The world according to László Kövér

Just when I think that Viktor Orbán and his fellow politicians must have exhausted their inventory of outrageous pronouncements comes another shocker. This time László Kövér, president of the Hungarian parliament and the third most important dignitary of the country after the president and the prime minister, decided to share his grievances and accusations. His message was intended for the Fidesz faithful, but soon it will reach Hungary’s allies from Washington to Brussels. I don’t think they will be pleased.

I guess the Fidesz leadership wants to make sure that everybody understands the Hungarian position, and therefore they must repeat their shrill message at least three times: first János Lázár, then Viktor Orbán, and now László Kövér. Although the underlying message remains the same, each repetition reflects the personality of the speaker. Kövér is perhaps our best source on the thinking of Viktor Orbán and the members of his closest circle. And what we find there is frightening–a completely distorted view of the world and Hungary’s place in it.

The basic outline is old hat by now: the United States wants to rule the European Union and is currently trying to teach Putin’s Russia a thing or two. Hungary is only a pawn in this game, but the United States is still trying to influence political developments in the country. Therefore, the most urgent task of the Orbán government is to retain the sovereignty of the Hungarian state. Also they “must assure the nation’s survival.” Their paranoia, they would argue, is grounded in reality.

The charge of American interference is based on a speech by Sarah Sewell, U.S. undersecretary for civilian security, democracy, and human rights, in which she stated that “addressing corruption is tough, but we are using a range of tools – and often working with other states and international institutions – to encourage and assist anti-corruption activity. At the State Department, our Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement works on corruption along with our bureaus that handle economics, energy, and human rights, and together State collaborates with USAID, Treasury, the Department of Justice, Interior, and Commerce – each of which brings specialized tools to the table.” For the Fidesz leaders this means direct interference in the internal affairs of East European countries. Kövér even suspects that the Americans had a hand in the recent election of Klaus Johannis as Romania’s president.

As far as U.S.-Hungarian relations are concerned, Hungary shouldn’t even try “to make the Americans love [them].” They must find other allies in the countries of Central Europe. The Slovaks and the Romanians shouldn’t put “the Hungarian question,” which for Kövér means “their phobia,” at the top of their agenda. They should think about their common fate. “Our goal should be emancipation within the framework of the European Union.”

Source: Magyar Hírlap / Photo Péter Gyula Horváth

Source: Magyar Hírlap / Photo: Péter Gyula Horváth

According to Kövér, the United States was always partial to the left. In 1990 U.S. Ambassador Mark Palmer ( 1986-1990) “favored the SZDSZ politicians” while Donald Blinken (1994-1997) during the Horn-Kuncze administration “sent exclusively negative information home about the activities of all the opposition parties.” He didn’t even want to meet the opposition leaders because he didn’t consider them to be human beings. To be fair, Kövér mentioned a few “good ambassadors.” For example, Charles Thomas (1990-1994), Peter Tufo (1997-2001), George H. Walker (2003-2006), April Foley (2006 and 2009), and Eleni Tsakopoulos Kounalakis (2010-2013) “at least as long as the State Department didn’t discipline her.” Every time there was a right-wing government the United States found “problems that should be solved.”

Until recently the Americans only wanted a simple change of government if they were dissatisfied with the one in power. But lately they have been thinking of “a complete elite change.” Their favorite was always the liberal SZDSZ and when it ceased to exist they supported LMP (Lehet Más a Politika/Politics Can Be Different). Then the U.S. supported Gordon Bajnai, who “became the Americans’ new favorite.” Now that Bajnai is gone “the new season of the soap opera will open.”

According to Kövér, the U.S. at the moment is looking for new faces in the crowd of “hired demonstrators” or perhaps they just want to maintain the constant tension so that “at the appropriate moment they can come up with a new Bajnai.” But surely, he continued, sane advisers to the U.S. government cannot possibly think that a new political elite can be created by 2018 that will be capable of governance. Perhaps their goal is to fill the place of the defunct SZDSZ with a new party that would be able to tip the balance of power in favor of the minority. This worked very well in the past when a small party, SZDSZ, managed to pursue a policy that was to the liking of the United States by blackmailing MSZP.

At this point the reporter interjected an observation: “But Jobbik did not exist then.” Yes, that’s true, Kövér answered, but the alleged American scheme would still work. Jobbik has gained some ground lately, but when Jobbik is stronger, more and more unacceptable, more and more considered to be anti-Semitic and racist and therefore cannot be considered to be a coalition partner, “it will be easy to patch together a coalition government on the other side in which perhaps Fidesz could also participate with its own weight. The important thing is that no government could be formed without the post-SZDSZ against Jobbik.”

I think this paragraph deserves closer scrutiny. As I read it, the most important consideration of the United States, according to Kövér, is to smuggle back a post-SZDSZ that would be, as SZDSZ was, a liberal party. To this end, the U.S. would make sure that Jobbik will grow and will be such an extremist party that Fidesz couldn’t possibly pick it as a coalition partner. Therefore, Fidesz would be forced to join MSZP and a second SZDSZ in an unnatural cooperation with the left. This post-SZDSZ would shape government policy to the great satisfaction of the United States of America. Although I don’t think it was Kövér’s intention, he unwittingly revealed in this statement that Fidesz might be so weakened in the coming years that it would have to resort to a coalition government with Jobbik.

Finally, a side issue that has only domestic significance. Here I would like to return to Kövér’s accusation of American manipulation in the formation of LMP. The party, currently led by András Schiffer and Bernadett Szél, has steadfastly refused any cooperation with the other democratic opposition parties. Therefore, the party’s leadership has been accused of working on some level with Fidesz because their “independence” was beneficial only to Viktor Orbán. András Schiffer’s refusal to have anything to do with the other opposition parties led to a split in the party in November 2012. Out of the sixteen LMP parliamentary members only seven remained faithful to Schiffer; the others joined Gordon Bajnai’s “Together” party. According to house rules at the time, a party needed twelve seats to form a caucus. The Fidesz majority was most obliging and changed the rules. LMP could have its own caucus with only seven members. The nine who left, on the other hand, had to be satisfied with the status of independents.

From the very beginning, the suspicion has lingered that Fidesz might have been involved in some way in the formation of LMP as a separate party. Now we learn from Kövér’s indiscretion that “the current politicians of LMP, until the split in the party, wouldn’t believe us when we explained to them why the Americans were supporting them. Then they suddenly realized how those who left the party in 2012–who were sent there in the first place–interpreted the phrase ‘politics can be different.’ They stood by Gordon Bajnai, who was the favorite of the Americans.” Thus Fidesz was in close contact with András Schiffer and warned him that his party was being infiltrated by “American agents.”

Kövér admits in this interview that “we, Hungarians, have never been any good when it came to diplomacy,” but now the Hungarian leadership thinks that their foreign policy strategy will be successful. They should make no overtures to the United States, in fact, they should turn sharply against Washington and instead rely on Germany. After all, Kövér is convinced that U.S.-German relations are very bad as a result of American spying on German politicians, including Angela Merkel. If Hungary keeps courting the Germans, perhaps Berlin will take Hungary’s side on the Russian question. Some friends think that Viktor Orbán may just be successful in pitting Germany against the United States. I, on the other hand, doubt such an outcome despite the fact that at the moment the European Union is very restrained in its criticism of Hungary.

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37 comments

  1. Spot on.

    Two important points to repeat, both of which were completely overlooked by other commentators.

    1. Fidesz is planning for a scenario in which it will govern with Jobbik.

    2. Fidesz – in a kind of advisory function – had (has) been in constant ‘negotiations’ with LMP and particularly András Schiffer.

  2. Hired demonstrators?

    Maybe Kover referred to the demonstrators Fidesz hired in 2006. The same people Fidesz hired to attack university students at the Fidesz headquarters at a peaceful demonstration. The people who Fidesz keeps rehiring are the likes of Sz. Ferenc, who prior killing his boss and receiving a ten year sentence, lived his life as an illegal money collector. http://hvg.hu/itthon/20130308_Illegalis_penzbehajto_gyilkossag_szferenc
    A classified US embassy cables, which originated at the embassy in Budapest in 2007 and released by wikileaks (that even Janos Lazar adores!)
    “With the recent release of a lengthy report on the fall demonstrations which highlights FIDESZ’s links to the violent protestors (ref b), their latest act of “civil disobedience” will likely underscore questions regarding their commitment to the rule of law. Much as we saw Viktor Orban at his best in a recent meeting with Ambassadors (ref a), this escapade shows that he is still equally liable to play with fire. End Comment.

    Foley”
    http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/media-law-outrage-hungary-s-orbanization-is-worrying-europe-a-736706.html

    Also, let us not forget how Viktor Orban just LOVED to work with the USA when he wanted their support to win against the Socialists.

    Or maybe Kover is thinking of the extras Fidesz regularly hires when Orban speaks, so there would be someone cheering an clapping. It cost a piddly 1.5 million forints in 2011 for the MArch 15 celebrations.
    http://nol.hu/belfold/1_25_millioba_kerultek_az_orban-statisztak-1014481

    It is also possible that Kover thinks of the Peace Marchers. The mobile text costs a fortune to send out. THe “civil” movement’s organizer, Laszlo Csizmadia is a Fidesz member. It is well documented how Fidesz paid for transport and food for those who were willing to march against the European Union.
    http://www.stop.hu/m/kommentek/?forum_topics_id=443927&database_name=articles&database_id=1121420&forum_forbidden=0&no_results_total=173&lstresults=10

  3. In “normal” countries Kövér would come right after Ader in protocol ranking. Orbán would be third or even lower. But perhaps they changed that, too. And we all know it doesn’t matter a wee bit.

    US policy (domestic and foreign) is in a terrible mess right now. So watch out for the book Deep State by Michael Lofgren, but don’t expect anything sensational to happen anywhere. Despite NSA and everything else, the U S of A is going isolationist again. After the deal with Cuba, they may become more Pan-Am. But even that isn’t sure.

    The real problem is: They have no one left to understand the trans-Atlantic relationship or anything for that matter. Kissinger is an old man, but they don’t listen to him. When Kerry (with some Hungarian background, as I understand) announced that he would get a deal between Israel and Palestine in nine month I almost ate my carpet laughing.

    These people are so uninformed (stupid?), it makes me cringe.

  4. Minusio you are in a dream state. With a Republican Congress there will be a push for a far more agressive foreign policy stance at least towards Russia, China is a more complex question. President Obama is now a lame duck and he will be forced to agree to increased military spending and some reductions in social welfare expenditures. While I have great reservations about funding increased military expenditures via cuts to domestic programs, it is more than obvious to the US military and foreign service we now have Putin on what could be called the ropes to use a boxing analogy.

    We need to finish him off and get done with this chapter of history of agressive Russian expansion. At least from this side of the Alantic we could not see the likely evolution of US foreign policy much differently than Minussio seems to or than the propagandists at Russia Today claim it to be. Cuba is not a significant player in any of this and soon the historic leadership of the Cuban Communist party will have passed from the scene and a younger more pragmatic leadership,will replace it. The USA is simply preparing for this transition by its reestablishment of diplomatic relations. There are even Republicans that agree with this change in policy.

    I think having just returned from Hungary that Hungarians need to think a lot more about the realities of Hungary than the world of great power politics that will not be impacted by a nation with such a small militariy and that is economically so weak. The entire Hungarian Air Force consists of no more than 3,500 personnel with only 14 combat ready fighter aircraft, and 6 non-combat helicopters. Even the Romanian Air Force will be massively larger than the Hungarian Air Force by the end of 2016.

    All of this bluster by Orban about the importance of Hungary in relation to the western conflict with the Russian Federation is a form of mental illness in my opinion. Kover has a nice mustashe and that is about it, better he concern himself with palinka production than world politics.

  5. Kover: But surely, he continued, sane advisers to the U.S. government cannot possibly think that a new political elite can be created by 2018 that will be capable of governance.

    And he believes that his political elite governance is competent?

    Btw this anti-US talk is “recently”, I believe since Hillary Clinton had a talk with VO back in June 2011. At that time it started and the by Eva analyzing this situation and conclusion is spot on.

    https://hungarianspectrum.wordpress.com/2011/06/30/hillary-clintons-visit-to-budapest/

  6. “Although I don’t think it was Kövér’s intention, he unwittingly revealed in this statement that Fidesz might be so weakened in the coming years that it would have to resort to a coalition government with Jobbik.”

    This, I believe is the first revelation, albeit in an obtuse manner, by any high Fidesz dignitary of the fact, one that most sane people already know in Hungary, that Fidesz is preparing for a coalition with Jobbik after the next election. The only way to prevent that is to build an opposition which is homogeneous, numerous and is resting on a base that can counter the extreme right. I didn’t feel that Kövér implied that the US is building up Jobbik in order to make it impossible for Fidesz to form a coalition with it, but nowadays any insane inference is possible, so perhaps I missed this one.

    The craziest notion currently, I feel, from the Fidesz ideologues is the one about Germany. They are thrashing about for allies all over the place: first the East wind, then our neighbours, and then Germany. Obviously the mention of our own region, which surprised me, can and should be taken as a warning to them, which will be ignored, but the insanity to think that such a dominant power as Germany would fall out with the US, bite the hand that feeds it, on account of piddling little Hungary, is insanity itself. They are misreading Angela Merkel, who is on record having a scathing opinion of Orbán. She is cleverly balancing Germany’s and the EU’s interests between the major powers and the idiot thinks that the lack of sharp rebuke, in the vein of the US, means that she is an ally.

    Finally, Kövér’s mention of the rentamob is laughable. A classic case of judging others by your own pitiful standards. I think they are really frightened. They can see the qualitative change in the current membership of demonstrations. Their lackey media outlets have already started trying to besmirch the recent demonstrators. I read yesterday a so called “study” that “proved” that the demonstrators are always the same, only the banners and slogans change. Ie: implying that they are paid ones. The best form of defence is attack. They have lived by this for ages, but it is no longer working. It is quickly spotted what they are doing and that is reflected in the panic that all three of them (Lázár, Orbán and Kövér) displayed recently. The opposition should take hart from these pronouncements. They are on the backfoot, let us push them further and further back until they fall off their own, self-built precipice!

  7. “Ich möchte was darum geben, genau zu wissen, für wen eigentlich die Taten getan worden sind, von denen man öffentlich sagt, sie wären für das Vaterland getan worden.”
    Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

    The German philosopher Lichtenberg wanted to know for whom all those deeds were done that people say they did it for the homeland.

  8. Today, it is almost, but not quite 2015.

    While Kövér and Fidesz always plan for many years ahead and for many scenarios Kövér underestimates the length of time until the April 2018 elections (they used to be held in May, by the way, only Fideszniks with the help of László Sólyom brought them earlier and now April is the new normal).

    I think Kövér’s biggest issue with Jobbik is not that they will have to work together (they are working together in several municipalities) but such cooperation – Kövér thinks at the moment – couldn’t be totally open in the form of a coalition and it’s just a lot of hassle to maintain an outside help.

    In other words, only the extremist *image* and not the content of Jobbik which may prevent Fidesz from forming a coalition with Jobbik.

    Jobbik, however, has been shedding its extremist image and will continue to do so going forward.

    Sure, Jobbik still operates several crazily anti-semitic, anti-roma home pages, facebook pages, but for the masses it’s becoming not only mainstream (Jobbik as a second most popular party is de facto mainstream), but almost decent, presentable.

    Have Jobbiks MPs been openly anti-semitic or racist in the last 12 months? I’m not so sure.

    Crazy yes, fervently pro-Russian yes, but Lazar-Orban-Kövér also spread crazy, tin foil, pro-Russian ideas.

    The Russians, however, are working in the background smartly building Jobbik up and they will have a few surprises for Orban too.

  9. Jobbik hasn’t shed its extremist image. It just objects when it’s called extremist or neo-fascist.
    I am quite sure Fidesz will be ready to form a coalition with Jobbik in 2018 in the unlikely circumstance that that proves necessary to form a government (unlikely because of election laws).
    I am not so sure that Jobbik would form a coalition with Fidesz. The Jobbik people I have met hate Fidesz as much as if not more than people on the left.

  10. That Orban and crew expect Merkel and Germany to act for them against the United States (now that Russia is in economic trouble) is just another example of their servile mentality and complete lack of understanding of international politics. They run from one patron to another without stopping to ask themselves why any country would want to lift a finger for the Fidesz government. What do they have to offer?
    Since they have taxed and attacked so many German corporations (Lidl, Interspar, Aldi, Deutsche Telecom, to name just a few), and given Merkel’s resolute stance against Russia, I expect she will give Orban one hell of a talking to behind the scenes. In public, she’s almost always polite to her hosts. I understand that when the press is out of sight, she is a tiger. Over the past four years Fidesz has offended every Western power, and for the first time since 1989 Hungary is without a single partner in the West. Every Western government recognizes that Russia has bought them. I think Orban and Kover are in for a hell of a surprise when Merkel visits.

  11. Karl Pfeifer – December 28, 2014 at 4:16 am – welcome back. You have seen the worst and the best in Hungarians.

    The descent half of Hungary is crying for help.
    The liars and traitors of Hungary are looting Hungary with Russian help.
    The leaders of fid/job lie but not surprisingly, can buy supporters, and ruin the HAZA (motherland) every day.

    Russia was the longest global problem. Offered no pragmatic solution to the ills of Spain, Greece, Cuba, Afghanistan, Angola, Mozambique, Colombia, Chile etc.

    Iran’s 1979 revolutionary leaders were the same kind, lied, and spread terror in the Arab world.

    Mention Turkey, North Korea, Somalia, Iraq, Syria. The world is burning and murdering its people.

    What are we waiting for?

  12. “The charge of American interference is based on a speech by Sarah Sewell…”

    What if the charge of American interference is based on actual evidence? For example intelligence reports detailing hostile action by the NSA for example not unlike the wiretapping of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone. The tapping of Merkel was a hostile action and was very revealing because it showed that the US considers Germany an enemy target. If it were their ally they could just call Merkel and ask her. Or ask for a summary of relevant information through the proper channels. The wiretapping shows considering Germany as an enemy state, a designated target for surveillance at the highest levels.

    What if the same happened to Hungary? In that case the charge is not based this or that speech, but hard evidence collected by the Hungarian agencies tasked with defending Hungary. It could be many other things not just wiretappings but wiretapping would not be surprising considering all the relevations brought forward by the human rights activists and NGOs like WIkileaks and Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald and others.

  13. Oh boy!
    Nobody here claims that the USA are the perfect democracy – but at least those “relevations ” (maybe you mean revelations?) were published. What about publishing things going on in Russia? To me there seems to be no free press there …
    Anyway your “Red Herring” doesn’t work – this site is about Hungary. Do you have anything to say on that topic or are you just another KGB troll?

  14. “this site is about Hungary”

    I wrote about Hungary. The blog wrote that in Hungary “The charge of American interfrence is based on a speech by” an American diplomat. I raised the issue, how can we know that for sure? How can we know that people in Hungary base “the charge of American interference” on some speech?

    And not (for example) on actual evidence of interference from their inteligence services. Prime Ministers, heads of Parliament and similar positions get intelligence briefing about exactly these types of attacks, hostile actions and “interference”. Or they could base it on large number of other evidence that they posess.

    Now you understand my point? How do we know that it was ONLY based on some speech? And not actual evidence of interference?

  15. It’s a long road till 2018.

    The competition is completely open — though the election system is another issue, I admit.

    I think it’s a mistake to assume that the two political “wings” will remain the same or that the only difference may be as Kövér fears the rise of a new “SZDSZ”, a kind of non-fidesz-leaning LMP with 5-6% of the votes cast, of 2-3% of the votes in the Parliament under the current system.

  16. “All of this bluster by Orban about the importance of Hungary in relation to the western conflict with the Russian Federation is a form of mental illness in my opinion. Kover has a nice mustashe and that is about it, better he concern himself with palinka production than world politics.”

    Istvan aren’t your comments overtly critical? As I see you are some sort of (maybe former) US official who is not naming himself.
    How are your comments any different from an official who is not naming himself from NK, who said that “Obama is a monkey who is rushing ahead confidently in the jungle” or something like that. Now I think that case proves that too harsh criticism is counter-productive.

    Every normal person even the opponents of Obama condemn foreigners likening him to a monkey because it is not true. So even though the intention was maybe to hurt Obama, they only made them stronger. And force even people who don’t like Obama to stand up and support him (in that moment or immediately after).

    Maybe you are a bad example, so I will instead make a general point: too harsh and unjustified criticism will only make the “target” have a better position be the target Orban, or Obama.

  17. @catching fire: THe USA works. THree are many reasons you may not like the USA but it works. There are many checks and balances put in to place that makes sure that the USA is a democracy. Obama does not work (and either did any republicans) to remove those checks and balances, and when something like that would occur there are many political layers installed that can put a brake on any possibilities.
    Local governments, Senate, Congress, Supreme Court, Departments, independent establishments like Mediation Board and Government Ethics Board (independent meaning just like that). If any of these get out of balance or someone would “buy them out”, there are six other that steps into place. THis is why the freedom of the press, privacy, and even guns are guaranteed. Changing an inch of anything takes years, not a train ride and iPad. The USA’s Institution is not a puppet institution that were bought out with apartments, land contracts, tobacco shops, etc. The USA is a serious business that must be taken seriously, and this why Orban and Kover try to “rally” against them.
    The Hungarian institution became a Banana Republic, a kind of laughing stock as far as how a country should be managed in the name of democracy. Checks and balances slowly gone, cronies are running the country, unqualified people are named as “experts”, people are intimidated and blackmailed into voting against what they truly want to (Esztergom). Privacy is gone (Kubatov), and QR codes installed on documents that can be traced back to the person who replies, and punishment is given.

    Why on Earth would you think that Hungarians should “protect” Orban, who allowed Hungary to go back 100 years, who broke down the system to his an his cronies benefits? WHo in their right mind and wit the right information at hand, and who had not been paid off by Orban would want an autocrat in place?

  18. In what world do you live in, leve? Intelligence gathering on allies has always been part of the game. Everybody does it, BND included – just ask Turkey. Of course the targets are always unhappy about it, all the more when it becomes public, even more so when it appears they have been seriously infiltrated. However, the level of cooperation between services is always what matters in the end.

    And what happened to the Visegrad Four? They’re not even mentioned in Kövér’s interview. As far as ‘The Slovaks and the Romanians shouldn’t put the Hungarian question at the top of their agenda’, well, Kövér should have thought about that before giving away Hungarian passports by the ton, not to mention that saying the Americans had a hand in the recent election of Klaus Johannis is insulting for both Romania and the Transylvanians who voted for him en masse…

    Championing Germany against the U.S.A. Getting away from the V4 and Poland. Insulting neighbors while asking for their cooperation. Just how stupid can it get? The sky seems to be the limit.

  19. “How do we know it was ONLY based on some speech? And not on actual evidence of interference?”

    OK, then let’s turn the tables and say we’ll only believe this claim when we see the evidence. Isn’t that what the Hungarian government demands in the case of Vida? The primary difference being that the US has apparently presented the evidence to the Hungarian government. Kover, on the other hand, is just making assertions, apparently to deflect attention from the issue itself.

    Yes, the US may have an additional agenda, a larger geopolitical one. But is it a totally unfounded accusation that some Hungarian officials engage in corruption? People have taken to the streets here not because they are being paid to or being manipulated being foreign powers. They do because they KNOW that such things happen. Living in Hungary provides you all the evidence you need.

  20. I thought I knew a few things about politics and democracy, but Mr Kover seems to teach me a lot of the mysteries of the world.

  21. @Albrecht Neumerker: you might want to further your initiation with Zsolt Bayer’s latest, Szomorú karácsony.

    PS: I sincerely hope his regular readers will not be victim of the curse which allegedly used to strike those who listened to the song.

  22. “I thought I knew a few things about politics and democracy, but Mr Kover seems to teach me a lot of the mysteries of the world.”

    Due to the dewy conditions under Kover’s mustache, strange ideas do grow….

    It’s amazing what Kover might find daily when he combs the crumbs out of his mustachio!

  23. Oh my…
    Honestly, people, just who, which leader of what civilised country and why would make any effort to keep such lowlifes in power any longer than inevitable?

    The place is the Hungarian Parliament and no, not a real pigsty.
    The humanoids are the Deputy Prime Minister of Hungary on the left, the Hungarian Prime Minister on the (far?) right…

    You may try to show me some evidence of that President Obama, Chancellor Merkel or Prime Minister David Cameron – just to name a few – would ever behaved in such slovenly manner while in officially present in the House!
    Not even the former Hungarian PMs, Bajnai or Gyurcsány, they have learned how to behave.

    Obviously its not the case presently.

    No wonder that Orbán need to “demand” respect – tell me one good reason, why he should get any at all..?

  24. RE.: Orban’s chocolate eating in the parliament…

    “Hungarian Parliament voted on Monday, December 15, 2014, to create a state-run national tobacco distributor. Trade unions protested against the law, arguing it would result in the loss of some 1600 jobs.

    Photo from LIGA Trade Unions FB page, widely circulated on social networks.
    Ahead of the vote, a trade union group sent bars of chocolate to Hungarian members of Parliament with pictures of children and a message asking the MPs to vote against the parents of these children losing their jobs. Vastagbőr blog reported that Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán also received a bar of chocolate, ate the chocolate, and then proceeded to vote in favor of creating the national tobacco distributor, which would leave hundreds of people unemployed.”
    http://globalvoicesonline.org/2014/12/16/kids-send-chocolate-to-mps-hungary-pm-eats-it-and-votes-for-taking-away-parents-job/

    Orban was not fined by Laszlo Kover, who on other occasions immediately strikes down on anyone (but Fidesz) who in his opinion did break the law of the sessions.

    Tobaco smuggling, loss of taxes, black-market dealings become a huge problem that the government does not want to to talk about.

  25. Eva I think has asked at least indirectly that we not turn this blog into a debating forum on the social ills of the United States so I will limit my response to catching fire and as always I admit the USA has numerous problems. I would also note that Mr. Goodfriend has said much the same thing when asked about these problems by the Hugarian media.

    It is really bizarre what I read about the idea that the USA and the EU is attempting to drag Hungary into a confrontation with the Russian Federation over its invasion and annexation of part of the Ukraine. The USA let the Germans and other EU states attempt to negotiate for months before scantions were imposed, if anything President Obama has entered into this non-military conflict with Russia in great reluctance, because in part our national interests are limited in Central Europe, but they do exist. I have been very critical of our President in relation to his very slow responses to Russian agression, but to give him and his advisers credit the economic scantions have been far more effective than I ever expected they would be.

    As I just told my relatives just a few days ago Hungary is free to withdraw from NATO if it wants to, I don’t recommend it because Putin has a vision of restoring the glory and influence of Russia in Central Europe. That vision includes in my opinion Hungary, and Hungary’s independence is far more based on the nuclear shield of NATO than it is in economic deals with Russia. I wish desperately the American Hungarian Federation would send out the same message to PM Orban instead of providing support for the Fidesz government in the current situation. Their ambilivant stance in this situation is a disgrace.

    It is possible for Hungary to adopt a position of armed neutrality, but any such idea would require a massive investment in Hungary’s self defense capabilities which I just don’t see happening. So Hungary has to make choices and I think backing Russia by effectively underming a common defense posture that includes economic scantions is the worst possible choice at this time. The issues relating to corruption and American firms paying bribes to officals of foreign governments is based on US law that makes all such payments illegal and punishable by imprisonment of the responsible corporate officals. The US embassy in Hungary has acted appropriately and all knowledgeable Americans support these actions including both Republicans and Democrats. The corporate officals that went to our embassy have followed the exact requirements of Federal law.

  26. Istvan writes “It is really bizarre what I read about the idea that the USA and the EU is attempting to drag Hungary into a confrontation with the Russian Federation”

    Istvan, where have you read such a thing? It is exactly the EU which does not want conflict with Russia and the USA is trying to drag the EU into a conflict. Why do you think the former German Chancellor took a position at Gazprom? Surely not because he wants conflict with that country..

    The EU would be greatly damaged by such a war even if it is only an economic war. Weakening both the EU and Russia at the same time is very much in the American interest, wouldn’t you agree? But very much against the European interest.

    The same is true for the secret trade deal that is being negotiated right now. According to press reports, If it is accepted without significant changes and complete revision it would result in the complete exploitation of the European economy to the benefit of the US economy. Once again, this outcome is very much against the EU interest and in the interest of the USA.

    It would be very surprising if the USA had no knowledge of the Ukraine situation. my guess is that they had knowledge, they knew exactly that Russia will annex Crimea as a reaction to coup. and they probably also knew that the Ukrainian forces have a 0% chance of victory against the Russian separatists because Russia will provide as much force as needed. The fact that the americans knew these things and yet they did not warn the Ukrainians suggests that they wanted these things to happen. They wanted the Ukrainians to attack even though thousands of them were massacred for nothing.

    Was it in the interest of Ukrainians to attack and act as cannon fodder? I don’t think so. So why did they attack anyway? It could only be if the Americans told them something like “attack attack, your victory is ensured.our intel shows the Russians are so weak they will not resist you”

    “As I just told my relatives just a few days ago Hungary is free to withdraw from NATO if it wants to, I don’t recommend it because Putin has a vision of restoring the glory and influence of Russia in Central Europe. That vision includes in my opinion Hungary, and Hungary’s independence is far more based on the nuclear shield of NATO”

    Do you have a good relationship to your own relatives? Why would you make them afraid and fearful with such scenarios? Do you envision Russia annexing all of Ukraine? Or how else do you suppose could Russia show ANY type of danger (let alone threat) militarily to Hungary. If you look at the map you will see that Russia does not border Hungary. So exactly what is the threat that only the “NATO nuclear shield” can defend against?

  27. Thank you for the completing information Some1!
    While the story of the chocolate eating speaks for itself, my point was rather to cal some attention to the character of the man behind the façade of the premiership.

    Yes, ladies and gentlemen, in my opinion the main problem in the Hungarian picture is the personality of their leader.

    If Orbán was a civilised European, he would certainly respect the rules of the game, learn the basics needed for the job, and in general, would behave as it rightfully accepted from someone in his position. Unfortunately, we aren’t that lucky – he remained the Felcsutian redneck what he always was, the mediocre soccer player with a bigger than life sized (5’4”?) ego, with no scurples to hinder him to achieve his goal.

    Summarising it: while the arrogance is quite stunning regarding the circumstances how the bar of chocolate happened to land in the Hungarian Parliament, the way how it was handled, the method of consuming it is quite something by itself.

    Honestly, I’d expect the (already) proverbial “blind Comondor” to show more grace, sophistication and civilised table manners than we managed to see, shown by the animation above, performed by nobody else, but the Hungarian Prime Minister.

    We are lucky, though, that the performance didn’t include the song about the “Hussars of Fnhérvár” too, it’s already something on the progressive side.

    Altogether, in my opinion he fits in to the role just right.
    Those who voted for him definitely don’t deserve anybody better!

  28. [sorry Istvan, I have a weakness for the easy ones]

    @shield

    “Weakening both the EU and Russia at the same time is very much in the American interest, wouldn’t you agree?”
    -> The EU is the US #1 trade partner for goods. Also #1 trade partner in services and #1 FDI destination (both by far). Which part of your course in economics 101 did you miss? All of it?

    “It would be very surprising if the USA had no knowledge of the Ukraine situation. my guess is that they had knowledge, they knew exactly that Russia will annex Crimea as a reaction to coup.”
    -> What coup? The US gov’t was caught with their pants down. In case you didn’t notice, the Foreign Policy record of the the Obama Administration hasn’t been particularly stellar. I’m always amazed at how much basic anti-Americans overestimate US efficiency. Dr Freud, anyone?

    Was it in the interest of Ukrainians to attack and act as cannon fodder? I don’t think so. So why did they attack anyway?
    -> Russia attacked. Ukrainians defend their own country. Why? Because they’re not ordás-eating surrender monkeys.

    “Do you envision Russia annexing all of Ukraine?”
    -> You’re right. It’s not as if Russia had done it before, is it?

    “Or how else do you suppose could Russia show ANY type of danger (let alone threat) militarily to Hungary.”
    -> The Baltic States. Poland. Finland. With friends like you, who needs enemies?

    “If you look at the map you will see that Russia does not border Hungary. So exactly what is the threat that only the “NATO nuclear shield” can defend against?”
    -> Last time I checked warheads were mounted on missiles, not horses. At least that’s what the French authorities told me, but they may have been hiding something.

  29. Shield,

    Marcel Dé beat me to the punch, which is sad because I also have a weakness for the easy ones. He did miss one thing, though:

    Ukraine borders Hungary, and has ethnic Hungarians living in it. If Russia did manage to invade and annex all of Ukraine (granted, this scenario is unlikely, but Putin did mention to Barroso that he could easily take Kiev, so it’s not like Russians don’t think about things like this – the EU and the US are the only things keeping Ukraine independent right now), Russia would not only be on our border, but would be oppressing Hungarian citizens. What would Hungary do in such a situation? Probably turn to NATO, in other words to the US, mostly. Therefore, I find it exasperating that Orbán took on the responsibility of protecting these people by making them Hungarian citizens (in many cases, citizens who have never been to Hungary and who don’t speak Hungarian), yet doesn’t seem to be interested in protecting them. That cheapens Hungarian citizenship in two ways, which adds to the many, many other ways he has cheapened my citizenship.

  30. The US is the parody of Europe and of its values; it is a morally, economically, financially bankrupt country; there is no such thing as an American “government”, but only a yes men/machine that works for Wall Street and the parasites that have long lingered in the British Empire, before moving to their new toy; hopefully not only Hungarians are waking up to the fact that there is no reasoning with a deluded and ignorant people that cannot even place their new victims on a map.

  31. Johnny Hey Hey,

    Hey, Hey Hey, watch what you say about Britain!

    Seriously, though, you’re very naive if you think that the US is any worse than any other country on the planet, with the possible exception of the Scandinavian countries. Meanwhile, I’d rather be a colony of the US than a colony of Russia, any day of the week. If you were honest with yourself, you would feel the same way. Ask the Chechens and the Crimean Tatars, for starters.

    Of course, this is completely irrelevant. What matters is results, not some misplaced idealism about which country has the moral high ground. Russia is at the mercy of the US, so why would we want to side with them, when all we have to do is stop pissing off the most powerful country in the world? The US was letting us screw our country up until we started poking the bear by cozying up to Russia. What is the payoff for us? Now Orbán can steal more money from us? How is that better for anyone who isn’t part of Fidesz? I say we stop tying our future to a sinking ship and tell the Americans what they want to hear. Throw Vida to the wolves, give American corporations a pass on the bribe-paying for awhile, and stop supporting Russia in any way, whether rhetorical or material. We will live to stand up for our right to become a banana republic some other day!

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