Yesterday Victoria Nuland, assistant undersecretary for European and Eurasian Affairs, delivered the keynote address at a conference organized by the Center for European Policy Analysis’s U.S.-Central Europe Strategy Forum. Just as the conference was winding down, I published a short summary of the relevant passages of her speech that were addressed in part to Viktor Orbán and his government. She mentioned neither Orbán nor Hungary by name, but everybody in the audience knew whom she was talking about.
I consider her speech to be so important that I decided to republish it. After all, few people will bother to search the U.S. State Department’s website for the text of Nuland’s speech. The couple of sentences devoted to the Hungarian government’s harassment of NGOs by President Bill Clinton or the remark by President Obama on the same topic were limited in scope. On the other hand, Victoria Nuland’s short speech outlines U.S. positions on vital issues concerning the East-Central European region and contains criticism of an unnamed politician whose domestic and foreign policies fail to meet with the approval of the United States. This politician is described as one who, among other things, pushes illiberal democracy and cuts dirty energy deals. Only one politician fits the bill: Viktor Orbán.
* * *
Keynote at the 2014 U.S.-Central Europe Strategy Forum
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs
Thank you, Wess, for that introduction. It’s good to be here with you today with Minister Lajcak. Like me, Miro is still recovering from UNGA, the “World Cup” of diplomacy; or as we like to say at State: the diplomatic equivalent of speed dating. Our thanks to CEPA for your great work to strengthen our transatlantic bond with Central Europe. In just 9 years, CEPA has become the “go-to” think tank in Washington for those who care about a democratic, prosperous, secure Central Europe.
This fall, as we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, we are also reminded that two and a half decades ago, the countries of Central Europe inspired the world by seizing a moment of hope and transforming it into freedom and opportunity for tens of millions of people.
Across Central Europe, citizens stood up for the right to hold free elections; they built strong, independent institutions; and fostered civil society and a vibrant media.
They did the hard work of reforming their economies, stabilizing currencies, privatizing inefficient industries, opening up labor markets, and welcoming foreign investment. In short, they restored liberal democracy to the heart of the continent.
And they proved the skeptics wrong. In successive waves of NATO and EU enlargement 5, 10 and 15 years ago, they extended the boundaries of our Euro-Atlantic family and the values it represents.
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.
Let’s look at these in turn.
First, the external threats: President Obama said in New York last week Russia’s aggression in Ukraine threatens to take us back to the days when large countries could trample small ones at will. Because the countries of Central Europe understand the danger better than most, almost all of them have been among the strongest and most generous in support of Ukraine’s right to choose its own future, and live in a more democratic, clean, free and prosperous country.
They have offered assistance and advice to Ukraine, security support, and even, as Slovakia has done, reversed the flow of gas to help fill Ukraine’s winter storage tanks. And most have been strong advocates inside the EU for the sanctions the Transatlantic community has put on Russia for its actions.
Today we must maintain that solidarity with Ukraine and unity within the Transatlantic community. Implementing sanctions isn’t easy and many countries are paying a steep price. We know that. But history shows that the cost of inaction and disunity in the face of a determined aggressor will be higher. The history of Central Europe itself teaches us that. So when leaders are tempted to make statements that tear at the fabric of our resolve, I would ask them to remember their own national history, and how they wished their neighbors had stood with them.
Ukraine is working hard to promote peace and change to meet its people’s expectations. It is fulfilling its commitments under the September 5 Minsk agreement—it passed amnesty legislation, a special status law for the east, and is working with Russia to demarcate the special status zone.
Now Russia and its proxies must do their part – withdraw their forces and all the heavy weapons that have flooded the east, restore Ukrainian sovereignty on the international border, withdraw heavy weapons there too, and return all the hostages—notably, including Nadiya Savchenko and Oleg Sentsov. When the Minsk agreement is fully implemented, we can and will begin to roll back some sanctions. It is in Russia’s hands when that day comes.
Every country in the CEPA space has made tough sacrifices. And as you stand with Ukraine, we stand with you. The United States’ commitment to NATO’s Article 5 is unwavering. As President Obama said at Tallinn, “we will defend our NATO Allies, and that means every Ally.” Our allies, in turn, are working to fulfill the pledge they made at Wales to reverse the decline in defense spending.
Even as we stand against Russia’s threat to Ukraine’s European choice, we must recognize that ISIL’s threat to our security, prosperity and values is also real, also immediate. Even in the Euro-Atlantic space, nobody’s immune. That’s why today the nations of Central Europe are joining the global coalition to degrade and destroy ISIL’s terrorism, contributing ammunition, training, humanitarian assistance and countering ISIL’s hateful ideology. All of us must do more to harden the Transatlantic space and make it a “no-go” zone for ISIL recruitment and finance.
When we pass anti-terror laws to keep our citizens from joining the fight, whether that fight is in Rakka or Luhansk, it is our values and way of life we are protecting: rule of law, state sovereignty, peace and security, individual human rights and dignity.
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.
For more than 20 years, Central Europe has been the canary in the coal mine for the promise of a Europe whole, free and at peace. The example set by the countries of this region has also inspired others around the world that they, too, can fight for democracy, free markets, rule of law and human dignity. As the President said in Warsaw in June, “The blessings of liberty must be earned and renewed by every generation – including our own.” We must renew our commitment today – to our citizens and to each other; at home and around the world. We are stronger together, and many around the world who crave the same freedom we enjoy are depending on us.
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What was the reaction in Budapest to this very harsh criticism of Viktor Orbán and his regime? The spokeswoman of the Hungarian Ministry of Trade and Foreign Affairs told journalists that, according to Péter Szijjártó, “the people of Central Europe have suffered under communist dictatorship and fought for their freedom and for the reunification of Europe.” The region is inhabited by freedom-loving people who surely wouldn’t allow their freedom to be curtailed. Hungary looks upon the United States as a friend and “our alliance is rock solid.”
Interestingly enough, the speech was also the topic of political debate in Romania. According to the Romanian Social Democratic Party, Victoria Nuland’s remarks were addressed only to the Hungarian prime minister. Prime Minister Victor Ponta stated that it was surely not Romania that harassed the NGOs. It was the Hungarian government that limited freedom of the media. It was Hungary that stopped sending gas to Ukraine, and it is Viktor Orbán who has a unique relationship with Vladimir Putin. Romania supports Moldova and Ukraine and helps its neighbors with their energy needs. President Traian Băsescu, a political opponent of Victor Ponta, thinks otherwise. He is certain that Nuland was also talking about Romania, especially when she referred to corruption as a threat to national security.
In my opinion the bulk of the criticism was directed at Hungary, but corruption unfortunately is everywhere in this part of the world.
Apparently Péter Szijjártó will meet Victoria Nuland during his forthcoming visit to Washington. I would not like to be in his shoes. Victoria Nuland is one tough lady.
Victoria Nuland could well be talking about the Obama’s government in this quote: “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.”
Obama has led his administration to deny rights to conservative groups with illegal IRS tax searches; used all kinds of bureaucratic regulations to control forestry, oil transportation, and forcing corn to ethanol for auto consumption; driving the coal industry out of business with low cost power and driving up electric power costs; etc. He has sought to limit press freedom and illegally listens in on citizens’ phone calls, denying basic privacy (we know, thanks to Snowden). He has bailed out banks and big unions, while incomes are sliding downward and many can’t get full time jobs. He compels people to sign up for insurance they don’t want because he knows better – how illiberal is that! With his pen and administrative fiats, he bypasses the US Congress, boldly bragging about it. – Tell Victoria to read the riot act in Washington, not in Budapest. Hungarians aren’t pro-Orban for nothing, as their employment numbers improve more than almost every country in Europe! The out-of-power socialists scream, but it was their Gurcsany who was so crooked that the voters heaved him out with disgust – and his socialist, atheist, communist cronies with him!
There is much debate about this Nuland-speech in Romania.
The more or less general opinion of the Romanian mass-media is that both Viktor and Victor (Ponta) were targeted, each for his own misbehavior.
The issue of corruption “I ask the same of those who shield crooked officials from prosecution; bypass parliament when convenient” – refers clearly, no doubt, to Romania.Both issues have been debated in the Romanian for months – the abuse of “emergency decrees” (which by-pass the parliament debates) by the present govt. led by PM Victor Ponta and the shielding from prosecution of some members of parliament (those supporting the Ponta-govt.) through refusing to suspend their parliamentary immunity albeit the justice-system (DNA- anti-corruption dept.) has asked the parliament to do it and has provided proof of their misconduct.The issue has got even more tense in the last tow weeks as nine (9!) former education ministers (covering the 2004-2013 period) have been accused of taking bribes in a huge corruption scheme ($1 md.) involving Microsoft and the IT sector.Two of them are now parliament members and very high-ranking figures of the party led by PM Ponta.
The rest however refers to Viktor.
“or cut dirty deals that increase their countries’ dependence on one source of energy despite their stated policy of diversification.”
May refer to Bulgaria, which is 100% dependent on Russian gas and where Russia exerts great influence, including sabotaging initiatives to decrease the dependence.
The threat implied by Nuland’s speech is that NATO won’t defend those countries which don’t act to maintain their democratic and ‘rule-of-the-law’ (recht-staat) credentials which makes the part of the “western world”.
I guess however that this therat means little to Viktor Orban who anyway seems to be very fond of Putin and “illiberalism”.It means more but still not that much to Bulgaria where a good part of the population (the older generation) is very Russo-phile.
However it means a lot to Romania which is Russo-phobe and has a strong interest in pulling Moldova out of the Russian sphere of influence and into EU, and for that it needs US/NATO support.
The president Basescu went on TV to talk about Nuland-speech and chastised PM Victor Ponta and his party for their behavior (for shielding party members from prosecution).
Interesting enough, Viktor Orban was this evening in Bucharest for a “private meeting” with president Basescu.
Ms Nuland’s speech was given with a very confident tone, hopefully President Obama and Sec Kerry have her back. Ms Nuland’s question about how the unnamed country can sleep under the NATO shield while violating democratic principles is easy to answer – we have never threatened to revoke or suspend the unnamed country’s membership in NATO. In fact this comment is the closest any official of my government has come to making such a threat and it’s still very obtruse. But it’s a clear improvement none the less.
Let us support principles, which allow Hungary to live in freedom, in harmony with neighboring countries.
It means to object almost all actions of the selfish and very destructive Orban regime.
He is ruling with a coalition which includes a blend of many generations of quite a few bad Hungarians.
I am very happy with Ms. Nuland’s outspoken ideas.
She must admit that her freedom of action, under the zig-zag/flip-flop rule of Obama, is very restricted.
We can hardly oppose Orban efficiently, if we ignore Obama’s failures.
Obama seems to be confused, and is constantly confusing the allies of America and NATO.
His presidency has been a puzzle from its beginning.
Was he the product of hedge funds or anarchist academicians, or any other coalitions of opportunists?
Who will explain it to us?
One thing was sure that he could generate many empty speeches.
We can hardly call his presidential deals logical or pro-freedom?
So the NSA spying on everybody started under Obama? What a stupid idiotic liar you are!
Of course it’s difficult to contain the quasi fascist government that the Bush dynasty built up …
You should be ashamed!
Bulgaria only relies on gas for 13% of their energy mix (vs. Hungary’s 40%), and they’re slightly less dependent on Russia for their crude oil. Of course, there is still the matter of the Belene power plant, but unlike Paks it doesn’t seem settled.
The corruption part may hint at the current Bulgarian gov’t, though.
One worrying thing about Nuland is how someone with her neoconservative background – she is married to Robert Kagan, an original member of the infamous Project for a New American Century as well as other neocon follies – could be appointed to a diplomatic post by a Democratic president. Her arrival in Budapest is not likely to be welcomed by many, and will be regarded with suspicion.
Dear Dr. Balogh: Just in case you have not checked our Embassy website lately, please be assured that all of the speeches by our most important U.S. government officials are also posted on the U.S. Embassy in Hungarys website. We always translate them into Hungarian and post them on the Policy Blog, that also appears on our website.
Sincere regards, Karyn Posner-Mullen Counselor for Public Affairs US Embassy Budapest Szabadság tér 7 Bank Center Building – Granit Tower Tel: +36-1-475-4256 Fax: +36-1-475-4712 Email: Posner-MullenKA@state.gov http://budapest.usembassy.gov Blog: http://ircblog.usembassy.hu [youtube.jpg][cid:image003.jpg@01CA2BB6.E5567050][cid:image001.jpg@01CA4D7C.BF944850]
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@Istvan: “Ms Nuland’s speech was given with a very confident tone, hopefully President Obama and Sec Kerry have her back.”
Of course, István. It is impossible to deliver such a speech without official backing. Here she speaks in name of the U.S. government.
Dear Ms. Posner-Mullen, I must admit that I have not checked the embassy’s site lately and clearly I should more often.
What bothers me is that relatively few references to this very important speech have appeared in the Hungarian media. I have managed to find only a handful which is unusually low. Just for comparison, Tibor Navracsics’s performance at his hearings solicited hundreds of articles during the same period of time.
@Ovidiu, I think that the “dirty deal” only refers to our Viktor. Otherwise, I agree that when she talks about corrupt officials she most likely thinks of Romania. Mind you, there is plenty of corruption in Hungary but the Hungarian Viktor is very clever at hiding it. Now that the second volume of the Hungarian Octopus came out I will spend some time on summarizing Bálint Magyar’s introductory essay on how the mafia state works.
Rev. Albert W. Kovacs – UCC – October 3, 2014 at 7:31 pm
You should care for the freedom and welfare of all Hungarians.
Do not exclude any Hungarians.
Masses of poor Hungarians were give the opportunity of education after WWII.
These people generated quite a few decent citizens, who could lead Hungary now.
Unfortunately, one of those poor kids hijecked the ship.
How can you adore him?
Do you like to be deceived?
Századvég will lobby in the US for the Hungarian government.
Poppy thanks for the link, it clearly let Eva, myself, and other Hungarian Americans on this blog know of the coming lobbying efforts on the part of the Fidesz government in the USA. Using the Liberty International lobbying group was founded by former Republican Florida congressman Connie Mack will have very little impact on conservative Republican Senators and members of the U.S. House of Representatives heavily involved in foreign affairs. There is little sympathy among these Republicans for the Russian Federation and hence Hungary’s attempt at seeking an “eastern opening” are seen as a betrayal of NATO and the common front against Putin. The phrase the Hungarian Trojan Horse in NATO even appears periodically now. For example just five days ago in an essay by John R. Haines is a Senior Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute titled “Hungary: Going in the Wrong Direction?”
In my opinion here in the USA the best the Orban government can hope for in terms of good public relations is to keep the official American Hungarian organizations neutral in relation to Orban’s Russian orintation by trying to confuse issues and emphasizing the right wing social aspects of the Fidesz government that has a deep appeal to active members of Hungarian language congregations, either Catholic, Lutheran, or in very rare cases Baptist. Third and fourth generation American Hungarians even if they know some Hungarian words for the most part unless they live in very specific suburban areas in Ohio have little contact with these churches, including my own children.
Most of the old Arrow Cross fire breathing anti-communists who emigrated to the USA post WWII are now dead or returned to Hungary to die in the homeland. We are today getting relatively few new Hungarian emigrants due to easier access to the EU nations and due to immigration quotas, in fact more Hungarian speakers seem to be coming from Romania and Solvokia than from Hungary proper in the last few years from what I am seeing. Orban is wasting his money on the Liberty International lobbying group in my opinion.
Thanks, Istvan for the description of the American-Hungarian situation!
Has anyone Hungarian Free Press recently? The articles in September are quite interesting – but the comments?
From someone “Richard” re Orbán:
“Rumors, he is a Freemason. Yes, I can believe it, at least to the extent of he was manipulated into taking an oath and then just to obey and shut up. He wouldn’t be the first. Little wonder he despises Kossuth.
His a psychopath, an occultist, obsessed with power, believing in the victory of the Illuminati and Cabal control that formed the EU and proudly showed off their power on the 1 Euro coin.
(the satanic number 666) the 6 stars and stripes.”
I couldn’t believe my eyes at first – but there are more similar comments …
“Obama seems to be confused, and is constantly confusing the allies of America and NATO.
His presidency has been a puzzle from its beginning.” – OBAMA HAS RUINED ANY CONFIDENCE THAT OTHER COUNTRIES MAY HAVE HAD IN AMERICA’S PROMISES. WITH PEOPLE LIKE HIM, THEY CANNOT DEPEND ON THE USA. MANY OF US ARE ASHAMED OF THIS – BUT TOO MANY ARE SO IGNORANT THAT THEY DON’T CARE.
“Was he the product of hedge funds or anarchist academicians, or any other coalitions of opportunists?
Who will explain it to us? – One thing was sure that he could generate many empty speeches.” – THE NEWS MEDIA IS 85% LIBERAL, ESPECIALLY TV: ABC NEWS EXEC. PRODUCER IAN CAMERON IS MARRIED TO SUSAN RICE, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR; CBS PRESIDENT, DAVID RHODES, IS THE BROTER OF BEN RHODES, OBAMA’S DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR FOR STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS; ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT CLAIRE SHIPMAN IS MARRIED TO FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY JAY CARNEY; ABC NEWS REPORTER MATTHEW JAFFE IS MARRIED TO KATIE HOGAN, OBAMA’S PRESS SECRETARY; ABC NEWS PRES. BEN SHERMAN IS THE BROTHER OF OBAMA’S SPECIAL ADVISOR ELIZABETH SHERWOOD; CNN PRESIDENT VIRGINIA MOSELEY IS MARRIED TO HILLARY CLINTON’S DEPUTY SECRETARY TOM NIDES. … SO THEY CONTROL THE NEWS BYTES AND CUT OUT WHAT OBAMA DOESN’T LIKE … LIBERAL ACADEMICS PARADE THEIR SOCIALIST AGENDA. … OBAMA’S ROOTS IN AMERICA ARE WITH COMMUNISTS AND FELLOW TRAVELERS … (GEORGE SOROS MONEY FINANCES MANY RADICALS). … HE HAS BEEN CAUGHT IN SO MANY OUTRIGHT LIES, BUT IGNORAANT VOTERS SLOUGH IT OFF WITHOUT THINKING. HE SOUNDS GREAT, BUT IS LIKE AN EMPTY CART THAT MAKES A LOT OF NOISE. … THEY TALK ABOUT MANY NEW JOBS: PEOPLE AVERAGE $2,000 LESS PER YEAR THAN BEFORE, SINCE MANY JOBS ARE AT LOWER WAGES, AND MANY OTHERS HAVE JUST STOPPED LOOKING. THE REAL UNEMPLOYMENT RATE IS OVER 10%!!!
“We can hardly call his presidential deals logical or pro-freedom?” – OBAMA HAS INCREASED ALL KINDS OF REGULATIONS, NO ONE CAN KEEP WITH THEM ALL. AMERICA IS GETTING MORE LIKE THE RUSSIA OF THE GULAGS. HE IS PUSHING HIS PRO-ABORTION AND PRO-LGTB SO THAT PEOPLE WHO REFUSE TO AGREE WITH IT ARE BEING PUT OUT OF BUSINESS AND FINED HUGE SUMS. CAN YOU IMAGINE THAT A CONVENT OF NUNS MUST AGREE TO PROVIDE CONTRACEPTIVES AND ABORTION INSURANCE? HOW STUPID A RULE IS THAT! HOW ARROGANT!
Sorry this took so long, but your intelligent deserved a rational reply.
Rev Kovacs, you have got a good dose of scepticism regarding Obama.
It would be time to feel an even stronger scepticism regarding Orban.
Few of the readers of the Hungarian Spectrum have reached that double rejection.
One day, it will be easy for all of us.
Reverend, I think you may need to take a look at your calendar, – it will show year 2014!
It even means – in my reading – the age of rationalism instead of the age of beliefs.
– What do you think would please God more, the nuns who provide contraceptives to the women in need, or the abortion of the unwanted infants?
Reverend, even if you don’t like it, time’s changing continuously, and every living creature changing with it, you, me, and all the others.
I am pretty sure, that God in his/her/it’s eternal goodness and almighty foresight would take good care of things, would allow things to happen only if he/she/it will agree to.
Sio, take it easy, please, those nuns doing the right thing!
After all, God allowed to them to do so, you see!
Kovacs is a loonie right out of the Middle Ages – he’d probably burn witches if he were allowed to …
Don’t bother answering him!
Hungary has no love of Russia, which has brought it nothing but misery for centuries, especially the last 150 years, … But Orban is looking for the best for Hungary. Remember how the Slovaks, Ukranians and Serbs, et al, have treated the large Hungarian minorities even in recent years! They have done all they could to silence the tongue, the culture and the faith of the Hungarians who have been living there for over a thousand years! IT HASN’T STOPPED! With friends like these, is Russia more an enemy? Solidarity with whom – the progeny of Benes and Ceausescu? The Hungarians never got the promised human treatment of Trianon, in 1921, and have been marginalized ever since as minorities in their own homeland. That’s why so many have applied for dual Hungarian citizenship, and connected with their real roots. … Too, the atheist Communists, Socialists, anarchists, et al, despise Hungary’s constitutional claim to its Judeo-Christian heritage. They will be unhappy until the Hungarians cede to the valueless philosophy of regressive nihilism. Nem, nem, soha! I hope never!
Isten, áldd meg a magyart!
Albert, put on the breaks.
God is good for you.
Not good for me.
You can not outlaw the non-believers.
I think most enlightened non-believers have equal if not better morals than the believers.
Isten aldd meg a magyart, is a nice sentiment, and nothing more.
The magyar remained unfortunate with or without God’s blessing for the past 1000 years.
Let us be friends and let us focus on the unholy plots of Orban.
Remember, Gyurcsany has been out of office, and harmless for 6-7 years, and things do not look up.
Wolfi, as a German you certainly know that any kind of ideology can gain a foothold in case of need. The case of need means, when some kind of ideological vacuum comes to surface, what is the case right now in Hungary.
In spite of all of this, needless to say, that the alleged freemasonry is nothing but bullshit.
I am pretty convinced that Orbán entirely free of any ideology – he does what he does because its profitable to him.
it’s that simple.
For one side, he certainly wouldn’t accept any kind of rules imposed upon him from the outside – what would be the case if he is a member of any society outside what he himself founded, another side, he and only he can set the rules, whatever he participates in.
Finally, the freemasons has nothing to do with authoritarian such tendencies, which is something what Orbán can’t live without.
So, don’t think so. But, of course I may be wrong.
However, think about it!
“Rumors, he is a Freemason. Yes, I can believe it, at least to the extent of he was manipulated into taking an oath and then just to obey and shut up. He wouldn’t be the first. Little wonder he despises Kossuth.
His a psychopath, an occultist, obsessed with power, believing in the victory of the Illuminati and Cabal control that formed the EU and proudly showed off their power on the 1 Euro coin.
(the satanic number 666) the 6 stars and stripes.”
WOLFI – I shouldn’t even reply to this weirdo comment of yours. Please go back to looking for UFO’s and aliens, with your friend Dr. Frankenstein, in the Halloween Castle.
rn2014 – I respect your atheism as your right, so we agree to disagree. … However, my take on Hungary is that Orban isn’t running it into debt like the Socialists did. His government is paying it down! Its unemployment picture is improving big time, with new factories for autos, etc. I see summer vacations for poor folks, and growing efforts for Roma integration. I see that thirteen ethnic peoples have a voice in the government in their own language if they wish. I see someone trying what wasn’t tried before. … I’m not into the specifics of corruption, but as an American in a glass house I’m not prepared to throw any stones – we have our own share. Apparently the Hungarians saw enough of it with Gurcsany that they threw him out – and would we think he was alone among the Socialists in government? Who would think that the leopard changed spots and the lily white Socialists should return? … People usually vote their pocketbooks, rather than their values. It looks like Fidesz is going to govern for a while.
Relating to Reverand Kovacs postings. St. Stephen King of Hungary Catholic Church in Chicago lead pastor is Rev. Maciej Galls who I believe may actually be Polish. In a convocation not long ago at a dinner following a Hungarian cultural event he said “we can’t be good Americans without being good Christians.” Despite many differences over Catholic doctrine and liberal values I think there is a deep reverence for democratic rights among Hungarian Christians be they Catholic or Protestant especially as it relates to civil liberties because they are inter-dynamic with religious liberty.
The children and grandchildren of most immigrant members of Chicago area Hungarian speaking churches often have assimilated so much into American culture that a mass or Protestant service said in Hungarian no longer means much to them as I have pointed out before. At St. Stephen, the core membership remains Hungarians who fled after Soviet tanks put down the 1956 rebellion, they simply can not comprehend that Orban is moving in a pro Russian direction. In fact they simply refuse to talk about it. At least Rev Kovacs accepts this pro-Russian drift is happening and attempts to justify it.
We are Hungarians, and we can love each other without regard to our differences.
Thank you for your soft heart.
” OBAMA HAS INCREASED ALL KINDS OF REGULATIONS, NO ONE CAN KEEP WITH THEM ALL. AMERICA IS GETTING MORE LIKE THE RUSSIA OF THE GULAGS. HE IS PUSHING HIS PRO-ABORTION AND PRO-LGTB SO THAT PEOPLE WHO REFUSE TO AGREE WITH IT ARE BEING PUT OUT OF BUSINESS AND FINED HUGE SUMS. CAN YOU IMAGINE THAT A CONVENT OF NUNS MUST AGREE TO PROVIDE CONTRACEPTIVES AND ABORTION INSURANCE? HOW STUPID A RULE IS THAT! HOW ARROGANT! ”
So he may be Christian but also crazy and he’s surely not interested in basic human rights …
And the thing about Orbán being a freemason and 666 etc was something I quoted (I put it in ” “) – the question from me is:
What kind of person writes this kind of stuff?
Istvan – I’m not rationalizing a “pro-Russian drift.” I see Orban working the political scene to assure that Hungary’s gas will not be cut off this winter, ruinous to the economic recovery. If their houses are cold, he’d get the blame! – The nearby nations may find some help from their Hungarian neighbors when (not IF) the cold settles in as Russia cuts the gas. I’m unsure about this, of course, as hopeful speculation. If Hungary is warmer, there will be just that much less competition for oil, electric, etc., to drive the prices up beyond the ability to pay. Russia cold care less – they never did!
By the way, those Arrow-Cross traitors never had an impact here in America. They were lucky no one knew what they were about or they would have been sent packing back to the old country! . . . Now if Hungary could get rid of the wackos in Jobbik, and Germany the skinheads, etc. That would be something to celebrate. We still have KKK nuts in America, and with the constitutional rights to freedom of speech we occasionally are pestered by them as an insect outbreak. It won’t be any easier in Europe I’m sure. Our latest infestation is the Jihad and Sharia Muslims, whose bases are antithetical to democratic freedoms.
By the way, again, I went to college at Elmhurst and preached for the first time (in English) at the Hungarian Reformed Church in southside Chicago, in 1949. The Reformed and Roman Catholics support each other as good friends, as you know. . . .
And again, the Hungarian educators and teachers choir, with strings, from Komarom in Slovakia, will be here in Ligonier a week before they visit you in Chicago. At least we’ll hear some decent music instead of the trash that fills radio waves and televisions. The Bethlen Hungarian Reformed retirement community where I live will be hosting them
Reverend, in your shoes I wouldn’t go into details just to when and where to throw stones.
You may not believe it – not for that matters that much, but still – that your favourite (the name Orbán), is deep in the corruption carousel, and at the highest level of that, mind you.
There is positive proof, that the decision makers of Hungary received a sum of 81 million SEK worth of dollars – about 2.5 billion HUF at the time – as commission regarding the Gripen affair during the reign of the first Orbán government – and those very same five persons still in power today.
I dare take the liberty and assume that their attitude hasn’t changed much…
If you think that I exaggerating, just check their declaration of assets and their income, then draw your own conclusions.
No, there is no “you know how is it in Hungary” kind of response accepted – now we are talking about moral principles, aren’t we?
Good luck with your research!
WOLFI – I’m sorry that I didn’t pick up on the quotes and attributed the remarks to you. I truly and sincerely apologize – to you! . . . Of course, the remarks I made still fit the intended maker of the remark. We have all kinds of 666-ers, etc. and all kinds of conspiracies here in America. We see it on TV sometimes (I change the channel quickly), as it appeals to the fringe and the ignorant who look for spooks and haunted houses. Like scandals, it sells! It also gets out of the garbage can every now and then.
– – – By the way (I’m not a Freemason), the inauguration of George Washington was a Masonic rite, and they initiated the Washington Monument’s construction. . . . At that time it was considered to be the Protestant laymen’s response to the Knights of Columbus. as the war waged between them. I’m glad to say it’s over (may still be some closet bigots however).
“At St. Stephen, the core membership remains Hungarians who fled after Soviet tanks put down the 1956 rebellion, they simply can not comprehend that Orban is moving in a pro Russian direction. In fact they simply refuse to talk about it. pro-Russian drift”
Istvan, let me offer an alternative explanation. The pro-Russian drift exists only as a smear against Hungary. Used by the enemies of Hungary to smear the country and do harm to it. It is the same thing as “Hussein Obama is friends with terrorists”, “Obama was born in Kenya as his real birth certificate shows”. These are simply smears used by the opponents of Obama to smear him.
Thus when you speak of the “pro-Russian drift” Hungarians will immediately identify you as someone who is interested in smearing Hungary. May I ask why do you want to do Hungary harm? And please don’t respond along the lines of “I just really want to see Obama’s real birth certificate, I am only interested in the truth”.
The truth is that Hungary’s number one economic and political partner is Germany, where almost 30% of the total trade goes. When a Hungarian official makes his first foreign visit, such as a foreign minister or a Prime Minister, they go to places like Poland, Germany or Slovakia, never Russia. It never happened that a first visit (which is always a signal) went to Russia.
The sad fact is that Hungary is dependent on Russia for energy. Why? Because when America and England negotiated with Stalin they simply gave Hungary to the Soviet side without argument. This meant that for 45 years Hungary was only allowed to trade with the soviets. Paks was built during this time with Russian technology and Russian fuel. Hungarian scientists ,engineers have 50 years of knowledge of Russian nuclear technology. In economic sense it is impossible to throw all that knowledge and know-how out the window and start trying to implement say a French reactor with completely different technology. The additional costs are simply impossible to imagine. The same thing is with gas. For the past 60 years Russia sold cheap gas to Hungary. So the whole Hungarian economy was built with this fact in mind.
It is possible to burn coal or wood for heat in the winter. But when gas is cheap and comes reliably it makes sense to build houses and flats that take advantage of that. You can not undo 60 years of gas heating using buildings if you wanted to. What do you want Hungary to do ? Tear down every building and rebuild them so they can accept coal or wood for heating?
Maybe you remember the Nabucco project. It was a proposed pipeline that would have allowed Hungary to have another source of gas. Which would have been very good since Hungary is very reliant on gas as we’ve seen. Viktor Orban was a huge supporter of Nabucco while Ferenc Gyurcsany opposed it as hard as he could. (this was a time when Putin visited Gyurcsany’s home and played with Gyurcsany’s dog called Toto)
But ultimately Nabucco failed not because of Gyurcsany’s opposition but because the EU and the USA did not put up the necessary $$ in terms of political and actual capital to get it built. How much money did the USA spend on Nabucco or the EU? When they could have done something they did nothing. And now you come with your smears of a pro-Russian drift.
The most crazy accusation against Hungary is that Hungary wants to increase the gas reserves of the country. How dare they! Why they should not fill up the reserves. They should wait for the Russians or the Ukrainians to cut the gas during the winter and let hundreds of thousands of people die to freezing. The smears are getting crazier and crazier every day. Hungary always wanted good relations with the US and the Hungarian people always wanted the same. But how do you think the average Hungarian reacts when he sees crazy hate propaganda and smears targeted against him or herself? When someone does not want to freeze to death he is termed “pro-Russian”.
Right on TU!
TU, of course people do not wish to freeze. And yet outside observers can feel that the chosen strategy, including a new Paks power plant, is somewhat more oriented towards Russia than what might be necessary. I understand that with priorities of economic policy being football stadiums, low cost manufacturing jobs, self-sufficient farmers and beautiful estates of the inner circle of Fidesz, there is not much room for developing more costly alternatives and that Russian money comes in handy. And yet not all observers feel that the chosen strategy and the chosen means are the only ones available or feasible for avoiding that Hungarians “freeze”. So, with all respect for the interest of the Hungarian “nation” in not freezing, it can be of use to not only cry for more “understanding” from outside (we could equally shout that Hungarians might have more understanding for the plight of the Ukraninians for that matter), but also to make better use of the capabilities of people within the country. Specifically not to force people with education to emigration under the current economic priorities mentioned already above.
xxxx -spectator – I don’t know about the Gripen situation and 2-1/2 million HUF in someone’s pockets – and, honestly, don’t know how I’d find out from a reliable source. … You are right, that just to say, “Well that’s politics,” is not an acceptable answer, certainly not morally. Often what is legal may not be moral, as we well know. … However, my ability to check this out is zero, so I will take your word for it. I have no idea who the five are whom you mention, nor where they are in today’s political/economic scene.
xxxx – rn2014 – Until I went to college and had the opportunity to learn about Hungary’s history, I never appreciated its rise to importance and its culture, until the devastating Muslim massacres of millions and the Habsburg subjugation drove it into virtual serfdom. Yet I also learned from our churches the freedom seeking spirit of its people despite these insufferable indignities – and the worst tragedies in modern history of Trianon, the Nazi occupation, and the Russian oppression. After all this, to experience the ’56 Revolt (yes, who cut the barbed wire in ’89!) and the most recent October protest against the Socialist’s heavy-handed fist (some of my friends were there in Budapest too), makes me respect the Hungarians and to have hope they will refuse to be chained by any government. It’s one of the reasons their involvement in NATO is important – and their willing participation in alliances to help people of other nations to be free, sending their troops and military support. What’s not to love about such feisty Hungarians?
@TU (are you the latest KGB troll here?):
Orbán proudly declared: Our gas reserves are 60% full …
Why didn’t they fill them a 100% during the summer when demand was lower? So they can now use that as a reason to cut off the supply to Ukraine?
And what about Orbán’s ideas of “illiberal democracy” against the “stupid West’s” liberal democracy?
Didn’t you see the CÖF’s signs EUSSR and We will not be a colony?
What Fidesz has done with its ill gained two thirds majority really goes against the spirit of Western democracy and Orbán shows it every day.
No one of the EU leaders right now wants any contact with Orbán and his minions …
They only do what’s absolutely necessary
Reverend, thank you for the response.
About two years ago here on this blog we have had quite a discussion about the above mentioned affair, I’d recommend to you to take a look, it summarise the events rather well.
Then in my comments I provided a load of links, unfortunately many of the swedish links stopped working, others still active.
Fortunately a few fellow commenters quoted snippets of text, like this part from a transcript of the report, (thank to tappanch):
“But, we can reveal that count Mensdorff acted in the wings also in this government-to-government deal, with Hungary.
In a secret agreement, of March 2002, three months after Sweden signed the agreement with Hungary, it says:
”Payment for 8 years of services to the Gripen project”
”3 million US dollars”
”2 million US dollars”
”2 million US dollars”
”1 million US dollars””
“The documents refer to the Hungarian deal. And the money is to paid via BAE´s notorious offshore company,
Red Diamond, which is pointed out in a number of other bribery investigations. On to another offshore company
– Prefinor International – and count Mensdorff in Austria.”
The eight million US dollars landed in five pockets, we know that much, so you may recalculate the sum in HUF accordingly.
Interestingly, while the money has been paid off, nobody volunteered so far as receiver of any payment. However, it isn’t that hard to make some educated guesses.
If we take the count as one, only four missing. Now, if we just look at the circumstances of the decision, the actual eyewitness account tells us (sorry, Hungarian only!):
“Orbán Viktor miniszterelnök általában a fontosabb döntések alkalmával jelent meg a nemzetbiztonsági kabinet ülésén, 2001. szeptember 10-én eljött. “Sorra hangzottak el a vélemények a különféle vadászrepülőgépekről, a honvédelmi tárca – ahogy azt mindenki várta – az amerikai F-16-os vásárlása felé hajlott. Azután a kormányfő szünetet kért, és a kisgazdapárti honvédelmi minisztert, Szabó Jánost hátrahagyva, félrevonult Varga Mihály pénzügy-, Matolcsy György gazdasági és Pintér Sándor belügyminiszterrel” – így emlékezett vissza az ülés több résztvevője arra, mi történt a kabinet szeptember 10-i ülésén.
Simicskó István, a Fidesz akkori nemzetbiztonsági államtitkára szerint Orbán ezután elment, az ülés folytatódott, majd Pintér Sándor belügyminiszter, a kabinet elnöke bejelentette: a Gripenek bérlésére vonatkozó svéd ajánlatot fogadja el a kormány. “Óriási csönd lett, amikor kimondták a győztes nevét” – emlékezett egy jelenlegi kormánypárti politikus, aki állította, szintén jelen volt. Az ülésről – természetesen – nem készült jegyzőkönyv, mindössze a határozatokat rögzítették egy összefoglalóba, amelybe viszont hiába szerettünk volna belenézni, mert – természetesen – titkosították…”
From this point you are on your own reverend, your guess just as good as mine, since there is no hard evidence in sight,
WOLFI SAID: “And what about Orbán’s ideas of “illiberal democracy” against the “stupid West’s” liberal democracy?” . . . xxxx REPLY: I would assume he means by ‘illiberal democracy’ that of free people, but without the radicalism of the so=called ‘liberals’ as in America (probably England & France, certainly Sweden) where AMORAL society prevails and those who protest against it are silenced by the draconian government rules. . . . Some examples are here in the USA where a couple who refuse to bake a wedding cake for a homosexual ‘marriage’ are judged guilty of discrimination, fined a $150,000 and forced out of business. – Another is Catholic Aid societies closed in Ilinois because they refused to take part in the adoption of children by gay or lesbian couples. – The govt forbids the police and national security people to point out Islamist methods of Jijad, and prohibits all means of looking for these terrorists groups because it is ‘profiling,’ Many states do not prosecute abortionists who don’t report (law requires it) when young girls (12, 13, etc.) are brought in by the men who made them pregnant (including incest) and sent them back with the same men. – Goddard College in Vermont is under ridicule now because its graduates chose a cop-killer in prison for their commencement speaker and the school encourages this stupidity. The cop’s widow is incensed with disgust! – Stupid graduates at N Jersey’s Rutgers State University forced the administration to dis-invite former Secy of State Condoleezza Rice as their graduation speaker. – In England Muslims killed a soldier on the street. A gang raped hundreds of young non-Muslim girls (infidels can be used). – It’s the anarchism of the illiberals that Hungary doesn’t need, and neither does the USA or the rest of the world. – When I was in New York City waiting for a train, I had to sit in a safe secure area with protection, but the street people and bums walked all around because no one could limit them. – Illiberal is that lack of common sense, good taste and respect for each other that allows the amoral, immoral, and nihilists to take the reins of society. – Now we get what we deserve – living in fear and chaos!
TO SPECTATOR – Since I cannot translate the Hungarian, I have copied it and will ask one of my colleagues here at the Bethlen Otthon to help me with it. . . . Sad to say we have a bunch of liars and crooks running the government here, the President the worst liar of all. Several of his cabinet have had to resign and more are on tap to join them. He shakes it off like a wet bird and heads off to another golf course or super-expensive paid vacation. He’s missed almost 60% of his security briefings – no wonder he doesn’t have a clue about the international scene.
Mr. Kovacs aka Kováč aka Smith. For your information – in Slovakia are many Hungarian kindergardens, primary (elementary), secondary schools, university and theatres also. In some regions children of Slovak and Roma nationality (with the Slovar resp. Roma mother language) have not the opportunity to attend school with their mother language as teaching language (mainly Roma minority has a big problems and “is a big problem” generally) – they visit kindergardens and elementary schools with Hungarian teaching language (although their mother tongue is not Hungarian). Many Romas do speak Hungarian better than Slovak. On the Hungarian schools is eduaction of all subjects (except other languages) in Hungarian with a few hours of Slovak language – therefore some graduates have “weak” Slovak and their “applicability” on labour market is “zero”. Teaching of foreign languages (English, Germany etc.) is the big problem (I´m example also – sorrz for mistakes).
@Edo, Rev. Kovács had a Hungarian mother whom he obviously loved very much. He does not know the language, I doubt that he ever visited the place and he knows nothing about it. He has some romantic notion about the birthplace of his mother but otherwise he is quite ignorant. And of course, he is very conservative.
Kovacs wants us all to return to the Middle Ages where Christians ruled and burned witches , heretics or just scientists which wouldn’t believe what the bible “said” …
I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s also a Creationist.
So for me he’s on the same level as those ISIS Muslims or other reactionaries – a discussion with these people is impossible!
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