European Police College in Budapest? Not likely at the moment

While Fidesz was trying to discredit its political opponents in a tiny electoral district of a small town in Hungary, another struggle was taking place in Strasbourg over Hungary’s right to be the new site of the European Police College or CEPOL. Most likely few people have ever heard of the institution, which is currently situated in Bramshill in the United Kingdom. The UK a few months ago decided not to continue to host the college, and thus the European Commission and the Union’s other institutions had to come up with another location in one of the member countries. While they were at it, the Commission made the recommendation that CEPOL and Europol, the European Union’s law enforcement agency with its headquarters in The Hague, should be merged. Europol has a big, modern building, and combining the two institutions would be more cost effective. It seems that many people in the European Parliament and elsewhere in other European institutions are not too keen on the idea of the merger, believing that the college should be a professional training ground and fearing that it might be politicized by this fusion.

European Police College, Bramshill, United Kingdom

European Police College, Bramshill, United Kingdom

And now enters Lithuania, whose prime minister and right-wing political leadership have a soft spot for Viktor Orbán’s Hungary. In December 2012, for example, when the Hungarian government was under considerable pressure from Brussels because of its less than democratic tendencies, the Lithuanian parliament issued a proclamation “defending” Hungary. The Hungarians were naturally most grateful and thanked the Lithuanian people and their politicians for their brave act.

What does Lithuania have to do with the fate of CEPOL? A lot. Lithuania currently holds the presidency of the European Union. You may recall that when Hungary had the post for six months in 2011 the ministerial councils of the member states held their regular meetings in Gödöllő in the former summer palace of the Hungarian royal couple. It is Vilnius that now chairs these meetings, and on October 7 when the council of the ministers of the interior met they agreed to the Lithuanian proposal that the new headquarters of CEPOL should be in Budapest.

It turned out that seven countries had submitted proposals, but Hungary was the only country from the relative newcomers. And there is an attempt in the European Union to distribute European institutions in such a manner that eventually there would be no great differences between the long-time members and the newcomers.

For a while the Hungarian government felt pretty certain that the deal was sealed. CEPOL will be in Hungary from 2014 on. But then came all sorts of unforeseen complications, the least of which, as it turned out, was Rui Tavares’s objection to the location as long as the Hungarian government leaves the European Parliament’s report on the country’s democratic inefficiencies unanswered. In Hungary an awful lot of time and energy was wasted on Tavares’s objection. On October 14, Máté Kocsis in parliament called attention to the “communist” Comrade Tavares’s machinations in the hope of preventing CEPOL headquarters from being located in Budapest. And while he was at it, he accused the Hungarian socialist members of the European parliament of treasonous behavior because he “suspected” that they were the real instigators. Of course, that was followed by some tit for tat from MSZP, which decided to sue Kocsis.

All that was just a lot of useless noise because two days later MTI reported that “nobody stood by Tavares” at the hearings of Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE), one of the standing committees of the European Parliament. The report also added that even Kinga Göncz, one of the MSZP members of parliament, argued for the Budapest location. Magyar Nemzet was graphic. Their article, based on the MTI report, announced that “Tavares’s spectacular failure was something else!” But the problem with all this boasting about the great Hungarian victory at the hearing is that the issue didn’t hinge on Tavares’s objections. The situation is much more serious than that.

If one has the patience to listen to the forty-minute video of the hearing, it becomes clear that the procedure Lithuania adopted is most likely flawed. Moreover, despite what Kinga Gál (Fidesz) claimed at the hearing, the European Parliament has veto power over the decision. So does the European Commission. And it is clear that both the representatives of the Commission and the parliamentary rapporteur of the European Parliament are against moving CEPOL to Budapest.

The Commission still prefers the merger of CEPOL and Europol in The Hague, and the parliamentary rapporteur, the Spanish Agustin Diaz de Mera Garcia Consuegra, a member of the European People’s Party, expressed his opinion that the procedure adopted by Lithuania is unconstitutional and therefore most likely void. The European Parliament was not consulted as it should have been. Lithuania misread the constitution or misconstrued it  The whole affair is “pathetic,” he announced.

Another EPP member, the French Veronique Mathieu Houillon, who will be the rapporteur of the question, suggested taking a look at all seven applications which up till now the European parliamentary members didn’t have an opportunity to review. The next meeting is tentatively scheduled for November 26 when perhaps a decision will be made.

So, that is the true story of the hearing of LIBE on Thursday. No great victory, at best a setback. Moreover, it is a distinct possibility that Budapest, after all, will not get CEPOL because neither the European Commission nor the representatives of the European Parliament are keen on the Budapest location. Also, keep in mind that both people who suggested reviewing the whole procedure are members of the conservative European People’s Party. Hungary will be the site of CEPOL only if both the Commission and the Parliament endorse its bid. From the tone of the discussion I wouldn’t be too optimistic if I were Viktor Orbán.

I also wonder how much damage Lithuania did to its own reputation and to the Hungarian cause in bypassing EU rules to support its ideological friend, Orbán’s Hungary. After all, it wasn’t so long ago that Hungary asked Lithuania’s help in mending its relations with Armenia. It seems that the Lithuanians were ready to assist, but their efforts ended in a large embarrassment for both Lithuania and Hungary. There may also have been close cooperation between the two countries in the case of CEPOL’s headquarters. Given the tone of the hearings, such cooperation (if it existed) wasn’t a good idea.

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22 comments

  1. This whole post is BS.
    The European Police College in Budapest is now very likely as Tavares with his dirty abuses against Hungary has been left alone – even the MSZMP EPs who forged the “Tavares Report” deserted after having been debunked.

  2. Hungary with Viktor has done a quick magic trick. Became invisible. Poor. Homeless rich. Debt ridden. Fear filled.
    Of course, the voters have not noticed it.
    Self liberation will happen one day.
    To regain civility.

  3. Johnny Boy :
    This whole post is BS.
    The European Police College in Budapest is now very likely as Tavares with his dirty abuses against Hungary has been left alone – even the MSZMP EPs who forged the “Tavares Report” deserted after having been debunked.

    Here we go again. Criticism of the Fidesz governement is called abuse against Hungary.

  4. Sorry for the off but if

    http://index.hu/belfold/2013/10/20/a_bajai_botranyvideok_foszereploi_ismerik_egymast/

    this is true. Then MSZP should hide under a rock and never come back for this much amateurism. I’m holding on with the judgement as this is in Blikk, but unfortunately it makes way too much sense.

    For non-hungarian speakers:

    According to Blikk, one of the gypsies on the video has confessed to the police that the Baja video was an “educational video” ordered by MSZP to use in a media campaign depicting how Fidesz is buying votes. The editor in chief of HVG also says they regret the title and the introduction they gave when publishing the video.

  5. Jano, I hope you are not so naive as to believe of one word what this guy is sayig. That someone would make a deal like that in the MSZP headquarters in Budapest? Don’t make me laugh. He would be a total idiot. The whole story sounds crazy.

    This is a nice Fidesz way of trying to deflect the charges of fraud and move the attention to MSZP. And for good measure, let’s find a Gypsy who worked along the DK people at the time of the flood..

  6. I’ll be curious to find out who exactly ordered the production of the video depicting buying votes.

    By looking at the video, it’s evidently fake. It appeared to me from the first moment I got a glimpse. Too good, too obvious, too well focussed on the scene, everything is sufficiently and predictably in place (that is, perfect for the situation) to be real.

    It’s symptomatic of people here to imagine that perceptive individuals are not able to differentiate. Whatever the finding of the ‘truth’ behind its motivation and production, the final result is going to shed light on just how the average citizen behind vairous machinations lacks the sophistication to predict in advance the trasparency of misdeeds as they occur.

    Consequently the fake film will shed a light of wider scope onto the mental attitude of persons in the wheeling and dealing behind politics at the average functining level of the political system and possibly how individuals involved are not being supervised from ‘above’ but acting as independent operatives…

  7. Getting back onto the topic of the current essay re. the EU police academy being relocated to Budapest — it seems to me that the EU political body can’t coninue to only sanction Hungary’s government by inflicting fines on a case-by-case basis but will need to assume a more active critical goal to reign in the excesses of the Govenment and its aggressive anti-EU behavior.

    Consequently it is going to have to deliberately show its continued displeasure by negatively affecting bonuses such as locating EU oases of activity and financial resources.

    Consequently I would be very surprised if the permanent relocation of the insitution would occur in Budapest’s favor.

    At best, it might put off the decision until after the Hungarian elections next year to see if operational directions might change here. If the current govenmnet is retained, I think it will use its powers to show its continued displeasure at being offensively diregarded.

  8. Here we go again. Criticism of the Fidesz governement is called abuse against Hungary.

    Right. You know why? Because if you elect a government, and you still stick by your government, then if someone calls your government a dictatorship, they also insult you. Because they insult your choice, your preference which you are entitled to have.

  9. Moreover, Tavares called for financial sanctions against Hungary. This means, they wanted to hurt not only the government but also the voters because they dared vote for a government the Communist Tavares did not like. That’s why.

  10. Eva S. Balogh :
    Jano, I hope you are not so naive as to believe of one word what this guy is sayig. That someone would make a deal like that in the MSZP headquarters in Budapest? Don’t make me laugh. He would be a total idiot. The whole story sounds crazy.
    This is a nice Fidesz way of trying to deflect the charges of fraud and move the attention to MSZP. And for good measure, let’s find a Gypsy who worked along the DK people at the time of the flood..

    Right… That guy is obviously a liar when he says he negotiated with MSZP beforehand to forge the video.
    But that guy is perfectly credible when he screenplays that Fidesz wants to buy Gypsy votes.
    It takes a YOU to be able to walk away with such an enormous logical fallacy.

  11. Eva: “That someone would make a deal like that in the MSZP headquarters in Budapest? Don’t make me laugh. He would be a total idiot. The whole story sounds crazy.”

    But somebody did have to be a total idiot on this issue… The video is obviously fake. If you look at the video it is obvious that somebody must have been holding the cell phone right out. Now I hope you are not naive either to think that the Fidesz person would just let somebody recording him bragging about committing a crime.

    So as I understand you are suggesting, that Fidesz made the video that they leaked to HVG in the hope that they will be able to push the blame to MSZP in the end. My question is that why??? They didn’t need it, it’s unnecessarily risky and convoluted.

    As much as it pains me to say that, JB troll has a point. That gypsy guy is lying big time either on the video or to the police now.

  12. Do you remember the 2006 burning of the TV HQ? Well, at least one blogger had the idea that it was spearheaded by the rogue elements of the security community he called the “brancs”. This branch of old school siloviki fired up some happy troublemakers (from around Fradi) knowing that the police will be stunned at first, will freeze like everybody who is in shock. But they knew that the police after the initial shock will pull itself together and get tough, perhaps too tough even. And that was to goal: to show that the Hungarian police is just a blunt instrument in the hands of the evil Gyurcsány and perhaps could even provoke a mini revolution. Mission accomplished.

    This is a time-honored tactic, for example in V for Vendetta a graphic novel by Alan Moore (and a movie as well) contains parts in which the police investigator realizes that the protagonist wants to incite a revolution by provoking the police into getting to tough.

    Fidesz was very successful in its 2006 narrative, since only a minority of the people had firsthand experience of the vandalism of the street thugs in downtown Budapest, most people only watched TV, in which the narrative of Fidesz – ever the smart user of media – prevailed.

    Anyway, this Gipsy video story smells like one of those kompromat missions by old school security people. Fidesz’ people probably infilitrated MSZP (which is happy for any new party member and supporter) and set up this weird video which at first looks like the real thing despite its idiocy but then it turns out (from government’s sources as we can ascertain) that it is fake and supposedly was commissioned by MSZP. Right. This video does not have anything to do with Baja. It is part of a much grander narrative that is that not HirTV and Magyar Nemzet which are lying but the left/liberal media and the MSZP (and not Fidesz) is the one who cheats in elections. In other words, this video is for the Fidesz voters, to make sure they stay committed. This smells like Fidesz. I can even imagine that the Fideszniks will find a local, hitherto never known MSZP ‘politician’ similar to he head of the Sólyom Airlines (if anybody still remembers it), who is a crazy weirdo but who will attest that they get instructions from a cabal of communists.

  13. Jano :
    So as I understand you are suggesting, that Fidesz made the video that they leaked to HVG in the hope that they will be able to push the blame to MSZP in the end. My question is that why??? They didn’t need it, it’s unnecessarily risky and convoluted.

    I’m not suggesting anything. I am simply saying that the MSZP story of this Róbert doesn’t sound plausible. Let’s assume that I am an MSZP member of parliament and I want to create a video like that with the help of this guy. I would be an utter fool to invite him to MSZP headquarters in Budapest and conspire with him on the spot. Don’t you think that if MSZP were behind this crazy story MSZP would use another Roma to do the dirty work?

  14. There is a very recent opinion piece about the phony video in Index which is of interest. Szabolcs Panyi thinks that it was a scheme that might have been hatched for the purpose of simply getting some cash.

    DK announced earlier that the party would give anyone 100,000 forints if that person came up with proof of fraud. One of the fellows who are involved here is a DK party member (I understand no longer though) who might have gotten the bright idea to get 100,000 forints this way.

    Not an impossible scenario.

    http://index.hu/belfold/2013/10/21/valaki_rank_akarja_kenni_es_az_szerintem_nem_a_fidesz/

  15. Eva S. Balogh :
    There is a very recent opinion piece about the phony video in Index which is of interest. Szabolcs Panyi thinks that it was a scheme that might have been hatched for the purpose of simply getting some cash.
    DK announced earlier that the party would give anyone 100,000 forints if that person came up with proof of fraud. One of the fellows who are involved here is a DK party member (I understand no longer though) who might have gotten the bright idea to get 100,000 forints this way.
    Not an impossible scenario.
    http://index.hu/belfold/2013/10/21/valaki_rank_akarja_kenni_es_az_szerintem_nem_a_fidesz/

    Not unlikely, and what would be the easiest way to go about it? To reconstruct an event which had actually taken place.

  16. Turns out in the meanwhile that the sport section leader (sorry for the butchering translation) of MSZP did receive the video on a CD (according to his own account), and thought it was real proof of fraud… This whole issue is ridiculous. Anyway as I have the strong hunch that you are planning to write a summary piece once things become clearer, I’ll stop posting about it here.

  17. You’re getting even basic facts wrong – the decision by the council was made in Luxembourg not Lithuania – your hatred of Orban seems to blind you to everything else
    Yet you’re no different from most of his fans in believeing that HU is the center of the world and everything that impacts HU happens for a reason, specifically with the intention to impact HU, and not simply because its a complex world with many players and agendas (your shared conditions name is “attraction to conspiracy theories”)
    A case in point is cepol where LT PRES (who may or may not have their symphaties with Orban, but their nr 1 objective for 6 months is to solve the issues on the council agenda) merely tried to break an impasse in council by forging a common position for the HU candidacy which stood the best chance of securing it – and it did.
    Now it’s become another institutional turf war, because the ep is like an adolescent with feelings of entitlement and righteousness but lack of wisdom, but again you are too ignorant to know that indeed it is the councils prerogative to name seats for eu agencies, and no, the ec cannot veto it (if as in this case the council is united) and even the ep can only veto it by blackmail and arms twisting, which may well work and then you can be happy for scoring one against the devil incarnate orban…
    Except, as you also fail to pick up in your utter ignorance, the ppl you name (and others involved at the ep you likely havent even heard about) have their own personal agenda in pushing against Budapest because they have intimate links to other cities that put in a bid earlier for the seat of cepol. And yes, a couple of them like Tavares have an agenda, which is not to punish HU or put it back on the right track but to score goals for personal political advantage. But why would you care if that would distract from your narrative that the good angels of brussels are yt again descending on viktor orban, proving that he is a very very bad man…. Which may be true, but what can you do, the majority is still blind to the truth you see so clearly (but how can you trust your vision if for example you are so fucking ignorant about eu matters yet dont mind making big statements about it….)
    Gosh, when will ppl realise that the orbanists and anti orbanists are both crooks and snake oil peddlers? That is when HU will see a new dawn…

  18. Me :

    You’re getting even basic facts wrong – the decision by the council was made in Luxembourg not Lithuania

    I suggest that you read texts a little bit more carefully. I didn’t say that the council of interior ministers took place in Vilnius but:

    “It is Vilnius that now chairs these meetings, and on October 7 when the council of the ministers of the interior met they agreed to the Lithuanian proposal that the new headquarters of CEPOL should be in Budapest.”

    Here Vilnius stands for Lithuania. Just as we often talk about the United States as Washington or Budapest as Hungary

  19. The comment of “Me” reminds me of an internet joke originally made about trying to have a discussion with creationists:

    Debating with “Me” on the topic of Orbán is rather like trying to play chess with a pigeon — it knocks the pieces over, craps on the board, and flies back to its flock to claim victory.

  20. Eva S. Balogh: correct, i misread that so my somewhat frustrated opening for what I thought was your getting even the basics wrong, was, well, wrong. Sorry about that.
    The rest still holds imho and you could have perhaps reflected on the substantial points as well.

    Wolfi: given that this was the very first time I commented on this blog (and one of a handful of times I commented anywhere at all) and alas no ‘debate’ ensued (see above) I am really surprised by your comment. Especially because – as you could have picked up from my comment – i despise both the supporters and opponents of Orban because more often than not they bend the facts, like this post does
    (I didnt check, so maybe there were other ppl with the nick “me” here before, but i can assure you they werent, well, me.)
    So reflect on what i wrote and see if debating with “me” is indeed such an experience… I stand by everything i wrote except the mistaken criticism in the beginning

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