Attila Ara-Kovács and Bálint Magyar: On the periphery of empires–a buffer zone of the EU?

Today the European Union is faced with conflicts it has never encountered before either within or beyond its borders. In 2004, when several Eastern European countries were admitted to the EU in the wake of the Drang nach Osten, the democracy deficit of the new member states was considered no more than a children’s disease which—given proper treatment—they would surely outgrow. However, as the post-communist mafia state took shape in Hungary between 2010 and 2014, this assumption proved utterly mistaken. Outside its borders—as in Ukraine for example—the hope that societies will necessarily come nearer to European “civilized” norms turned out to be an illusion.

Within the Borders of the EU

Hungary was once a pioneer of the region in expending efforts to dynamically modernize and democratize the country. Although the “central field” policy was described by Viktor Orbán well before 2010, it has been implemented since he came to power. The main aim of this policy is to prevent any change in the political setup and establish an autocratic regime, while stressing that stabilizing liberal democracy is just one alternative in our region. Eastern European post-communist societies today are under the threat of becoming autocratic regimes, thus stabilizing themselves. It is a moot point whether the EU has the clout to put these countries back on the trajectory of liberal democracy or—failing that—excommunicate them from the EU.

Eastern EuropeThe system of sanctions against democracy deficit as legitimized by Brussels is based on two premises. The first one posits that integration implies a system of values whose effectiveness is dependent on the coherence and homogeneity of these values. According to the second premise the fundamental principle of the policy followed by the member states is underpinned by the shared values of liberal democracies, and deviations from this policy should not be regarded as intentional only as occasional slips. The system of sanctions works only if both of these premises are accepted because—short of the second one—exclusion from the community would automatically come into force as a last resort. In other words, unless the shared values of the member states fail to be harmonized due to the reluctance of certain countries to eliminate those deviances, the community is bound to reject those countries in self-defence, lest for other reasons.

Since the perception of public opinion in Hungary denying the value system of the EU is not incidental but systematic, it is often assumed that Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s long-term goal is to lead Hungary out of the EU.

Challenging this view, we assert that neither the exclusion of Hungary nor a government attempt to quit the EU is a likely scenario.

Beyond the Borders of the EU

The recent brutal events in Ukraine reveals an increasingly fierce geopolitical competition between the European Union and the “Euro-Asian Union” being formed and led by Russia. This competition is rendered particularly intense owing to the fact that the battle of the great spheres of interest is reinforced in two more dimensions. On the one hand it can be interpreted as a fight between quasi-democratic and quasi-autocratic forces while on the other as a Russian-Ukrainian conflict tinged with a more and more obvious ethnic character. The latter problem also has some cultural undercurrents: after World War II the territory of Ukraine grew, extending its borders from the onion domes of Orthodoxy into the world of Gothic churches of Catholicism.

The lofty goals of fighting for a better value system are mixed with the down-to-earth goals of expanding the empire. This war is not waged with weapons though. Just the opposite, the big powers are trying to win the voters’ sympathy with offering “bonuses”. The Russians dangle the carrot of supplying cheap energy and opening an administratively controlled market in the former Soviet regions whereas the EU is giving the associated countries financial support and access to EU markets operating on a competitive basis. The imperialistic nature of this battle is revealed by attempts at mutually ruling out the possibility to avail of both channels of “bonus”.

If the requirements of homogeneity in value systems were imposed in strict terms, Ukraine would not at all stand a chance of joining the EU. At the same time however the geopolitical aims of the West seem to move towards a policy of increasingly close cooperation with Ukraine.

Value system versus geopolitics

The rationality of common values as declared by the EU on the one hand and the rationality of geopolitics with its pressure of circumstances on the other are mutually exlusive concepts, impossible to realize simultaneously. A move to admit or lure the former communist countries from the Balkans and Eastern Europe which are still outside the EU would lead to a catastrophic inflation of the system of common values. However, a flat rejection of these countries, let alone an expulsion of the quasi-autocratic regimes within the walls of the EU, would give the Russian Empire in the process of reincarnation the opportunity to expand towards the West. An EU decision to draw its geographical borders according to the system of common values would surely result in a reincarnation of Yalta, with the implication that the validity of political community would be overruled by the historical self-movement of value systems. Whereas the post-war Yalta agreement cut Europe into two along the North-South axis largely leaving out of consideration issues of cultural value systems, the axis now seems to move diagonally, from North-East to South-West. Such a move is supposed to irrevocably embed the Baltic states, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovenia and possibly Slovakia into the EU but renders the place of Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria in this community ambiguous.

Even though Brussels declines to consider this option, it looks as if the contradiction between the dream of common values and the reality of geopolitics can be solved only by means of a two-speed EU, introduced under political duress. The euro-zone, a “westernized” form of multi-speed Europe has already been realized. The post-communist member states well entrenched in the EU either belong to the euro-zone already or are intent, irrespective of their ideological commitments on joining the euro-zone within a few years. Others however, including Hungary produce a national ideology to justify their resolve to stay permanently outside. The claim for preserving our autonomy hidden in the rhetoric of “national war of independence” is in fact the euphemistic demand that we be exempted from the norms of liberal democracy. Let there be no mistake: what these countries mean by “the Europe of nations” is an obvious claim to establish or maintain their quasi-autocratic regimes. No one but their own citizens can resist such demands effectively. If there is no resistance or if the resistence turns out to be unsuccessful, the stabilization attempts of “national autocracies” are sure to succeed. Whereas the geopolitical considerations of the EU should not allow the Russian Empire to reach out again as far as the River Leitha on the Western border of Hungary. The Western-European political elite—while giving up its romantic belief and original mission following the collapse of the Berlin Wall—is considering Eastern-Europe falling behind not as a companion in a cultural sense but only as an era to be influenced economically. In fact today’s Eastern-European elite –instead of trying to civilize– only wishes to strenghten its eastern scale of values with the help of national and social populism—in order to build up and preserve their autocratic power.

For some members of the EU to stop this process might seem all the more hopeless since to create a stable democracy is utterly impossible without an autonomous citizenship and a wide middle class.  What’s more, the financial crisis of 2008 even cast light upon the fact how vulnerable EU member South-European societies may be in this respect.

EU buffer zone – the playing field of autocrats

It follows from the above that we are moving towards a buffer zone, an area permanently outside the euro-zone, where unprincipled concessions in EU norms may be made. The new imperial logic defends itself not with the tactic of “scorched earth” but with a policy of giving support in well-proportioned doses while acquiescing in democracy deficits—in the past such behaviour was tolerated only exceptionally.

Why on earth would autocrats like Orbán wish to leave the EU once they can live in this buffer zone by “milking two empires”: regular support arrives through structural and cohesion funds from the EU whereas cheap energy through agreements with the Russian empire? While the former is made to pay for a semblance of showing good manners in politics and espousing the ideals of freedom, the latter for our submission into an Eastern system of dependency.

Attila Ara-Kovács, ex-diplomat

Bálint Magyar, ex-minister of culture and education

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47 comments

  1. Sadly, the utility cost reduction appealed to too many Hungarians.
    All, who liked it, were hardly interested in living in a free and a prosperous country.
    They have sold their freedom for a few forints.
    The rest can flee their beloved land.

  2. Is Hungary part of the EU periphery of Europe, yes of course it is. But interestingly Hungary may not be able to continue to play the game it has been playing in relationship to Russia. The time of reckoning may be nearing. Aleksandr Dugin, is the founder of Russia’s Eurasia Party, and he is the ideological godfather of Putin’s current Eurasian economic union. Dugin has become increasingly influential over time and is an adviser to the head of the State Duma and his ideas are taken seriously by people who are close to Putin.

    Ideologically the Eurasian economic union is the stuff of the Jobbik in Hungary. Orban has a problem because his game has been to use the Jobbik rhetoric in order to undermine it, but now the preverbal chickens may come home to roost. Putin’s vision of the Eurasian Union is going to require a shared ideology to succeed, and while that ideology won’t be communism, as it was in the USSR, the history and rhetoric of the Eurasian movement suggests that it will inevitably be some hodge-podge of anti-Western, antiliberal thought built on gangster capitalist states. On that level Orban fits well with the Eurasian model.

    But to join in that adventure would be adverse to the economic interests of many of Orban’s supporters who relish their economic role in the EU periphery and might revolt against Orban if he went in that direction. Unless of course Orban can offer them easy money based on a Eurasian Union. The thing that he EU must prohibit is effectively allowing Orban to have one and a half feet in the EU and half foot in the Eurasian Union.

    The USA could play an extremely useful role in relation to undermining Orban and his regime if we adopted a much more aggressive stance towards Putin. But it seems that President Obama lives in terror of a potential nuclear war. Germany is even more in terror of a military confrontation with Russia as it has cut back on military spending repeatedly. The US military leadership is frankly chafing at the bit to push back at Putin, and I share some of that sentiment as has been evident from my posts on this blog.

    The possibility of a Russian special forces strike into Kiev to take out the leadership of the Right Sector is very real. Putin would be seen as a hero for ordering such a strike and if the USA can fly into Pakistan to take out Bin Laden then the Russians are fully capable of taking out Dmitry Yarosh the Right Sector’s leader. He is in the true sense a terrorist because he has publicly called for sabotaging Russian pipelines in Ukraine. Meanwhile NATO, the EU, and the Obama administration send warnings to Putin about consequences that he pays little or no attention to. This game hasn’t played itself out and the longer NATO waits to draw a real line in the sand around eastern Ukraine the more likely Putin will find an excuse to take more of it.

  3. Talk is cheap!

    Balint Magyar was twice minister of education and was preceded on the job by Gabor Fodor, also from the Free Democrats.

    He was in charge of what is arguably the most important portfolio there can be because only education shape a new generation and the next to understand why (liberal) democracies are, to paraphrase Churchill, the least worst of all systems.

    What have they done to educate the new generation that is voting Jobbik today?
    What have they done to educate the new generation to understand and cherish freedom and democracy?
    What have they done to give a moral compass, instill moral values and a sane hatred of tyranny and dictatorship?

    Can their answer be summarized as that of a Matav customer service representative: “sajnos nem lehet”?

    They miserably failed and now pontificate draped in self-righteousness.

    Talk is cheap indeed!

    Sorry for the rant

  4. @qaz

    “…moral compass…moral values..”

    Go to a Hungarian university and find a group of students. Ask them how many have read
    about Socrates. How did he die, and why. You’ll be lucky to fine 1/20 who might know…

  5. Great article. Adds some nuance on the development of eastern Europe, and gives us much needed depth on why and how the EU policy mechanism can be as conflicted as it is. Thanks for sharing this!!!

  6. In Hungary there’s no sense of ‘self-education’. If there was, there would be fewer folks following, mindlessly, the nonsense of a Victor Orban.

  7. qaz :
    Talk is cheap!
    Balint Magyar was twice minister of education and was preceded on the job by Gabor Fodor, also from the Free Democrats.
    He was in charge of what is arguably the most important portfolio there can be because only education shape a new generation and the next to understand why (liberal) democracies are, to paraphrase Churchill, the least worst of all systems.
    What have they done to educate the new generation that is voting Jobbik today?
    What have they done to educate the new generation to understand and cherish freedom and democracy?
    What have they done to give a moral compass, instill moral values and a sane hatred of tyranny and dictatorship?
    Can their answer be summarized as that of a Matav customer service representative: “sajnos nem lehet”?
    They miserably failed and now pontificate draped in self-righteousness.
    Talk is cheap indeed!
    Sorry for the rant

    You are right, they had not done much. They thought we should give the kids computers and electronic smart boards and they will be educated citizens right away. It turns out kids prefer to use their computers (smartphones) for playing games, watching porn and writing messages on facebook with extremely bad syntax. Somehow knowledge will not get into their heads so quickly. They also deeply feared the trade union of teachers, which Orban pacified in no time. But we have discussed that the left was always afraid of causing conflicts and never really had a vision. Anyway, they were amateurs, but this is not the issue of this post.

  8. peteybee :
    I would urge to be super careful before inviting the US foreign policy people too close. Where they go, bad things follow.

    Where the Americans involved in the language laws that went out so early?

  9. Reblogged this on Spread An Idea and commented:
    interesting dive into the relationship of Hungary to the EU. Sheds some light on how Eastern Europe’s politics results in conflicted motivations for the EU in relation to Russia.

  10. I think the authors are fundamentally mistaken. The EU is still at its core a common market. The EU was established as a common market, a free trade zone because economy and business could be sold as – supposedly – value free, objective, non-ideological concept “on which we can all agree”.

    The political features of the EU came later. However, we see now that politically the EU is still and fundamentally impotent. That is because contrary to all the talk about the demise of nation states and the increase of the role of supranational organizations, globalization etc. — nation states still do matter in Europe. Also, the EU acts as a typical supra-national burocracy full of people who have no interest in anything else than keeping their exceptionally cushy jobs. The EU is actually a good thing, come to think of it, because it does provide a job for thousands of families, who otherwise would be in a worse position living in Spain, Greece or Hungary.

    Nation states certainly do still matter in Western-Europe, see the recent behavior of the UK vis-a-vis the EU, but we can also mention Iceland and Switzerland which rejected membership and figured going alone fitted them, given their special positions or in Eastern-Europe, where nationalism, ethno-centrism are clearly on the rise.

    It’s a bit like all the talk about the digital future, when everything will happen ‘on the internet’, those who remain in the stone age will fall behind etc. — until somebody comes with the nukes and it turns out real stuff (as opposed to digital ones) somehow still matters.

    The writers, as all liberals, want to believe in an idealized version of the EU which of course never existed, just as people wanted to dream in 1989 that just by the fall of communism we will live like the Austrians. They somehow cannot come to terms with the fact that the EU is a political disappointment (to them, not to the British or French or Danish elites, who like that it is so impotent).

    Economically, however, the EU is a very important creature. But then Hungary is also suffering from the consequences of the membership, so while the balance of our membership is positive, the results came with huge losses too. A 10-year trend of more or less GDP stagnation actually masks significant growth in some counties and significant, hopeless decline in others — which does affect local politics. Economic decline is never good for the traditional left because it inevitable means the search for new types of communities (such as those offered by right wingers) by those who suffer from the decline and see their own communities torn apart.

    Anyway, the sophistication of the post goes way beyond the reality of the EU. But scholars need to come up with new ideas about the EU all the time, and with this flood of ideas the discourse itself seemingly created an EU which just isn’t there. In a weird way, just by naming this entity people assumed without thinking that it is already sovereign, an independent actor with its own will. This is not the case.

    There is no EU policy about Russia or EU geopolitics, only German, British etc. policies. And there is zero consideration going on about buffer-zones because these countries do not care about Hungary or Bulgaria. Never did.

    The EU is a common market, older, richer member states (their corporations) wanted to sell more stuff and in return for the opening the markets of poorer new members they were ready to pay some hush money to those who were inevitably going to suffer (the CEE).

    The turn toward quasi-totalitarian systems, quasi-dictatorships, new forms of communities, like weird extreme right wing subcultures in the CEE (less so in the more successful new member states, though) can easily be explained with economic trends, only neither the EU is interested in them (as the realization would question the very fundamentals of the EU) nor authors like the above, who still cling to the idea that the EU membership was a good thing and cannot be criticized (it was, but we are a minority in Hungary and balanced debate is needed).

    Point is nobody in the EU will care, and those countries which cannot economically catch up or integrate into the West, that is Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria will continue to exist under quasi-dictatorial rule.

    But that is OK, because we will build a lot of unnecessary buildings from EU subsidies and in return we will purchase a lot of EU-made stuff. And that is the basis of the EU.

  11. Very interesting piece, thanks for publishing it.

    However, while “buffer states” might be what Russia wants, I’m not so sure they are viable today. Didn’t we just witness the beginning of a revolution in Ukraine, a country the economy thereof is in a horrendous state… largely because it has been a “buffer state” for 25 years?

    I do not think we can separate the economical and political systems. “Liberal democracy” and “free and fair markets” are mutually inclusive.

  12. Thank you for posting this interesting article !
    I find it very useful as it deals with a “vision” that EU unfortunately does not have anymore…
    I mean the great democratization process that took place well before 1989 since the ideals of instilling democracy came from the political thought of Western powers (EU community and USA as well as President Carter and the Helsinky conference and from that moment on ….).
    In my opinion nowadays, and I speak from inside EU as being an Italian graduating student at University (my thesis deals with “HU, magyar identity and EU”!), EU has to recover those great ideals that drove the process of democratization throughout eastern countries the “periphery of Europe” if it wants to confront with the so called “Eurasian Union”…the geopolitical approach doesn’t work for EU especially if european bureaucrats are thinking of confronting with Putin and its Eurasian strategy by means of Eu funds (structural and cohesion funds)!
    What EU needs is giving up of thinking about Eu market (the consistance of “cohesion” is sometimes even ridiculous since the EU Commission most of its time is making directives and recommendations on the size’s of Italian cucumbers ! ) …..it just needs to reignite the entire process on an another original basis, which comprehends redefining its core identity (especially when it comes to future projects of political union)and culture (Eu constitution why not ?) while making efforts to strengthen a Eu common frame on Education, capable of teaching young and future generations the true values of liberal democracies (Socrates, and so on) ….Europe has to Get a new VISION for the future !
    I think that on the one hand Eastern EU countries need to strengthen their Civil Societies as envisaged in the paper above and they need help in this great process as West powers did for 1989 ….on the other Eu countries should stop to consider this area of European periphery only a land for economic capitalism affairs and great capitalistic gains; mainly because in those issues I think Putin has even better commodities to offer especially as regards energy supply….Putin has better “panem et circenses” than EU in this field.

    in my beautiful (but also troubled 😦 ) country, civil society and the public opinion attracted by the mass media, is aiming at redefining the economic pact between members of the Euro zone weakening Austerity, establishing a new fiscal order (decided in Maastricht almost 20 years ago) and encasing strategies fro economic growth, while programming to make structural reforms in order to acquire much more credibility and first of all for its own survival …..In general terms Europe has to face many manu issues and I think neither of them can be figured out without a great inspiration.
    (I apologize in advance for some english errors that i could have made)

    Ciao !

  13. Government ads/commercials in 2008 vs in 2012

    on public areas 10% —-> 25% [Simicska]
    on television 45% —-> 28%

    in 10^6 forints

    Newspapers
    —————-
    dailies

    Metropol [free daily] 636 —-> 1914
    Nepszabadsag 631 —-> 92
    M. Nemzet 368 —-> 874
    Blikk 256 —-> 107
    Nepszava 255 —> cca 0
    M Hirlap cca 0 —-> 215

    weeklies

    HVG 182 —> 80
    Nok Lapja 167 —-> 123
    Szabad fold 161
    Pesti Est 142
    Heti Valasz 140 —-> 280
    168 ora 109

    Radio stations
    ——————-
    Slager 1034 —-> 0
    Danubius 908 —-> 0
    ClassFM 0 —-> 1439
    NeoFM 0 —-> 8 [unequal treatment resulted in NeoFM closing down in November 2012]

    MusicFM 0 —-> 402
    Kossuth [public] 339 —-> 217
    Klubradio 218 —-> 2
    Petofi [public] 158 —-> 69
    Gazdasagi 144 —-> 1
    Juventus 130 —-> 146

    Television broadcasters
    ——————————
    RTL Klub 4860 —-> 904
    TV2 3206 —-> 2560
    M1 [public] 2003 —-> 1064
    NapTV on M1 566 —-> 0
    Viasat3 448 —-> 136

    Public areas
    —————-
    Publimont 0 —-> 2692+509
    Euro AWK 0 —-> 594
    These two Fidesz oligarch companies got 80% of the government ads in 2012.
    Europlakat 775 —-> 0
    Epemedia 477+230 —-> 173
    Hungaroplakat 334 —-> 0
    Mediacontact 267 —-> 278

    http://mertek.eu/sites/default/files/reports/allami_reklamkoltes.pdf

  14. tappanch :
    The local government of disctrict 12 banned the campaign ad of the 4K party, because it offended Viktor Orban.
    http://hvg.hu/itthon/20140319_4K_Orbant_serti_a_majmos_kampanyfilm_leti

    Now that is an interesting argument, but more so from copyright perspective.
    Orban has his intellectual property rights to his voice mannerism of his voice. It is not what he said cannot be used but his voice cannot be used in a different media setting than it was intended to! THis is a big difference.
    Example, you cannot make a commercial about an item and hire a “cheap” actor who can mimic George Cloney’s voice and mannerisms and try to sell the product that way.

  15. Some1 :

    tappanch :
    The local government of disctrict 12 banned the campaign ad of the 4K party, because it offended Viktor Orban.
    http://hvg.hu/itthon/20140319_4K_Orbant_serti_a_majmos_kampanyfilm_leti

    Now that is an interesting argument, but more so from copyright perspective.
    Orban has his intellectual property rights to his voice mannerism of his voice. It is not what he said cannot be used but his voice cannot be used in a different media setting than it was intended to! THis is a big difference.
    Example, you cannot make a commercial about an item and hire a “cheap” actor who can mimic George Cloney’s voice and mannerisms and try to sell the product that way.

    Actually, as a matter of copyright law, I believe this is quite incorrect. It is permissible (despite Orban’s absurd photo law) to take photographs, videos and audiotapes of public figures. (Alas the paparazzi are abusing that right all the time!)

    So, no, Orban does not have “intellectual property rights to his voice mannerism [or] his voice.”

    He does, however, have the power and crony support to demand whatever he wants — until and unless the Hungarian electorate (or the Geneva judiciary) — deprive him of that power.

  16. Eva, can you translate this short text?

    Putyin zseniális sakklépése:

    Oroszország egy zseniális ökonómiai sakklépést tett. Mindenkit a kisujja köré csavart.

    Néhány nap alatt több mint 20 milliárd dollárt keresett. Ehhez a saját monopóliumának a részvények közel 30%-át visszavette.
    Putyin az Európai Uniót, és Amerikát is hülyére vette. És milyen szép, az egész világ szeme előtt, úgy tett mintha minden tervszerű lett volna. Korábban a részvények egy része, külföldi befektetők energiatársaságaié voltak, ez azt jelenti, hogy a bevételek majdnem fele,az olaj és gáz iparból nem Oroszország kincstárába került, hanem Európa finánccápáinak a számláira. A krími helyzettel összefüggésben, a rubel elkezdett erősen esni, de a központi bank nem tett semmit annak érdekében hogy a rubelt támogassa.

    Felmerültek olyan pletykák is, hogy Oroszországnak nincsen semmilyen megtakarítása arra hogy a rubel irányát fent tartsa. Ezek a pletykák, és Putyin magyarázatai, hogy kész arra hogy Ukrajna orosz nyelvű lakosságát védeni kész, ezek vezettek Oroszország energiatársaságai részvényeinek az áreséséhez, és ezek a finánc cápák elkezdték ezeket a részvényeket eladni , mielőtt, azok teljesen elveszítették volna az értéküket. Putyin egész héten várt, és a sajtókonferenciákon csak mosolygott, de amikor az árak és értékek lementek a pincébe azt az utasítást adta hogy ezeket a részvényeket gyorsan és minden európaitól, és amerikaitól felvásárolják.

    Mire ezt a finánccápák felfogták, hogy átverték őket, már késő volt, a részvények Oroszország kezében voltak. Nem csak hogy Oroszország ezekben a napokban 20 milliárd dollárt keresett, a cégek részvényeit is visszahozta Oroszországba. A kőolajból és a gázból keletkező bevétel, most már nem fog kifolyni külföldre, hanem Oroszországban fog maradni. A rubel értéke magától megemelkedik , és a támogatására nem kell Oroszország aranykészleteit elhasználnia, és emiatt az európai finánccápák hülyék maradtak és átverték őket.

    A részvényeiket, amelyek dollár milliárdokat hoztak, néhány perc alatt néhány centért felvásárolták , és a kőolaj, és a gázból származó bevételek nélkül hagyták őket. Egy ilyen csillogó műveletet, a pénzpiacok történetében még sohasem láttak….”

  17. Stevan Harnad :

    Some1 :

    tappanch :
    The local government of disctrict 12 banned the campaign ad of the 4K party, because it offended Viktor Orban.
    http://hvg.hu/itthon/20140319_4K_Orbant_serti_a_majmos_kampanyfilm_leti

    Now that is an interesting argument, but more so from copyright perspective.
    Orban has his intellectual property rights to his voice mannerism of his voice. It is not what he said cannot be used but his voice cannot be used in a different media setting than it was intended to! THis is a big difference.
    Example, you cannot make a commercial about an item and hire a “cheap” actor who can mimic George Cloney’s voice and mannerisms and try to sell the product that way.

    Actually, as a matter of copyright law, I believe this is quite incorrect. It is permissible (despite Orban’s absurd photo law) to take photographs, videos and audiotapes of public figures. (Alas the paparazzi are abusing that right all the time!)
    So, no, Orban does not have “intellectual property rights to his voice mannerism [or] his voice.”
    He does, however, have the power and crony support to demand whatever he wants — until and unless the Hungarian electorate (or the Geneva judiciary) — deprive him of that power.

    I respect your opinion. I am only familiar with the copyright laws in Canada and the USA.
    However by North American practices using the name or likeness of another is very regulated. Using Orban’s voice would not fall under “doctrine of fair use” as it used for commercial purposes (even if it could be considered to be a Public Service Announcement, as this is incidental advertising.) The same material could of been used without permission if it i considered as a parody.(Saturday Night Live for example.)

    (I have been instrumental on obtaining rights to use photographs from the National Archives (of both Canada and the USA as sometimes they do need permission). I obtained rights of photographs and footage taken longer then fifty years ago but currently living person. I have been responsible for the release of music by the Rolling Stones, B.B. King, Leonard Cohen, and by many other musicians for animation, commercial, and documentary purposes.) I worked with WB, Sony, and many other producers.

  18. We watched the video and had to laugh …

    On pol.hu a commentator rightfully complained that this was an insult to the chimpanzees which are quite intelligent and well behaved animals…

    @Some1:

    Leonhard Cohen is one of my favourite artists – I still remember that feeling when I heard “Bird on a wire” the first time in 1969!
    Btw it marked the end of my long days as a rebellious student – I decided to take my diploma in mathematics and get a job …

  19. Some1 :

    by North American practices using the name or likeness of another is very regulated. Using Orban’s voice would not fall under “doctrine of fair use” as it used for commercial purposes (even if it could be considered to be a Public Service Announcement, as this is incidental advertising.) The same material could of been used without permission if it i considered as a parody.(Saturday Night Live for example.)

    Political campaign critique and caricature are certainly not commercial use.
    (And I was referring to a 1st party recording and remixing of Orban’s voice, not the use or mashup of recordings made and copyrighted by a prior party, kike Disney.
    (I have been instrumental on obtaining rights to use photographs from the National Archives (of both Canada and the USA as sometimes they do need permission). I obtained rights of photographs and footage taken longer then fifty years ago but currently living person. I have been responsible for the release of music by the Rolling Stones, B.B. King, Leonard Cohen, and by many other musicians for animation, commercial, and documentary purposes.) I worked with WB, Sony, and many other producers.

    I think those 3rd party (and commercial) uses are very different from political adverts, which are full of snippets and re-mixes.

  20. Apologies, bad html for quotes: re-posting:

    Some1 :
    by North American practices using the name or likeness of another is very regulated. Using Orban’s voice would not fall under “doctrine of fair use” as it used for commercial purposes (even if it could be considered to be a Public Service Announcement, as this is incidental advertising.) The same material could of been used without permission if it i considered as a parody.(Saturday Night Live for example.)

    Political campaign critique and caricature are certainly not commercial use.
    (And I was referring to a 1st party recording and remixing of Orban’s voice, not the use or mashup of recordings made and copyrighted by a prior party, like Disney.

    ”>i>(I have been instrumental on obtaining rights to use photographs from the National Archives (of both Canada and the USA as sometimes they do need permission). I obtained rights of photographs and footage taken longer then fifty years ago but currently living person. I have been responsible for the release of music by the Rolling Stones, B.B. King, Leonard Cohen, and by many other musicians for animation, commercial, and documentary purposes.) I worked with WB, Sony, and many other producers.”

    I think those 3rd party (and commercial) uses are very different from political adverts, which are full of snippets and re-mixes.

  21. OT for most of you, but:

    wolfi :
    this was an insult to the chimpanzees which are quite intelligent and well behaved animals…

    I know you meant this as a joke, but I think it is quite literally true.

    I am not a prude, nor humorless, nor a political correctionist.

    But while we keep treating innocent, helpless animals in the horrifically cruel way that we do, everywhere, without so much as a second thought about what we are really doing, it is adding callous insult to grievous injury to say “he’s a pig” or an “ape” — or “there’s more than one way to skin a cat.”

    Not that the cat or pig or monkey is further hurt by the derisive talk — they are already at maximal maltreatment and suffering, and they don’t understand language.

    But this kind of contempt masks our own monstrosity, and reinforces it.

    (Apologies for this OT, but please imagine what you would do if the butt of the joke were those we were in the habit of enslaving, torturing, and slaughtering…)

  22. @Eva

    I’d be extremely interested in a comparison of how the Hungarian legal system handled the cases of Csatary Laszlo and Biszku Bela.

  23. petofi :

    @Eva

    I’d be extremely interested in a comparison of how the Hungarian legal system handled the cases of Csatary Laszlo and Biszku Bela.

    I haven’t really analyzed yet the Biszku case but one thing is already clear to me. They dragged their feet with Csatáry until he died before his trial could begin. With Biszku they were in a great hurry. Plus I don’t think that the timing, just before the election, is a coincidence.

  24. Regarding “Putin’s brilliant chess moves” article posted in Hungarian. If the value of Russian oil and gas stocks continue to tank as the article indicated it will not be good for Russia. But does Putin become more compliant or reasonable in such a situation? I would argue he becomes even more dangerous, because various adventures serve the purpose of taking people’s minds off of economic reality.

    I know many readers of Eva’s blog are anything but pro-military but the problem is if you wage economic war on Putin even in relatively minor ways there could be military consequences for NATO members including Hungary.

    NATO can’t continue to reiterate to the public that military intervention in relation to Russian moves in the Ukraine are off the table if economic moves against Russia are being made and are having negative effects. In order to raise the stakes the New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) between Russia and the US needs to be totally put on hold with none of the planned further reductions by the US taking place. All verification plans should also be frozen. The US should immediately stop using Russian air space for resupply of troops in Afghanistan, not a big deal since NATO is bailing out anyway. NATO rapid deployment forces should be moved into the Baltic states/Poland in force and prepare for a more permanent security role. There are currently six NATO Rapid Deployable Corps, which are each capable of commanding up to 60,000 soldiers. Would these steps be provocative, yes they would. But not preparing at all for further Russian aggression is even more dangerous.

  25. @Steven Harnad: I believe that it is a commercial. A funny and satirical commercial but regardless it is a commercial for 4K.

    Even if Orban’s speech is public domain (as it was released publicly) as far as copyright goes you could use it. You can distribute copies, stream it, print it, etc. BUT if you want to use it in advertisement, Orban’s voice is as distinct as his look, so you are infringing on his rights by using his voice for non-monetary gains.

    Even if you would hire an impersonator you would be wrong. I copied this because it recaptures very much what I think:
    “A voice, or other distinctive uncopyrightable features, is deemed as part of someones identity who is famous for that feature and is thus controllable against unauthorized use. Impersonation of a voice, or similarly distinctive feature, must be granted permission by the original artist for a public impersonation, even for copyrighted materials.”

  26. Some1 :
    @Steven Harnad: I believe that it is a commercial. A funny and satirical commercial but regardless it is a commercial for 4K.
    Even if Orban’s speech is public domain (as it was released publicly) as far as copyright goes you could use it. You can distribute copies, stream it, print it, etc. BUT if you want to use it in advertisement, Orban’s voice is as distinct as his look, so you are infringing on his rights by using his voice for non-monetary gains.
    Even if you would hire an impersonator you would be wrong. I copied this because it recaptures very much what I think:
    “A voice, or other distinctive uncopyrightable features, is deemed as part of someones identity who is famous for that feature and is thus controllable against unauthorized use. Impersonation of a voice, or similarly distinctive feature, must be granted permission by the original artist for a public impersonation, even for copyrighted materials.”

    No contest on commercial use. My misunderstanding.

    I had no idea who or what 4K might be!

    I assumed that it was either some political satire or one of the many extra little parties on that long bogus list padded to confuse the Hungarian voters.

    If 4K is a company trying to make money out of others’ voice, image, or copyright content, you are 100% right.

  27. Stevan Harnad :
    No contest on commercial use. My misunderstanding.
    I had no idea who or what 4K might be!
    I assumed that it was either some political satire or one of the many extra little parties on that long bogus list padded to confuse the Hungarian voters.
    If 4K is a company trying to make money out of others’ voice, image, or copyright content, you are 100% right.

    LOL 4K is around for 6 or 7 years. It is an “alternative” party for Generation Y. I know what you saying as so many “parties” just popped up suddenly. (THe ad also has Gyurcsany’s voice by the way.) Although it is a critic and a spoof, at the end there is the name of the representative 4K wants people to vote for, and it contains their logo. It is a very smart ad, and I like it a lot for that matter. (It makes me wonder, if it would not be election time, could the same video used as a “social commentary”. That would be legal….)

  28. Is there such an ethnicity as a “Ukrainian” ?

    I mean in the ethnic sense. Obviously there is a legal class of Ukrainians who hold Ukrainian citizenship but do they exist as a distinct ethno-culutral group? There are Galicians, Ruthenians, Rusyns & Cossacks. As for Ukrainian did anyone actually use the phrase before Central Politburo created the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic? For example, in Canada, Canadian nationality applies to distinct groups as the Quebecois, Metis, Acadiens, Anglo- Scots, Chippewa, Chinese, Punjabi etc… Is “Ukrainian” similar, a political abstract meant to bind different peoples together under a common name based on geography & citizenship rather then blood? Discuss.

  29. Is there such an ethnicity as a “Ukrainian” ? :
    Is there such an ethnicity as a “Ukrainian” ?
    I mean in the ethnic sense. Obviously there is a legal class of Ukrainians who hold Ukrainian citizenship but do they exist as a distinct ethno-culutral group? There are Galicians, Ruthenians, Rusyns & Cossacks. As for Ukrainian did anyone actually use the phrase before Central Politburo created the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic? For example, in Canada, Canadian nationality applies to distinct groups as the Quebecois, Metis, Acadiens, Anglo- Scots, Chippewa, Chinese, Punjabi etc… Is “Ukrainian” similar, a political abstract meant to bind different peoples together under a common name based on geography & citizenship rather then blood? Discuss.

    People cannot be classified according to such vague and nonsensical criteria as “ethnicity” and “blood”. A meaningful and verifyable classification can, however, be based on language. Read about the Ukrainian language for example in Wikipedia before you ask more questions.

  30. Jean P :

    Is there such an ethnicity as a “Ukrainian” ? :
    Is there such an ethnicity as a “Ukrainian” ?
    I mean in the ethnic sense. Obviously there is a legal class of Ukrainians who hold Ukrainian citizenship but do they exist as a distinct ethno-culutral group? There are Galicians, Ruthenians, Rusyns & Cossacks. As for Ukrainian did anyone actually use the phrase before Central Politburo created the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic? For example, in Canada, Canadian nationality applies to distinct groups as the Quebecois, Metis, Acadiens, Anglo- Scots, Chippewa, Chinese, Punjabi etc… Is “Ukrainian” similar, a political abstract meant to bind different peoples together under a common name based on geography & citizenship rather then blood? Discuss.

    People cannot be classified according to such vague and nonsensical criteria as “ethnicity” and “blood”. A meaningful and verifyable classification can, however, be based on language. Read about the Ukrainian language for example in Wikipedia before you ask more questions.

    You weird answer deny the existence of ethnic groups, and real nations.

  31. The strange “Democracy” of the new Ukrainian chauvinist government. (the new nationalist regime use force to depose the president of the state Television.)

  32. Eva S. Balogh :
    Please, refrain here from Russian propaganda. We don’t like Putin very much.

    This is the reality, which was recorded by hidden cameras. Europe must stop the chauvinism.

  33. Without the Russian help in WW2, Europe would have became a nazi colony!
    Only Soviet Russia and Stalin had the power to stop Hitler! Never forget it!

  34. Is there such an ethnicity as a “Ukrainian” ? :

    Eva S. Balogh :
    Please, refrain here from Russian propaganda. We don’t like Putin very much.

    This is the reality, which was recorded by hidden cameras. Europe must stop the chauvinism.

    Most likely the head of the television station was doing exactly what the head of the Hungarian public television has been doing for years. This is not chauvinism. This is a political question. The puppets of Yankovych who in turn was a puppet of Putin must go.

  35. Eva S. Balogh :

    Is there such an ethnicity as a “Ukrainian” ? :

    Eva S. Balogh :
    Please, refrain here from Russian propaganda. We don’t like Putin very much.

    This is the reality, which was recorded by hidden cameras. Europe must stop the chauvinism.

    Most likely the head of the television station was doing exactly what the head of the Hungarian public television has been doing for years. This is not chauvinism. This is a political question. The puppets of Yankovych who in turn was a puppet of Putin must go.

    But that doesn’t empower Putin to recreate the Soviet Empire. These are just the first steps.

  36. Is there such an ethnicity as a “Ukrainian” ? :
    Is “Ukrainian” similar, a political abstract meant to bind different peoples together under a common name based on geography & citizenship rather then blood? Discuss.

    Blood? Even a 100 years ago barely the one third of the population was Russian in the Crimea. Following your logic your Putler should get the hell out of there …

  37. To be fair, Crimea should be designated as the Tatar homeland and they would be wise to continue to allow a Russian, military presence. The Ukraine will be a very dangerous place for anyone who is not Neo Nazi. The Ukrainians need to define their culture and determine who would best represent them. If they choose to be an exclusively Ukrainian nation, they may have to do so in isolation. There are many in the west who do not agree with aiding a neo Nazi government.

  38. Diana Schroeder :

    To be fair, Crimea should be designated as the Tatar homeland and they would be wise to continue to allow a Russian, military presence. The Ukraine will be a very dangerous place for anyone who is not Neo Nazi. The Ukrainians need to define their culture and determine who would best represent them. If they choose to be an exclusively Ukrainian nation, they may have to do so in isolation. There are many in the west who do not agree with aiding a neo Nazi government.

    Neo-Nazi government? Come one!

  39. Diana Schroeder :
    To be fair, Crimea should be designated as the Tatar homeland and they would be wise to continue to allow a Russian, military presence. The Ukraine will be a very dangerous place for anyone who is not Neo Nazi. The Ukrainians need to define their culture and determine who would best represent them. If they choose to be an exclusively Ukrainian nation, they may have to do so in isolation. There are many in the west who do not agree with aiding a neo Nazi government.

    – “To be fair” based on what? Can you expend on the fair.
    – Can you expend on your idea of calling the new government in Kiev a “neo Nazi government”?
    -Can you provide some links to that supports your statement “many in the west who do not agree with aiding a neo Nazi government.”? (Who does not want to support ? THey do not want to support because the neo Nazis?)

    You see, you can express your personal opinion at any time, but you cannot generalize without proper references. Simply, smart people cannot take serious a comment given by someone with no posting history and no factual references. It is like have a disagreement with a three years old who walks in the room and says “pigs can fly”.

  40. An interesting report on a conference by the “Green leaning” Böll foundation:
    “Gemeinsam mit der europäischen Grünen-Chefin Rebecca Harms und Fondsinvestor George Soros diskutiert Fischer über den Konflikt in der Ukraine.”
    http://www.n-tv.de/politik/Fischer-lobt-Merkel-und-schweigt-zu-Schroeder-article12506531.html
    German Green ex foreign minister Fischer thinks the Russians (and Putin) will lose in the long run – and he didn’t say a word on his ex chancellor Schröder who is a Putin fan (well he’s paid by Gazprom …).

    Couldn’t find anything on what Soros said though.

  41. Eva S. Balogh :

    Diana Schroeder :
    To be fair, Crimea should be designated as the Tatar homeland and they would be wise to continue to allow a Russian, military presence. The Ukraine will be a very dangerous place for anyone who is not Neo Nazi. The Ukrainians need to define their culture and determine who would best represent them. If they choose to be an exclusively Ukrainian nation, they may have to do so in isolation. There are many in the west who do not agree with aiding a neo Nazi government.

    Neo-Nazi government? Come one!

    BLOOMBERG buisinessweek:
    http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-03-20/four-uncomfortable-truths-about-ukraine

    Four Uncomfortable Truths About Ukraine

    Ukrainian government is chauvinist.

    What do you think about this article?

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