German-Hungarian dialogues: Munich and Berlin

A few months ago, on August 7, 2014, Professor Charles Gati wrote an important article about Viktor Orbán’s Hungary,”The Mask Is Off.” The article was inspired by the Hungarian prime minister’s infamous speech on his plans to finish the job of building an “illiberal state” in Hungary. “Orbán has now dropped his democratic mask,” Gati announced. What followed was a thorough analysis of Orbán’s political system. At the end of the article Gati listed options the United States had for influencing Hungarian domestic politics. Among them, he mentioned the possibility of the United States “actively encouraging the European Union . . . to put the question of Hungarian membership in the EU firmly on the agenda.” That is, the European Union should no longer stand by helplessly watching Hungarian domestic developments and the increasingly anti-EU rhetoric of Orbán and his pro-Russian orientation.

If you watched the Budapest Beacon‘s interview with Kim Lane Scheppele, you undoubtedly noticed her rather optimistic assertion that now that Jean-Claude Juncker has finished creating his “cabinet,” Hungary’s case will finally be put on the agenda. If that happens, the question will be how the sides line up. Just today an article appeared entitled “EU allies alarmed at Hungary’s Kremlin drift,” which indicated that opposition to Orbán is growing even in the German Christian Democratic Party, which is in many ways the most important ingredient in an anti-Orbán coalition within the EU.

One of the few places west of Hungary where Viktor Orbán is still welcome in an official capacity is Bavaria, where on November 6 he was greeted by Horst Seehofer, minister president of Bavaria, as the democratically elected head of a coalition government. Hungarian reports indicated that Orbán’s visit was not without its critics but that Seehofer, the leader of the very conservative Christian Social Union, stood by Orbán. However, in an interview that appeared in the conservative Die Welt on November 8 one can see several not so subtle differences between the two men.

Horst Seehofer and Viktor Orbán in Munich Source: Die Welt / Photo Jörg Fokuh

Horst Seehofer and Viktor Orbán in Munich
Source: Die Welt / Photo Jörg Fokuh

Seehofer wholeheartedly supports the European Union and does not see the kind of crisis Orbán invokes every time he has the opportunity. Seehofer talked about big union projects while Orbán thinks that each country is responsible for its own economy and that joint projects must wait. Seehofer wants to widen the eurozone and urges countries outside of that zone to introduce the structural reforms necessary to be eligible for membership. Orbán spoke sharply against the euro and made it clear that he wants none of it. At this point Seehofer became just a tad sharper in his response. He defended the euro as “the basis of our high standard of living.” Orbán did not give up. For him “the future of the euro is unclear.” Well, that was too much for Seehofer, who said that “the euro stays!”

Seehofer might be a good friend of Orbán, but he firmly believes in the founding principles of the European Union: “a value system based on democracy, justice, tolerance, and Christianity.” These values are much more important than a community based only on economic interests.

Finally there were questions concerning the Ukrainian crisis and, although Orbán tried to be diplomatic and not show his true colors on the subject, he indicated that helping Ukraine financially would be difficult. It would cost too much and “I have no idea where we are going to get that much money.” As for Putin, naturally Orbán said nothing about his relationship with Russia, but Seehofer made it clear that he no longer trusts the Russian president.

German-Hungarian relations, even in the most favorable case of Bavaria, are not without their problems. Other German politicians have been more outspoken about Hungary’s place in the European Union. Let’s start with Michael Roth, undersecretary of the German foreign ministry, who was also interviewed by Die Welt (November 12). The whole interview is about Hungary. According to Roth, “we are currently conducting an intensive debate on democracy and the rule of law in the European Union.” He expressed his satisfaction that the new Commission attaches such great importance to this issue. He is especially glad that Frans Timmermans, deputy president, “wants to increase the EU’s credibility in constitutional questions.” Roth was obviously talking about Hungary when he said that western countries press for democratic rights in China and Russia, but how can they be credible if they tolerate the lack of such values within the Union.

Roth brought up Article 7 of the European Constitution, which would take away rogue nations’ voting rights in the case of a gross violation of European values, and indicated that as far as he was concerned this measure “was an appropriate means in many cases,” certainly in cases like Hungary because he sees no improvement in Hungary as far as individual liberties, the rule of law, and the fight against corruption are concerned. All in all, Roth is watching the developments in Hungary with “great concern” because the existence of “liberal democracy is seriously in doubt in Hungary.”

And if that weren’t enough, there was the warning from Frank-Walter Steinmeier, German foreign minister, a couple of days ago when Péter Szijjártó visited Berlin. Steinmeier called on the Hungarian government to comply with fundamental democratic values.”There can be no doubt that all members of the European Union must be committed to the rule of law and the canon of civil rights,” Steinmeier said. How much Szijjártó understood is unclear, especially since in his answer he talked about Hungary’s “balanced, healthy, and pragmatic relations with Russia.” He also tried to assure his German counterpart that any “violation of international law,” presumably by Russia, is “unacceptable to Hungary.”

Péter Szijjártó and Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Berlin Source: Die Welt / Photo Bernd von Jutrczenka

Péter Szijjártó and Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Berlin
Source: Die Welt / Photo Bernd von Jutrczenka

Not only does Szijjártó seem to be impervious to words of warning in Germany and elsewhere, his prime minister is practically taunting western politicians to go to battle with him. I’m almost certain that there will come a time when his wishes will be fulfilled.


  1. During reading this article I tried to recall every comment, speech, or “just a word” from Chancellor Merkel if she was with Mr. Orbán, against, she just likes the illiberal ideal; the FIDESZ is still member of the European People’s Party.

  2. Szijj-Ártó is NOT a diplomat, he will never even understand the meaning of the word. I could list at least 50 really bad adjectives to describe him, but it is not worth anyone’s time. He emulates and imitates the viktor, who is a very very low class criminal and he is the Godfather of the Mafia Government in Hungary.
    The viktor was pulled out from the cow’s shit by George Soros, who put shoes and a suit on him, and sent him to study in England. But after 8 months of ditching school the viktor remained just as low class, filthy, lying thief, as he was before. So he went home and became a politician. This is the man Szijj-Ártó worships, since he was a kid in Fidelitas and he follows every vicious order the viktor gives him. North-Korea has better diplomats, than this young ass, who could only qualify as an apprentice to a shoe shiner. That way, he could not sell axe murderers to Azeri dictators for bakshis, schmiergeld, or large bribe, by any other word.

  3. bognar, you are a piece of shit retarded troll. How much money do you get for coming here and trolling this blog?

    Trying to portray the decent anti-Fidesz people as low intelligence, idiots, who cannot express themselves without using phrases like “cow’s shit” or intentionally misspelling the names of people we criticize. It is incredibly childish and counter-productive on purpose.

    I hope you get paid enough for this you disgusting excuse for a human. This blog has intelligent debate, high quality comments on the side of those who critique the Orban-regime. You should go back to where you came from because your efforts to infiltrate this blog are failing.

  4. @ Őrgróf: With all due respect, gybognarjr has been around this blog for a very long time, and he provides his full name and his own photograph to his comments. Let just say, he is braver than most of us. It is not that I agree all the time with gybognarjr but let me assure you he is not a troll, and in fact he is a very sharp man. I can’t really recall your comments from this blog, good or bad, so please extend some courtesy and let some of the “old” regulars blow of some steam time-to-time.

    @gybognarjr: Now tell us how you really feel about Szijjarto! LOL

  5. Thank You Éva: Szijj-Ártó had an interview two days ago I think, in the Budapest Business Journal. In your opinion, does a diplomat say something like this?
    Quote: „azzal vádolni minket, hogy nem illeszkedünk az európai jogrendszerbe, s ne lennénk Európa-pártiak, ORBITÁLIS-HAZUGSÁG.
    “to accuse us, that we don’t fit into the European Judicial system (or Constitutional State) and that we would not be pro EU, is an orbital lye. (this is about US criticism)
    I am not a diplomat and I am not even diplomatic, when I have to tell my opinion about the members of the Hungarian Government and Government Administrators, which are made up entirely of criminals, idiots and organized crime members, I could use many unprintable words. So I can call them anything I want to, and I assure you, they deserve adjectives, which would evaporate the ink on the paper, if I would write them.
    Diplomats NEVER use the word “lye” in public and in an interview, especially “orbitally (large) lye”, even against a Government like North Korea. So to say it in public demonstrates the temperament and the lack of diplomatic training. Szijj-Ártó is a very primitive and a cheating, conniving thief, a prick if you wish, who measures success only by the accumulated money. He has two good masters to imitate, the Stadionbuilder viktor and Lázár (you are worth as much as your money) János. Soon the Peti will go together with them to visit his money in the offshore banks, or to Azerbaijan, where they transferred them from Switzerland, before the end of the year. This criminal gang only deserves ball and chain on their legs and wrists and forced labor for life and not a decent word! Not from me for sure!

  6. The Germans are insanely naive and timid. They all want to repent for their Nazi sins (still in 2014) and for the fact that they are the richest and biggest (80m) nation within Europe.

    They desperately want to be liked and avoid any conflicts which might call attention to their inherent power.

    Plus, they can afford not to care, the entire Hungary’s GDP is roughly equal to (probably smaller than) that of the greater München area (and of course München’s economy is infinitely more competitive and diverse) and a fraction that of Bavaria’s.

    The Germans are extremely diplomatic and seemingly don’t get it that in Hungary diplomacy doesn’t work.

    The question for Orban and his people always: is this *formally* legal? And if not, can we make it legal? (By amending the constitution or the laws?) Can we still do it even if we enter into legal proceedings which last for ever? (Like building South Stream which will stand by the time any EU legal procedure ends — obviously the EU can’t order the destruction of a pipeline). And so on. Non lawyers cannot really understand this thinking. As they say in Hungary threatening a lawyer with a lawsuit is akin to threatening a prostitute with a penis. They just love the intellectual game of circumventing the EU legal order which was created by well-fed naive Europeans “preaching cooperation, trust and mutual love”. Corrupt lawyers with infinite ambitions stemming from rural backward Hungary only lough at this – what they consider as – bullshit.

    No subtle messages will ever work on Orban and his people, and no such message ever worked with any dictators. This occasion is no exception.

  7. @gybognarjr:

    I like your style – and the pictures on your site (can’t read the Hungarian text too well though …)!

    Re the German – Hungarian relations I can only repeat:

    Der Krug geht so lange zum Brunnen bis er bricht …

  8. The Hungarian Prime Minister’s mention that the Aide Memoire received from the US Embassy in Budapest is just a “fecni” (loosely translated into a “scrap paper”) shows his ignorance of what is standard in diplomatic circles. Maybe his 36 years old Foreign Minister could have been of assistance, although he is more versed in explaining how he can save out of his salary more than he ever received. In any case the scrap paper has listed the alleged crimes of the person accused and disallowed to visit USA and yet there is no investigation into what the head of NAV (the Hungarian Tax Office) is being accused.

  9. “Szijj-Ártó is a very primitive and a cheating, conniving thief, a prick if you wish, who measures success only by the accumulated money.”

    Not just our pathetic joke of our foreign minister but the regime described in one succinct sentence.

    And it is with this kind of contempt (not with barely-concealed admiration such as that revealed with our resident Fidesz Groupie, “Zoltan Gera”) that all civilized people should regard the mafia ruling our country.

  10. ZsoltDuring reading this article I tried to recall every comment, speech, or “just a word” from Chancellor Merkel if she was with Mr. Orbán, against, she just likes the illiberal ideal; the FIDESZ is still member of the European People’s Party.

    Did you forget this one?

    But your comment is indeed relevant., since the CDU is heavily dominating the group with 29 MEPs. Now, we’ve already discussed this several times in the comments of this fall’s articles regarding the European Commission. It seems obvious to me that support for Fidesz within the EPP Group in Strasbourg has considerably withered, not the least because of the Hungarian PM’s opposition to the nomination of Juncker.

    I find it interesting that Orbán now meets with Seehofer, and not a CDU bigwhig. The German conservative press has been criticizing the Hungarian Gov’t harshly since this summer, without – as far as I know – any declaration of support by CDU representatives on the other hand. Same with Roth and Steinmeier’s declarations (they may be SPD, but they’re still gov’t members). And I’m not so sure Fidesz can expect much support from French and Polish MEPs, for different reasons.

    But on the other hand, the EPP group itself is weak (and the LuxLeaks don’t help) so threatening their Hungarian members with expulsion may not be the right play for now. Of course, it goes both ways: should Fidesz be tempted to leave and join with either Cameron, Farage/Grillo or even Le Pen, Navracsics would probably lose his (small) job, which would be a blow to national pride.

    However, I’m not sure we’re in for yet another stalemate. It is highly possible that Merkel, much like the current U.S. Administration, will soon think that she has warned (or has had him warned) Orbán enough to no avail and that addig jár a korsó a kútra, míg el hem törik,

  11. @gybognár re Szijjártó but one could talk about Orbán as well. These people’s behavior is incredible. They don’t have any idea what is acceptable behavior in the circles they found themselves. Also, you may have noticed that even Fidesz supporters use the word “lie” right and left. If they don’t like a statement from the other side it immediately becomes a lie. One can spot a Fidesz support off the bat when he starts a comment with the words “you lie.”

  12. D7 Democrat: It’s not admiration in the proper sense of the word. I try to be blunter and a bit provocative because most Western readers (perhaps not the regular ones) I fear still approach Orban’s mafia from an inherently naive and trusting (and rarely really caring) starting point. Truth be told they can’t really do otherwise, their value system is just different.

    With wily, paranoid KGB people like Putin or Orban this conciliatory, cooperative, let’s have an honest debate, let’s use diplomacy, let’s hear the other side of the story, oh, they suffered so much, let’s be generous with them, we have to trust each other etc. approach will lead absolutely nowhere.

    This timidity is seen as a fundamental weakness and a clear invitation to unabashedly take advantage of the West.

    What I think the West can’t understand about Orban is that rationally Hungary depends on the West, so no sane politician – in Western thinking – would be expected to be such a belligerent jerk.

    But Orban knows that the West in political terms is fundamentally weak and divided and doesn’t care (as it showed in countless international conflicts), so its Orban’s for the taking. And he takes a lot. But the West is OK with that, just as it was OK with Kenya or Ghana or Zimbabwe stealing all those aid and development monies Western governments sent there.

    I guess many (those unfortunate enough to have to deal with Hungary) in the West still, after all, deep down desperately want to believe that Orban and his regime loyalist are good, well-meaning people. They’re desperately trying to interpret a half-sentence of Szijjarto as a sign that Orban changed course, that there are still decent fideszniks who know well what to do, but can’t really have a say and so on. Oh my god, what a sucker the West was when it ate all the bullshit Martonyi, Szajer, Narvarcsics, Pröhle, Németh etc. who all revealed themselves as corrupt die hard fidesz loyalists, fed to the willing foreign observers. Do you know how much lough (jouissance) Orban and his people got out of this?

    Just like the young Mandiner crowd, these Westerners can’t face the fact that their object of love, their object of enthusiasm (implying enthusiasm for the idea that democracy can triumph in the East and that there are Eastern able and charismatic champions of democracy) was a mentally ill, thoroughly corrupt monster probably all along. Every piece I read about Szijjarto and Orban being taken (looking as though being taken) seriously, about supposedly self-respecting government bureaucrats sitting down with these mafiosi is another reaffirmation of the West’s impotence.

  13. A ticket controller on a Budapest tram goes berserk and calls the Hungarian (!) passenger a “dirty, American, fa**ot”, among other less kind words.

    Note that being “American” among the discontent working class (a completely jobbik-fidesznik crowd to where this poor ticket controller belongs) is now a standard hate/curse word.

    I guess nobody should underestimate how thorough Fidesz’ brainwash is among its target audience.

    The readers of are a tiny minority of Hungarians.

  14. OT: Couple of “small news” about other subjects related to previous conversations. Here are the good things that Orban and his puppet government should follow and embrace.

    Vienna inaugurated monument to World War Two deserters. “Austria’s parliament voted in 2009 — over the objections of far-right parties — to clear the reputations of those who met disdain and abuse for refusing to follow the Nazi line.”

    “The monument, designed by German artist Olaf Nicolai, depicts a three-level form in the shape of an X, meant to symbolize the plight of the individual pitted against society’s power. It stands in the Ballhausplatz in central Vienna, near the presidency and chancellery.

    Seen from above, an inscription carved into the monument spells out “all alone”.

    Budapest’s ELTE inaugurated a wonderful monument that remembers the WWII victims of the university (Jewish or not). 198 names have been engraved in a thin bronze line around a garden between the bricks. There was a competition between various groups composed of teachers and students with various ideas from the Hungarian Architecture Society’s Master Course. The submissions were exhibited in various buildings of the university. The winning entry contains the names of jews, non-jews, soldiers, and forced labourers, the only criteria was that those who included could not be accuse with war crimes. THey did a fill research on the names. What a great idea!
    (Now, take a look on how the Orban government’s puppet minister can screw the whole idea.
    On the inauguration Andre Goodfriend and Ilan Mor were also present with Zoltan Balog. Balog praised the university for commemorating the victims indiscriminately. Obviously the the indiscriminate is what the Hungarian government is doing. ELTE in fact discriminated between the victims, and simply decided that with little research, they could make sure not to celebrate the Hungarian nazis, something that Balog and his buddies failed to do when erecting a monument without any public consultation in the heart of Budapest.

  15. Greetings from Dusseldorf.
    I heard from all Germans and categorical rejection of the Orban regime.
    All can see the terrible disintegration of Hungary.
    I think 2/3 of the Hungarians are also on the opposition line,too.
    Just 2/3 of the Parliament does not get it.


    #TT1: Any anonymous poster (e.g. “Őrgroaf”) who publicly accuses a non-anonymous poster of being a troll is a troll. (No need to read any further.)

    (There is — understandably — a good deal of frustration and even paranoia these days about trolling, especially in connection with Hungary, where political trollery has been elevated to the level of statecraft by the cynically demagogic and systemically criminal Orban Octopus. I don’t think the M.O. is an import from Putin’s Russia — it’s just a case of independent opportunistic discovery, by like-minded sociopaths. U.S. Tea-Party factions no doubt sink almost as low, but without a criminal government behind them. And, alas, troll-busters can be or become just as bad as their adversaries. And that’s the main objective of trollery: diversion and degradation.)

  17. Well, the image of Horst Seehofer and Viktor Orbán in Munich has a strong resemblance to some amateurish high-school play, one nearly can see the helpers from 3B holding the flags offstage… What a pitiful exhibition of “statesmanship”..!

    Typical, nevertheless.
    This whole government reeking of the total lack of professionalism, I even dare say the lack of everyday civilised social manners are striking. Somehow they didn’t get it that to learn the rules of diplomatic protocols and etiquette is a basic requirement of their job!

    What I mean? The bon vivant of Felcsút at work:

    – and that’s about all for diplomacy what he and his government capable of.

    However, one or other axe-murderer for sale, or the “Free Tibet” activists holding by the police at the “right time” put some flourish in their achievement, so we can not complain, really..!

  18. MAX: I think that the pecking order now, (because of the Russian-Ukraine situation) is as follows: USA-Germany-EU members backing Germany-France and perhaps G.B. but since they are one leg out, they weight in with the US on foreign policy only.
    Did you notice, I did NOT mention Hungary?
    The Stadionbuilder viktor has delusions and dreams and conducts himself (serious, I am NOT exaggerating) as a king. He thinks, abroad they regard him with respect to, because he has no sense of diplomacy. He thinks the smiley are a sign of respect and not scorn, irony and disdain.

    He said it Friday in the Radio. Quote: “I took 1,300 Billion from the banks and I gave it to the people.”
    In the USA it would be admission of bank robbery and lifetime sentence.In Hungary they worship him.
    I name it the fair King Mathias syndrome.
    Except! King Mathias Corvinus (1458-1490) was a renaissance king, enlightened, (illuminato) sponsored the arts, sciences, brought Hungary into the renaissance age. He was very, very successful, plus a good international politician of his time, a good general and expanded Hungary into a very respectable major force in Europe. The fable says, he was very just and took money from the rich, gave it too the poor. The truth is, he took power from the rich and empowered a little the poor. The nobles killed him, because they lost power.
    On the other hand – the infinitely primitive, self-absorbed, thief, the maffia Godfather, the Stadionbuilder viktor is any country’s “Nachtmare”!

  19. ZOLTAN GÉZA: The Germans are NOT exactly timid, I should say instead, they are careful and they like to be smooth and successful, with general approval from the majority. Militarily they have very few options and they are NOT stupid like others. They know what Theodore Roosevelt believed in. “Speak softly, but carry a big stick.” We are the big stick, behind Angela Merkel’s back, but she had to make sure, we are there.

  20. WOLFI: The viktor IS a ” jughead”, as you surmised.
    Note: Stupid leaders hire people to support him, who are less astute, then them, the only qualifications is to be very good at saying “yes” and to be a brown-noser. This assures, that the gang’s performance is dismal, as you have seen it.

  21. Thanks Éva again. Sometimes I use a bit harsher words, then usual. I am angered not only by the fact, that a few classmates from a given school and their friends took over an entire country and made it into a self-serve supermarket, then empty the shelves, but the fact, that the majority of Hungarians tolerate it.
    We could write books about the distorted value system many Hungarians were brought up with, but it would not help.
    Hungarians “beat their chests” and very proud of their 1,000 years of “culture” or history, but while they doing it, it NEVER occurs to them, that the Jews write 5,775 this year, the Egyptians too, the Persians historians look back 3,500 years or more, and the “lowly” Slovaks, who they think, they “conquered” just before 1,000 A.D. were already an agricultural society for hundreds of years. The proud Hungarians were still nomadic tribes. They just got lucky, that the Slovakian King died and his sons tore the “country” into three pieces and did not have a good army. But that is not important. This false self-evaluation is reinforced by the Governments, the less successful, the more they reinforce fall values.
    I tell you a true story sounding like a joke instead, which shows how some Americans, (who are less historically oriented and count on instead on successes in the present and plan the future) regarde the way Hungarians represent themselves.
    My friend was a Tourguide in Budapest.
    An American tourist group had a nice day on a sightseeing tour. The tour guide showed and described all the beautiful old buildings, statues, the Fisherman’s Castle, the Palace, etc. They end up at the usual place, Hero’s Square with the statues of all the Kings. The tour guide takes them around, describing each King with a few words and their deeds, etc. So the tour ends and she asks the Americans, how did they like the tour. One of them replies.
    -We liked everything, your long history and 1,000 years of being part of the Christian Culture and the beautiful old buildings, statues, etc.. Very nice indeed, BUT WHAT DID YOU DOO SINCE?

  22. Zoltan Géza: I agree with what you say. I add a “short” comment. I visit my mom and lots of friends every year in Budapest. The sons, grandsons of my mom’s and my friends don’t think as Westerners in politics, only think as we do, when the go shopping to the Plazas, or watching movies, buying a car, etc. Democracy is NOT on their wish list. I was told by many young people. They think, debates waste time, they like quick decisions, whatever pleases them most.
    The people cannot FEEL, what it means to live in a democracy, think as a democratic, non-racist person and behave and live as such, EVERY HOUR OF EVERY DAY.
    We, who lived decades in a democratic country and assimilated well, behave instinctly according to the democratic values. Not because we plan every action, every sentence, but, because it comes naturally, people around us do the same.
    You cannot study democracy in a very corrupt (morally and monetarily) society and develop the instinct for recognizing instantly the slightest racism, discrimination, the miscarriage of justice, the infringements of basic human rights. So many of these pass them by. So many of them “slides” a bit, permissive with him/herself and with others. Many Hungarians already accept, that politicians “lie, cheat and steal” as they say. The slogan is: “They are just the same”.
    The higher one gets in the Administration, the farther away he is from democratic thinking and many behaves, without retrains, as a little emperor, until one of them becomes a dictator. Why? As the Fidesz says: Because he can do it!
    HUNGARY IS A DEMOCRACY one day every fourth year. The democracy lasts from the end of the voting line to the ballot box. Once you dropped in your vote, the democracy ends there.
    You will not have another chance to voice your opinion and get results from the ones you elected, because they answer the Party only, not the constituents. They get fined if they don’t tow the Party’s line.

  23. Béla: I agree. Because of the ever stronger anti-American sentiment, I think we smartly do our work diplomatically and behind the Germans.
    Many Hungarians like the Germans, regardless of their affiliation to the right or left, but years of brainwash makes many hate Americans and part of it is what they call “yellow envy”. Brainwashed, that Americans don’t have history and culture. Yet they don’t know all the accomplishments that American people, many who came from other countries because the lack of appreciations, influenced human life more than any other society before us.
    Thousands of artists, scientists, engineers, politicians and everyday businessman, whose work left its stamp on our lives and made the progress and drove the World ahead.
    Coca Cola, Goodyear, Apple was not a multi-national company in the 1800’s or even in 1996. One man, Steve Jobs took his reacquired company worth exactly $0.00 (with the debt and the annual losses) received $100 million (stock option) loan from Bill Gates (Microsoft) and in 18 years he made it into the World’s most valuable, most recognized company. Why? Because we don’t ask, where are you from, what religion you have, what is your race, what is your political orientation (illegal questions), we ask, what do you know and how well. Then you can get a job, based on that! You can be an engineer, a scientist, a writer, a poet, a musician, a politician, anything, based on knowledge and work ethics, except you cannot be the President of the US. (For that they ask you where were you born?) This is a progressive culture, this is what creates success and sometimes failures too.

  24. Very nicely said – that’s also what I like about the USA – though I really dislike those 40% or so (mainly in the Bible Belt – which btw is now the Obesity Belt …) which you could call Creationists, rednecks, white trash – whatever …

    I probably was lucky that my travels (business and holiday) took me usually to the East Coast or California – Florida also was ok …

    To be honest in Germany also we have that very conservative (should I say primitive?) group of people – but the group seems to be getting smaller, though they’ll never disappear.

    You’lll always find these people who think that the old days were better, people knew their place(!), they did not have to cope with all that new stuff, those pesky foreigners everywhere – just continue the list …

    Obviously there are a lot of people like that in Hungary and my wife tells me that the transition to Kadarism and from Kadarism to “democracy Fidesz style” was no problem for them at all!

  25. ORBAN: “This is just a scrap of paper. If it weren’t in English, I’d think it was written by an opposition party…”

    This is the sort of petty pugilism that will be Orban’s undoing. He is megalomanic, demagogic, amoral, corrupt and extremely greedy, but above all he is paranoid, and delusional. Up to a point, that feeds into a national culture with a similar bent; but ultimately he will go even beyond the Hungarian persecution complex, and then Hungarians themselves will be perceived as part of the “opposition.” That’s the point where the Stalins and Kims of the world institute a police state, but Orban will not have as free a hand as that. There’s a big world out there too, watching…

  26. Zoltan Geza: “most Western readers (perhaps not the regular ones) I fear still approach Orban’s mafia from an inherently naive and trusting (and rarely really caring) starting point”

    What makes you believe that? “Most Western” people will not know exactly where Hungary is, and even if they know they will tell you that this is some small country in weird Eastern Europe. So, it is very likely that manners there are also weird, and that politicians from there at best try hard but cannot escape their provincial outlook. (But it is more likely that they are some regional princes within their provincial networks of a rather backward country.) So, Hungary is treated accordingly, some small country that sends us this nuisance of a prime minister.

    And, surprisingly perhaps for you, it is a rather large number of Hungarians who appear to be “inherently naive and trusting” as they even go to elections to give this mafia boss political legitimacy. Who consider gas prices the ultimate proof of Orban’s good will and of “democracy”, even if the bill to be paid to the Russians can already now be called gigantic. Hungary is to some extent still sovereign, and this is how it is treated. Perhaps you delve a bit more into the complexity of Western states, to see whether the often seen general willingness to be benevolent is indeed equivalent to being impotent. How much the current situation depends on the naive West will also be easily seen once more sanctions will be applied. (I expect a lot of whining like that of Mrs Vida about the West that “lets Hungary down”.)

  27. Az Amerika ellenes hangulatra és gondolkodásra való bizonyíték látható a videon.

    Magyar villamosellenőr a 49-es villamoson. Öt perces otromba, durva, káromkodásokkal teli veszekedés, az utasokat is beleértveából kikelve üvöltött az ellenőr az utassal

    Az ellenőr szerint, a potyázó utas, sok-sok durva káromkodások közepette :
    “mocsos, buzi, Amerikai” aki miatt nincs semmi rendben az országban.

    Magyarországon Amerika ellenességre tanítják az embereket, évek óta. Tévhitben élnek sokan, hogy a magyar ember jobb, mint bárki más, csak azért, mert magyar. Aki nem magyar, az automatikusan kevesebb. Mi sem áll távolabb a valóságtól.

    Ezért, a kormány azt hirdeti: “Magyarország Jobban Teljesít!” “Tiszteletet Követelünk Brüsszeltől!

    Engem az USA-ban, 45 év év alatt, soha, senki nem illetett egyetlen rossz szóval, hogy “magyar” vagy máshol született ember vagyok, ismétlem SOHA! Pedig voltak veszekedéseim néha-néha.

    Egyébként hosszú évek óta nem vagyok magyar, hanem asszimilálódtam és Hungarian-Amerikcan vagyok, mint mások, Irish-Americans, German-Americans, British-Americans, Afro-Americans, ma már kevesen észlelnék azt is, hogy valaha magyar voltam.

    Ami az utóbbi 24-25 évben megy végbe Magyarországon, különösen 2010 óta nemhogy nem tölt el büszkeséggel származásom eredete iránt, de örülök, hogy már régen nem Magyarország a hazám! Nagyon sokan vagyunk így, remélem többen, mint akik a viktorra fognak szavazni 2016-ban!

  28. @gybognarjr:

    Well, I had to laugh at “mocsos, buzi, Amerikai” (That much Hungarian I can understand …) but would you be so kind to help me and others with the rest?

    Thanks in advance!


    I hope your Hungarian texts are as nice as your English ones!

  29. @Stevan Harnad
    While I completely agree with your assessment regarding the trolls vs anti-trolls being about the same (quality) – particularly since being one of them – I have a rather disturbing question, the kind of “what if”: without these qualified as such – are we/you supposed to have purely theoretical and/or philosophical conversations here, and nothing else should have taken place?

    Sounds good – in theory – but the unfortunate nature of life dictates otherwise.
    Simply put: in my opinion life provides much more diversity what would fit into these frames.
    Ten again, I may have my standards set far too low, since I rather will go in any level of conversation as long as the topic worth it.
    Oh, well…
    If I may summaries it, I rather have a livid conversation, whatever the level is, I think, that’s the way we may get somewhere.
    – Or nowhere at all, as things tend to, right now, but still…

  30. @wolfi – no, you don’t really want the text translated, trust me. No civilised person will, it’s only to Fidesz/Jobbik supporters, not for Human consumption.

  31. Well, to the Stevan Harnad post I managed to let the spell checker take over: Ten-Then, summaries – summarise, just to name some. Sorry, at any event!

  32. A great broadcast on German public radio entitled roughly: ‘Energy Transition in Hungary: How a Country Squanders Chances’. (Thx to @dieNagashi).

    One hour of serious criticism of the ‘big boys’ energy politics of OV (nukes and gas, Russia and Azerbaijan), the demagoguery (who will pay for the utility cuts & the sacking of Foreign operators?) and the systematic disinterest for renewables in a country that could do a lot.

    If I’m to judge by the comments below the last two articles of the Spectrum regarding Hungarian-German relations, some Fidesniks see Germany as their understanding pal and somehow protector. Oh my, are they wrong… 🙂

  33. I profoundly apologize, I put the Hungarian text on this blog, I posted on another blog of my friends, predominantly Hungarians.

    Short comment, because the tram inspector’s words are only crude expletives. My comment is this:

    Hungarians are proud to have higher culture, than Americans and think of themselves better than anyone else, simply because they are Hungarians. Germans had the same attitude in Hitler’s time and were proven wrong. They are much better learners than Hungarians and will not repeat the mistake. They came from the status of the most hated people in the World to be very well respected again. I tip my hat to them!

    The Hungarian Government therefore adopted the slogan: “Hungary is doing better!” then when they got more western criticism, the posted slogans “Hungary demands respect from Brussels.”

    The attitude as you see is never to learn, analyze what is fair criticism and improve, but lazily just shout louder, that “Look I am doing better”.
    I live in the USA for 45 years now and I NEVER ever got a comment, that I am some kind of “bad Hungarian” or thrown in my face that I was not born here! NEVER in any of my verbal fights, arguments.

    True, for a long time now, I assimilated and I am considered by others and myself to be Hungarian American, as others are Irish American, German American, Afro-American, etc. Nowadays I guess, few people would notice that my ancestry is Hungarian.

    Within the last few years, I am less and less proud of how the Hungarian people conducted themselves, after they became free, without foreign invaders. They made this dictatorship worse, than during the Russian occupation. This dictatorship shows, that a lot of people are base and nefarious and this civic behavior is entirely Made in Hungary.

    Regardless, for decades now, I don’t claim Hungary to be my home country, (roughly, my nation) I assimilated, I lived my life with my family in the USA, I think like most Americans, THIS IS MY HOME, I selected it, my heart is here and nobody ever told me, it cannot be so. We are all Americans here, regardless where were we borne and that is how we will die, proudly, like all Americans can do.

  34. Thanks, Marcel!

    A very scathing article especially re the ignorance of Fidesz regarding renewable energy!

    Btw that was one of the first things I noticed many years ago: You don’t see many solar energy collectors on the roofs (compared to Germany e g) which is strange since obviously thee is much more sunshine in Hungary.

    And also it’s still rare to see old houses being insulated – my neighbour just did this however and he and his wife are really happy now – especially since they have no gas for heating (too expensive, only bottles for cooking) and have to use their kandalló for warmth …

  35. And thanks to you too, gybognarjr!

    Totally OT:

    Now I’m off to bed – tomorrow we drive back to Hungary with a car full of Xmas presents. And also many used clothes – our friends, relatives and neighbours in Germany know that there are many people in Hungary (including some of my wife’s relatives!) who are very happy to get some “slightly used” stuff from Esprit, H&M, Levis, S’Oliver etc …

  36. Something OT. Not totally, but not exactly on cue either.

    Having a peak at the present situation in Hungary I concluded – once again, mind you, – that the single party based politics is over.
    For one, the ruling party – the name Fidesz, in case of doubt – define themselves as “party unity”, for the other, there is no any party on the other side which nearly as powerful as it would be needed. And without that power there is no chance to change a single thing, let alone the political system of Hungary. No way.

    So, what the solution could/would be?

    In my opinion an umbrella organisation, which could contain just about any- and everyone opposed to this entirely rotten system of thieves, there is no other way.
    Have you heard this already?
    Oh, yes!
    If anyone remembers an otherwise widely despised politician already proposed the very same solution, his name is Gyurcsány.
    He is right, people.
    You don’t have to like him, but there is no viable alternative to his concept.

    All the civilians doing just great in order to shake Orbán the Viktor out of his socks, but there is no civilian movement has place in the parliament, you’d like it or not, one have to have a party in order to be able to make any difference – according to parliamentary rules, that is.
    In this context only some kind of alliance would ever stand a chance against the present semi-dictatorial system – if there was one.

    So, dear folks as far as my knowledge goes, the normal and civilised Hungarians must unite, otherwise Hungary will fall back to the middle ages within years, if not earlier.

    Any other viable solutions what I’m not aware of?
    Would be grateful for some solution, I really am!
    – And I didn’t mention the Hungarians…

    Thank you in advance!

  37. Re: the tram video and the conductor yelling “mocsos, buzi, Amerikai”. It looks like the ‘Two Minutes Hate’ we see on state-controlled news, with Andre Goodfriend as Emmanuel Goldstein is working.

  38. Wolfi,

    Maybe it’s where you live, but here in Budapest, insulating old houses (especially the “panel” pre-fab communist buildings) is all the rage. The odd thing is that the insulation is usually not protected from damage by anything other than paint (since it’s just expanded polystyrene foam sheets pasted onto the outside of a building), so after a few years the buildings can look sort of degraded. Still, the point is to insulate, and I’ve heard that it works pretty well.

    To everyone who denigrated the unsophisticated conservatives (rednecks, etc.), remember that they are people, too, and they contribute their fair share to society. Without them, each of our nations would be poorer in many ways, regardless of their (generally) simplistic morality and reactionary voting habits. The secret to a healthy society is to incorporate all types (well, almost all types) of people in the productive heart of public discourse, without resorting to name-calling and blind hatred. Anything less just leads to division and civil war.

  39. “Seehofer, the leader of the very conservative Christian Social Union, stood by Orbán. However, in an interview that appeared in the conservative Die Welt on November 8 one can see several not so subtle differences between the two men.”

    The interview was titled: One Hungarian One Bavarian, no disagreements. Why did you not quote the title of the interview, while trying to completely misrepresent it?

    (The title of the interview shows agreement and you tried to change that into disagreement)

    Instead of trying to explain the interview’s title, trying to hide it away from the readers is only good for manipulation. And from a distorted picture, a distorted view of reality will emerge.

    The interview shows that the Prime Minister of Bavaria stands very strongly by Hungary despite whatever attacks come against the country. And I think there is also the implication, that Hungary is willing to make significant changes if required by people like Seehofer.

    As the current discussion shows, the significance of this interview is not properly understood.

  40. @Marcel Dé (@MarcelD10)
    “…what Hungary needs is a real Left.” – yeah, right, I may even tend to agree!

    Unfortunately there is no such thing in sight.

    Even worse, there is no chance – in my opinion – that the next force to surface could be called “left” by usual standards. (Worse upon worse, as I see it the relevance of “left” and “right” in Hungarian politics is nonexistent, outdated, if I put it mildly. You see, Orbán driving a bolshevik line, which is by historical traditions belong to the left, so, where are we going from here now?)

    Not to mention the sad fact, that the word “left” acquired such connotation in Hungary which is right next to ebola and being liberal – so we may even agree that labelling a movement in such way could be misfortunate – in my view even disastrous.

    Don’t misread me please, I’m anything but “right wing” ideologically. However, there is much more subtle distinctions – and variations within this – as I see it, that it could be clearly put in one “side”.

    As the situation is today I guess that there are many of the conservative but bright minded people, many of the clearly religious but not blindly zealots – just to mention a few – dissatisfied with the regime, where are they supposed to go, to whom they are supposed to join, if we thinking in terms as “left” and “right”?

    One by one the now existent parties stand no chance, that’s clear.
    The concept that unite for an election, and after a few years when the “groundwork” to reestablish democracy has been completed let’s make a new, then party – based election is the only peaceful solution to this shameful situation in Hungary.

    In my opinion, and as I mentioned according to DK and Gyurcsány – and now all the sceptics can start to boo, – it still the only alternative, as long as no NEW power can claim the role.
    And no, I don’t dream of things like the MSZP may resurrect or the LMP suddenly get rid of Schiffer and become ideologically progressive instead being the lukewarm opportunists, no.

    There is no party presently in Hungary which rightly can assume the leading role, sorry.
    So, if you – or me, or anyone for that matter – looking at it from here, it must be a pretty clear picture, unfortunately, don’t you think?

  41. Zoltan Geza: I think President Obama very much likes to believe the people like Putin and Orban are rational. So if given various options and not forced into a corner they will chose the path of least resistance and back off confrontations.

    But not all Americans in policy making roles think that way however. I think those of us who come out of a military background assume the worse case scenario and believe both Putin and Orban are possibly madmen deeply tied to political/economic corruption. The best way to deal with a madman in power is to destroy them one way or another. Some believe that the propensity of those educated in a military culture to see the dark side of things is just as bad as someone like President Obama who assumes rationality. Maybe they have a point.

    I would also add that the anti-Americanism being depicted is very intimidating given the fact that I will be back in Hungary next month with my wife and adult children who know no Hungarian. I was back in March and even then I was confronted once by an English speaking Jobbik supporter who wanted to argue with me about whether President Obama who was repeated referred to as the “fekete ember” was destroying America. I avoided the discussion. It is possible a few members of my extended family who are beholden to Fidesz “szívességért megjutalmaz vkit” might now turn on me, I guess I will find out shortly.

    Tim I think the essence is Seehofer who supports the eastern expansion of the EU because it is in the economic interests of his economically powerful supporters in Bavaria is running up against the Putin wall and Orban is effectively supporting that wall through his vision of the eastern wind. Hense the dynamics of the relationship are changing.

  42. Marcel Dé: “The man is spot on – what Hungary needs is a real Left.”

    Mr Pogatsa is criticising the old MSzMP for being in 1990 full of people who adopted a “neoliberal agenda”, and yet he believes that in Hungary a “new Left” would make a difference? How? What is missing in Hungary is in my interpretation an understanding of the democratic political process, that a “nation” is not just a group of people bound by destiny to “survive” when the rest of the world is hostile and the nation is always on the verge of being ultimately destroyed by its neighbours or “foreign influences”. There is no culture of compromise, acceptance of diversity, respect for opponents. A widespread admiration for everything noble makes it compelling to see education as a source of also being distinct from (or above) the rest (which, as we read here regularly, is uncurably dull, so money spent on them is invariably wasted). Also with the protests now, people are protesting only due to their own grievances, and they refuse to put two and two together to find out that Viktor Orban is targeting different groups in turn RELYING on that they will not even think of cooperating against him.

    Political labels are interesting, and perhaps there is also a “new left” missing in Hungary, but first of all there needs to be some basis for “politics” – ie some trust, goodwill, interest in public matters and for the problems of other people, belief that joint effort might improve matters. So, it is some “liberal thought” that is missing. And that can only be spread by people who do understand and who do not emigrate. The left as it sounds for me in the text of Mr Pogatsa could be equally aiming at some paternalist state with a more “socialist” programme, as it is the social costs of the transition that he appears to consider the main reason why people are so confused and right wing programmes so popular. But such socialist paternalist state would change nothing in the attitude of people – that they feel responsible only for their families, for the rest, there is the flag and the anthem (“but certainly we will not be as stupid as to pay taxes, nobody does that and nobody cares”). And also, given the experience with such “paternalist” programmes in Hungary, the likelihood that such a Left would truly care for people, is low. After all, the broad public has only vague ideas about what kind of society they would like to live in and how they fit into a (political) society, so how then do you want to motivate or force your politicians to put some “better life” into practice?

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