Viktor Orbán’s answer to the Tavares report

As soon as the vote in the European Parliament went against the Hungarian government, Viktor Orbán announced that a resolution will be introduced for the Hungarian parliament to adopt that will condemn the Tavares report.

And indeed, by this afternoon the proposed text of the resolution was already on László Kövér’s desk. The bill is signed by three Fidesz members of parliament: Antal Rogán, the leader of the Fidesz caucus, Gergely Gulyás, one of his deputies and the alleged constitutional expert of the party, and Máté Kocsis, mayor of District VIII and a very active young member of parliament.

This afternoon I heard an interview with Gergely Gulyás, in the course of which he was asked whether the idea for the resolution came from Viktor Orbán. Gulyás, who is one of the few Fidesz politicians for whom lying doesn’t come easily, paused. It was a very long pause. Eventually he found the right words: the prime minister can certainly identify with it.

What we must keep in mind is that the resolution comes from Fidesz the party and, as you will see, is at  least in part addressed to the government. So, strictly speaking, Viktor Orbán, the party chief, is asking Viktor Orbán, the prime minister, to do certain things.

Decree of Parliament on the equal treatment due to Hungary

1. We Hungarians entered into the family of European nations by establishing a state and adopting Christianity.

We Hungarians often stood up for European values. There were times when we defended these values with our blood against attacks from outside. In 1956 we armed ourselves against the communist dictatorship. In 1989 we contributed to unifying Europe with the demolition of the iron curtain.

We Hungarians entered into the European Union of our own free will.

We did that in the hope that we would join a community based on law, justice, and freedom.

We Hungarians  do not want a Europe where freedom is limited and not widened. We do not want a Europe where the larger ones abuse their power, where national sovereignty is violated, and where the smaller have to honor the larger. 

We have had enough of dictatorship after 40 years behind the iron curtain.

We Hungarians have always respected the desire of European Union institutions for dialogue, and we have always been ready for reasonable compromises. 

Therefore, we rightly expect the respect and equal treatment due to Hungary from the European Union’s institutions.

We expect the European Union to respect the rights that we acquired after our accession just as it would respect those of any other country. 

The Parliament of Hungary is surprised that the European Parliament passed a decree that it had no right to pass, that exceeded its jurisdiction. The European Parliament made demands, introduced new procedures, and created institutions that violate Hungary’s sovereignty as guaranteed in the fundamental treaty. 

With this decision the European Parliament went against basic European values and led the Union on a dangerous path.

The Hungarian Parliament is further worried by the undue influence of business interests that underlie this abuse of power.

Hungary is reducing the cost of energy paid by families. This may hurt the interests of many European companies that for years have had windfall profits from their monopoly in Hungary. It is unacceptable that the European Union tries to influence our homeland to further the interests of these companies.

The Hungarian Parliament believes that Europe is in danger if the interests of multinationals are realized at the expense of the rules laid down in the fundamental treaty.

Today we adopt a resolution to defend Hungary’s sovereignty and the equality of Hungarians in the European Union.

We call on the Hungarian government not to give in to the pressure of the European Union, not to let the nation’s rights guaranteed in the fundamental treaty be violated, and to continue the policies that make the lives of the Hungarian people easier.

2. This decree of Parliament will enter into force the day after its publication.”

The embellished historical commonplaces that introduce this resolution are to be expected. Hungarians always drag them out when they want to prove their European roots and vaunt their accomplishments in defending Europe from the eastern peril.

What is much more interesting is the government’s attempt to establish a connection between the Orbán government’s lowering of energy prices and the Tavares report which, after all, is about the Hungarian government’s transgression of democratic norms and not about economics. This alleged connection is ludicrous in and of itself, but if we consider that Rui Tavares has been working on this report for at least one and a half years and the Orbán government came up with the political masterstroke of lowering energy prices only a couple of months ago, it should be clear to everybody that there is absolutely no link between the two.

The attempt to cast business interests as a motivating force behind the Tavares report and its acceptance is more than tenuous. Support for it came largely from the left–the socialists, greens, and liberals who are not exactly known for their support of big business. The right- and right-of-center parties are by and large more pro-business. And a majority of their representatives stood by Viktor Orbán.

In his speech in parliament today Orbán again attacked the multinationals and the banks, but some Hungarians, it seems, want more than bellicose talk. Here are the first signs.

Today the verdict was handed down in a case that has been been in and out of court for two and a half years.  The plaintiff took out a foreign currency loan which he now finds impossible to pay back due to the weakening of the Hungarian forint. He claimed that he shouldn’t have to pay the loan back because the bank did not mention the bid-ask spread in the contract. Two lower courts decided in favor of the plaintiff. The case then moved up to the highest court, the Kúria. For a number of days demonstrators have stood in front of the building, waiting in a rather ugly mood. The verdict finally came: OTP, Hungary’s largest bank, is not liable. The plaintiff will have to pay his loan back.

Scuffle in front of Viktor Orbán's house - Népszabadság, Photo Árpád Kurucz

Scuffle in front of Viktor Orbán’s house – Népszabadság, Photo Árpád Kurucz

The crowd outside was outraged at the verdict. One would have thought that the crowd would go OTP headquarters to vent their anger. But no, they headed toward Viktor Orbán’s private residence in Buda. One could see gallows and red-and-white striped flags (the favorite symbol of the Hungarian extreme right), interspersed with the Hungarian tricolor.

So, if Orbán thinks that by whipping up anti-business sentiment he will gain great political advantage, he might be mistaken. These dissatisfied people, it seems, blame him for being unable to “solve their problems.” After all, he promised that he would take care of those hundreds of thousands of people who lost their homes as a result of the collapse of the Hungarian forint over the last few years.

As for Viktor Orbán’s speech in parliament, he didn’t add much to the content of the proposed resolution, except for getting close to calling those Hungarian MEPs who voted for the Tavares report traitors. However, Attila Mesterházy in a forceful speech condemned the Orbán government, the prime minister’s “business interests,” and his “majoritarian rule.”

The Fidesz back benchers are the noisiest ones on the right and unfortunately they are also ignorant. For example, when Mesterházy reminded Viktor Orbán that when he was in opposition he went so far as to ask the European People’s Party to use its influence in the European Union to stop any payment to Hungary, they tried to drown out Mesterházy. I’m sure most of them thought that this was a lie. It was, however, absolutely true. Orbán rarely if ever thought about collateral damage to the country as a whole in his relentless attacks on the socialist-liberal government.

In addition, Attila Mesterházy and Gábor Harangozó on behalf of MSZP turned in amendments to the proposed resolution. Since there is no chance of Fidesz ever accepting any amendment coming from the opposition, by now parties on the left write these amendments in jest. It is an amusing piece that is worth reading.

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63 comments

  1. DH :
    Johnny Boy: if you read the report, you realise that it does not deal with existing legal frameworks. It proposes a new legal framework to be established – in accordance with the law-making mechanisms already in place. Whether or not the Commission and others who should be part of that mechansim will indeed make such law, is the question of the future. The report is only a recommendation to that effect as much as a recommendation to the Hungarian state. If you wish, each set of recommendations have different addressees. In this sense there is no difference when a minister submits a proposal to the government to submit a change in law to the plenary session of the parliament. That is what happened, except that the MPs in the EP expressed their strong support towards such recommendations. I am not sure whether or not you are a lawyer, but if yes, you are surely aware of the serious affects of these kind of “soft laws” in international relations. Law is not always just the text of acts and government decrees. And the first step of making law (well…not in today’s Hungary, but in civilized countries) is always a proposal.

    You are mistaken. The Tavares report does not try to establish any kind of new legal framework. It tries to make an impact AVOIDING any legal proceedings – in my opinion because they know they don’t stand a chance that way.
    But the correct way to make proceedings is the legal way – that is why the legal way has been invented.
    This informal, purely political report is clearly an abuse of power by the EP. Exactly because it aims to do damage to the Hungarian government withou having to be held responsible for it.

  2. London Calling!

    It is not illegal for the EU to gather evidence to show that voluntary rules – the spirit of those rules – is not being met.

    It is unfortunate that the EU did not anticipate that a member would play fast and loose with the basic principles and values of democracy – the default was that each and every member would do their utmost to adopt the principles.

    Winning an election is not enough – as Orban thinks.

    And democracy is a mindset – and has to be understood over many years as a country’s democracy matures.

    Transition from communism to democracy is difficult enough.

    But Hungary’s ‘democracy’ has faltered. It’s a ‘Cod-mocracy’ (the ‘cod’ prefix means ‘false’ in this context).

    And Hungary is a ‘Commocracy’ – the communistic slant on what they believe democracy to be.

    Nowhere close.

    So the EU has had to introduce measures to protect their principles and values.

    Perfectly legal – especially if the rest agree – nothing wrong in that.

    The only issue I have is that it has taken so long to do something about it – and yes – the ‘Copenhagan Commision’ has been adopted especially for Hungary because of its slimy intransigence.

    Either abide by the rules – or GO!

    And the new commission will be there for any other transgressors.

    So suck it up the Hungarian GOVERNMENT!

    Regards

    Charlie

  3. Everybody outside of Hungary understands that pushing out laws and even changes in the constitution at incredible speed without any discussion and without consulting anybody is not a democratic processs …

    Re those FX loans:

    Quite a few Austrian and German local government institutions were caught in the same trap – costing them millions of €s!

    And also large companies like Volkswagen who lost more than a hundred million €s!

    Re TV programs in Hungary:

    While I am wont to call M1 etc “North Korean State TV” my wife has more largesse:
    She says that everybody now calls those state owned channels “Kiraly TV” …

    PS:

    We’re on a long weekend holiday in Harkany, very nice hotel and surroundings – but here also everybody tells us that business is bad, many establishments went bankrupt and you see a lot of signs “eladó” and half finished buildings and crumbling ruins …

  4. You are mistaken. The Tavares report does not try to establish any kind of new legal framework. It tries to make an impact AVOIDING any legal proceedings – in my opinion because they know they don’t stand a chance that way.
    But the correct way to make proceedings is the legal way – that is why the legal way has been invented.
    This informal, purely political report is clearly an abuse of power by the EP. Exactly because it aims to do damage to the Hungarian government withou having to be held responsible for it.

    You may wake up one day, after all, that’s for sure.
    The awakening won’t be one of your best experiences – I’ll bet.

    As the matter of fact, the present situation is that Hungary has joined to the EU – and not the other way around.
    It means, the rules were given, and the Hungarians have had two choices: accept it as it is and join, or stay outside, and you don’t have anything to do with following their rules – do what you want on your own.

    As we all know, Hungary then accepted the rules of the game and wanted to be in – that’s what happened – Hungary now part of the EU, one of the members, remember!

    However, due to the nature of things – if you’re about to join to some organisation, the organisation sets the rules, not you – the present Hungarian government obliged to follow those guidelines what are the guidelines of all the EU members, otherwise they certainly should face retributions – and rightfully so.

    Please, keep in mind, that in this case doesn’t matter, whether you agree with the rules, or you don’t, as long you are in, and you want to keep being a member, you play with those rules, or you don’t play at all, – gather your gears and drag them home, thank you for your participation, have a nice day!

    Then comes along a size S wannabe dictator with size XXXL ego and trying to lecture the ones who have set the rules at the first place, so that’s what happens, you see.

  5. – Its about the Johnny Boy comment – cleaned the quotation marks as well -sorry!

  6. Regarding the FX loans:
    I wonder, why it never came up the possibility to reschedule the repayments?
    I mean, the people would be able to live in their homes, the banks would get paid at a certain rate, and the loan takers will pay a few (hundred?) years longer, but it still could work at some extent, as opposed to the present chaotic situation.

    I still remember, when Orbán promised, that they won’t leave nobody by “the edge of the trench” (árok szélén) and he kept this one.

    They ditched them, no problem…!

  7. spectator :
    Please, keep in mind, that in this case doesn’t matter, whether you agree with the rules, or you don’t, as long you are in, and you want to keep being a member, you play with those rules, or you don’t play at all, – gather your gears and drag them home, thank you for your participation, have a nice day!
    Then comes along a size S wannabe dictator with size XXXL ego and trying to lecture the ones who have set the rules at the first place, so that’s what happens, you see.

    You are exactly like EU officials.
    Talk, talk, talk and talk and not one single specific argument.
    Exactly which “rule” of the EU was violated by the government? Show it.

  8. Johnny Boy :

    spectator :
    Please, keep in mind, that in this case doesn’t matter, whether you agree with the rules, or you don’t, as long you are in, and you want to keep being a member, you play with those rules, or you don’t play at all, – gather your gears and drag them home, thank you for your participation, have a nice day!
    Then comes along a size S wannabe dictator with size XXXL ego and trying to lecture the ones who have set the rules at the first place, so that’s what happens, you see.

    You are exactly like EU officials.
    Talk, talk, talk and talk and not one single specific argument.
    Exactly which “rule” of the EU was violated by the government? Show it.

    If I would not know any better I would say Johnny Boy tuned in on this blog at 3:52 PM on July 6, 2013. Can someone please explain to him how the search works on this blog, as we did nothing else through the last two years but pointing out how the new “constitution” does not puts in consideration humanitarian rights for example.
    How about the churches? How about pro-life provisions? That two is just from the top of my head. WEll, Orban does not see anything wrong with that , so no surprise that it comes as a shock for his minions that this is not cool in Europe.

  9. Johnny Boy :

    spectator :
    Please, keep in mind, that in this case doesn’t matter, whether you agree with the rules, or you don’t, as long you are in, and you want to keep being a member, you play with those rules, or you don’t play at all, – gather your gears and drag them home, thank you for your participation, have a nice day!
    Then comes along a size S wannabe dictator with size XXXL ego and trying to lecture the ones who have set the rules at the first place, so that’s what happens, you see.

    You are exactly like EU officials.
    Talk, talk, talk and talk and not one single specific argument.
    Exactly which “rule” of the EU was violated by the government? Show it.

    While I never mentioned that the Hungarian government violated one single rule, – its all about the principle: if you join to some organisation not your home-brewed rules what applies there – I recommend to read the Tavares Report, everything is quite clearly listed there, what isn’t exactly EU conform.
    If you don’t accept how the framework fit to your habit, purpose, dream, whatever, you may try to negotiate for some changes to your behalf, but demanding, that your way should accepted, even worse, respected is a totally counterproductive action, it raise resentment right away.
    This exactly what happened.
    Orbán should learn some diplomacy, if he want to be a respected leader in Europe, otherwise the pariah status guaranteed.

    I guess, once Cicero said something like ‘Anybody is liable to err, but only a fool persists in error.’ – and this is still in effect, as I see.

  10. Johnny Boy …

    Here are just two of the many hundreds of examples that you appear to have missed from Eva’s recent blogs. But please do start reading as well as ranting:

    Hungary is called upon, ” … when reviewing the definition of ‘family’, to take into account the legislative trend in Europe to broaden the scope of the definition of family and the negative impact of a restricted definition of family on the fundamental rights of those who will be excluded by the new and more restrictive definition”.

    and …

    ” … to take a new approach, finally assuming its responsibilities towards homeless – and therefore vulnerable – people, as set out in the international treaties on human rights to which Hungary is a signatory, such as the European Convention on Human Rights and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, and thus to promote fundamental rights rather than violating them by including in its Fundamental Law provisions that criminalise homeless people”.

    I don’t really think that measures aimed at securing Hungary’s adherence to the European Convention on Human Rights in terms of concerns regarding homophobia and persecution of the homeless … in a call originating from European Greens … really has that much to do with any international conspiracy connected with Hungary’s utility prices. Not really. I’m not convinced.

  11. London Calling!

    Johnny Boy almost always ignores rational questions and observances that contradict his propaganda-fashioned brain. A sort of mental ‘erase-the-unwanted-people-in-the-picture’ attitude – bending the truth.

    Addled after many years of communism, and now Fidesz propaganda.

    ‘Balance’ is not in his lexicon.

    He just doesn’t see the issue after years of being brain-washed. And when responding on here he forgets the many good points made above.

    And anyway he’s too busy putting his fist through the desk.

    For the sake of his jugular – leave him alone!

    Not worth the candle

    Regards

    Charlie

  12. It WOULD be good to actually engage with Fidesz supporters in a full and frank exchange and debate. But what is happening, again and again, particularly from Johnny and Joe, is that they irascibly pose questions – which are then pretty comprehensively answered – only to then respond with silence … and then another insult. This is not debate. And this is not civilised. I’m sure we’re all happy to have a debate. But this absurd carry-on is a ridiculous belittling of this serious blog. I suggest that ranters like Johnny are banned … and that cogent (and polite) dissenters are encouraged to join in!

  13. Re Simple Simon and Johnny Child (I just love those silly names – they remind me of the first English book we had in school …):

    Well it could be worse:

    One of the real Nazi posters on pol.hu started his diatribe against the EU and the EP with something like this:

    “The Communist Portuguese Jew Tavares” …

    Need I say anything more ?

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