered as factual, objective and professional.”
They say everything and nothing.
Sheer hypocrisy if I may ad-hominemly add.
Johnny Boy on Scheppele inter alia:
“……only violently assertive…..”
“……….protect your own stereotypic image of Hungary…..”
“……….your attacks are so hostile and offending…………..”
“……….violent and obviously exaggerating attack………….”
All your posts are ‘fact-lite’ and ‘objective-lite’ – well I’m being generous; actually non existent.
So it’s don’t do as I do – do as I say, is it?
I’m afraid you hardly throw any light on the subject – only heat.
So not much progress with the debate then.
So why did you come back?
The welcome you got suggested that we would at least have a decent debate; some erudition; some killer argument.
Yes she is in their way. Otherwise you would not comment like this … and they are ruthless and relentless. You disagree?
They discriminate with the churches. The churches they like get money and they punish the ones who’s pastor disagrees with them, like Gabor Ivanyi. The Fidesz somehow likes to give the non-believer tax payer’s money to their pet churches.
Oh, by the way Gabor Ivanyi was on the Klubradio the other day and he also mentioned a church rejected by the Orban government, the Armenian Orthodox Apostolic Church. They are in the recently rejected 66 churches (along with the Taoist for instance). So this church happens to be the oldest Christian church on the planet. It’s in business since 301 AD (AD, duh). Ivanyi also mentioned that since they don’t have the church status anymore their “property”, that is their place of worship, was taken from them and given to … drum rolls … Yes! You got it! … the Catholic Church. He also mentioned that many of the guys who built that building “with their bare hands” is still alive. Can somebody give me more details about this?
Hey Mutt that’s knocked JB into a cocked hat!
I think some Fidesz troopers forget that statements are just statements. THose are the things that should be followed up by facts. Ms Scheppele states her dislike her Fidesz, and than she simply proves with facts why she dislikes them. Of corse the Troopers get the sentence out where she expresses her dislike, but they forget to include the why. THen again, what to expect from the brainwashed?
Mutt who cares if I agree or not.
This is an OPINION.
Sheer FACTS differ from OPINIONS.
Why do you need explanations on that?
And, your insinuation that I only comment here because it is Fidesz’s interest is one of the vilest ad hominem attacks and reveals your own ways of thinking instead.
These kinds of personal insults are the reason why I disappeared from here and will so do again. And then you are free to declare yourself as winner among yourselves. And be exclusively among yourselves because you open heavy fire on persons with differing opinions. Arguing honestly and openly with you is impossible.
Johnny, you brought up the Church law. I talked about concrete things, you did not. You embarrass me …
If you allow me a little pop-psychology here … I don’t think you like the Fidesz. You just hate everything else. You are trying to settle with the Fidesz – the only choice who will protect you from evil, whatever it is.
“If you can’t stand the heat – get out of the kitchen”
Wise move JB, wise move.
No, you simply mixed up the right for religious freedom with getting taxpayers’ money.
And you think I am stupid enough to eat it.
No one is restricted in exercising their right for religious freedom, what is restricted is getting state subsidies for it.
It has nothing to do with basic human rights.
You cannot mix the two up, no matter how hard you try to personally insult me.
As the saying goes for you: “the harder you try, the dumber you look.”
I never thought you are stupid.
My apologies if I wasn’t clear. Nobody said they are not able to worship freely. What we are saying is the government discriminates by helping their favorite churches only.
For instance Ivanyi’s church gets squat because he spoke up against Orban. And they are definitely not a business church. Well, unless being in the “charity business” is a bad business …
What about the part where property was taken and given to the catholic church??? Thats a a fact.. no? And it seems to run counter to your claims.. no???? If you want to stick to facts then lets stick to facts.
IMHO, the government shouldn’t be subsidizing*any* church. It certainly has no right to say what is.. and what isn’t a church. Only fundamentalist take that line and well all know how thats been working out!
“Discriminates” = decides who gets state subsidies.
Among others, this is the reason why a government is elected. This is perfectly democratic, just and due.
And yes all critics spread the lie that they are not able to worship freely. Because they pretend this is a fundamental human rights issue. And you are on the bandwagon too.
Why is shutting out Gabor Ivanyi’s church (methodists) or the Taoists for that matter just?
I think you hit the nail on the head.. their *favorite* church…. And you see, this is the lie, no one said during the elections that they were going to change the constitution and start regulating which group is and which group is not a religion. There is no mandate for this. This is just a group of opportunistic thugs getting together and slamming their view down everyone’s throat… That’s more like dictatorship than democracy.
Democracy, at least as I (and millions of others in Europe and the USA) understand it also means separation of the state and the church/religion which obviously Fidesz does not believe in!
Even our Christian Democrats in Germany know this and follow these rules!
Johhny Boy: you are a Fidesz troll and paid propagandist and I dare to say although you think you are very smart, you are not (by the way I am not sure you are a man, despite your name).
Fidesz steers the debate by – falsly – saying that people accuse Fidesz of banning religions, whereas there is no such ban, worship is free. No, Johnny Boy, this is not the issue with Fidesz.
It should be made clear is that:
(1) Fidesz, despite a non-denominational constitution which prescribes the separation of state and church clearly promotes a Catholic/Christian agenda and a consequent policy of privatisation of secular state services (education, health care, social services) to private institutions (Christian churches, mostly the Catholics but Lutherans and Calvinists also), which in turn will receive automatic taxpayers’ funding (as in Hungary traditional Churches receive automatic funding, with many one-off bonuses for special projects). This means the payment comes from all (not only religious ones) taxpayer’s but they will not have any control over the services, which from the point of outsourcing/privatisation becomes wholly ideological benefitting mostly the religious people. These efforts are not just the result of an extreme urge to promote religious and conservative ideology but also represent a strategic decision to maintain a national network of supporters (a paid loyalist power base) which is absolutely important in the current election system. Given that actual attendance of masses and self-described religiosity (as per the latest census) are in serious decline, these policies are just outrageous.
(2) Fidesz prevented religions to organise and establish themselves legally as churches — but according to a new, truly legalistic proposal from Fidesz, that every organization can call itself a church, but of course legally only those institutions will have the status as a church in substance which are so designated in the sole discretion of Fidesz (i.e. by the Parliament, by 2/3s). This method, that is that Parliament decides in a completely discretionary fashion to confer the status of a church (and I guess it can take away similarly at any time) was held unconstitutional (by an overwhelmingly conservative constitutional court) pursuant to the Fidesz’s forced Basic Law, though by the 4th amendment, the constitutional decision was overridden. It is in any case outrageous. (The ECHR is currently debating the problem at first instance).
I am sure our friend Johnny will return. It is not about his/her likes or dislikes. It is about how much he/she think he/she can influence a debate and disseminate Fidesz’ seeds of ideology. That is his/her job. And he/she is hardly alone.
Yes and I can feel her anger too, dediP – certainly a troll and one who doesn’t keep her promises either.
Her table must be quite damaged from the fist-pounding. I can feel it in the posts! Semantics semantics, semantics. Can’t see the wood from the trees.
Johnny Girl just can’t stay away!
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