Péter Szijjártó’s new foreign policy and the U.S. response to the Hungarian challenge to democracy

Only a few days have gone by since Péter Szijjártó became Hungary’s new foreign minister but he hasn’t wasted any time. In two days he put together a new team. So, in the last four months the top personnel at the ministry has changed not once but twice. First, Tibor Navracsics got rid of the old guard who were most likely not enamored with Szijjártó’s activities as quasi foreign minister in the Prime Minister’s Office. The purge included  Zsolt Németh, one of the founders of Fidesz, who has been present in the Hungarian parliament ever since 1990 and who over the years became the foreign policy expert within Fidesz. He was János Martonyi’s parliamentary secretary during the first Orbán government (1998-2002), and in 2010 I was half expecting that he would take over the foreign ministry in the second Orbán administration. That was not to be. And now he has really been dropped. Today he is simply the chairman of the parliamentary committee on foreign affairs. In this capacity he has no influence whatsoever on the course of Hungarian foreign policy.

Meanwhile, after Tibor Navracsics’s reorganization of the ministry when about 200 people lost their jobs, here is the second wave of firings which Szijjártó calls “streamlining.” According to the new minister, over 200 more people will be let go. It is not clear whether that number includes ambassadors who are being recalled. In the next year 84 ambassadorial posts will have new occupants. Thirty-four have already departed, and between now and the first half of 2015 fifty more ambassadors will be recalled.

Szijjártó made it clear that he is laying down the foundation of a new Hungarian foreign policy and that this change “will be irreversible and final.” From here on the Hungarian foreign ministry will be headed by a man who is convinced that there is a “new world order” in which the goal of foreign policy is “the representation of Hungary’s economic interests.” The new administration will change “ingrained structures,” a move that might be attacked by some, but he “will not retreat because this is what is in the interest of the country.” He also emphasized that the “eastern opening” will continue. As far as U.S.-Hungarian relations are concerned, he reiterated that Barack Obama’s remarks had no basis whatsoever. Calling in the U.S. chargé d’affaires was therefore warranted. In fact, in the future André Goodfriend can look forward to regular chats in the foreign ministry’s building. Hungarians don’t mind criticism, but the U.S. charges are without merit. He himself is planning to visit Washington soon for “business and political meetings.” Index seems to know that in Washington Szijjártó will meet with officials concerned with energy policy. It is worth noting that the new foreign ministry will have almost nothing to do with European affairs, which will for the most part be handled by János Lázár in the prime minister’s office.

One can safely say that Hungary is no longer interested in what we call “Atlanticism,” a belief in the importance of cooperation between Europe and the United States and Canada regarding political, economic, and defense issues. I might add here that “Atlanticism” has been especially strong in eastern and central Europe. In Hungary, Martonyi and his political undersecretary, Zsolt Németh, were strong proponents of Atlanticism, and it is no coincidence that supporters of strong ties with North America and the European Union were the first to get the ax.

And now let’s go back to Zsolt Németh who as chairman of the committee on foreign relations still has opportunities to talk about foreign policy issues. On September 30 he told Népszabadság that the cooling of U.S.-Hungarian relations is not in the interest of the country and “it is the preeminent job of Hungarian diplomacy to change the situation.” Hungary’s national interest demands close cooperation with the United States, he said, and he added that he might be able to move things in this direction during his visit to Washington.

Németh was practically on his way to Washington when this interview took place. He came to attend a conference organized by the Center for European Policy Analysis’s  (CEPA) U.S.-Central Europe Strategy Forum, which is the largest annual gathering of U.S. and Central East European officials, experts, and scholars. The conference was entitled “Reviving Atlanticism in Central Europe–Perils and Possibilities.” The conference ended about an hour ago and, according to friends who were present, Németh got quite a battering. Most of the questions centered around Hungary and were addressed primarily to him. As one attendee described the scene, “it was not good to be Hungarian today.”

Victoria Nuland

Victoria Nuland

I will rely here on a report filed by Anita Kőműves of Népszabadság, who gave a good summary of what Victoria Nuland, undersecretary for European and Eurasian Affairs, had to say in her opening address. Put it this way, she did not mince words. She began by saying that it was 25 years ago that the Berlin Wall crumbled and people of East-Central Europe again became part of the world where there are free elections, freedom of the media, the existence of a civil sphere; “in brief, they restored liberal democracy.” Today these rights are in danger, with threats coming from the outside as well as inside. The outside dangers are Russia and ISIS, but the inside dangers to democracy and freedom in Central Europe are equally grave. While the region enjoys the benefits offered by NATO and the European Union, there are leaders in the region who seem to have forgotten on what foundations these institutions have been established. “I ask these leaders how can they sleep at night under the blanket of Article V while during the day they press for illiberal democracy, they arouse nationalist sentiments, limit the freedom of the media and demonize civil groups? I ask those who defend corrupt officials from justice, who bypass their own parliament if that is convenient for them, or who make dirty deals which increase their country’s dependence on a single energy source despite their earlier pledges to energy diversification. I am asking them: how do these steps strengthen and make their countries more secure?”

I would have hated to be in Zsolt Németh’s shoes. He had to answer questions posed by Victoria Nuland and others in the audience, questions to which there are no good answers. Németh repeated the old refrain about the United States not being well informed, with the stab that perhaps if the United States had a full-fledged ambassador in Budapest Washington would know more about the situation in Hungary. As for the current plight of the NGOs, Németh claimed that “there are no problems whatsoever” on that score. In taking on the sensitive issue of “illiberal democracy” Németh resorted to an outright lie. He asserted that there is a global competition between liberal and illiberal democracies whose final outcome is still cloudy. But “Hungarian democracy is liberal and it will remain so. However, perhaps we should learn from other countries, including the illiberal ones, to become successful.” Pitiful, I must say.

I very much doubt that Zsolt Németh will be able to convince anyone in the State Department that Viktor Orbán is not a danger to liberal democracy or that his dirty dealings with Putin are not drawing Hungary into Russia’s orbit. If Németh thought that he could lessen the tension between the United States and Hungary he was mistaken. The sources of the tension cannot be handled at this level. It would need Viktor Orbán’s total abandonment of his domestic and foreign policies. And that isn’t about to happen.

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50 comments

  1. I read the Népszabadság article on the meeting in Washington. Nothing relating to the comments from Péter Szijjártó is surprising its consistent with PM Orban’s perspectives on US/Hungarian relations. But eventually this all is going to put the American Hungarian Federation, and the American Hungarian Coalition which also belongs to the US based Central and East European Coalition (CEEC) that has fairly aggressively opposed Russia’s expansionist moves in a difficult situation.

    Most Hungarian Americans are somewhat less that fraternal brothers and sisters of Russia, so the Russian drift, or the“eastern opening” in Hungarian foreign policy terms seems disturbing to many. I sent today to a number of Hungarian Americans here in the Midwest USA a very interesting article from the Budapest Beacon about how the Hungarian paramilitary group Magyar Gárda has moved from Romania to the Subcarpathian region of Ukraine to defend local Hungarians and connect with Donetsk separatists. http://budapestbeacon.com/news-in-brief/hungarian-ultranationlist-barna-csibi-seeks-ties-with-donetsk-seperatists/ Several seemed surprised by this story even though they are strong supporters of Hungarian language rights in Ukraine and questioned the fact that it came originally from a Romanian source.

    Hungarian American official organizations have not up to now formally supported the Hungarian government’s position about the confusion of President Obama in relation to the government crack down on the NGOs, they have generally posted official Hungarian government positions reflecting the supposed lack of knowledge on the part of the US State Department and not commented from what I have been reading.

  2. I have tried to speak to the HAC leaders about the new age trends of the orban regime since 2010.

    None wanted to hear my concern.

    They were elated by the loudly declared anti-communist illiberal attitude of the new super patriotic regime.

    Currently, there is a deep silence on this subject in HAC circles.

    How credible is the regime’s anti-communism in 2014?

  3. Andy Vajna as the government’s movie censor and Tsar,
    Andy Vajna, as the almost monopolistic casino concession recipient (with billions of guaranteed profit)
    Andy Vajna as the Orban elite’s friend

    [video src="http://212.40.121.141/rtlhirek/hazon_kivul/2014/10_oktober/01/hk_141001_vajna.mp4" /]

  4. Very interesting comments: the anti-Hungarian commenters here want to convince Hungarians to support the anti-Hungarian position and start hating Hungary.

    And they are very surprised that Hungarians “did not want to hear it”.

    Well there you have it, being a Hungarian and being a Hungarian-hater are usually two different categories (apart from the small category of self-hating Hungarians).

    Some of you should not try to lobby Hungarians with your views.

    You should talk to Slovak and Romanian neo-nazi circles, your views will have great success there. Not so much among Hungarians.

  5. @Poteka

    You are as rounded a schmuck as ever I’ve heard.
    Now listen to this:

    It’s because we cared for a Hungary that had VALUES–not ‘western’ or ‘liberal’ but HUMANE
    VALUES–that we hate the present government and the somnambulant morons, such as yourself, who haven’t the learning or the wherewithal to see what fools Orban is making of
    the citizenry (yup, you’re in here).

  6. HISTORY–well nigh outlawed by Orban, or, at least, the uses of Precedent–has thrown up a creature once before who has tapped into the depression of his people and built them up on rhetoric, lies, nationalism, and exceptionalism. Can you guess? Yes, Hitler. And because he
    thought that his citizens did not support him wholly, he led them to absolute disaster. Now, the Hungarian-hater is Orban (or why would he hold the country and its people up to continual and needless ridicule in the world?) and he will not stop until the bejesus is kicked out of the sad-sack society that is Hungary’s. And, when that haggard piece of refuse is ready to be dumped, the saviour (Russia) will alight and makes us free with 50 years of indentured labour. Or, as the sign once read: ARBEIT MACHS FREI

    You all want Orban’s ‘work-based’ society? He’ll damn well give it to you. (He himself will be in England, or the US or some South American country hobnobbing with the Nazis and telling them
    what fools he made of Hungarian jews.)

    In the meantime…everyone else take out your Russian workbooks…

  7. Did anybody watch the livestreamed hearing of Tibor Navracsics for his designed EU commissioner’s post? (http://www.elections2014.eu/en/new-commission/hearing/20140918HEA65207 ) A superb example of “peacock dance”, as Orbán calls it: completely different words for the EU than for domestic use. Navracsics in effect thrice denied his master, presenting himself as a champion of true European values, democracy and freedom, and producing lots of beautiful, completely empty and meaningless phrases. No, he has never had any conflicts with NGOs, and everything can and will be settled with negotiations. Not only did he sound intelligent, well-prepared and convincing, the questions put to him were lame as well. A very clumsy attempt from a German MEP to operate with the Anti-Semitism argument (“if you are raising statues to Albert Wass, József Nyirő and Cécile Tormay in Hungary, would you bring “Mein Kampf” into the school curricula in Europe?”) was easy to ward off – just the usual lies about how good the relationship between the great and vibrant Hungarian Jewish community and the government is.

    There will be further discussions, however, as clearly everybody was not happy with his answers ( http://www.socialistsanddemocrats.eu/newsroom/navracsics-failed-convince-and-distance-himself-his-past ). To quote the S&D vice-president: “While we warmly welcome his conversion to the EU faith, we would have also expected him to say a few words of repentance about his previous life”.

  8. Petofi and Sentrooppa-Santra are part of a graceful group of people of high moral.

    Many others have to examine their patriotic shackles which cloud clear thinking and clear judgement.

  9. yestarday i saw om YouTube an almost two hours report on a hearing,organized by the ALDE group in Strassbourg:17 september:the link you can find in an comment on Pester Lloyd(about Navrasics).
    The chairman were Verhofstadt and Sophie in ţ Veld(from Holland).The title:Hungary:the situation of democracy.One of the invited guest was a journalist from Atlatszo.
    The meeting dealed with rule of Law,NGO;s and Human rights.
    Benedek Javor attended the meeting among others(Szanyi Tibor from MSZP.
    It lett a prelude for the hearing of Navrasics Tibor.
    Alde will not let it pass.

  10. @Sentrooppa-Santra

    Actually, there will be no further public discussions, only additional written questions from the relevant EP committees, which can be found here:

    http://www.sven-giegold.de/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Questions-to-designated-commissioners.pdf

    At this point, four other commissioners designate are subject to this procedure: Moscovici, Cañete, Hill, Jourová. My guess is Bratušek will join the club today.

    Now, as far as the haggling is concerned, the rules of mutual assured destruction which seem to be in place between S&D and EPP make Navracsics small fry. Unless the whole equilibrium is toppled, he’s in the clear.

  11. Eva, just a small (and obvious) mistake to correct in the fifth paragraph:

    “On October 30 he told Népszabadság that the cooling of U.S.-Hungarian relations …” should be September?

    Mrs Nuland sounds very competent – remember her “f*** the EU”? She must have been very angry then at some (in)activity of the EU …

    Is she of German descent? Nuland = Neuland?

    Correction:

    Found her on wiki – so as I thought she’s from a Jewish family in the former Russian Empire, original name Nudelman, probably given to the family by an angry Austrian bureaucrat …
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victoria_Nuland

  12. @Spillie

    ALDE has two designates at stake (Jourová and Bratušek) out of five. That’s a lot to defend from both EPP and S&D. My guess is Bratušek is lost anyway, and that they will somehow exchange Jourová for 1) Navracsics and 2) a softer approach on Moscovici.

  13. Marcel Dé – exactly, the commissioner’s post for Navracsics is part of a very big and complicated deal, and I don’t believe that the protests by diverse organisations and parties will change anything at this stage. I’m really disappointed with the lame performance of the opposition at the hearing: there was very little well-informed criticism.

    Pantheon’s comment doesn’t really deserve a reply. Except for the word “patriotic”, which – like “fascism”, for example – should be avoided in political discourse because it can be used to mean anything one wants it to mean. (Remember the Socialist language use in olden days? “Internationalism” – good, “cosmopolitism” – bad. “Patriotism” – good, “nationalism” – bad…)

  14. OT for carrot: do you see who uses the term “ultraliberal”? It was Tarlós in today’s 444.hu interview who used it to denounce Bokros… It’s a cuss word used by right-wingers…So it’s pretty strange that a big Fodor defender would use it to denounce 444.hu, unless…Sorry, I’ll get lost.

  15. @Sentroopa,

    To really get a person like Navracsics or Szájer or Aszódi (Paks) one has to prepare very thoroughly and with great interest in, almost passion for the subject matter.

    If someone lacks these, like those lame EU politicians or Olga Kalman on a bad day, they will never even lick these people. Only make a fool out of themselves.

    These people are disciplined pros, who survived the pressure cooker of the Orban system which is a very serious selection process. That’s what is unclear to these people, that Navracsics et al are not just any politician, but people who cut their teeth in a completely different environment, with Orban as their demanding taskmaster and disciplinarian, not some well-fed Belgian or German party faction chief.

    No Western politicians will ever touch an Eastern dictator and his people. They are just too naive, they just don’t get it how life is in a system like the Hungarian. I experience this naivity every day. It’s kind of like the impossibility to explain a man what it is like being a women, it just doesn’t work.

  16. @Your Excellency Chancellor Angela Merkel: Do you agree with what US Undersecretary Victoria Nuland said at the conference on Atlanticism about the developments in Hungary? This is what we all want to know. We will loose our hope for EU’s future if your answer takes the form of an official visit to Hungary.

  17. Eurostat has published a preliminary estimate about the poverty in Hungary:

    Hungary 33% (have income less than 200 euros a month in the case of Hungary)
    Poland 26%
    Slovakia 20%
    Chechia 15%

    The Hungarian Statistical Bureau (KSH) was supposed to come out with the more exact numbers in September.

    But they postponed or cancelled the publication and gave the pretext that they did this “to save money”.

    http://www.vg.hu/kozelet/takarekossag-miatt-nem-kozli-a-szegenysegi-adatokat-a-ksh-436548

  18. New calculation of the GDP: the estimated value of smuggling adds to the number.

    Perhaps, that is the reason for the fideszized tobacco retailing:

    increasing smuggling means increased GDP, which in turn makes it
    easier to satisfy the deficit/GDP Maastricht criteria…

    The new GDP data, the change since 2000 calculated retroactively:

    2000 0,0%
    2001 3,7%
    2002 8,4%
    2003 12,5%
    2004 17,9%
    2005 22,9%
    2006 27,8%
    2007 28,4%
    2008 29,6%
    2009 21,1%
    2010 22,0%
    2011 24,2%
    2012 22,4%
    2013 24,3%

    As you can see, the GDP could not come even close to its 2008 peak.

    http://www.napi.hu/magyar_gazdasag/varatlan_helyrol_kapott_segitseget_a_magyar_kormany.587597.html

  19. @Löbel: you are absolutely right. This is a real problem. However frustrating it is, one has to admit that there is a certain grain of truth in the Fidesz government’s all-round alibi that “those who criticize us just don’t understand the Hungarian language and the Hungarian way of thinking, they just don’t know our circumstances”.

    Not that Western critics of the Orbán régime have their facts wrong. But they don’t understand the circumstances in which Hungarians live, the everyday despair and disappointment paired with naïve ignorance about the outside world, all that makes people either pro-Orbán or indifferent to politics (if not pro-Jobbik). They don’t understand how words can be twisted and identities interpreted in a million different ways. (Again, the Anti-Semitism issue is an excellent example: it is a real and serious problem in Hungary, it exists, but not in the way which naïve Western Europeans imagine.) They don’t understand the general resignation: that people accept the fact that politicians lie, cheat and misuse their positions, that there is very little hope, confidence or interest in independent media or freedom of speech.

  20. Whilst the US’s publicly expressed opinion on the Fidesz thugs is probably mildly irritating to the regime, it is no more than that.

    Orban’s state survives solely because of the EU’s financial support and as long as it is content to play the role of Neville Chamberlain to Orban’s Hitler, then the regime (if not the Hungarian people) will continue to thrive.

  21. Thanks, Miki!

    Especially for the info on Thanet and its economic woes -I remember Ramsgate and Margate fondly, used to pas through and stayed there several times for a night or two in the 70s and 80s when coming with the ferry from Dunkirk or Zeebrügge …

    That it lost so much of its industry (and the research center too – didn’t these guys develop Viagra and find out its usefulness for us older men? …) seems typical for Britain.

    So in a way the frustration is understandable – but to think that UKIP will help them somehow is idiotic!

  22. OT: Gábor Demszky says in ÉS that Sándor Pintér, Fidesz’ long time minister of interior graduated (studied?) in Moscow. I never heard about this, Demszky probably mixed things up.

  23. Ms Nuland’s October 2 address (as written down in preparation of her speech, I think)

    “We live in a better world because the countries of Central Europe chose the path of a Europe whole, free and at peace 25 years ago. But today that choice is under threat, and Central Europe is once again on the frontline in the fight to protect our security and values. And today, that fight is once again both external and internal.”

    “And just as we work together to defend our values externally, we must fortify them internally. In Central Europe today, I would argue, the internal threats to democracy and freedom are just as worrying. Across the region, the twin cancers of democratic backsliding and corruption are threatening the dream so many have worked for since 1989. And even as they reap the benefits of NATO and EU membership, we find leaders in the region who seem to have forgotten the values on which these institutions are based.

    So today I ask their leaders: How can you sleep under your NATO Article 5 blanket at night while pushing “illiberal democracy” by day; whipping up nationalism; restricting free press; or demonizing civil society! I ask the same of those who shield crooked officials from prosecution; bypass parliament when convenient; or cut dirty deals that increase their countries’ dependence on one source of energy despite their stated policy of diversification.

    As President Obama noted, oppressive governments are sharing “worst practices to weaken civil society.” They are creating wormholes that undermine their nations’ security, freedom and prosperity. The countries of Central Europe—through the EU and nationally—must remain vigilant. We can only be strong when we protect political pluralism, civil society and the right to dissent within our own borders; when our governments are clean, transparent and accountable to the people they serve.”

    http://www.uspolicy.be/headline/state%E2%80%99s-nuland-threats-central-european-countries

  24. Löbel: “They [the Western politicians] are just too naive, they just don’t get it how life is in a system like the Hungarian.”

    But the Hungarians do, I suppose. That is why we read that either they leave the country (and withdraw from more active efforts including to help Westerners understand the system and to work from outside at its replacement by something less embarrassing), or retreat in Hungary (no efforts, politics is simply no business for a respectable Hungarian) or outright support OV and Fidesz (“we are so different”, “nobody can understand us” = we cannot either). So what is the gain in telling Westerners how “naive” it is to somehow deal with what Hungarians supply as their “best people” when the biggest stubbornness is apparently found in the country in dwelling on how “exceptional” Hungary is or how little can be achieved by own means or through learning from the experience of others. The main problem is a pathetic government and an equally pathetic opposition, not some naivite of the West that has loads of other problems and is being confronted with this madness without having asked for such “courtesy”.

  25. Russia is working effectively. It supports Orban politically and lets him earn billions, and secondarily it bankrolls and advises Jobbik. Thats’s two of the most popular parties representing something like 80% of the voters (I don’t thing Bokros will get more than 20%). It’s an added bonus that the EU also keeps Orban alive, who undermines the EU from within. No, the West will never succeed against Russia, those guys are too smart and know how to handle people like Orban and his posse.

  26. Pondro: “Russia is working effectively.”

    You can also by very effective means destroy your or other countries. Probably you are referring to that. It is no doubt a very desirable property or even noble end of politics. I trust when seeing the impressive outcomes of such policies in Russia and Hungary (including the brain drain to the West), other countries will hurry to work on an effective destruction of their countries also.

  27. “He himself is planning to visit Washington soon for “business and political meetings.” Index seems to know that in Washington Szijjártó will meet with officials concerned with energy policy.”

    Now this is interesting, what officials concerning energy policy. What deal could it be around energy in the US, is it liquified gas? Can it be anything else?

  28. While it may be true, that the Orbán regime has given up on Atlanticism, it’s efforts to disguise this betrayal are switching into high gear, and nowhere more so than in Canada. Hardly a week goes by, without a senior government official not coming here to peddle the national harmony mantra among the diaspora. For now the primary focus is the Hungarian community in Canada, giving cash, decorations, and free staff via the Körösi Csoma program, to local community leaders, so they will be grateful, uncritical and helpful in spreading the government line to the broader Canadian public and to public officials about the merits of the Orbán government. The new Foreign Minister, Szijjárto’s first foreign trip is to Canada on October 23 and to one of the Church basements here, where he hopes to add the cherry onto the cake concocted by the previous senior visitors. Orbán will no doubt follow suit later – it’s Szijjártó’s job, to smooth the way and test the waters for that visit. The Canadian Hungarian Democratic Charter, the Hungarian Spectrum, The Hungarian Free Press in Canada are hard at work to unmask this manipulative practice. We are aware what’s inside The Trojan Horse and ask all those who are committed to safeguarding the principles of democratic governance, to ORGANIZE, to SPEAK UP and to PROTEST publicly in order to stop the spread of the virus of autocracy beyond Hungary’s shores and into the Atlantic Community.

  29. @carrot: the visit is about wind. The gov’t and the parliament have been producing considerable quantities of wind those last years and soon, every citizen will be allowed to store up to 50l of wind, tax-free, for household energy needs. Now they’re sending one of the country’s most prominent windbags to Washington, to demonstrate the possibilities and see if they can sell the surplus.

  30. OTT but a question for any HS readers living in Budapest.

    We live in a district presently controlled by the regime at local government level but also one which was won back by the democratic opposition in this year’s general election.

    We and many others we have spoken to have received a letter addressed from the regime’s local reps addressed to “Dear Dog Owners”. It is basically a threat telling us that we must register “any dog living in our accomodation” with the local regime in order to avoid having to pay a fine of 30 grand. Funny thing is the actual registration form we have to complete contains only two questions about “any dog living in our accomodation”- these details would be obtained by checking out the local vets with whom by law we have to have our dogs chipped and details registered. Everything else on the form demands details about us- our employment details, second properties etc.

    It seems to me to be a shameless attempt to fill in the Fidesz thugs’ database of missing information about residents- what for, we can only speculate. If any Fidesz poodle (pun intended) attempts to get this form from us, they will get it shoved uncompleted somewhere they will least expect it.

    However, it is causing great panic and fear amongst the OAP dog-owners which I guess is one of the Orbanist bully boys’ main targets

    I have also heard the regime’s boys in the 9th District are looking for residents to give details about how their flat has benefitted from the utility bill discounts. Same kind of drill, loads of personal data being demanded. Anywhere else in Budapest being hit like this?

  31. @D7

    I can tell you one thing: whatever arrives from the local authority or from the government (Orban also subsidizes the Post Office by sending mails regularly) I automatically throw it out without opening, unless it is a registered mail. Just don’t care.

    It’s a given that Fidesz is working tirelessly on updating its data bases, sorry, but they are pros who work hard.

    Meanwhile, apparently the united opposition is unable to shell out less than a million HUF (about USD 4,000) for a limited poll to check whether their candidate stands a chance or not…

  32. “Carpathian Carcinogen” – just brilliant, Stevan!

    The whole message is here: if it doesn’t stopped one way or other, will infect the whole region – and more!
    The whole rotten characteristic is in these few words, with no beating around the bush – I love it!

    Is there a doctor in the house?

  33. “It’s a given that Fidesz is working tirelessly on updating its data bases, sorry, but they are pros who work hard”‘

    Illegal data grab and the intimidation of defenceless pensioners is not the work of civilised people; shame on you for praising them

  34. @D7

    But the dogs don’t have to wear some badges – or stars! – yet, isn’t it nice?

    The first steps are usually smooth as silk, it won’t alarm you, so you’ll go along without too much hassle – why not?
    The next step won’t be that mach more harsh or violent, only a bit more stern, like – you must register your elderly or infant relatives, otherwise you may miss some benefits and face fines.
    By the way, would thou be so kind and mark their religion and ethnic origin too..?
    – Oh, thank you!

    – Pretty soon we are with the badges, and you all know the rest.

    Are we really want this?
    Are we really let this happen?

    (Before anyone gets too enthusiast and put me among the other loonies, please, just take your time and look up the 20-th century history of Europe. Thank you.)

  35. Spectator,

    Someone gave me a theory today that it was simply introduced intentionally to put the fear of God up the residents of one of the more *rebellious* districts of Orbanistan’s capital.

    Unless they pass a law on Monday (which admitedly is not beyond the realms of possibility) the local Orbanists know don’t have a legal leg to stand on if the vast majority do as we are doing. But that probably isn’t the point.

    As long as they scare enough of the poor and old, it is target achieved as far as their warped mindset is concerned. Fidesz- truly despicable human beings

  36. Re Horthy:

    I put up a link many, many years (pardon, it’s only months …) ago about his “last battle” in WW1 where the K&K ships tried to break through – but a little Italian torpedo boat sank one of the ships, so they returned to their home port …

    Austrian tv showed a movie/part documentary on it. He doesn’t look very good in this …
    http://books.google.hu/books?id=ZEpLBAAAQBAJ&pg=PA977&lpg=PA977&dq=horthy+torpedo+boat&source=bl&ots=wYi5QqhjzP&sig=nHETLLbktKYzSCEX7IqLz0lRchY&hl=de&sa=X&ei=Ne0uVOe8BYSCzAP1_IC4DQ&ved=0CDAQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=horthy%20torpedo%20boat&f=false

    http://croatian-treasure.com/szent.html

    He seems to have been a real hard liner – had several mutineers shot in early 1918 when he should have known that the war was lost.

    But I think this has all been already discussed ad nauseam here …

  37. @D7

    – This is the point what I would like to emphasise, the fear factor.
    Fear is ultimately stronger feeling than honour, empathy or for justice, just to name a few.

    This is how the Orbán government started to operate: firs hardened the legal consequences of quite a number of things, then put a few hundreds of thousands of employees (civil servants for one) in economical limbo, then came the changes and nobody moved, nobody dared to move against the oppressor.

    Mostly everyone calculates on the survival, based on the phoney feeling: if they don’t do anything they may get through on this hardship too…
    Entirely wrong, mind you, but strong enough to make people think twice before they’ll go to protest or act against the regime on any other way.

    Rotten to the bone, that’s what they are.

  38. Not totally OT:

    Do you follow the events in Hongkong?

    Now there are masked gangs terrorising the peaceful protesters – why am I thinking of the Magyar Garda?

  39. Spectator,

    I have a small example which proves perfectly the point you are making.

    Through my work, I know a judge who has been involved in one of the recent bank currency loan cases. Basically, the bank’s lawyers put up a watertight case, even under the Orban Constitution, why the case against them was unconstitutional. If he had followed his conscience and legal training he would have agreed with them. The court hierarchy and, by logical extension, the local Fidesz mafia knew that he was having serious doubts about the case.

    A day before the case was due to take place, his secretary was sacked and replace with a lady whom he knew to be the wife of one of the top Fidesz thugs in the district. So…what is the message being passed? Nothing direct but he and the Orbanist mafia know he has a young family and potentially a long career ahead of him so… the decision goes exactly the way the Fidesz scumbags want. I am a socialist and by conviction, I am not a fan of banks but once a State starts to unilaterally ignore those laws which are inconvenient for its partisan goals then we are starting on a very dangerous road.

    I respect the bloke, he has always been 100% in his dealings with me- he is *decent* within a system and country where *decency* is now a despised virtue. But the whole episode showed for me how Orbanism has completely corrupted this country. I and my partner have the option, unltimately of doing a runner when things become finally too intolerable (probably not that long in the future). A lot of the under 40s have taken that option and are now working in free societies outside Hungary. But a very big proportion of Hungarians are trapped by a corrupt immoral regime here. But the thing which upsets me most is when people on here and other forums praise the Fidesz thugs for bringing this state of affairs about. It is not clever to put so much fear into decent peoples’ minds that they bypass their own morals and conscience.

  40. And the “loveliest” part of it that it happened by design!

    Since quite long I am convinced that nothing – regarding the main part of the events – happening by happenstance, its all carefully measured and administered according to the plan. The system has been implemented for a purpose and having build daily along the guidelines.

    Even the seemingly careless glitches often planned, I’m quite sure. When people getting excited over an apparent of a slip of tongue by Orbán, it often turns out as a deliberate “red herring” which supposed to provoke some reaction of the opposition, or as a test, just how far can he really go.
    Countless examples available when they deliberately “leaked” an information which created uproar, and later on when a slightly milder version – which was originally planned anyway, I believe, – came out it had lesser or no impact at all, creating the false feeling that it isn’t that bad as “those commies” rumoured it to be.

    Regarding the example with the judge, I dare say that demolishing moral is a double edged sword. At the very moment when the system will tip out of balance and begins to slide down, there will be nobody who will stay loyal with those who corrupted them.

    A feeble consolation, but this is how things used to happen, and it will happen for sure.
    Don’t hold your breath till then, though.

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