Viktor Orbán crashed the party: the hosts were not pleased

A few days ago some Hungarian newspaper reporters discovered that, according to an international Russian-language site called Birzhevoi Lider, Viktor Orbán turned up uninvited–and unwelcome–in Vilnius last Sunday on the last day of a joint NATO exercise called “Iron Sword 2014.”

The story was more than media gossip. The press secretary of Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitè confirmed that Orbán had not been invited to sit in the grandstand for the military parade marking the end of an almost two-week-long military exercise against a possible attack on Lithuania from the East. Moreover, the president had no intention of meeting him. According to the article, an unannounced visit by a leading politician on such an occasion is considered to be an affront to the host country. The journalists of Birzhevoi Lider asked Laurynas Kasčiūnas, a political scientist who apparently is normally not at all critical of Orbán, for a comment. Even he was taken aback by Orbán’s brazen behavior. He pointed out that we all know why Orbán is now so eager to show his loyalty to his NATO allies, but “the European community no longer falls for Orbán’s gimmicks because Europeans have not forgotten that it is Hungary which supports Putin in Europe and that it was Budapest that stopped supplying gas to Ukraine.”

Source Magyar Nemzet / Photo Andrinus Ufartas/ MTI-EPA

Source Magyar Nemzet / Photo Andrinus Ufartas/ MTI-EPA

NATO began preparing for the defense of the Baltic States as early as 2010, right after Russia invaded Georgia. In the wake of the Russian annexation of Crimea, NATO decided to have a larger presence in the area. The first American paratroopers arrived in April and since then an international NATO battalion has been assembled in Lithuania. This task force includes 140 members of Hungary’s 5th István Bocskai Infantry Brigade.

It is a well-known fact that the leading politicians of Poland and the Baltic states have had serious differences of opinion with Viktor Orbán over his pro-Russian stand. Lithuanians were especially vocal in their condemnation of the Hungarian prime minister. You may recall Orbán’s opposition to the EU sanctions against Russia when he described the decision as a grave mistake, “shooting oneself in the foot.” In response, the Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevčius quipped that “it was better to shoot oneself in the foot than to let oneself be shot in the head.”

The president of Lithuania, Dalia Grybauskaitè, called the Iron Lady at home, is said to be ready to fight the Russians gun in hand if necessary. She is no friend of Putin, whom she described as someone who “uses nationality as a pretext to conquer territory with military means. That’s exactly what Stalin and Hitler did.” She is also a confirmed believer in the European Union. After all, she served as commissioner of education and culture in the first Barroso Commission and later as commissioner for financial programming and the budget. She has been president of Lithuania since 2009. She ran as an independent but with conservative support. “She wants to put permanent boots on the ground in the Baltics to ward off any potential threat from their Soviet-era master.” And the Lithuanian people seem to be equally determined. Her willingness to take up arms has encouraged others to follow suit. There has been a sharp rise in paramilitary recruits. During the weekend civilians receive military training. Students, businessmen, civil servants, journalists, and even politicians have joined the government-sponsored Lithuania Riflemen’s Union. These people are determined. So, for Orbán to make an uninvited appearance there was a serious diplomatic faux pas.

Almost all of the above information comes from English-language sources. Hungarian reporting on the military contingent in Lithuania is practically nonexistent. On November 4 Válasz ran a brief, fairly meaningless article on the military exercises in which soldiers from nine NATO member states are participating. In it Bálint Ablonczy showed off his Google skills, explaining who Silvestras Žukauskas was and noting that the large military center close to the city of Pabrade, near the Belarus border, bears this general’s name. I guess it was safer to talk about Žukauskas’s role in the 1918-1919 Soviet-Lithuanian war than to say something meaningful about Hungary’s participation in these NATO exercises.

Otherwise, nothing. Except we learned from Csaba Hende, minister of defense, after his return from Vilnius that the small Hungarian contingent did fantastically well. Among the troops of the nine participating states the Hungarians were first “according to all indicators.” It is hard to know what kinds of “indicators” Hende is talking about. We don’t even know whether there was such a ranking. Sorry to be so skeptical, but for a long time now government statements have not been credible. Lacking outside verification, we cannot distinguish fact from fiction–and perhaps government officials can’t either.

62 comments

  1. It is the height of irresponsibility and likely a breach of NATO alliance secrecy for the Hungarian Minister of Defense to make public any statements — whether true or fabricated — about the relative readiness of national troops in an alliance exercise. I strongly suspect that many of the NATO member states have deep concerns about the reliability and commitment to alliance secrecy of their erstwhile Treaty partner, Hungary. In a potential conflict with Russia, what internal NATO information can be considered safe when in Hungarian hands?

  2. What’s next? Orban will try jump the the fence of the White House to see Obama? I want to tape it when he yells with two rotweilers hanging off his ass: “I want an interpreter!!!”

  3. Orbán does not care about NATO alliance, offending the Baltic States or the USA. The main thing is to remain godfather and to show those schmucks, who believe in him, that he is the smartest politician, who will lead the country with the help of Russia, China and Turkey to national glory.
    Those schmucks like to dream about Greater Hungary, they love the colorful uniforms, the symbols of national Grandeur. They do not care about those millions of Hungarians, who are very poor.
    In addition, Orbán and his ilk are telling them about the great world conspiracy against Hungary.
    And they believe it.

  4. Dear backbitters of my country, Hungary! You know, the God have eyes everywhere and he could see yours bad heart, and he know about yours dissoluted souls, he know what is yours object, what is yours purpose to make untrues, he know what is yous pourposes to make unfair pronouncements about our leader Orbán, who was choosinged in a legal and true ELECTION!
    This informations is injurious and insulting my country nation, disobliging my people!
    We are a tranquil people, we trusting in God and in true of our good feelings.
    Who have any snuff in Hungary, why he goes in USA to cry this snuff? Our problems we could resolv in Hungary, not in USA! USA have others problems to resolv, the suprimated blackman’s problem, for exemples. And not to say, that Obama is the president, and there be resolved the black man’s problem in USA!

  5. Karl Pfeifer Why you have your busines? What is your problem with my country, or my country’s leader Orbán?
    For exemple I could have a problem with your country, because may fathe’s brother was kiled the american bomb in the second World War, when he saved the Budapest’s walls.
    But, i know what is the honor to make for others nations, what you could not!

  6. Liliom, szégyellhetnéd a pofádat, ha volna egy kis becsület benned, szégyelhetnéd magad, hogy itt osztod az észt, és elárulod Magyarországot. Azt hiszed Amerikát érdekli a magyar nép élete? Amerikának meg van a maga baja, pl a színesbőrüek elnyomása, a szegény emberek jogainak semmibe vétele, az ellenzék sarokba szorítása, – mindez Amerika! legkisebb gondjuk is nagyobb a te problémádnál, csak, hogy tudd! Hazaáruló semmirekellők itt ássák alá Magyarország hírnevét. De szerencsére az amerikai emberek nem hülyék, tudják. hogy a hazaárulók semmi emberek!

  7. @Józsa János
    Government = country? Government = people?
    Since when?
    This blog is critical of the current Hungarian government. The author of it has never written anything negative about the Hungarian people or about Hungary.
    I recall that many people criticized the Hungarian government before 2010, in English as well as Hungarian, and nobody said they were criticizing Hungary or criticizing the Hungarian people.

  8. Thank you Józsa János, you have illustrated how one who believes in Orbán is thinking and writing.
    Please keep up the good work.

    Köszönöm Józsa János, Ön megmutatja hogy gondolkodik és hogy ir egy Orbánhivö.
    Kérem folytassa jó munkáját.

  9. Dear Dr. Balogh, it seems that the first link in your article is the victim of an url injection, likely by somebody whose “signature” you’ll recognize.

    It seems rather innocuous for the time being, but you might want to contact the support at wordpress.com.

  10. Well Jozsa Janos that was brilliant. I hope you were being ironic. Particularly the part about how we Hungarians believe in god (less than 50%). Keep up the good work and stick to reading Magyar Nemzet rather than intelligent blogs like Eva’s

  11. I’m a simple man, who is not a partyman, I have no an organization party, that to be theirs devoted brown-nosed, like you robert, or Karl, or Webber, Yes you’re the socialists or the liberalist’s cocksucker.
    My party is only the neighbours friend clique. And we have the right to say haw we wana ti live, and we not need yours opinion about tgat. WHO is living in USA is your busines how he wana to live, but … wr are thinking too that.
    Dear blackbitters of my country, you are may country’ enemy, you made the Orbán to won in every Election, because you make liying in USA and no one hav to vote for coutry enemies.
    Sok senkiházi Soros bérenc, hazaáruló majmok. Igen, a pénznek nincsen szaga, ti mindenre kaphatók vagytok!
    Azt hiszitek Amerika megoldja a ti problémátokat? Amerika nem fog szavazni a ti disznóságaitokra, minél több rágalmazást küldtök a világba, annál kevesebb az esélye annak, hogy Magyarországon a nép rátok szavazzon. Ti segítitek Orbánt a bársonyszékbe, ti vagytok Magyarország igazi ellenségei!

  12. Józsa János, I do not believe anymore that you are an Orbánbeliever. You hide under this good Hungarian name, but I presume, you are a Je….-Ro..-Ho……..-Leftwinger who wants to make fun of Orbán and his ilk. Shame on you, you want us to think that those who believe in Orbán are morons.

  13. Dear Pfeifer Karl, Is your right to belive in the things what you want to belive. But I’m not have itching ears for that.
    You are a libeller of my country Hungary, that is my problem about you.
    Be honest and take your mouth about may homland! It’s time to push off!
    I was educated to respect others states and others peoples.
    Shame on you, I say, to have busines in my life. My life is my busines, Our life is our bargainor.
    I respect your country, be good and make it too with my country, with my loved homeland.

  14. @Józsa János – I didn’t insult you. You insulted me. Why? We don’t know each other. You know nothing about me. You owe me an apology.
    As to your other comments, you can read articles criticizing the American government every day in the Hungarian press. Do you see Americans making comments like yours in reaction to such articles?

  15. P.S. If you don’t like what you’re reading here, why are you here? There’s a lot of other stuff to read on the net.

  16. dvhr! My answer is: I mean you and yours friends are the automatuos Orbán’s yellow jaundiced dogs in the manger!
    Yours pay down man is Soros György the multimilliarder from USA, who wana to have influence in Hungary, but the hungarian people is not fool, like many others peoples cheated by this man.

  17. Weber!
    Stop the untruth what you’re lying here and your friends too.
    Why !’m here?
    because you make wrong for my homeland in USA, stop your injourious activity and make your busines!
    Wer living is democracy and peace in Hungary, Don’t you lie! it is wrong to tell lkies!

  18. Hungary is on the verge of destruction. Only the Habsburg empire kept them alive. since the disintegration of the empire they are only walking towards the final disaster..
    To sum it up: Trianon, Bela Kun, Horthy and now Orban. Dependancy on some Attila like leader will be your end

  19. GW:

    I hope this was a rhetoric question and not a real one (thus I hope you are not so naive), because the answer is painfully obvious. No, the secrets would not be safe.

    The Russians penetrated the entire Hungarian state administration and no part is cheaper than the army and the defense ministry. At least within the ministries where big procurements are decided the various oligarch factions enforce silence and loyalty. There just isn’t such a disciplinarian at the Defense Ministry.

    I guess NATO knows it well too that there are just too many member states to keep secrets but especially the new member states, such as Hungary are unreliable.

    Look, Orban is on the payroll of Russia just as Ukraine’s leaders were for decades, why would anybody assume that the flow of information from Hungary would exclude military info?

    Is it perhaps because Orban still personally assures our “allies” and prime ministers of NATO don’t lie?? Muhahahahah.

  20. Kit érdekel ez debil tappancs?
    Itthon pofázz, ott mind mondhatod, a lőtéri kutyát nem érdekli! Tanulmányozd Amerika történelmét, az amerikai politikusok például a vasút építésénél sok ezer milliárd dollárt loptak, s kit érdekel ez? A nép lenyelte, mint minden disznóságot, mert le kell nyelnie, mást nem tehet. Amerikában minden második ember rendőr, vagy börtönőr, vagy civil nyomozó, biztonsági fegyveres vagy katona. A fél Amerika vigyáz a másik félre, ezt nevezitek ti demokráciának? Mindenki befogja a pofáját, mert ha pofázik kinyírják ott is!

  21. USA is a conqueror of the World, and the american goverment wana to have the World in theires hand, but there are unothers strogers peoples and will make stoping this invader mashination!

  22. Karl Pfeifer: “Shame on you, you want us to think that those who believe in Orbán are morons.”

    Józsa János’ language is not moronic. It is made up.in the style of Finnegans Wake.

  23. Whatever Orban’s hopes are in connection with the falling apart of Ukraine, and him obtaining parts of Kárpátalja — it will have to be a Russian deal.

    http://euromaidanpress.com/2014/11/26/kremlin-tried-to-create-a-new-peoples-republic-in-the-carpathians/

    I think this show clearly that Orban and his idiotic advisors are indeed being fed by ideas of getting back lost territories, which is the ultimate holy grail for right wing Hungarian politicians. They too love to dream, not just the fidesznik voters.

  24. I guess Janos Jozsa is not only a troll, but also a mentally unstable person, which by no means excludes the possibility that he works for the Hungarian government.

  25. Józsa has been removed from this list. The most outrageous thing about this guy that he lives in Romania from where he is defending Viktor Orbán’s Hungary.

  26. Thank you Eva. The Irish drinking song, “Bugger off,” seems appropriate for trolls, as a little parting gift. There’s a very nice version of the song on youtube, complete with lyrics for those whose English isn’t the best.

  27. For hungarian readers, today an excellent piece written by Richard Szentpeteri Nagy about the selective use of history. “Egy Magyar Hatalom” , starting with the words: A Magyar tarsadalom beteg.
    nepszava.hu

  28. @tappanch: I think it must be the same movie-shoot that made me think “snow?” as I walked towards the Műpa the other morning. Artificial snow, a row of Soviet flags outside the entrance, and for some reason what looked like a giant inflatable mattress filled with helium.

    As for Józsa János, I’m glad his comments are left standing though he’s been removed. They make interesting reading, but not in the way he intends. They’re interesting as evidence of how successful this foul identification of Hungary itself with the current government and the person of Orbán has progressed, so that an all-too-easy response to any criticism is the so-familiar “Oh, so you hate Hungary…”.

    Which reminds me of an interesting part of the interview with Eva (2nd part), where she mentioned the high quality of historical research being done during the latter Kádár years. When I heard this statement something clicked into place: which is that it’s difficult to engage with Hungary as a real place, in the face of this barrage of misinformation and abuse designed to eviscerate Hungary’s actual, real recent history. The picture we’re supposed to be looking at (frighteningly, even according to the Basic Law) is of a country whose history 1944?45?-1989 (or perhaps -2010) simply didn’t really happen; or really happened, but under such compromised conditions that the country is effectively left as a blank slate, ready to be rebuilt from nothing according to Orbán’s vision.

    Because 1945-2010 did actually occur, even in Hungary, which is real place with real history, this pretence becomes yet another discomfiting, power-sapping lie preventing any progress.

  29. Jozsa’s “bad English” IMHO was fake. No Hungarian would write like this. It was written by a Hungarian with good English. I’m sure it was an ordered troll attack, intentionally during Thanksgiving, so it may last longer.

    Btw, Jozsa (I’m sure he’s still reading this) “liliom” is American (it was me).

    I hope you get payed. If you need a signature on your timesheet before you fax it to the Hungarian propaganda ministry let us know.

  30. @Mutt

    re Jozsa

    You’re spot on: he’s a master troll…just something new to throw at the blog as there is quite
    a variation in ‘type’ of trolls. I might disagree with you on who’s controlling him–the Russians
    are just as likely (even more, due to their expertise) than the Hungarians.

    But, bottom line: it’s amazing how much attention is being given to this blog, no?

  31. “The most outrageous thing about this guy that he lives in Romania from where he is defending Viktor Orbán’s Hungary.”

    Was guessing it all along – even his Hungarian sounds strange sometimes. Otherwise I agree with Mutt and petofi, he used artificially distorted/wrong English. I know, I use the ‘original’ one 🙂

  32. My theory is that Lajos Simicska, the most feared and influential oligarch, will establish a new party because I think he fears Orban is losing it — both mentally and politically.

    Simicska will need legal protection and he wants to maintain his influence in any kind of new political setup (whenever that takes place) so he hedges himself.

    Nobody outside Orban can put him behind bars, there just isn’t tangible evidence but Simicska wants to prepare for even the unlikeliest scenario. Orban could jail Simicska but probably will not because Simicska knows too much.

    One should not underestimate the political present Orban received with the low oil price. Natural gas prices used to be linked to crude prices and in any case the low levels will help Orban in his negotiations with Putin. Moreover, people will spend more because gasoline and energy prices are lower, which shopping will make a lot of people happy. Though of course low gasoline prices mean lower excise/VAT tax income on gasoline which needs to be substituted with other taxes.

  33. Familiar to anyone?

    “Avi Primor, head of European studies at Tel Aviv University and a former Israeli ambassador to Germany and the European Union, acknowledged “the loss of European public opinion.”

    Still, many Israelis do not seem to care, Mr. Primor said — so “it does not change anything for the government,” which dismisses most criticism as anti-Semitic, and will not affect elections.

    “Public opinion in Israel has learned that international criticism does not hurt us,” he said. “Does this damage something? Bring sanctions? No. The dogs bark and the caravan moves on.””

  34. Józsa Jáno’s comments were worth reading angol vagy magyar. I am at our country home in northern Wisconsin for Deer hunting season and I can assure you all for the most part our Romanian Józsa is correct when he said America is not interested in Hungary. But even in rural America there is growing concern over Russia and when I discuss the real possibility that a nation which is formally part of NATO is becoming a Trojan Horse for Putin people listen intently, even drunken hunters who don’t know where Hungary is on a map.

    Everyone I hunt with is a US military veteran up here, and the idea that the United States has given military aid and training to a nation that is hedging its bets on NATO by playing up to Putin’s Russia doesn’t sit well with Americans once the situation is explained to them. Now I have to return to lamenting the fact that I have been sitting in a tree stand for several days and have never even taken the safety off my rifle because I have seen no Deer. There is one more day left in the season, let’s hope for the best.

  35. The Deer-Hunter

    I already had my doubts about “Istvan”‘s militaristic postings and stance. Now I won’t be reading any more of his posts at all, even diagonally. Someone who slays innocent, helpless creatures for pleasure (or “duty”) is not one to be heeded on questions of decency, truth or justice. But I guess some kinds of former soldier retain a lifelong need for some sentient creature to keep shooting at. It is a shame it comes with the feeling that it needs to be trumpeted in Hungarian Spectrum rather than just kept to odious snuff rags such as American Hunter.

  36. Gosh, Stevan… Don’t be so … Hungarian. How can we take you seriously if we can’t trust you to be on our side even if you don’t always like our hobbies?

  37. @Mutt: “Gosh, Stevan… Don’t be so … Hungarian. How can we take you seriously if we can’t trust you to be on our side even if you don’t always like our hobbies?”

    You can trust me to always take the side against anyone who makes a hobby (or a business) out of hurting innocent feeling beings, human or nonhuman. You can place your trust wherever you feel comfortable, and so can I.

    And, no, I don’t find this matter the least bit funny. It’s every bit as serious as the questions of justice in Hungary.

  38. Stevan, you may think that the wellbeing of the Ohio deer population is the same issue as the wellbeing of 9 million Hungarians in your birth country, but it’s not. Let me be more blunt: keep your other agenda out of this blog. Let’s fight one evil at a time. Together.

  39. @Mutt

    “…well-being of 9 million Hungarians…”?

    First things first: teach them about ethics and morality;

    Second, reform the Catholic church and remove their grimey paws from the education of the young.

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