Viktor Orbán the defiant

It was expected that Viktor Orbán would not change course and would continue his “war of independence” against the “incompetent bureaucrats in Brussels,” but the vehemence of his attacks surprised many. It was bad enough that he got his most trusted men to propose an anti-EU resolution, but at least he himself didn’t say much after he left Brussels. He let others do the talking. When he finally spoke, however, he only added fuel to the fire.

The Hungarian Parliament’s resolution was met with outrage, at least in certain circles in Brussels. Hannes Swoboda, president of the Socialists and Democrats Group in the European Parliament, announced that “the text the Fidesz majority in the Hungarian Parliament adopted today is an insult to the European Parliament. It proves yet again that Mr. Orbán does not understand the values – or the role of the institutions – of the European Union.” He added that the socialists “are expecting a statement from the leadership of the EPP Group, clarifying whether they accept that a member of their political family dismisses the role and adopted reports of the European Parliament.”

I wonder what Mr. Swoboda will think when he reads that Orbán, in his regular Friday morning talk with one of the reporters of the Hungarian public radio station, called the European Parliament a “worthless (hitvány) institution.” Or that he accused members of the European Parliament of being agents of multinational financiers. Or that he called them incompetent bureaucrats who cannot solve the problems of the European Union and stomp on the only country that found its way out of the crisis while other members are re-entering the crisis zone. I have the feeling that he will not be pleased.

The key message that Orbán is trying to hammer home at the moment is that the Tavares report is not really about Hungary. It is an attempt by the bureaucrats in Brussels to transform the European Union into an entity different from the one that Hungary joined in 2004. “This is a new phenomenon … that changes the very foundations of the fundamental laws of the Union.”

Taking this contention to its logical (admittedly, never a strong suit of the prime minister) conclusion and assuming that the suggestions of the Tavares report are accepted and a standing monitoring committee is created, we might see Hungary leave the European Union. After all, the Union broke its contract with Hungary and thus Hungary is free to go its own way.  In fact, Attila Mesterházy in his speech to Parliament yesterday asked the prime minister whether his insistence on a written condemnation of the Tavares report was a first move on the road to secession.

Another focal point of Orbán’s talk yesterday was the object of the European Parliament’s criticism. He must not allow his followers to be persuaded that the Tavares report is an indictment of his own government and has nothing to do with the Hungarian people. So, he spent considerable time and effort trying to prove that the real target is the nation itself. In trying to build his case he didn’t rehash the old argument that the two-thirds majority in parliament represents the true will of the Hungarian people. Instead he adopted a new tactic. He claimed that “one million people put into writing their desire to have this constitution.” I assume he means the phony questionnaires he sent out to eight million voters, out of which one million were returned. If you would like to have a good laugh over what Orbán thinks is an endorsement of the constitution, take a look at my discussion of the first and second questionnaires. I should note here that the second questionnaire was sent out two weeks before parliament voted on the new constitution. It is perhaps worth mentioning that, according to Orbán, “the Hungarian people didn’t authorize him to adopt a liberal leaning constitution.” On what basis did he make this claim? There was one question among the many in one of the questionnaires pertaining to the rights and duties of citizens. Normally constitutions concern themselves with rights and not duties. But not the new Hungarian constitution. He recalled that 80% of the people who returned the questionnaires said yes to this particular question. Truly pitiful.

Viktor Orbán's image of Hungary's oppression by the European Union

Viktor Orbán’s image of Hungary’s oppression by the European Union

The comparison of Brussels and Moscow is obviously a favorite of the Fidesz crew, and therefore it was not surprising that the topic came up again. Since Orbán is on slippery ground here, I will  quote from this part of his talk to give you a sense of his message. “Brussels is not Moscow and therefore it has no right to meddle in the lives of the member states. Hungary is a free country. We don’t want to live in a European Empire whose center is Brussels. From where they tell us how to live on the periphery or in the provinces. We want to have a community of free nations.  There is no need for such a center because it would limit the freedom of the member states.” In brief, Brussels is not Moscow yet, but if the Tavares recommendations are adopted, it will be nearly as bad. But Hungary will not be part of an empire. Orbán further emphasized the comparison between Moscow and Brussels when he called the Soviet Union “the Soviet Empire” and added that “since the collapse of the Soviet Empire no one has had the temerity to limit the independence of Hungarians.”

Finally, he promised the Hungarian nation a policy of resistance. The government will not watch helplessly as the European Union takes away the freedom of Hungarians. “Either we allow them to pull our country out from under our feet and pocket our money or we defend our own interests. This is the question, choose!” This last sentence is a paraphrase of two lines in the famous poem, National Song (Nemzeti dal) by Sándor Petőfi (1823-1849) in which the poet asks: “Shall we be slaves? Shall we be free? / This is the question. Choose!” (Rabok legyünk, vagy szabadok? / Ez a kérdés, válasszatok!) Keep in mind that this is the poem that heralded the 1848 revolution. Orbán means business. I hope the European Union does too.

64 comments

  1. Off topic but worth mentioning. I just saw a picture in HVG taken at the Budapest Pride. A group of homophobic people are holding up a sign that says: “Hungarians are not tolerant. One can leave here, you deviants.”

  2. Eva S. Balogh :
    Off topic but worth mentioning. I just saw a picture in HVG taken at the Budapest Pride. A group of homophobic people are holding up a sign that says: “Hungarians are not tolerant. One can leave here, you deviants.”

    Three people were beaten up after the parade, but close proximity. One is Principal of a high school. The police did sweet nothing, even after one who was attacked pointed out some of the attackers. Later the police issued a semi-false statement, saying that the attackers were gone when they arrived. Yes, but the attacked even after pointed out some of the attackers.
    Why is this OK for these idiots to even attack sympathizers? Simple answer is that every Fidesz MP who were asked if they would go on support the Parade said that they have the right not to go, and all the benefits of Hungary extended for the homosexuals (big lie), and that is how far they would go. So, when this is the message that comes from the Fidesz that very much say WE TOLERATE homosexuals, you will not get the police to support he innocent. SHame on Fidesz!

  3. @Some1: “The police did sweet nothing, even after one who was attacked pointed out some of the attackers. ”

    They did, they actually asked for the IDs of the victims (!) but not the attackers. I think part of the problem is that a lot of the policemen themselves are sympathizers of extreme right wing groups.

  4. I wonder if the European Parliament would have the courage to pass a motion calling on Orbán to retract, apologise for and cease and desist making anti-EU comments?

  5. The sentiment “We don’t care for the policies that the European Union requires us to adopt; this is not the EU that we thought we were joining; the ground has shifted under our feet, and the terms of our association must be re-negotiated” is not limited to Hungarians. Considerable British political argument is informed by similar reaction. Indeed, within days we may learn if a referendum on the question “The EU, Britain in or out?” is to be held. Grants of funds to construct traffic roundabouts, all well and good — but if those funds are granted on the condition that palinka distilleries are to be suppressed, or village pig-slaughtering abolished, the EU truly can be seen as meddlesome. OV’s arguments against matters of constitutional law draw force from his auditors’ daily and unhappy experience of such things as being forbidden to smoke on the terrace of one’s local restaurant. Should those experiences conduce Orban’s auditors to endorse his actions? No. The two sorts of intervention by the EU should be distinguished, differentiated. But to say “The EU tells us that we can’t do as we like in our own country” is broadly true. It resonates strongly with me, and likely with many others who, wherever in Europe they live, object to the hundred little everyday indignities that can be traced to the heavy hand of Brussels.

  6. Remember what Orban said in another context (paraphrasing): “Watch what I do, not what I say.” Hungary lives off the EU and EU money. Hungary is going nowhere unless the EU (which should seriously consider this) finds a way to kick Hungary out.

  7. Yesterday evening János Martonyi commented on the Tavares report. Martonyi a former member of MSZMP (Hungarian communist party) advocates a world conspiracy theory. According to him SZDSZ had played an important role in Hungarian political life and disappeared after the victory of Fidesz in 2010 and now SZDSZ is playing a role in the world because it has no other place to defend its interest.
    Martonyi believes that Hungary will become an issue of German election.
    http://hvg.hu/itthon/20130706_Martonyi_a_Tavaresjelentesrol
    Martonyi is the minister of foreign affairs of Hungary.

  8. London Calling!

    Wondercat It is too easy to invoke the ‘straight banana’ argument that our ‘red tops’ (Blikk-type) newspapers adopt here in England.

    When you delve deeper there is almost always a rational reason. Usually it is to introduce a level playing field between members of the ‘common market’ – to stop one nation stealing a march on another. Or unfair competition.

    Some of Hungary’s industries benefit from these rules too – you have to take the rough with the smooth.

    Many, for example, have objected to the ‘abattoir’ rules – but now animals are killed in more humane and more hygienic conditions. And yes there are still some exceptions.

    England has a very good (exceptional!) record of sticking to the rules – and pork in England is very clean and free from tape-worm because no longer is the pig allowed to be fed on school-dinner remains and to forage around dirty courtyards.

    Regarding Palinka – Hungary (the government) allows quite (unusually) large volumes to be distilled by individuals.

    As I have experienced it is peddled around the village in questionably unhygienic dirty, old labelled lemonade bottles.

    (My experience of hygiene in Hungary is shocking! But that’s another prejudice and a rant for another occasion!)

    In addition – this must affect the commerce of the established drinks’ industry?

    In England it is not always large conglomerates – we have many many small micro-breweries which make a living producing some wonderful diverse beers. If ‘home-brewing’ allowances were as big as in Hungary – these would disappear. And as much as we may dislike it – so would the concomitant taxes.

    As regards smoking – the new rules will not be welcomed by such a large ‘smoking’ community that Hungary is.

    I have welcomed the rules – and yes the next stage is restricting the ‘concentrations’ of smokers who congregate around the entrances of restaurants and offices.

    ‘Running the gauntlet’ – through a smoke haze is sometimes more unpleasant than in the old days (it’s been banned in England for years) when smoking was allowed in restaurants.

    So I welcome the next phase – bring it on.

    By all means smoke your lungs out – I am not stopping you. Smoke in your own home, garden and office. As many as you wish.

    Don’t impose your habit me, that’s all.

    My Hungarian partner works in a hospice here in England and the sad sad stories of people dying of lung cancer far too soon are too numerous. And leaving young children behind is the saddest manifestation of selfishness of all.

    Just let me have the right of unpolluted breathing – as far as is possible – because you have polluted my non-smoking lungs for too long, when I had no option.

    Now I have – and I say Alleluya to that.

    30,000 people in England managed to stop smoking for good last year.

    And so did about 5,000 (or more probably) people in Hungary.

    They died of lung cancer.

    Regards

    Charlie

  9. London Calling!

    The corollary of Orban’s mad rhetoric, and that of his sycophants, has only one conclusion.

    He will leave the EU.

    But not before he has milked all the allowances and grants that he can.

    Not your money, Orban-of-net-receiver-Hungary.

    Mine.

    Regards

    Charlie

  10. @Wondercat

    ” It resonates strongly with me, and likely with many others who, wherever in Europe they live, object to the hundred little everyday indignities that can be traced to the heavy hand of Brussels.”

    Sure. Indignities such as freedom of movement, of settlement, of study, of conducting business all over Europe – things which cannot go without a common set of rights and regulations. For us, our children, not to mention our retired parents hum.

    PS: England Wales and Northern Ireland can get out, we’ll get Scotland back. Auld alliance! Auld alliance! 🙂

  11. The EU would not give a s**t about Hungary’s leaving. (Note also how impotent they are re the US survaillance issue, no one dares to be tough against the US and the formerly tough EU data protection rules are constantly being eroded mainly at US’ instigation). When was the EU or any member of it tough with anybody?? (Ok, UK and France dropped a couple of bombs if oil was at stake, but that is about it). They will say good riddance.

    By that time Orbán’s (note that his wife’s siblings just bid almost HUF 400m for a huge Hungarian farm, where that money came is unclear, but we have our guesses) and Simicska’s money will be safe in Singapore where they hold it (not in Switzerland).

    They will not care. Any they don’t have to care. They amassed literally hundreds of billions of HUF, built out an unparalleled national power network and completely control the media.

    Remember: Bob Mugabe just stated that he will win by 90% in Zimbabwe (and the 10% will be for the completely coopted Tzwangirai, who will be the new Mugabe, once the current will die at one point, he being close to 90, but pushing still firmly). And guess what, people actually like him and are content with him and his cronies, otherwise the colonialits are coming back and who would want that, right?

    Orbán will win and can cause mayhem. We will be a failed state like Egypt, but who cares if that is what people want (lest SZDSZ returned, brrrrrr).

  12. London Calling!

    Auld alliance! Auld alliance! !!!

    If Scotland gets the vote to leave the Union – and England votes too – we would all vote the same way!

    But England is really a very good member – just sometimes the Tories have to give a sop to the ‘UKIP faction’ alas.

    And many of us would say ‘Alleluya’ to Hungary leaving. The EU must be heartily sick of Orban and his government.

    (The EU would not give a s**t about Hungary’s leaving. – too true Whaklois.)

    Hungary’s long suffering population would be the true beneficiaries of Orban throwing his toys out of the pram.

    And when THEY (the people) have resolved their democracy and constitution issues – and negotiated with the special ‘Copenhagan-thanks-to-Hungary Commission’, they can renegotiate re-entry if they want it.

    And very welcome they will be too.

    Do you hear that Orban? The People.

    Regards

    Charlie

  13. London Calling!

    Whaklois – I believe that the ‘Snowden’ issue is an American problem – and a non-issue.

    So hey, countrys bug! What a surprise!

    They are all at it – it is behoven upon them to assume it is happening and take appropriate measures.

    Snowden is not a ‘whistleblower’ – having signed his country’s Official Secrets Act.

    Whistleblowers do things out of principle – and then face the music; having weighed up the consequences.

    If you do a runner – you’re just an opportunist after a few moments of glory – and a coward.

    The EU – and everybody – should just get on and devise the strongest protection possible.

    China has been ‘raiding’ conglomerate’s servers for years.

    Amazingly most of the world’s spam come through Hungary.

    Regards

    Charlie

  14. @Charlie H, @Marcel De —

    Charlie, you list reasons, and good ones, for the interventions practised by the EU. In my eyes, you elect to trade liberty for safety (liberty of commerce in home-butchered meat against hygiene in food, liberty in use of tobacco against an increment in health and life-span). Very well.

    Marcel, you list benefits (not indignities), and good ones, that accrue to citizens of EU states. Very well. However, the indignities that you brush aside are real, and for you to dismiss them does not make them go away. Think of how large, how disfiguring, the edge of a chipped tooth feels to the probing tongue. Even objectively small matters can and do chafe, and chafe, and chafe.

    Is the game worth the candle? Persons who value highly freedom from meddling will give answers different from those given by persons who value highly predictability and uniformity.

    I wrote “Should those experiences conduce Orban’s auditors to endorse his actions? No. The two sorts of intervention by the EU should be distinguished, differentiated. But to say ‘The EU tells us that we can’t do as we like in our own country’ is broadly true.” The question is, again, is the game worth the candle? Which will Hungarians value more highly, reliable food hygiene and extraterritorial accreditation of professional degrees or freedom from the chafe, chafe, chafe of the perception that what one does as a Hungarian, inside Hungary, can be set at naught by non-Hungarian persons living and working in Brussels?

    Membership in the EU means, for citizens of member countries, losses of freedom. So far, the arguments for remaining in the EU, if I have grasped them correctly, are fear of war and fear of economic loss. Those are good arguments. However, they are versions of “Always keep a-hold of Nurse / For fear of finding something worse” — good for the little boy Jim, who let go of Nurse’s hand and, serve him right!, was eaten by a lion; infantilising for a nation whose members are exhorted in their hymn of hymns “Rabok legyünk vagy szabadok? / Ez a kérdés, válasszatok!”

    OV may have tapped a deep, a strongly flowing vein of sentiment with the slogan “We don’t want to be a colony”. Can his political opponents tap emotions that run so strongly and so deep?

  15. Wondercat :
    @Charlie H, @Marcel De —

    OV may have tapped a deep, a strongly flowing vein of sentiment with the slogan “We don’t want to be a colony”. Can his political opponents tap emotions that run so strongly and so deep?

    While Orbán and his ilk declare “We don’t want to be a colony” they act as Bálint Magyar has explained as a mafia and use all this Turul-völkisch talk to cover up for their criminal activities. So let the Hungarians under their genial leader leave the EU and we’ll see where Hungary will land.

  16. London Calling!

    Wondercat – I do take your point – (amusingly and cogently put btw!) – if you are giving us an insight into the Hungarian psyche. (Are you Hungarian? – I mean no offence – but you appear to know the English culture too well!)

    I think you may be confusing ‘freedom’ with ‘compromise’.

    If you join some fellow students in a shared house – you can’t take up all the fridge space!

    If you join an international community – you have to make a few compromises – which could be mistaken for ‘freedoms’.

    If you join a community without being prepared to be a sharing, compromising participant then you shouldn’t join – or you haven’t done your homework.

    True freedoms are as Marcel Dé has listed.

    You (not you – one!) are a bit naive if you don’t understand this?

    Or you cynically join to exploit the advantages.

    And you never intended on playing nicely, and sharing your toys.

    Regards

    Charlie

  17. @Wondercat

    “The State tells us that we can’t do as we like in our own Region” is broadly true.
    “The City Hall tells us that we can’t do as we like in our own garden” is broadly true.

    Yeah, let’s get rid of local governments and let’s get rid of states, then? Come on.

    Discussing the extent of the Union’s powers is one thing – that debate has actually been going on since 1957 in case somebody didn’t notice – but if you don’t agree with the principle itself, which is that, yes, like all institutions that people choose to have in common, the Union does have powers over the States, and power over its citizens… you just have to get out.

  18. Eva S. Balogh :
    @Wondercat and smoking. I might be wrong but I think that forbidding smoking in public places is not an EU requirement. Orbán’s very own.

    Actually, I think the EU does have requirements in this field. But mind you, even Ukraine, Russia and Belarus are starting to enforce the same kind of bans.

  19. Living in the United States we have been familiar with rather stringent laws and greatly surprised at the laxity concerning smoking in European countries.

    Prices of cigarettes in most states are very high. Here is an interesting list. Cigarettes cost the most in New York $11.90 and Connecticut is not far behind with $8.25 for a pack. The cheapest is in West Virginia with $4.74.

    http://www.theawl.com/2011/06/what-a-pack-of-cigarettes-costs-state-by-state

  20. London Calling!

    It will be very interesting to see what happens to the Hungarian prices of cigarettes, Eva.

    Presumably there is now a conflict of interest with the State v Nepotistic-Fidesznik-cigarette-booth owners?

    His exchequer will need the taxes – but his booth owners will need the sales?

    Or course the doctor’s don’t have any such problem!

    Sell the fags – bring in the patients.

    And the enveloped gratitude money!

    More fags – more envelopes!

    Whey! Hey!! So communistically ‘Winess’!

    So funny, if it was not so calamitous.

    Regards

    Charlie

  21. and sorry!…. I’m sure you know – that cigarettes are colloquially referred to as ‘fags’ – not the US version of the word!

    No offence meant.

  22. So if the EP adopts a resolution against Hungary, that is fine.
    If the Hungarian Parliament adopts a resolution against the EP, it is an outrage.
    Clear.

  23. Charlie H: I respectfully but strongly disagree with your off-hand assertion that what Snowden has revealed is a non-issue and that he is not a whistle blower.

    I recommend Glenn Greenwald’s thoughtful analysis in the Guardian. This is his latest (but it is also an important recap of the legal and moral issues which may have eluded you so far): http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jul/07/nsa-brazilians-globo-spying

    Nobody, and I repeat t his, nobody gave any empowerment to the US government to listen to and record and keep forever all electronic communication they can get their hands on, neither within the US and certainly not the entire electronic communication of other countries such as Germany or Brazil — for this is what they do. Rest assured, they have been doing the same with your calls and emails for they tap (and record for eternity) the communication of the whole of the EU (their supposed allies, right).

    Germany’s feeble response to this scandal is all the more disappointing since Germany has been a stalwart of the data protection issue (a concept wich does not exist in the US in this form), although as it was suggested on this blog that neither Germany nor other EU countries do anything if their interest is damaged (either by Hungary of by others) and certainly they don’t dare to stand up to the US. Currently only China and Russia dare to, Latin America for a lesser extent. What the US and EU did did with President Morales is more than reprehensible. The US calls the EU and they (like a nice csicska, a lowly sidekick) close their air spaces without the sligthest legal considerations, the rule of law is simply disregarded.

    Snowden revealed gross illegaity (unconstitutionality), blatant lying to the Congress by top government adminsitrators, exactly the type of abuse a whistleblower is supposed to reveal. It is an emberracement for the US government, but nothing else really.

    And don’t forget: the Orbán government as well as other governments does the same , especially if the supposedly “most democratic country”, “the champion of democracy” etc. does it.

    These kinds of double standards what empower tyrants like Orbán. He knows exactly, sees it clearly that the EU does not really care about grand issues (such as privacy or democratic empowerment) and the US – gasp! -is a foreign power which pays only lip service to the rule of law and democracy and as such so it should be disrageded (and lo and behold that is what he does, doesnt he).

    A survaillance state is being built out (in the US but also n Hungary as well) and it is sad that educated people discount the importannce of this trend.

  24. Fidesz voters must be made aware that even a 2/3’s majority did not give Orban the right to conduct foreign and economic affairs in the light of a highly dubious “szabadsag harc” at the monstrous economic costs that have been inflicted on the country–to whit, the IMF struggle has saddled the country with excessive debt; the lost foreign investment has been causing severe shortages of employment and investment not to mention lost taxes.

    The so-called “freedom fight” and the struggle against ‘colonization’–none of which has been supported by a shred of evidence–has cause real, and significant, economic damage to the country. How does Orban justify this? Have the Hungarian people signed up to such suffering? Perhaps Hungarians–in a worst case scenario–would have tolerated some ‘colonization’ if jobs and greater income could have been achieved.

    Let Fidesz voters also be made aware that while the country has suffered economically, the vast building programs (which we’re not at all aware of how they will be paid for) are going on apace with largely Kozgep (Simitchka’s) company the great beneficiary. It should be highlighted in bold print how Kozgep and other Fidesz-aligned companies have grown, while the country has been declining these past three years…

  25. Addendum:

    Someone has recently written on this blog that the country’s reserves have fallen by 1 billion euros in a month. A month-by-month tally should be kept on the central reserves of the country.

  26. CharlieH :
    London Calling!
    It will be very interesting to see what happens to the Hungarian prices of cigarettes, Eva.
    Presumably there is now a conflict of interest with the State v Nepotistic-Fidesznik-cigarette-booth owners?

    Austria and France also have a state license system for tobacco retail.

    As prices go up, so will contraband. Licensees will blame the State (and of course won’t thank EU regulations for allowing Western European tourists to buy 5+ cartons). They’ll end up selling a zillion things, from SIM cards to lottery tickets to candy…

  27. I think leaving the EU would have awful consequences for Hungary. Any western investment would dry up fast together with investments from the East. Hungary would be wedged in the middle with no cross traffic. Still, maybe this kind of hardship what is required that Fidesz and Jobbik troopers would wake up and realize the truth, meaning that the duties does not equal with all support money given by the EU. (Orban keeps saying that the EU money is not a favour, it is our in exchange for all the duties and such.) Maybe the government would earn money from duties, but the regular people would probably have to pay 1/3 more for everything, the Hungarian infrastructure would start to collapse, tourism would go down, crime rate would go up and/or police activity would become rampant. Orban would not let the power go, and I predict a revolution in ten years also (a new generation needs to grow up).

  28. Wondercat :
    The sentiment “We don’t care for the policies that the European Union requires us to adopt… is not limited to Hungarians.Considerable British political argument is informed by similar reaction. Indeed, within days we may learn if a referendum on the question “The EU, Britain in or out?” is to be held… if those funds are granted on the condition that… village pig-slaughtering abolished… being forbidden to smoke on the terrace of one’s local restauran… “The EU tells us that we can’t do as we like in our own country” is broadly true. It resonates strongly with me, and likely with many others who, wherever in Europe they live, object to the hundred little everyday indignities that can be traced to the heavy hand of Brussels.

    If only the UN could emulate Tavares’s EU…

    The Hungary affair has had quite the exact opposite effect on me. Whatever small impatience I may have felt with EU bureaucracy is now vanished. As a British citizen I will unreservedly vote for Britain to stay in, if there is a referendum. (I would have done so in any case.) I now realize that whinging against Europe is pettiness and parochiality trumping decency and democracy. As repugnant as I find “patriotism” for a tribe or state, I’m beginning to feel something almost like patriotic pride for this multi-state, thanks to Rui Tavares and the EU vote’s outcome. The difference between local state jingo and supra-national justice is that the former is at the expense of “outsiders” whereas the latter is in the interests of all. I wish the UN could emulate the EU.

  29. London Calling!

    Büchler I hear what you say.

    I strayed from my badly-held discipline of commenting on a non-Hungarian matter on Eva’s blog – it is discourteous.

    So just quickly.

    I understand your indignation.

    I was heavily involved in ‘obtaining’ all of this material under ‘RIPA’ (look it up) so know what is available in England – and for how long. Indeed I was a fount of all knowledge for such information in my organisation. With the concomitant necessary powers.

    Google’s servers, for example, are domiciled (mostly) in the USA – as are other large information corporations – for which the UK and other countries have a reciprocating agreement.

    It just takes longer to obtain that is all.

    Every country ‘filters’ the traffic it can get its hands on.

    Just be careful what you write on the internet.

    If it is a member of your family that is blown up – you would want all means to be harnessed to bring the terrorists to justice.

    I also read the Guardian.

    And I repeat this:

    Snowden is an American problem.

    And this:

    Snowden is not a whistleblower.

    You may have the last word if you wish.

    Regards – and sorry Eva!

    Charlie

  30. @Wondercat: “The EU tells us that we can’t do as we like in our own country” is broadly true. It resonates strongly with me, and likely with many others who, wherever in Europe they live, object to the hundred little everyday indignities that can be traced to the heavy hand of Brussels.”

    I don’t want to get into whether such sentiments are well-founded or not, but it should be noted: here lies Orban’s genius. He is good at finding an issue that is contentious and dividing and use rhetoric to deepen the divide to serve his own purposes. It’s sheer manipulation.

    He’s been doing this in Hungarian politics for more than 20 years, and we can see the results. I don’t think he is only playing for domestic audience with such remarks…. he is trying to gather support from the euro-skeptics and from those who are disillusioned in the EU project, wherever they are. I really hope Europeans are not going to fall for it; it is extremely damaging, to say the least.

  31. @An — Spot on. You have put better than I could the point that I hoped to make — that race-to-the-bottom populism is, in electoral politics, a very appealing tactic, and you have extended it to account for the reluctance by some politicians from countries outside Hungary to rebuke OV’s manoeuvres as they deserve to be rebuked.

    Patriotism, Dr Johnson tells us, is the last refuge of the scoundrel. Here the scoundrel has captured if not patriotism nationalism, and is holding forth from within it very well indeed. OV’s opponents have, I fear, no such “starken Tobak” to offer.

  32. @Marcel De — I do wish that you would respond to what I write rather than to what you wish that I had written. “Yeah, let’s get rid of local governments and let’s get rid of states, then? Come on.” Such a suggestion never came from me. Thoughtful discussion does not attempt to score points by knocking down straw men that one’s interlocutor never set up. I begin to wonder if you are to be taken seriously.

  33. @Prof Balogh — At whose behest it has happened I can’t say. But smoking inside my local kocsma has been prohibited, and the outer doors carry handwritten signs saying that within 5m of the doors a dohanyzas TILOS ! ! ! (Capital letters and punctuation as in the original.) After having enjoyed over the years quite a few cigarettes with Alfred, the landlord, across the bar in the past and now beyond Neptune’s orbit, outdoors, in rain and snow, I’m convinced that this wasn’t Alfred’s idea… although maybe it’s OV’s idea rather than the EU’s. Maybe.

  34. @Steven Harnad — We are on the same page; I write from Britain; I myself, if asked, shall say — We must stay in the EU. And I am unreservedly proud of the mechanisms and systems within the EU that could find a Rui Tavares, and commission him as they did, and empower him to report as he did, and endorse his report as they did. Do you not find it odd that so little attention to these events has accrued in the British press? I surely do.

  35. Büchler :
    Charlie H: I respectfully but strongly disagree with your off-hand assertion that what Snowden has revealed is a non-issue and that he is not a whistle blower.
    I recommend Glenn Greenwald’s thoughtful analysis in the Guardian. This is his latest (but it is also an important recap of the legal and moral issues which may have eluded you so far): http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jul/07/nsa-brazilians-globo-spying
    Nobody, and I repeat t his, nobody gave any empowerment to the US government to listen to and record and keep forever all electronic communication they can get their hands on, neither within the US and certainly not the entire electronic communication of other countries such as Germany or Brazil — for this is what they do. Rest assured, they have been doing the same with your calls and emails for they tap (and record for eternity) the communication of the whole of the EU (their supposed allies, right).

    Snowdon opened up a topic that every government is involved in but none of them really want to talk about it. Is he a whistle blower or a criminal. Maybe a bit of both. If he’d only had exposed the program that everyone wink, wink, nudged nudged about… but when he went beyond that. Notice that Putin said he could stay in Russia but only if he kept quiet. IOWs, hey were doing this also so can you please not be so loud about it ‘cos you’re going to make our life more difficult also. Notice that no one in the EU has been very vocal about the incident. What does that say?

    Is the program legal? I believe it is. Should it be? I guess that is a matter of opinion.

  36. Wondercat :
    @Marcel De — I do wish that you would respond to what I write rather than to what you wish that I had written. “Yeah, let’s get rid of local governments and let’s get rid of states, then? Come on.” Such a suggestion never came from me. Thoughtful discussion does not attempt to score points by knocking down straw men that one’s interlocutor never set up. I begin to wonder if you are to be taken seriously.

    It’s in the very nature of every institution, at some point, to “tell us that we can’t do as we like” – as homeowners within a town, as regions within a state, … as states within an Union of states.

    I was just wondering whether you were an anarchist (nothing wrong with that) against all form of institution, of if you were only making this point… about the EU. Is that logical enough for you?

  37. Wondercat :

    @Prof Balogh — At whose behest it has happened I can’t say. But smoking inside my local kocsma has been prohibited, and the outer doors carry handwritten signs saying that within 5m of the doors a dohanyzas TILOS ! ! ! (Capital letters and punctuation as in the original.) After having enjoyed over the years quite a few cigarettes with Alfred, the landlord, across the bar in the past and now beyond Neptune’s orbit, outdoors, in rain and snow, I’m convinced that this wasn’t Alfred’s idea… although maybe it’s OV’s idea rather than the EU’s. Maybe.

    I understand smokers’ frustration but by the 1960s the adverse effect of smoking not just for the smoker but also for the people around him it became quite clear to the medical profession. Each country, starting with the United States and Canada, began a very active campaign against it. The result was a slow but gradual change of public attitude toward smoking and at the same time the number of smokers decreased. More and more people gave up the habit and began to insist that no one smokes in their houses. It was eventually public pressure that demanded prohibition of smoking in public places and not some kind of order from above.

    As for Viktor Orbán’s attitude towards smoking. He has been promoting a ban on smoking for a very long time. Way before Hungary became a member of the European Union. He was planning to enact legislation banning smoking in public places already in 1998 but he didn’t have the guts to go ahead with it. He thought that it would be politically too risky. Therefore, I think that Orbán didn’t just buckle under EU pressure in this case. He believes in it.

  38. Did anyone considered – Orbán supporters and EU haters in particular – that in case of leaving the EU Hungary would once more raise boundaries between mainland Hungary and the rest of the nation residing in the surrounding countries?

    Queuing for visa just to go to see friends in Slovakia or relatives in Transylvania could be a long sought after experience among the Fidesz supporters, obviously…

  39. spectator :
    Did anyone considered – Orbán supporters and EU haters in particular – that in case of leaving the EU Hungary would once more raise boundaries between mainland Hungary and the rest of the nation residing in the surrounding countries?
    Queuing for visa just to go to see friends in Slovakia or relatives in Transylvania could be a long sought after experience among the Fidesz supporters, obviously…

    I do not think that those Hungarians voting for Orbán are worried about that. They do not care about the results as long as their leader is giving them the feeling to be superior to all others. They prefer Turul speeches to an increase of a few percent in GDP. Because Orbán cannot achieve such increase he will give more “independence” and “anticolonialist” speeches. In the meantime Orbán and his ilk will fill their pockets.

  40. London Calling!

    In fact Karl I believe they, and Orban’s sycophants, will welcome it – it would reinforce their delusion and their siege mentality. Justification in their eyes.

    But they will tire of it eventually (as will North Korea eventually!).

    This is all part of a real transition from communism to democracy – with the necessary pain and reality check.

    …………

    O/T – There was a wonderful interview on the BBC today with Elton John.

    He said he was so happy with his partner (David) and his two children – in his civil partnership. He said he realises how lucky he is in England – to be free and open – when he realises that in some countries, like Nigeria, gay people have a miserable existence.

    He was one of the first couples to undergo a civil partnership.

    He talked so lovingly of his responsibilities to his children – and was restricting touring as it was disruptive to their lives – even if he took them on his tours.

    When asked if he would get married when marriage is available to gay couples he said yes – he would be first in the queue.

    I am neither gay nor religious – except my religion is live and let live.

    But how can anyone who believes in this wonderful world deny such happiness?

    Why should the religious lobby dictate that the word ‘marriage’ only means between a male and female – for procreation’s sake?

    We’re right behind you Elton!

    Are you listening Hungary?

    Regards

    Charlie

  41. @Karl Pfeifer
    I agree with you, of course, but I guess, turning their back on those potential voters – not to mention the other one million plus Hungarians – would be quite an achievement even from Orbán.
    Look forward to hear an explanation which will prove, that this is all happened, because of Gyurcsány and the multinational financial interest-groups…

  42. spectator :
    @Karl Pfeifer
    I agree with you, of course, but I guess, turning their back on those potential voters – not to mention the other one million plus Hungarians – would be quite an achievement even from Orbán.
    Look forward to hear an explanation which will prove, that this is all happened, because of Gyurcsány and the multinational financial interest-groups…

    I just don’t believe that Orbán cares a lot about what Hungarians think. He and his ilk (Martonyi, see my posting Nr.9) will propagate the world conspiracy against Hungary theory and hope to get away with their mafia activities. The Fideszbelievers will swallow the modern version of Georg Feder, the alleged confrontation between productive national capital and the parasitic speculation capital.
    Those believing in Orbán do not care for reality or logic.

  43. Wondercat :
    Patriotism, Dr Johnson tells us, is the last refuge of the scoundrel. Here the scoundrel has captured if not patriotism nationalism, and is holding forth from within it very well indeed. OV’s opponents have, I fear, no such “starken Tobak” to offer.

    Well, they do have the starker tobak. Freedom, democracy, tolerance – European values. But as you pointed out the auditors don’t seem to want the good stuff.

    And lets not confuse here the blatant destruction of the democracy in an EU state to support criminal activities with the Brits lamenting if the loss of free trade with the continent would cost more.

    But your diagnosis is unfortunately right. The average hunky will not think beyond the tits for tots – wait, that’s different – I mean tit for tat. And Orban’s gang is busy making sure it is explained to them as you can see above in Johnny’s intelligent contribution. EP condemning Orban is the same as the Orban condemning the EU. The Hungarian defense lawyer -sentencing the judge for sentencing a client.

  44. Büchler :
    A survaillance state is being built out (in the US but also n Hungary as well) and it is sad that educated people discount the importannce of this trend.

    It’s been built out for a long time. Even in Europe. Just watch cop shows on TV. How quickly they know everything.

    But as Krisztina Egerszegi, the worlds greatest female backstroke swimmer said: “You don’t dope until you get caught”. Sweden was caught by the way a few years ago. The EU countries are quiet because they are guilty too.

    Surveillance is necessary. The oversight is the key. This traitor didn’t reveal anything that most of your congressmen didn’t know already. He should be nabbed and bring him home.

    Also you have to examine the technical details of this “surveillance”. It’s not to pluck you out for watching your usual evening porn. It is to identify patterns that indicate terrorist activity. Mailbox traffic that indicates a typical drop point. Or frequent, short, coded messages between certain endpoints. Microsoft and Apple is probably on the list because of the backdoors in their operating systems. Nothing new here either.

    I know it’s scary, but it’s like the cop car in front of your house. You want them to park there, don’t you? It’s the digital era. Get used to it.

    But let’s get back to the Orban bashing ..

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