Szabolcs Kerék-Bárczy’s open letter to American-Hungarian leaders

Today I would like to share a letter written by Szabolcs Kerék-Bárczy and addressed to three American-Hungarians active in Hungarian affairs–Maximilian Teleki, Frank Koszorús, Jr., and Eugene Megyesy.

Szabolcs Kerék-Bárczy began his career as secretary to Prime Minister József Antall’s chief-of-staff. During the socialist-liberal government of Gyula Horn he attended Harvard University and received his master’s degree from the John F. Kennedy School of Government. After Viktor Orbán won the election in 1998 he returned to the prime minister’s office as chief-of-staff of István Stumpf, the minister in charge of the office. Between 1999 and 2001 he was adviser to the foreign ministry. Between 2001 and 2004 he served as Hungarian consul in Los Angeles. Later he served in various capacities in the Ibolya Dávid-led MDF until 2010. He describes himself as a liberal conservative. Currently he is a member of the presidium of the Democratic Coalition (Demokratikus Koalíció).

Szabolcs Kerék-Bárczy

Szabolcs Kerék-Bárczy

Maximilian Teleki is the president of the Hungarian American Coalition, which describes itself as a politically independent group standing up for Hungarian interests in the United States. In fact, the Coalition is closely associated with the Hungarian right and with defenders of Viktor Orbán and his policies. The same can be said about The American Hungarian Federation, whose president is Frank Koszorús, Jr. Koszorús just received high honors from the Orbán government. The third recipient is Eugene Megyesy, an environmental lawyer who used to be associated with the Colorado law firm Dufford and Brown. Formerly he was honorary general consul of Hungary in the region. Currently he is an adviser to Viktor Orbán.

It was only yesterday that Teleki, who by the way does not speak Hungarian, defended Viktor Orbán and questioned the United States’s right to criticize “democratic developments” in other countries. And, he continued: “Can our wisdom override the will of the people?” He is deeply ashamed of the superficiality of American politics and media when it comes to judging Orbán’s Hungary. He is deeply disappointed, and his trust in “our leaders has been shaken.”

Judging from Maximilian Teleki’s reaction, I doubt that he or any of his fellow American-Hungarians will take to heart Szabolcs Kerék-Bárczy’s request “to live up to the democratic heritage you cherish in America.” 

* * *

Mr. Maximilian Teleki
President
Hungarian American Coalition

Mr. Frank Koszorús, Jr.
President
The American Hungarian Federation

Mr. Eugene Megyesy
Senior Advisor to Prime Minister Viktor Orbán
Former Honorary Consul General of Hungary in Colorado

 

Budapest, December 4, 2014

Dear Messrs. Presidents,
Dear Max, Frank and Gene,

As you are aware several senior Hungarian individuals have recently been banned from the USA by the application of Presidential Proclamation 7750. This is an absolutely shocking and unprecedented action within the transatlantic community because it means that a) the US government considers persons close to the Hungarian government a direct threat to US national security and b) the US administration supposes that these individuals would not be persecuted for their alleged unlawful activity in Hungary. By this the US government says nothing less than Hungary is not a democracy because in a democracy illegal activities are investigated and punished.

The application of PP 7750 was preceded by other worrying events. Formerly President Obama stated that “from Hungary to Egypt, endless regulations and overt intimidation increasingly target civil society”. President Bill Clinton was even more straightforward when he said in the US Daily Show that Mr. Orbán was an admirer of “authoritarian capitalism” and never wanted to leave power. “Usually those guys just want to stay forever and make money” he added. This week Senator John McCain called Mr. Orbán “a neo-fascist” leader and he also stated: “Prime Minister Orban has justified his actions by calling for a new state model based on ‘illiberal democracy,’ but his vision defies the core values of the European Union and NATO. Please note that nobody attacks Hungary or the Hungarian people, only certain concrete actions of the Hungarian government! While one may consider the plentiful critical and even harsh journalistic statements that have appeared in the international media partial or exaggerating, similar statements by senior US officials must be taken seriously. Because all of us are sure that US presidents, the secretary of state and congressmen are interested in nothing else but the stability of the transatlantic alliance, the spread of liberal democracy and the prosperity of our community.

If all of this is true we must seriously analyze the facts that led our American friends arrive to the above mentioned conclusions. These facts have been published widely in the past four years. For example, Secretary Hillary Clinton referred to these some time ago and several official documents reflect US concerns. The US administration has always been consistent: they observed problems, consulted with relevant Hungarian authorities and officials, made statements when repeated consultations did not produce results and then acted. The US concerns regarding the measures of the Hungarian government (e.g. the slow abolishment of checks and balances, curtailment of the freedom of press and civil liberties, structural corruption, fight against free market economy etc.) naturally result in actions. Responding to these concerns the Hungarian government has always been cynical and aggressive and no progress has been made in order to improve democratic processes and transparency in the country. In fact, from a democratic point of view, the situation in Hungary has deteriorated dramatically in the past few years.

Dear Friends,

Knowing you for ages and being aware of your commitment to liberal democratic values, I ask you where you stand on these concrete issues? This is time to be explicit and no dubious speech is accepted. You have helped the opposition of the dictatorship before 1990 and contributed significantly to the democratic changes twenty-five years ago. I am sure we share the same values and that is why I am very concerned that you are silent about the Orbán government’s activities. A lot of people call you friends of Hungary and they wait for you to speak up for everything Viktor Orbán and Fidesz is fighting against: freedom of speech, religion, enterprise, and transatlantic principles. We Hungarian democrats and proud patriots want to get ever closer to the West where our sovereignty can be complete: we know that there is no alternative for us to the EU and NATO and anybody who challenges these organizations is against both Hungarian and US interests. We also want to live in a regulated but free market economy that is based upon stability, security and trust, the rule of law, the respect of private property and equal opportunities. We refuse any discrimination among persons because we believe in the unquestionable respect of human dignity.

I respectfully ask you to live up to the democratic heritage you cherish in America, your Hungarian roots as well as your distinguished and well applauded accomplishments in the Hungarian-American community. Please, make clear that your friends are Hungarian democrats no matter what party they represent, if at all, and your foes are those, regardless of their party affiliations, who tear down the firm wall between democracy and dictatorship. Let us join forces and make a common statement in which we 1) confirm our commitment to liberal democracy, free market economy and our transatlantic community, and 2) condemn any attempts that weaken or demolish these ideals: our common ideals we have been fighting for on both sides of the Atlantic.

I look forward to your response.

With kind regards,

Szabolcs Kerék-Bárczy
Member of the Presidium of Democratic Coalition

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65 comments

  1. Count Albert Johannes Maria Csekonics de Zsombolya and Janova – is a long name, and good parody…..

    our blog friend, petofi is definitely right, even if a real count want to argue with.

    orban and the nobility are piling crimes upon crimes, with astonishing speed.

    The Karolyi guy wanted to move Hungary towards the West, and the best thing is to denounce our McCain stained dear leader. Instead of this, the guy crawled into the Paris embassy seat.

  2. @Count Albert Johannes Maria Csekonics de Zsombolya and Janova (sounds as if you abbreviated it a bit?)

    Very nice – this reminds me of an old German joke. One woman says:

    My new friend is a Graf (count) – he has titles “von” and “zu” …
    Her friend answers: I know, I have similar problems – my friend is “auf” and “davon” …
    For those who don’t understand German: auf und davon means up and away …

  3. @Count Albert Johannes Maria Csekonics de Zsombolya and Janova

    Sir, you said that “Mr. Prime Minister Viktor Orban, just as a humble Christian servant of our nation should, honors those entitlements.” – would you mean by any chance that he honors those entitlements as any peasant should nobility, anyway?

    As you, Sir, certainly aware of the most humble, – let say – ‘proletarian’ origin of “Mr.” Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, not to mention his communistic upbringing and present day mixed, bolshevik / nationalsocialist ideological stance, respecting nobility isn’t really belong to his virtues.
    Actually, I have serious doubts that the expression ‘respect someone else’ ever surfaced in his mind during his existence, you see.

    Back to your expression Sir, when you mention “humble Christian servant of our nation” you certainly mistaken a megalomaniac atheist servant of Russian interest – the name Viktor Orbán – with someone else, so I kindly ask you to check your facts beforehand next time – it will save you quite a bit of embarrassment, it really will.

    Thank you in advance!

  4. @Geza Kmetty
    Thank you for your valuable comment!
    One correction, though, those aren’t 40, rather 40.000 thieves what you’ve mentioned…

  5. Another Looney Tune Brain fart:
    http://www.mccaininstitute.org/about/donor-listing/
    December 7, 2014, Stamford

    Dear Senator McCain,

    By calling Viktor Orban the Prime Minister of Hungary a ”neo-fascist dictator”, you have insulted not only the voters of Hungary, – who twice elected him with overwhelming majorities -, but you have also insulted the 1.5 million Hungarian-Americans who care about the reputation and good name of their „old country”. The nation that has mortally wounded Communism in 1956 would not have deserved this outburst even if it was true! But it is not! It is an absolute lie, the PM of Hungary is no more a „dictator” than President Obama and no more a „fascist” as you are!

    In Central Europe in the last 25 years: „Out went the tanks and in came the banks!” How did this happen? In occurred, because no ruling class ever gives up their privilages voluntarily, nor did the Communists. They simply declared themselves „democrats”, „privatized” (sold) the previously nationalized industries to foreign corporations. These „new democrats” got rich by pocketing their comissions while the new owners closed the plants they purchased and turned the region into a market. Today, the children of these „new democrats” are trying to use the Western media to defame their own nation, topple the freely elected government while attempting to regain power.

    Does all this justify the „cozying up to Putin? No it does not! But does such a blunder justify an American Senator to say that the Hungarian voters are electors of a neo-fascist dictator? It does not either! The Hungarians reject both Viktor Orban’s cozying up to Putin and also reject your insults and deserve an apology from both of you.

    Béla Lipták
    Former Adjunct Professor of
    Yale University

  6. re Bela Liptak…

    Let’s not be too impressed with Mr. Liptak’s post of “Adjunct Professor”….which is nothing more than a person teaching a part-time course at a university, usually at a paying rate of $1,000-$4,000 per semester; or, in other words, practically a ‘volunteer’ post.

    Mr. (Professor!) Liptak is an engineer, plain and simple, but true-blue, dyed-in-the-wool Hungaricoes have always been enamored of titles and “Professor” is one of their favorites.

    So, Mr. Liptak–apologist for all things Hungarian–explain to me why no Hungarian official has ever seen fit to explain why the good Hungarians of 1944 decided to send 600,000 jews to the gas chambers when the Nazis asked for 100,000?

  7. For all those who doubt Mrs Merkel’s position re Russia:
    She used strong words again against Putin’s activities not only in Ukraine!
    http://www.welt.de/print/welt_kompakt/article135122670/Merkel-erhebt-neue-Vorwuerfe-gegen-Putin.html
    She also critizised her predecessors Kohl and Schröder (who once said: Putin is a clear democrat – but also takes money from Gazprom) for their leniency. These two elder statesmen are regularly quoted by Fidesz etc for their position re Russia.

  8. Is Liptak lying when he says that Hungarians voted for Orbán twice with “overwhelming majorities”, or does he really believe that? I would not call 53% of the vote “overwhelming”, and 44% is not even a majority, but a plurality. That’s just among those who bothered to vote.

  9. So here’s the thing:
    An election is coming up and you have a choice: vote against the government and have your city face chronic shortages; be deprived of funds; have the city government in gridlock for years;
    lose the lights of the city…etc. etc. etc……in other words, THE LESSONS OF ESZTERGOM…is
    not lost on the mentally-challenged Hungarians of that sad-sack country. “So, ” they, the citizens, say, “I guess we have no choice but to vote for Fidesz….”

    How many of these explanations do spectrum-trolls need before they stop with this, “…winning of three elections by grand majorities…” gaff comes to a stop?

  10. Bela Liptak has not recognized the depth of failures and faults of Orban yet.

    Nevertheless, Bela is the sweetest and most noble Hungarian. He is not the enemy.

    Let us love each other for ever.

  11. @Eva, My observation regarding “Communism in Hungary” !!
    In ’56 the country was more “anti communist” than the current population. I blame the Kadar regime’s artificially pumping up the living standards (with huge loans from the World Bank) that is still the measurement of “good old times” in the heads of many. They don’t want communism, but believe that what Kadar did was “real” and maybe Orban can do the same. Believing in the “almighty” power of government is still in their head. Democracy is just a word for them, without connection to personal responsibilities, individual rights, checks and balances, etc. Collectivism is the name of the game for the masses…individualism is harder to sell. The opposition have not even tried to turn their heads on to believing in their own citizenship rights and responsibilities. You are right Eva! In a weird way, Communism is still alive in Hungary!!

  12. Dear Count Albert Johannes Maria Csekonics de Zsombolya and Janova,

    Forebears might perhaps be done more honour if this occasion were not used to tout embarassingly elongated titles and tellingly insouciant political mésalliances.

    Your faithful vassal,

    Hernád István
    Canada Research Chair in Cognitive Sciences, UQÀM
    External Member, Hungarian Academy of Sciences

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