The United States as enemy #1

Bálint Ablonczy, a journalist working for Heti Válasz, a pro-Fidesz publication, wrote a few days ago that “the idea of permanent revolution is not working anymore.” And yet the two most important players on the Hungarian political scene, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and János Lázár, his chief of staff, resolutely follow a strategy that is in Ablonczy’s opinion “no longer accepted by the voters.”

Most commentators agree that the prime minister is losing his sense of reality. They point out that the present course of action can result only in defeat and the further isolation of the country. After listening to Viktor Orbán’s latest outburst against the United States last night, I must join this chorus of critics. But before I go into some details of his warped view of the world, let me summarize his accusations against the United States, the country that, despite the fact that it is one of Hungary’s allies, is in his eyes solely responsible for his current political problems.

According to him, the United States’ allegation of corruption against certain Hungarian officials is nothing but “a cover story,” as “every thinking man knows.” The United States wants to gain leverage to increase its influence in the country. Currently a CIA operation is underway in Hungary. The United States is not only meddling in the internal affairs of the country but “is in fact an active political actor.” By this he means that the United States is organizing the demonstrations against his government. It’s trying to topple him.

The American interest in Eastern Europe is twofold. The Americans want to gain access to the energy market, and they want to have a commercial foothold in the region. The U.S. is “sore” because they wanted to build the Paks atomic power plant but Hungary chose Russia instead. And now Washington wants to drag Hungary into the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, but the Hungarian government wants to avoid a conflict that will lead to a new cold war. These charges are nonsense. The U.S. not sore because an American company didn’t get the contract to expand Paks, and it was not the United States that dragged Hungary into the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. Just the opposite. It was Viktor Orbán who positioned himself in the middle of the power play between Russia and the Western alliance.

By the way, after the appearance of the Lázár interview, I found only one reaction coming from an “unnamed official” of the State Department that was published by HVGThe State Department urges the Hungarian government to take into consideration “the domestic and foreign misgivings.” Washington would like “to continue a constructive dialogue … about those decisions that are related to the state of democracy and rule of law.” Surely, Orbán has no intention of following the Americans’ advice.

As a Hungarian cartoonist sees it

As a Hungarian cartoonist sees it

Turning back to Orbán’s interview, I want to highlight some points that weren’t picked up by the wire services. One was his emphasis on Hungary’s “innocence” and its “loneliness.” One could feel Orbán’s hurt when he said that “we have never harmed anyone” and yet we are badly treated. The attacks on us are unjustified. As for the “loneliness” theme, Orbán returned to the age-old Hungarian lament that “we are alone” in the world. There are the Slavs to the East and the “honest (derék)” Germans to the West. The only thing Hungarians have is the land “where they have always lived,” their language, and their culture.

Note the adjective “honest/derék” in front of “Germans.” We can see from this interview as well as Lázár’s that the new government strategy is to counterbalance the worsening U.S.-Hungarian relations with an increased reliance on Germany. Both men tried to portray Germany as a great friend of Russia. Orbán, who when talking about the United States declared that Hungary will not be a “colony,” two minutes later announced that Hungary is happily following the lead of Germany when it comes to foreign policy. It seems that Orbán is hoping that Germany will ride to its rescue and mediate between Washington and Budapest. After all, since Germany has had its problems with the U.S. and since it is such a good friend of Russia, Hungary should benefit from German mediation.

As far as the Hungarian political leadership knows, Angela Merkel is still planning to visit the Hungarian capital in February. Dávid Trencséni, a journalist for Stop, put it bluntly: Berlin is “Orbán’s last hope.”

Berlin may be Orbán’s last hope but it may also have been partly responsible for his woes with the U.S. He’s been able to get his way most of the time in the European Union, thanks in large part to the German Christian Democrats. Both Fidesz and the Christian Democrats belong to the European People’s Party, a party that stands by its members even when they behave outrageously. By contrast, Orbán has no political ally in the United States. Both Republicans and Democrats condemn Orbán’s illiberal state and his pro-Russian policies.

And finally a few oddities that run through both interviews. Hungary must be respected because it has a thousand-year-old history. Well, Egypt has a much longer one, so should I respect the current Egyptian government? Hungary in the past was successful only when it was independent. Well, actually the opposite is true. The period between 1867 and 1914 when the country was part of Austria-Hungary is considered to be the golden age of modern Hungarian history. Then there are claims that merit no comment. For instance, even Hungary’s enemies have to admit that Hungary has been a success story in the last five years. All the decisions Orbán’s government made were the right ones. Economically, every year was better than the one before. Hungary is a strong country that has weight and “will take an active part in this new era.” Well, maybe these claims do merit comment after all: Who unlocked the gates of the asylum?


  1. tim
    December 26, 2014 at 8:50 am
    “language I don’t tolerate and therefore I will no longer accept comments”

    That is some real Christmas spirit. Nothing like censorship and limitation of speech to brighten the mood.

    You do realize that this is Eva’s Blog? Meaning that no one is advertises on her blog, and she does not receive money for her work here (the government that keeps MN and MH alive , so you can see where that leads Hungary).
    No, she does not have to lend free speech to people who barge into her blog and call people names. It is her blog, on a public site. (If someone rings your doorbell, and start to shout profanities at your guests’ faces, would you invite them in? I did not think so.)
    What kind of Christmas spirit you have to run in here, just to tell the rightful owner of this blog how to run her business? Do you want any different? Start your own blog, and if you are lucky it will turn out like the comment section of Magyar Hirlap. Maybe even Zsolt Bayer publish a thing or two that you can read up to your family on Christmas Eve.

  2. It would be my suggestion to the EU, to create a travel ban list of RT type Hungarians.

    They antagonize every civilized people.

  3. bambiAn interesting factoid is that only 42% of the Hungarian population have trust in the judiciary.

    Actually, it’s not so bad compared with the Czech Rep. (36) Slovakia (25) or even Spain (25) & Italy (33).

    What may be slightly worrying is the flat trend over the last 10 years:

    Compare with Poland (obviously the Poles started at the bottom, however …):

  4. Here’s the source for those interesting graphs – 217 pages of very interesting stats (Questions and answers in French, English and German):

    Click to access eb82_anx_en.pdf

    Enough material for analysis …
    The first page is already revealing: Are you fairly or even very satisfied with your life – 90% of Germans are, EU average is 79% – for Hungarians the number is just 64% …
    Funnily enough Italy comes out at 65% – maybe the mafia?

  5. @Mike Balint
    “So how about starting to refer to Orbán the Victor as the Hungary’s own King Stubbornovsky the Last (a.k.a. Good King Nogoodnik)?”

    The last couple of days I was wondering about, what would be Sacha Baron Cohen’s take on the Orbanian Hungary, where he would even find statues of one of his characters, shaven and disguised as Admiral 🙂

    The next question naturally was just how the Great BolsheViktor would react!
    I guess war would be inevitable, – perhaps in alliance with Moldova or/and Kazakhstan he would surely invade those infidels overseas, to teach them a thing or two in the process :)))

  6. @Gabor: What I mean is that as someone politically active in both countries, highly critical of the Orbán government and also not a huge fan of some practices of the US foreign conduct, I can’t stop criticize what I don’t like in one to be able to more effectively argue against the other.

    The Isaias issue does not make Ildiko Vida a tad bit less corrupt, but it does damage the credibility of the US on utilizing travel bans as penalization tool. Idolization of the US does not do good to any point we are trying to make here, not to mention that we would be fooling ourselves as well.

  7. @Mrozek: The Isaias case is more than just about work Visa violation, you will find the details in the NYT article. Even if it was, the principle that is violated here (being able to buy yourself out of Visa bans) is outrageous and cannot be swept under the rug. As I wrote to Gabor, I am politically active in both countries so it does matter to me what happens in Washington as well.

  8. I am posting from Canada, so I can take the long view on Hungary and its current ‘troubles’ with the Americans’ ‘strategic interests’ ( so nicely put by Sen. McCain ).
    It follows the same pattern, except may be a little more succint than what the Yanks have always been doing elsewhere; in Guatemala, Grenada, Cuba, Nicaragua, Honduras, Panama, Chile, Argentina, Greece, Portugal, Italy, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Libya, Iraq, Angola, Iran, Congo, just to name a few.
    If open warfare is not an option, or not practical, there comes the ‘loosening’, the NGO’s, media attacks and sowing of discontent among the population, that hopefully will rise and change the regime, bringing ina US-servant.
    Just as in Ukraine, the American charge d’affaires is front and centre in everything, marches with the demonstrators, holding media ‘audiences’ in clear violation of diplomatic conventions.
    Like it or not, the United States IS enemy #1. And not only for Hungary.

  9. Paul Angyal: “Like it or not, the United States IS enemy #1.”

    Just as the warden of the asylum is the inmate’s enemy #1.

Comments are closed.