Sándor Kerekes: Letter to Angela Merkel

Dear Chancellor Merkel:

I am impelled to write to you on the occasion of your impending visit to Prime Minister Viktor Orbán of Hungary in February. I have no doubt that your able staff is more than adequately preparing your visit; however, I wish to add to that a point of view representing the Hungarian perspective.

Surely, you are aware that the government of PM Orbán and his Fidesz Party have relentlessly attacked and emasculated most institutions of the democratic state ever since their election in May 2010. But, just to keep up appearances, they have maintained them as a façade, populating them with their own appointees, often for nine and twelve-year terms, thus rendering them unable and unwilling to carry out their original, constitutional functions, since the appointees only follow Fidesz instructions. From the outside they look like checks and balances to the unsuspecting viewer. However, nothing could be further from the facts. All those institutions are interconnected through the invisible network of personal and party connections, all serving to promote the political and financial interests of a selected few of Viktor Orbán’s friends. In fact, those institutions are only there to serve as a disguise, hiding the actual operations of a government whose single and concentrated aim is to siphon as much of the country’s resources to the hands of this small coterie, as possible.

The street demonstrations of recent days mobilizing tens of thousands of people almost every other day, demanding democracy and fair government, are largely concerned with the ever-increasing corruption of the government. Those thousands are in dire need of help that could surely come from you Madame Chancellor. This monumental, institutional corruption is seemingly unassailable by the people, because Parliament, as the Prime Minister’s voting machine, legislates and legalizes the constant, obvious thievery. And as it so often happens, if a superficially constructed piece of legislation should prove insufficient to cover up the crime, either a subsequent retroactive law will bend the rules after the fact, or all complaints will be rejected or ignored by the Prosecutor’s Office. Since the election in 2010, not one single corruption case was launched against any corrupt government official, despite the numerous cases submitted. It is not surprising; therefore, if many consider the government of Viktor Orbán as a well-functioning Mafia operation.

The presently concluded contract with Vladimir Putin’s Russia for the building and financing of the Paks 2 nuclear power plant is hugely disadvantageous to Hungary and yet a most rational pact in view of the rapacious corruption system. The contract includes a 20% Hungarian share in the financing – 2.5 billion Euros – that is available for stealing. Since the Hungarian state otherwise has run out of sources for available money to steal, this gigantic project will provide a copious source of corruption money for the coterie. At the same time, it may bankrupt the country, but by the time that will become clear, this Mafia will be long gone.

Under these circumstances, even the government of the United States raised a strenuous complaint and took the unprecedented step of banning certain government officials from its territory for reasons of corruption. At the same time, the United States government made it clear that it will not shirk from the confrontation, and insists that the Hungarian government must address the systemic corruption. So far, Viktor Orbán has resorted to lies, denial, and communications trickery, but taken no action.

Apart from some prestige projects, such as football stadiums and municipal beautifications, public investments ground to a halt years ago. Private capital is fleeing the country. If there is any investment at all in Hungary today, it is funded by European Union transfer money. In fact, over 90% of all public investment projects are financed by the European Union. But invariably, those projects are “one-off” short term ones that create neither lasting effect, nor permanent jobs for people. In fact, all that European Union financing is squandered on useless, short-term veneer, merely creating appearances and an opportunity for kickbacks. Presently, any government public bidding process is tailor-made for the single, Orbán-friendly bidder, and the general consensus is that the “usual” kickback is between 20 and 40%. Despite all this, the Orbán government is conducting an unrelenting verbal and political campaign against the European Union, the United States and most of all the ideals of liberal democracy.

The barren Hungarian puszta

The barren Hungarian puszta

When the European Parliament commissioned the Tavares Report, it was assumed in good faith that the problems of the Orbán Government were mere mistakes and with the help of the Report itself, with some good advice, and genteel prodding, the system could be corrected. Today it is clear that the Orbán government is by no means acting in good faith. In fact, the Tavares Report failed to recognize that Hungary is rapidly and intentionally sliding towards a one-party, single-ruler, authoritarian, illiberal regime. The Report was to no avail; the Hungarian government not only ignored it, but also legislated its rejection. All this was done in front of the uncaring eyes of the European Union.

While the officials and friends of the Orbán government are getting obviously and obscenely rich, the population of the country is sliding into deep poverty. Today, four million people are living under the poverty level, hundreds of thousands are starving and tens of thousands of children cannot get enough to eat. Poverty today is endemic in Hungary and it is increasing. Over the last four years, 500,000 of the mobile, enterprising people of Hungary have emigrated to other countries in the European Union, Germany amongst them.

Not wanting to extend needlessly the list of reasons for writing this letter, I wish to come to the obvious implications.

Hungary today is a disturbing foreign object in the very middle of the European Union. But because its transformation, running counter to everything European, is far from complete, it is likely that in the future she will be a cause for much more, and much more painful headaches within the European Union. The process of transformation is accelerating unbridled, and Hungary will be a source of an unhealthy inspiration, inviting any self-appointed tin-pot dictator to repeat the exercise: build an illiberal, single-ruler dictatorship and do it at the expense of the European Union. Why not? Nobody is raising any objections and the money keeps flowing to finance the process.

Madame Chancellor:

The interest of the European Union, the people of Hungary, and basic common sense dictate to submit to you the humble request that you, a dominant person in the European Union and in the World, give an unmistakable expression of disapproval to Mr. Orbán about what is happening in Hungary. It is inconceivable, and yet a strange fact of life, that the European Union and its citizenry should generously finance Hungary’s corruption, its war against Western Values and Mr. Orbán’s campaign against the people of his own country. Why should the European Union pour billions of Euros into a few people’s pockets, just to enable them to steal even more?

The suspension or denial of the transfer payments would bring the insane policies of the Orbán government to a screeching halt since nothing but these payments keeps it going.

The European Union, on the other hand, would greatly benefit from saving those billions by using them for more worthy purposes than stuffing the pockets of a corrupt regime that uses them as an opportunity to conduct a surreptitious anti-European, anti-liberal, people-busting war in peace time.

Dear Madame Chancellor:

I fervently hope that my suggestions coincide with your own intentions, and that your highly anticipated visit to Hungary will bring the beneficial results most of us are hoping for. It would be a bitter disappointment for the entire country if Prime Minister Orbán could in any way interpret your visit as a public relations success and a stamp of approval on his policies.

Very truly yours,

Sándor Kerekes

—-

Sándor Kerekes is a freelance journalist whose articles regularly appear in Kanadai Magyar Hírlap. He also wrote several articles in the past for Hungarian Spectrum.

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38 comments

  1. It is absolutely crucial for something to be done very soon. My hope is that Merkel plays this one right, rock the boat if need be, because I am afraid that if Orban isn’t stopped, it will be too late to save the people of Hungary from generations of poverty.

  2. Wow!
    That letter sums up very “nicely” (probably shouldn’t use that word here …) all or at least most of the things that are rotten in the state of Orbánistan!
    Thanks a lot!

  3. Superb letter. Accurate, articulate and incontrovertible. Let’s hope Greece doesn’t divert the Kanzlerin’s attention away from the need ro tackle this miserable dribbler on his own turf and in his own stadium.

  4. Once again Hungarians expecting that someone else will solve their problem…

    When it doesn’t happen it will be all the others fault again that the country sitting up to the lips in lukewarm dung and enslaved to a self appointed dictator – and feel comfortable with it, with a few deviant exception, as above.

    Nobody else, but the Hungarian people have the duty to chase this little tyrant away and start to act as responsible ‘Human Beings’ this once – for a change, that is.

    – Or don’t move, because it may cause some ripple, you know…

  5. OT: I heard this rumor lately (which I cannot confirm or check, though the one from whom I heard it told me to have inside information) that the list of those banned from the US includes: Vida, two unnamed NAV officials, Heim, Giro-Szasz, Lazar.

    The last name was a surprise for me, and again, I cannot verify the truth of this info.

  6. Mr. Spectator, I feel your claim is a bit doctrinaire. The letter is not aiming to outsource the job to the Chancellor, but asking that she merely do her part. The rest, I am afraid, is indeed waiting to be done by the people of Hungary. In that respect you are correct.

  7. Bravo for Sandor Kerekes.

    A wonderful piece of cogent, well organized, impassioned, writing.

    I hope that, if he lives in Hungary, he has personal resources because whatever position or business he had will no longer be extant on Monday.
    I’ve just looked it up: he’s a professor of Economics (If he be the same person…)
    A brave man.
    I hope the University refuses to condone any possible action against him.

    Long live Sandor Kerekes!

  8. To save the hide of professor Kerekes, a highly respected scientist and author, the letter above was not written by him, but a namesake, who neglected to take care to make the distinction clear in advance.

  9. The letter: Not enuf ! And very late after all the squandering !!!

    This letter is a note from a softie !!!

    C’mon. EU has been watching this debacle in Hungary for 25 years and evidently the Fidesz has been at the apogee of the govenmental maffia corruption.

    The EU has a an anti-corruption office that we hardly ever hear of (til very recently).
    They’ve been snoring heavy for years while collecting their hefty paychecks.

    We the true EU style democratic front have been saying everything that is n this letter for 6 years !!!

    YET, Ms MERKEL has been standing by with her EU buddies knowlingly stuffing money into the pockets of the Orban Maffia!!!! Inexcusable !!!!!!

    If it was a tactic it was awful.
    If it was purposeful, its disgusting.
    If it was because laziness its reprehensible.

    I have given up telling Ms Merkel what she should do – it she doesnt know by now, MAYBE Mr Putin has a point.
    To just forge ahead and destroy. Mr Putin, I dont need to tell you, you see: Noone’s going to oppose you. I certainly am not getting in the way of the plunder.

    Its my freedom that’s going down the drain, but its the powerful almighties that are so dumb as to let it or even help make it happen.

    Maybe time to realize that the world is in a cycle of SELF disruption.

    If the mighty and powerful are against all common sense whats an ant to gonna do ????????????????

  10. My comment no 2 today:
    My own ‘editorial’ comment
    Bilingual version, originally written in Hungarian

    Inb a day or so Frau Merkel wirt hier sein….
    — In a day or two Mrs Merkel will be in town…

    Kérdezem, szerintetek van-e valími egyetemes, értékes parancsa az Orbán számára vagy ő is álcáz mindent hamissággal, hasonlóan Orbánhoz ?????
    — I ask, dear reader, is there some universal, valuable directive she will have for Orban, or will she cover truth with fake gestures and falsifications, siomilarly to what Orban does?

    Szerintem MOST vagy SOHA vagy most kiteszik Orbánt, vagy ha az nem megy, akkor Magyarországot.
    — In my opinion, NOW or NEVER, Orban should and will from now be positioned far outfield, outside the perimeters of the European Union.

    A szituációt igy NEM SZABAD folytatni. Mercedesz, BMW, Opel, Bosch etc ide vagy oda. Dobják ki orbánékat ugy ahogy vannak. vagy dobják ki az egész országot az EU-bol.
    — The situation canot continue in this process or anything similar to it. No matter what. Take Mercedes, BMW, Opel, Bosh. They will manage one way or another. But for Gods sake, throw out Orban and Co, with its fake self-image.
    If necessary throw out Hungary itself from the European Union.

    MOST VAGY SOHA !!!!
    Come on Ms Merkel. You have sufficient political, economic and other advisors to strategize a workable plan that brings this continent into some kind of UNISON.
    IT’s NOW OR NEVER !!!!

    Its my LAST WARNING to Germany or the EU to get its act together — NOW or NEVER

  11. In addition to my comment earlier. I believe Sandor Kerekes wrote a number of articles under “by S.K.” since 2009. I counted 20 articles. He is very outspoken, and to the point.

  12. Kerekes makes many salient points in his letter, but I feel certain that Mrs. Merkel is already well informed of the situation in Orbán’s Hungary. And I certainly hope this letter – if it was sent to Merkel in English – was edited for grammar, style and punctuation first.

  13. “aha”
    And what is expected to be done by Chancellor Merkel?
    First of all there is no sign if Germany will anyhow intervene to Viktor’s business, or even to Hungary’s business…
    Actually the most powerful leader now is maybe Ms. Merkel; she could already do something.. f.e.: close out FIDESZ from the EPP.

    But; the real question here why the Hungarians, inclusive Sándor Kerekes, would let the solution come from Germany?
    However Chancellor Merkel “wears pants” she is smart enough not to bother Viktor Orbán’s nightmare about his country but push him to support EU against Russia.

    What is typical and bad; Hungarians are willing to have the solution from elsewhere, not doing anything by themselves.

    In fact the “nation” likes if somebody ( now the FIDESZ / Orbán ) takes care on them, takes the hard decisions, organises healthcare and everybody in Hungary is happy to read the advertisements saying Hungary is doing better or so…

    If such is repeated “enough” times in the TV and Radio, then the “nation” believes and supports his great leader. Technically many people see it differently and disagree with FIDESZ but ;

    – there is nobody on the other side but only JOBBIK who can show up something ( No, MSZP is unacceptable and LMP is only for educated persons ).
    – in the country side the people just simply do not understand what they ( in Budapest ) are talking about.

  14. Softie!

    I agree that the blog is little soft, and some readers are extremely soft on the Orban regime, and on the Hungarian people.

    How will we look into the eyes of the grandkids?

    With huge shame?

  15. just a little bit OT

    wednesday less a conference in the european Parlement about VAT-fraud in the EU member states:4 Febr from 13.00-15.30.Prominently on the agenda Hungary:Horvath Andras will be there also.Conference is hosted by:Benedek javor (EFA) and Ingeborg Grássle(EPP)..

  16. The GRIT: What is the difference today and 6 years ago when Orban drastically changed the consitution, the freedom of speech, media access and diffusion to the Governments advantage?

    The nooooose only got tighter around the neck of the average Joe Blow.

    The EU is wasting huge amounts of MONEY andTIME.
    The EU is squandering its money on projects not checked by their autorities.

    The EU is openly allowing callous spending, profiteering and open-pit cronyism on an grand scale.

    Theres nothing wrong with asking Merkel for SOME attention. They are supposed to be the integral part of their checks and balances as it is their money they are spending.

    Instead we get this deafening silence and INACTYIVITY by Brussels.

    Apparently the EU was not designed to effectively respond to outright and significant breeches by colluding members.

    This is no longer an interiror matter to be solved by the population of a misdirected, untrained group of citizens who havent got an inkling of what proper democratic procedures look like.

    And the example the EU administration is providing is further gasoline on the burning fire !!!

    Mrs Merkel. If following Monday of your visit things are not shaken up sufficiently I will advocate changing your status and the status of those responsible for the mishandling of huge EU funds !!!!! BEWARE

  17. For once and for all: We do not know if Hungarians gave Orban majority. Knowing what we know about Fidesz, Orban and their gang, would you bet your life on it that the elections were clear? I know one thing, I tried to vote, and I could not! I know an other thing, many people who do not participate in Orban’s infantile surveys are being punished, and their name is tracked. THe surveys returned are tracked. Put your freaking life on saying that Hungarians gave majority to Orban. I am so sick of hearing this from people who always criticize the opposition from their armchair, and come here and tell people what they should do. Let us know what you have done!

  18. One more glimmer of light at the end of that proverbial tunnel!
    Well, in case its another firefly I apologise!

    However, today’s demonstration on the Kossuth square (Budapest, Hungary) was rather impressive! No, not the number of participants, but the clearly formulated message it sent.
    I’ve stumbled upon a live broadcast on atv.hu, when the event was already going on since awhile, and let me tell you people, the resistance start shaping up, as opposed the earlier hodgepodge approach it was definitely more structured, with speakers who can actually speak, and the kind, even if varied character, experience, style and age.

    We all know Ágnes Heller and her qualities for one, but whom I sincerely recommend to listen to is Zoltán Vajda, the last speaker, who pretty much surprised me just how well written message he delivered. Perhaps I am the only one, but I was impressed.

    According to verbal information from ATV the whole broadcast will be repeated sometimes after 23.00 hours local time – sorry, I couldn’t get the exact time – so, there is chance to take a peek, if anyone interested.

    One more thing: they who organised the demonstration have a site too – unfortunately at the moment its only in Hungarian, – where further information available regarding the whole motion against the oppressive regime of Hungary and their programme to restore the Hungarian Republic, right here:

    veddkomolyan.eu

    (The name, ‘vedd komolyan’ means ‘take (it) seriously’, and the domain is ‘eu’ which is part of the message as well.)

  19. I have no doubts that the other leaders of the EU, including Frau Merkel, know by now about the dubious businesses of OV. The question is whether this has much of a priority for the other countries given the other numerous problems around. That the visit has some relation with the conflict with Russia seems plausible and that some criticism of the functioning of Hungarian “democracy” will be voiced also, but certainly that will not change much. As Spectator wrote, the biggest contribution to change must come from the Hungarians themselves, not only through voting but also through the provision of a rather large group of people aka politicians, lawyers, public servants etc. who are able to arrive at compromises and solutions that reflect the realities of the country. What support would a “European” government have that would act on the commands of A Merkel or of JC Juncker? Just another autocracy, and one that would be imposed from outside.

  20. @Some1:
    Re for Orbáns majority: Of course we do know!

    Two facts: FIDESZ started to tell in the TV and basically everywhere they won with 2/3 majority.
    Response of MSZP ( and all others ) “The FIDESZ is not using its 2/3 Majority well” and similar idiotic response.

    So, however total: 61,24% of Hungarias were voting, thereof 44,87% voted on FIDESZ.
    Source: http://hu.wikipedia.org/wiki/2014-es_magyarországi_országgyűlési_választás

    And yes, according to the common sense and mathematic, this is far away from the 2/3 Majority.
    According to the Election Mathematic ( or what is the correct phrase ) they have the majority, even the size of the majority is legitimated by the opposition parties.

    @Kirsten / @Spectator: Perfect Point. The EU used to be a community of countries who share some fundamental ideals or values. Then, this values was sacrificed on the alter of growing economy and now, like in the hamsters wheel every country started to pretend their ( and only their ) needs.

    Anyhow, such change will not come form the “Hungarians”. This current system is basically not good only for people who can think and have an overview about actual politics and some economics. The rest ( 4Million ) are just happy with a government who is fighting for the rights and respect of the Hungarians against the EU and every nation who does not show enough respect for the nation of the 1000 years old Hungarians. And this government decreased by law the cost of the utilities. If, meanwhile; the surcharge after the solar panels were increased ( btw; blamed the EU law )… who cares as the Mr. Orbán decreased the utility costs _AND_ saved the people who have / had mortgage in CHF.

  21. @Kirsten:

    I don’t think anybody seriously thinks Merkel or the EU should remove Orban. It’s a mistake to imply that that’s what opposition people want. This is not true.

    However, what they want, I think, is that the EU should not act as it usually does: having seemingly fun at photo opportunities with a corrupt tyrant and not cut political deals regularly with him. Orban is strategically and personally undermining the EU and then EU politicians from the People’s Party are actively supporting him behind the scenes, for his votes or Orban gets praise from the Socialist government for his presence in Paris when he in fact condemned the “idiotic EU”. That’s just disgusting.

    Moreover, it would be good to see that at one point the mighty EU could attach some conditions to the money which is being sent to Orban’s pockets. It would be good to see that at least those countries which are net payers are standing up and demanding some sort of an effective procedure to prevent people like Orban who openly undercut and harbor deep contempt for the EU from receiving EU funding.

    Is it too much to ask from the EU and its richer members to toughen up, care about where their money goes and not be apparently totally impotent vis-a-vis corrupt dictators operating in their midst like Orban?

    This is by no means tantamount to asking the EU to remove Orban or intervene in the domestic politics. This means asking the EU to live up to the values and principles it – in theory – holds so dear.

  22. Bulgur, it would also be good to see from the not so new member states that they joined a club with some history prior to 2004. It was built on compromise, any number of it, which seldom lived up to the great expectations of some. There were not a few people during the 1990s who would have not enlarged the EU but instead “deepened” it. For instance through more democratic elements. Out of a number of reasons, not the least being the reluctance on the part of many Europeans to integrate further, we have a political hybrid (between integration and sovereignty) with quite some say from the heads of government. Not very democratic. What you suggest is that the “old” member states have typically common interests, but we are far from that. If you look what appear to be the most pressing issues in the four largest member states, you will probably be able to make up the priority attached to Hungary (Greece, Pegida, terrorist attacks, islamism, Front National, general elections later this year, EU membership yes or no, presidential elections, constitutional change, economic crisis, refugees, Ukraine). So try to look at this European structure as a set of treaties that bind the countries together, that many issues (at least in the shared areas) have to be negotiated and where more often than not the preferred solutions differ. The Hungarian descent into autocracy is a problem no doubt but its siding with Russia when the EU is in conflict with it is the more pressing one, especially as we all still wait for the democratic opposition to increase their effectiveness.

  23. Regime change is the task of the day.

    Immediate investigation into the Hungarian administration, including interpol…

  24. @Zsolt February 1, 2015 at 3:39 pm
    No Zsolt! My response is totally lost on you. I am not sure that the Hungarian elections were C-L-E-A-N! You can analyze, and quote whatever you want it however you want it, but I am not sure that those numbers were achieved by a clean election. How can I spell it out even further? South Korea, Russia, China.. and let me repeat myself I was NOT ABLE TO VOTE, not because of my fault but because Fidesz did not allowed me! I am not passing on second hand information, it was my personal experience. You can either call me a liar, or you have to say that the elections were not clean. There were many others in my position. So let me help you, if people are not allowed to vote, who by law should be able to vote, that is not a clean election. Let say you go to a store to buy a can of Coca Cola. If you are not served you do not have the Cola. So you either have the Cola or not! I hope this helps!

  25. @Some1:

    Do not misunderstand me. I -personally- agree to everyone who say the last election was not clean and even not correct. I am not sure about your story I also had many troubles to get there and vote.

    Anyhow;
    The history is a bit different. Let me bring you also a picture.
    Given a pool; which is separated in the middle by a wall of bricks. On the right side FIDESZ is swimming, on the left side MSZP And Co.
    Before the swim, FIDESZ changes the rule by saying the left side has to be felt by sand.

    MSZP, LMP and everyone started immediately ( before the election ) arguing this election is not clean and not fair, even not bring the clear statement of all the Hungarians.

    And after they argumentation were not accepted, simply stand to the pool and started to swim, but this time in sand.

    However OSCE pointed out many issues around the election, a small part of the nation does not simply accepts this way for such election…

    – There were no international intervention on the media saying the election is illegitim.
    – The legitimating was mainly created by the parties opposite to FIDESZ.
    – Now-a-days the entire EU, Opposition, every single demonstrator say: The Majority of FIDESZ is not good for the country, therefore we must have a new election, or whatever…

    Sorry, but according to these FACTS the election was correct, nice and fair.
    And you could not vote? Well, you made the mistake most probably, as such issues were “never” reflected by the media.

    I needed to drive 300KM; have survived…

  26. @Zsolt: I can only reiterate my personal, first hand experience: I as not able to vote! As far as media goes, the discrepancies were well reported all over the media:
    The election is coming: thousand lives in a forty beds guest house
    http://nol.hu/belfold/ezren-laknak-a-negyvenagyas-panzioban-1491307
    “Zuglóban nagyjából 700-zal többen akarnak szavazni, mint ahányan két hónappal ezelőtt a névjegyzékben voltak, míg a Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg megyei Kemecsén nagyjából ugyanennyivel kevesebben. A szabolcsi város polgármestere, Lipők Sándor pedig a zuglói jelölt, Papcsák Ferenc kampányfőnöke – közölte.”
    In zuglo there are 700 more people who want to vote then as many were living there two months prior to the registration, while [in an other city] there are almost the same number less voters. [The other city’s] mayor is the zuglo district’s nominee’s campaign manager.
    http://valasztas2014.hir24.hu/valasztasi-hirek/2014/04/02/valasztasi-csalast-gyanit-az-ellenzek/
    Is it enough media for you or do you want me to dig up some more as favour?

    My point was that contrary what was reported, and many shills and often even the uneducated opposition commenters reinforce with the 2/3…

  27. @Some1:
    No; I believe we are on the same page; but I also know and some days, when I visit Hungary, see many people believe what the great leader says.

    And, it will not be changed, at least until the State – owned – television ( I am not sure what is their correct name, but MTV ) is echoing the same shit back.

    Was _any_ report on M1 about the cheat-like situation in any district? No…

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