Viktor Orbán’s (temporary) retreat in his battle with Ferenc Gyurcsány?

Some of my readers and I don’t see eye-to-eye on the government’s decision to release two secret service documents that deal with Ferenc Gyurcsány’s controversial speech of 2006. They are convinced that this move is a fantastic coup against the opposition and that if the united opposition had any sense whatsoever it would drop the subject as soon as possible. Anything, they claim, that has to do with the speech is political poison.

I see it differently. Even if the two documents had substantiated the government’s claim that Gyurcsány was complicit in the leak, the political gain for Fidesz would have been minimal. But the documents didn’t support their claim. Moreover, since Gordon Bajnai and Ferenc Gyurcsány knew not only about the two released documents but about others that contradict Eduardo Rózsa-Flores’s assumptions, questions were bound to arise about a half forgotten story. And in that story Fidesz was very much involved.

The release of the documents raised the possibility that someone would slip up. And indeed Lajos Kósa did. Only half a year ago he denied that he knew anything about the tape prior to its publication. So did Tibor Navracsics and Viktor Orbán. And now here in black and white was a detailed description by Flores of how the tape ended up in his hands and went from him via an intermediary to Lajos Kósa. Confronted with the document and pressured by Antónia Mészáros, Kósa cracked. He admitted that they have been lying about their knowledge of the tape and their own role in making it public. Fidesz politicians who in the last eight years have talked incessantly about Ferenc Gyurcsány’s lies are found to be liars themselves. It was time for damage control.

I can only imagine what Lajos Kósa got from Viktor Orbán after that interview. He must have been ordered to correct his “mistake,” which he did this morning on Magyar Rádió. While yesterday he admitted that he got hold of the tape from a fellow from Miskolc which he then distributed to the press, by today his story had been substantially edited. He denied any knowledge of the tape’s content before it was read on Magyar Rádió.

Sándor Pintér was also asked to do his best to squelch the growing scandal. After all, only Magyar Nemzet and Magyar Hírlap were talking about the sins of Ferenc Gyurcsány;  other publications started probing into the revelations of Fidesz’s involvement. And that probing went beyond the leak itself. People kept asking about Fidesz’s role in the preparation and organization of the disturbances themselves.

Pintér’s line of reasoning at a late afternoon press conference was interesting. While two days ago the big news was the source of the leak, i.e. whether Gyurcsány initiated the leak of his own speech or not, today Pintér claimed that “the circumstances of the leak are unimportant” because the unauthorized removal of the tape is not a crime. The important part of the story is the content of the speech, he emphasized. But then why did they release these documents that centered on the circumstances of the leak, circumstances that two days later were deemed unimportant? There is no good answer here.

In addition to Pintér’s feeble explanation Magyar Nemzet came up with one of its ownThe argument goes something like this: Why the big fuss about the leak? Who really cares who was responsible? After all, we just heard from the former editor-in-chief of Népszabadság that J. Zoltán Gál, undersecretary in charge of the prime minister’s office, approached him to ask whether he would be interested in an edited version of a terrific speech his “boss” delivered. So, the argument goes, let’s not spend any more time on this trivial matter, especially when MSZP wanted to have it made public anyway. Another misguided argument. With this claim they only support Gyurcsány’s contention that his audience was enthralled and that he didn’t think there was anything in the speech one had to be ashamed of.

The most worrisome announcement that Sándor Pintér made at this press conference was that there is no other “final report” on Balatonőszöd. We are talking here about the report that both Gordon Bajnai and Ferenc Gyurcsány saw and that both claim contains some damaging material on Fidesz’s involvement in the affair that ended in violence on the streets of Budapest. That indicates that as things stand now the Orbán government is planning to eliminate in one way or another an important piece of evidence.  I’m sure that Bajnai cannot lay his hands on the document, but Gyurcsány may have a copy of it which, as he said, “landed on his desk.”

source: szabadeuropa.shp.hu

Source: szabadeuropa.shp.hu

Moreover, the Népszabadság article to which Magyar Nemzet referred also states that two days before the release of the tape Ferenc Gyurcsány sent an article to the paper entitled “Haladás vs. maradás” (Progress versus Backwardness) in which he pretty well told the reading public what he said in his Balatonőszöd speech. The editors asked him whether in light of the new developments he wanted to change anything in his text. His answer was “no.” Obviously even after the speech was released he saw no reason to change anything in the text.

As I said earlier, any party would have taken advantage of the opportunity the leaked tape offered Fidesz sometime in July-August of 2006. I don’t blame them. What on the other hand, a responsible democratic party cannot do is to systematically prepare a coup d’état. Unfortunately, it looks as if this is exactly what Viktor Orbán was doing. There are just too many signs pointing in this direction.

Finally, here is a new piece of information from Péter Zentai, today a journalist with HVG but at the time Magyar Rádió’s Berlin correspondent. Right after the Budapest siege one of the German television stations organized a round-table discussion on the Hungarian events. Zentai participated in this discussion, as did a British TV journalist. The British journalist insisted that the outbreak of violence couldn’t have been spontaneous because his television station and Sky TV had been approached by a Hungarian news station a week before the fateful weekend. They were invited to come to Budapest because “interesting things will happen.” Zentai was stunned and tried to air this story on Magyar Rádió. Even then, however, MR was partial to Fidesz, and one of the middle managers refused to report Zentai’s information from the British television journalist.

Bits and pieces of new information emerge day after day. Viktor Orbán seems far too eager to eliminate his arch-rival and thus keeps making mistakes.

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63 comments

  1. petofi :
    Here’s a story to go after: Why did Orban act alone in the Azeri case; and what compensation did he receive from the Azeris?

    I have no idea. mabye the Azeris are more important than we know to Russia and they requested it. Maybe the Azeris promised “fűt fát” and then delivered nothing. What do you think?

  2. So far it appears that we already know almost everything, or at least have enough conclusive, albeit circumstantial evidence to get the whole picture.

    Personally I never had any doubts, not even when I watched as the events unfold in 2006 how it could have happened, not now either, when I listened Pintér bullshitting and avoiding straight answer to simple questions, dodging and throwing smokescreen, you name it.
    I repeat, so far it clear, the puzzle-bits falling to place nicely.

    So what?

    What could ever happen, what would shake up the paralysed Hungarian people to rise up and finally start to clean out their home – and life – of the ever present layers of dirt, muck and garbage spewed upon them by their chosen leaders and finally start with a clean slate?

    In short: we know this all along, now even the proof start to emerge – what are we going to do about it? Or anybody else, for that matter?
    In my opinion this is the real question, and unfortunately there isn’t even a hint that any answer about to come up any time in the foreseeable future.

  3. Mr. Paul :

    petofi :
    Here’s a story to go after: Why did Orban act alone in the Azeri case; and what compensation did he receive from the Azeris?

    I have no idea. mabye the Azeris are more important than we know to Russia and they requested it. Maybe the Azeris promised “fűt fát” and then delivered nothing. What do you think?

    Mr. Paul :

    petofi :
    Here’s a story to go after: Why did Orban act alone in the Azeri case; and what compensation did he receive from the Azeris?

    I have no idea. mabye the Azeris are more important than we know to Russia and they requested it. Maybe the Azeris promised “fűt fát” and then delivered nothing. What do you think?

    My guess – and it was from day one – that the Azeries played Orbán all along, and he fell for it, desperate to achieve “something”, whatever could it be, in the fetishised “energy” field, sucking in all, hook, line and sinker for nothing.
    As it known, they are much more experienced in it than the Felcsutian Hero ever could be, but hey, there is always a chance, that they may screw it. Not yet, this time they did not.
    Tough luck, Viktor.

  4. @Tappanch: You had me there for a moment – to me it looked like “belügen-ministerium” , very appropriate …

    “Jemand belügen” means in German: to tell someone a lie …

  5. Nothing is new under the Sun?

    I mean, we shouldn’t surprised by when young communists became liberal-democrats, turn to Fidesz-members and evolve to National Socialists..?

    Well, it must be the model of a “New Hungarian”, is it not?

  6. Mr Paul wrote:

    “I have no idea. mabye the Azeris are more important than we know to Russia and they requested it. Maybe the Azeris promised “fűt fát” and then delivered nothing. What do you think?”

    All of that speculation over possible deals is obfuscating the fact that Orban (a) thought he could make a deal by returning someone visiting Hungary in an international cooperative program who went out, bought an axe and murdered someone with it and then (b) actually made such a deal and delivered an axe murderer to receive a hero’s welcome on landing in his home country. A fair and competent government simply does not make deals over axe murderers and the kind of mind — Orban’s mind — that could possibly think that anything good for Hungary could ever come from making a deal over an axe murderer is not a conservative, not a patriot, has no understanding of importance of the rule of law in insuring that a society can expect that bad deeds will have consequences, and is, need we add, morally bankrupt. If the Azeris did, in fact, monetize the release of this axe murderer, what kind of Christian could actually accept money for that deed?

  7. It SHOULD be an issue, of course. The real issue is that it isn’t. It’s not even a talking point.

    (And regarding 2002, I was also here, and the media manipulation was extraordinary, though not at current levels … blanket TV coverage of Fidesz rallies, for example, random shots of crying babies after shots of the opposition leader – it was brazen. But the real shock of that election was that MIEP seemed to have incredible momentum … Heroes’ Square was FULL, their propaganda was EVERYWHERE, “MIEP 20%” graffiti was all over the place. But they failed to even reach the minimum quota. A spectacular and welcome fall. So, 12 years on, for me the only unpredictable aspect of this election is the Jobbik vote.)

  8. Mr. Paul :

    petofi :
    Here’s a story to go after: Why did Orban act alone in the Azeri case; and what compensation did he receive from the Azeris?

    I have no idea. mabye the Azeris are more important than we know to Russia and they requested it. Maybe the Azeris promised “fűt fát” and then delivered nothing. What do you think?

    Promising “fűt fát? So you let a bloody murderer go because the Azeris promised something? What kind of morality is that?

  9. Muhahaha, that is the best.

    Mr. Paul was exactly chosen for his current job because his personality test showed that he does not care about issues like morality. He can rationally argue about it, but he does not care. It is a very specific personality which his employer is looking for and morality has nothing to do with it. To the contrary, a little mischief is actually a good point as it anyway goes with the job.

    Eva S. Balogh :

    Mr. Paul :

    petofi :
    Here’s a story to go after: Why did Orban act alone in the Azeri case; and what compensation did he receive from the Azeris?

    I have no idea. mabye the Azeris are more important than we know to Russia and they requested it. Maybe the Azeris promised “fűt fát” and then delivered nothing. What do you think?

    Promising “fűt fát? So you let a bloody murderer go because the Azeris promised something? What kind of morality is that?

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