Viktor Orbán goes to Kiev, M. André Goodfriend returns to Washington

Viktor Orbán has been a very busy man lately, especially when it comes to playing on the international stage. Angela Merkel visited Budapest last week; this week Orbán had talks with the prime minister of Georgia, and today he traveled to Kiev for a brief visit with Petro Poroshenko. Orbán’s Ukrainian visit is widely seen as an attempt to counterbalance the much criticized Putin visit next Tuesday. Today much of his regularly scheduled morning interview was devoted to Russian and Ukrainian affairs.

There is still no verbatim transcript of the interview, but I took notes when I listened to it and read several summaries that appeared in Hungarian newspapers and on the government’s website. Some of his comments on the Russian-Ukrainian conflict were platitudes about the dangers of war so close to home. Surely, Hungary is much more exposed than France or Germany, whose heads of state tried to broker an agreement with Vladimir Putin in Moscow. Orbán, who remains opposed to further sanctions, tried to put the best spin on the “fragile peace” that is still better than war.

When it came to Russian-Hungarian relations, Orbán treaded lightly and felt compelled to refer to Hungarian leeriness when it comes to relations with Russia. Mind you, the reference was fleeting. He said that “for many Hungarians this is an emotional issue.” One would have thought that either he would have stopped there or would have explained Hungarian reservations by talking about the role of the Russians in the 1848-1849 war of independence and, naturally, about the Russian suppression of the 1956 Hungarian revolution. But no, he said instead that “we lost a war against them,” referring to World War II. A most unfortunate remark since winning the war against the Soviet Union in this case would have meant victory for Nazi Germany. Magyar Nemzet might be moving in the right direction as far as honest journalism is concerned, but it decided to omit this sentence.

In his opinion, emotions cannot play a role in Hungary’s relations with Russia. He himself never had any doubts about Vladimir Putin’s  visit. It was he who invited Putin, and he is glad that Putin accepted his invitation. The Russian president is always welcome in the Hungarian capital.

It is becoming apparent to me that Viktor Orbán imagines today’s Europe as similar to the way it was between the two world wars. The simultaneous collapse of the large, powerful empires of Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Russia allowed the formation of small nation states in the region of East-Central Europe. With the revival of Germany and Russia, these states found themselves squeezed between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. Orbán keeps talking about the “two large powers,” Russia and Germany, on whom Hungary depends for its well being. But this is an outdated view. Today there is a European Union to which Hungary belongs. Hungary also joined NATO. Hungary is definitely committed to the West and her security lies on this side. Balancing between two world powers is no longer possible, and therefore I’m convinced that Orbán’s “brilliant” strategy will be a failure.

Orbán’s diplomatic balancing act leads me to another topic, the departure of M. André Goodfriend from Budapest. The announcement was a surprise because the United States government had explicitly stated that Goodfriend would remain in Budapest even after the arrival of Colleen Bell, the new U.S. ambassador. The chargé represented U.S. policies and worked closely with the State Department. It was a message to Budapest that no great changes in U.S.-Hungarian relations should be expected with the arrival of the new ambassador. But then came the bombshell that after all Goodfriend is leaving “for strictly family reasons.” Hungarians suspect that this explanation was fabricated, that some kind of a deal was reached between Washington and Budapest for which the U.S. government sacrificed Goodfriend.

Well, I’m one of those people who don’t believe this conspiracy theory. First of all, the one longer speech that Colleen Bell delivered to date in no way indicated a softening of the American attitude toward the Hungarian government. The speech was delivered before businessmen, and therefore she concentrated on economic issues. She brought up a point about which foreign businessmen complain: the unpredictability of Hungarian economic policy. Second, I see no sign of any softening of Orbán’s attitude either on the Russian issue or on the question of corruption. As for the attacks on nongovernmental organizations, the verbal abuse continues. If there was a deal, it was one that the Hungarian side is not honoring. And I refuse to believe that American diplomats are so naive as to strike a deal before the other side takes concrete steps to mend its ways. So, I’m inclined to accept the Embassy’s version that Mr. Goodfriend has some very urgent family business that can be taken care of only in the United States.

Goodfriend3

André Goodfriend’s departure is greeted with great sadness in liberal circles in Hungary. Many looked upon him as a valued friend of Hungary and were extremely grateful to him. On Facebook there are thousands of posts in which Hungarian citizens thank him for being the defender of Hungarian democracy. I heard a story about one gesture that exemplifies the kind of gratitude Hungarians felt. It was Christmas Eve and André Goodfriend went to a flower shop to buy a bouquet. When he wanted to pay, the owner of the flower shop wouldn’t accept his money, saying that it is she who owes him instead of the other way around.

Perhaps the most moving manifestation of the affection felt for André Goodfriend in Hungary is a video sent by Kreatív Ellenállás (Creative Opposition), a Facebook group, to which the creators added a popular song entitled “André j’aime” composed by János Bródy, played by the Illés Ensemble and sung by Zsuzsa Koncz. These people are legends in Hungarian popular music, mainly because their songs were highly critical of the Kádár regime.

Finally, Mr. Goodfriend was a regular reader of Hungarian Spectrum and a few times even engaged in our discussions. We will miss him, and I’m sure I can speak on behalf of our readership in wishing him the very best in his future endeavors.

104 comments

  1. Prof Balogh — where, please, is the link to the YouTube (or other) version of “André, j’aime”?

  2. GIBBON. To my knowledge, the Népszabadság was purchased in 2014 by an Austrian company, somewhat sympathetic to Orbán, but not a pro-Fidesz man.
    The circulation is minimal, not a very influential paper.
    Nepszabadsag
    Type Daily paper
    Country: Hungary
    Founded: 1956

    Owners:
    Vienna Capital Partners (70,4%),
    Szabad Sajtó Alapítvány (27,5%),
    Editorial members (1,8%)

    Publisher: Népszabadság Zrt.
    Chief Editor: Murányi Marcell
    Circulation 48 082 (2013. III. negyedév)[1]
    Language magyar
    Political sympathy: MSZP
    HQ: 1034 Budapest, Bécsi út 122-124.

  3. I managed to talk to a foreign affairs professional, an old pair of hand, who attended Collen Bell’s welcome party on Wednesday evening – which also turned out to be Goodfriend’s farewell party.

    He said it was a surreal party as Ambassador Bell DID NOT address the participants, which of course also means that she did not thank André for his work. My contact thought – and I fully agree – that as the very minimum, Bell should have greeted the participants with a toast and say at least a couple of sentences. BUT NOTHING!

    By the way there is not a single person here in Budapest who believes the official story on Goodfriend’s departure after a mere 18 months’ of service here. Daunting, really.

    http://index.hu/belfold/2015/02/11/goodfriend_mar_el_is_bucsuzott_a_magyar_politikai_elittol_a_nagykovet_partijan/

  4. Éva: One fact is true, Szaniszló became the best paid World’s stupidest person in the World and only in Hungarian language. Just imagine the mental status and capacity of those, who watch and listen to him. Even the usage of words is so extremely dumb and chauvinistic and so much against everybody else in the world, so self appreciating, that one cannot remain without laughing at the stupidity. Szaniszló and the illiberal Hungarians are Godsend to Earth, and God is lonely now, because these Hungarians used to stay right next to him and help him in the Creation. Without Hungarians now, God is helpless.

  5. Hey, There is a donation widget on the top right corner of this Blog. I hope I was the first one to contribute and there will be many others who follow! Thanks for your great work Eva!

  6. I am truly not surprised that the Obama administration not long ago released satellite images that show the Russian army had joined rebels to mount a full-scale assault on surrounded government troops in Debaltseve only hours before a cease-fire set to take effect at midnight. The images are all over the U.S. news services now, Is Orban’s controlled media showing them in Hungary?

    I had hoped Putin would spare the 6,000 or so trapped Ukrainian soldiers once the deal had been agreed to, but maybe not. The official Ukraine government is still talking a good game about Debaltseve, but the truth is they are trapped and ripe for slaughter just like the Hungarian 2nd army was at Stalingrad.

    The Russians as usual say all the satellite photos are nonsense. No doubt Putin will say the same once he gets to Budapest. Meanwhile Petro Poroshenko is running around threatening martial law and stepping up military mobilizations as if given the idiocy of the Ukrainian military leadership that is supposed scare the Russians? The suffering of these trapped Ukrainian soliders must now be immense with no ability to evacuate the wounded due to Russian ground to air missiles. A phone call to Putin from his good friend OV asking him to spare these poor soliders might be the most humanitarian thing that might be done right now.

  7. Staniszlo Fuss

    What’s the fuss about this Staniszlo, who’s obviously not only a brainless bigot, but barking bonkers?

    The 1930’s quip about Gremans having three traits that unfortunately only come in pairs applies to Hungarians today too: They are intelligent or good or Fidik bigots, but never all three.

  8. Webber,

    You wrote: “In which way did the American government act as though it were bowing to Orban?”

    By removing Goodfriend so soon after he was clearly targeted for removal by Orbán, and only giving a vague reason for doing so – that reason being similar to the universal fake, face-saving reason used by companies and governments in many countries to avoid giving the real, embarrassing reason.

    You also wrote: “There has been nothing but praise for his work from Washington.”

    Is the US State Department in the habit of criticising its diplomats in public? Of course there is praise, since face must be saved, and appearances must be kept up.

    You also wrote: “If you don’t believe what Washington has said about Goodfriend, or rather if you choose not to believe it – okay.”

    It doesn’t matter what we believe, what matters is what most Hungarians believe (or at least those who are paying attention). I’m sure that many people in the State Department were fully aware of the message this move would send, but they did it anyway. I find that strange, unless there is a reason that the US has done things in this specific way. It sends a message, whether the message was intended or not. I don’t believe that the American government is so clueless that it sends unintended messages in cases like this, but it’s always possible.

    As others have pointed out on this blog, if he really had family issues that needed to be attended to personally, he could have taken personal leave, then the State Department could have replaced him permanently some months later.

    As to the offensiveness of speculating that Bell didn’t like Goodfriend for some reason, and so had him removed, I don’t understand how that enters your mind. Are you offended because of the gender of the ambassador, or the thought that an ambassador can be petty and jealous? She’s not a professional diplomat, she’s a soap opera producer, and it doesn’t matter what her gender is. That is legitimate speculation, as far as any speculation is legitimate, and I thought the same thing before I read the comment, but I didn’t deem it important enough to take the time to type into the computer. You seem to be very sensitive about something here which probably escapes me.

  9. Istvan wrote: “By the way according to Csuhaj that aid totals about 1.5 million euros, of which about 1.1 million is only for ‘the operation of the Transcarpathian institutions,’ in other words effectively to support ethnic Hungarians institutions.”

    I’m sure that Orbán will have no problem allowing the Ukrainian government to exclusively handle and disburse any and all funds that are targeted to “Transcarpathian institutions”.

  10. GOOGLY: You must have had some strange mushrooms. But since from eating them, you seem to know and predict exactly what our State Department does and why, eat some more and keep us posted. Any facts and predictions on the Russia-Ukraine situation?

  11. Only Two Possibilities

    I think the reason this thread has become so unusually irritable and accusatory (among people who normally see eye to eye) is that we are all terribly frustrated and disappointed at the unexpected departure of Mr. Goodfriend.

    Upon reflection I think there are really only two possibilities: either something extremely sudden and serious has indeed happened in Mr. Goodfiend’s personal/family life — in which case there is no doubt at all that all our hearts go out to him with the fervent hope that all will turn out well for him, as he so very much deserves — or else the US State Department has done something extremely foolish, bordering on treacherous, probably under the influence of the usually successful FUD pressure from the Orban government.

    Speculate as we might, there is simply no room, under the circumstances, for a third option.

  12. googly, I’d just like to add something to gybognarjr’s comment. You wrote: “what matters is what most Hungarians believe”
    I don’t know what most of my colleagues believe, much less what most of a whole nation believes at any given time.
    If you, however, really have a simultaneous direct connection to the nation’s and the state department’s central thought systems, all I can say is give me some of those mushrooms.

  13. OK, so the bottom line is Orban wanted to send Goodfriend home and despite clear assurances by the US Government that Goodfriend would remain, a few weeks later he was recalled anyway.

    Now, is Orban winning or isn’t he?

  14. Maybe a typical Hungaricum:
    Win one or two battles – and in the end lose the war …
    WWs one and two come to my mind.

  15. hill
    February 15, 2015 at 1:54 pm
    OK, so the bottom line is Orban wanted to send Goodfriend home and despite clear assurances by the US Government that Goodfriend would remain, a few weeks later he was recalled anyway.

    No. THis is your understanding. What part of “for strictly family reasons.” you do not understand? He was not recalled. THat is what Fidesz and his PR will sell but that is not the reason provided. Yes, the family reason could be sickness, relationship or even a threat. Do you understand that? If it come s down between what the Fidesz says or what the USA says who do you believe? As far as I am concerned I take the USA’s side any time against Fidesz/ C’mon these are the Fidesz people who refuse to investigate in all the cheating a fraud their members accused with.

  16. gybognarjr and Webber,

    What you call “mushrooms”, I call “logic”, which is obviously just as foreign to you as halucinogenic mushrooms. You should try using your head as something other than a hat rack, for once.

    Instead of trying and failing to use humour to belittle me, maybe you could just try reading my comment a little harder. I wrote: “I’m sure that many people in the State Department were fully aware of the message this move would send” and “I don’t believe that the American government is so clueless”. Gybognarjr, where in my post do I, as you wrote, “seem to know and predict exactly what our State Department does and why”? Really, an elementary school student has better reading comprehension than you do.

    According to you, Goodfriend, who is obviously in the State Department, either doesn’t know anything about what’s going on in Hungary, or has kept his insights a secret from everyone else. If neither of those things is true, then at least some people in the State Department know what’s going on in Hungary (which is essentially what I wrote that I believe), yet they acted this way anyway. Is that clear enough for you, or should I dumb it down some more?

    Webber, you have no answer to the points I made, so instead of admitting that, you tried to tear me down instead. Thanks, that’s all I need to confirm that I’m right. You can bully others here, but not me.

    You wrote: “I don’t know what most of my colleagues believe, much less what most of a whole nation believes at any given time.”

    Try reading a newspaper or a poll sometime, it can be very enlightening. Also, try talking to your colleagues instead of condescending to them, bullying them, or attacking them. You really should have some idea what they believe, unless you just don’t care about their opinions.

    I see you didn’t address my question about why you were offended by what Jean P wrote. Typical of you and Fidesz trolls.

    If you two ever decide to grow up and act like adults, I’ll be more civil with you. Until then, I’ll give as good as I get.

  17. Some1,

    Do you really believe that the truth matters here in Hungary? All that matters is perception, and if the US really doesn’t understand that, then they are of little help to us. Obviously I would believe the US over Fidesz, since the US isn’t trying to destroy Hungary. It may very well be true that Goodfriend left of his own volition for family reasons, and those reasons are so personal that he doesn’t want to share them with the public. However, a diplomat knows how this game is played, and he is obviously a skilled, experienced diplomat. He certainly knew how this would be seen, yet he did it anyway, despite the availability of alternate options that would achieve the same result for him. Fidesz didn’t win all those elections because they are good at running the country and have the best policies and truth behind them, they won because they are good at lying, manipulating, and spinning. Why is the US giving them more ammunition for their spin machine? I would say that logically speaking, the most likely answer is that they agreed to do it this way, so that Fidesz could claim a win. I have no idea what they got in return or if it was a good trade, but maybe that will become clear the next time Wikileaks gets a trove of diplomatic cables.

    This, I believe, is also the point that “hill” was trying to make. If you or Webber or gybognarjr want to civilly refute this point using logic, facts, or any other evidence, I’d very much like to hear it. I doubt that those other two I mentioned are capable of doing so, but I feel that I should give them a chance.

  18. gybognarjr,

    You wrote: “Anyone can think anything and speculate, it will not change the truth and the facts remain.”

    Ah, so you are the great keeper of the truth and the facts! Then why were you asking me what will happen in Ukraine when you apparently know all truths? Besides, speculating is what you and almost everyone here does almost every time we post a comment. I am asking, nay, begging you to refute my points with logic, falsifiable evidence and/or provable facts. Accusing me of hallucinating what I write, then not refuting it, is cowardly and childish, just like a Fidesz troll. Your non-answer about speculating is not refuting, it is weaseling.

    It’s very telling that you ignored my clear question to you, which I will repeat: where in my post do I, as you wrote, “seem to know and predict exactly what our State Department does and why”?

    If you don’t want to answer, then I’d say we’re done here.

  19. GOOGLY: You did not understand the sentence I wrote. The truth and the facts are existing and they are independent from the thoughts and speculations of anyone, ESPECIALLY so, when none of us knows what the truth and the facts are, in this particular incident.
    But just to make sure you understand it well. The truth and facts exist and no matter how much anybody try to guess and speculate about them without factual knowledge, the truth and the facts which already happened, cannot be altered. There are only two possibilities. Either that we know the truth or as in this case, we don’t.

  20. Bognar you have a very bad reading comprehension, or maybe you are just a little slow, but get this : Googly was right and you attacked him, without understanding what it is, you are really attacking.

    Truth is one thing and perception of events is another. Regardless of the “truth”, people everywhere, even on this blog have an opinion on what likely happened.

    That opinion can influence events regardless of what was the real “truth”. I too have an opinion on Goodfriend. Like him or not, Goodfriend was a very divisive figure. He had many fans and many people who hated his guts, and he was above all else a famous person.

    It is entirely possible that the US which now has an ambassador wanted the ambassador to be famous, the ambassador to be the “face of the US”. An ambassador could never effectively do a job if a deputy is ten times more famous as the ambassador.

  21. Stevan Harnad: “I think the reason this thread has become so unusually irritable and accusatory (among people who normally see eye to eye) is that we are all terribly frustrated and disappointed at the unexpected departure of Mr. Goodfriend.”

    Not me. And I hope no one else either.

    Don’t get me wrong, I met Mr. Goodfriend and liked him and thought he did a good job. But there has been too much focus on him as some kind of savior of Hungarian democracy.

    André Goodfriend was never going to solve Hungary’s problems – no foreign diplomat can.

    In the end it doesn’t really matter why he was recalled back to the US. Diplomats come and go all the time, it’s just the nature of the job. Whether it was because of some deal or not, whatever, it’s actually irrelevant anyway.

    We shouldn’t expect any foreign country (like the US), nor its diplomats, to save our hides.

    Instead of mourning for the loss of Mr. Goodfriend, we should now be focused on how to build a stronger, democratic Hungary.

  22. ROBERT: We all have our own belief system, even, when we don’t know the facts. By the way I did not “attack” anyone, I am just arguing my points. I guess you don’t understand what I am trying to convey. But here it is very crudely. again.
    It does not matter at all, what anyone believes, thinks or speculates, because it does not alter that facts and the truth. So there is no point arguing about the speculations, because nobody can prove what is right or wrong.
    My point is, that the speculations and beliefs have no importance for me, since the truth cannot be obtained, the story ends with the original statement of André Goodfriend. As to what do others believe about André’s departure, since one cannot verify their truths, it is of no interest to me, or as Rhett Butler said in Gone with the Wind – “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.”
    Others may adopt any old story they like, speculating is still free.

  23. gybognarjr,

    I understood what you wrote, but I didn’t understand why you wrote it. Thank you for clearing that up, but it really isn’t relevant to what I wrote. Of course truth and facts are absolute, but that’s not really how people in the world live. There are people who go through their whole lives never knowing the truth about something, yet they are convinced they do, and everything they see supports their convictions on these points. I would argue that every human being fits this category, with a few very unusual exceptions. If a truth or a fact is never known, or is unknowable, then what good is it? Religion is an excellent example of this. Billions of people are convinced that their religion is the only true religion, yet the fact that billions of people disagree with them means that billions of people are wrong, constantly (i.e. According to many Christians, Gandhi is rotting in hell, but those corrupt popes in the middle ages who waged wars against one another are all in heaven, because popes are infallible). Of course, what religion is the correct one, if any, can’t be proven (or hasn’t been), and we don’t know what happens after we die until we die (if even then). Therefore, it’s possible that the truth about religion doesn’t really matter. What matters is what those people believe is the truth – that belief becomes fact for them.

    Therefore, what matters in most cases is what we can prove (whether it’s true or not), and the perceptions held by the people who can make a difference. I believe that enough Hungarian voters are probably going to see this incident as a win for Orbán that it will, in reality, be a win for Orbán, since “winning” is in the eye of the beholder. There’s a fact for you.

    Still no answer to my question? What if I try again?

    Where in my earlier post do I, as you wrote, “seem to know and predict exactly what our State Department does and why”?

  24. Buddy, I agree with you. Although I believe Orbán chalked up another “win” here, it’s probably just an inconsequential one that will not tip the balance either way. Of course, that’s possibly similar to what many voters in Florida thought back in November 2000.

  25. gybognarjr,

    You wrote: ” By the way I did not “attack” anyone, I am just arguing my points”.

    I heartily disagree, and I have quoted your attacks in my earlier comments – one attack in particular, I have quoted many times, as part of a question that you refuse to answer. I’ll ask it again:

    Where in my earlier post do I, as you wrote, “seem to know and predict exactly what our State Department does and why”?

    Cutting and pasting is so easy!

    Also, you refuse to argue your points, which is part of the reason that I keep pressing you to do so. Don’t worry, I will eventually give up.

  26. @buddy

    You are spot on.

    The only issue is that the US (“the last superpower”) committed a stupid blunder (regardless of the truth behind Goodfriend’s leaving), and in the worst case scenario it did make a pact with Orban, a thoroughly corrupt dictator (e.g. because he is still better than jobbik or for whatever reasons).

    The US has nothing but soft power (as it will not use drones in Hungary), and this fragile or by default controversial soft power was successfully hacked by Orban.

    It’s important to take note of this.

    By the way, there is a good saying among politicians I was reminded of: it doesn’t matter if we have no idea what to do, we can always safely rely on our adversaries to commit some stupid mistake and thereby prevail over them.

    But of course, we need to move on, now wiser by the experiences.

  27. GOOGLY: You wrote: “Is the US State Department in the habit of criticising its diplomats in public? Of course there is praise, since face must be saved, and appearances must be kept up.”

    I am not speculating and guessing, that André Goodfriend was called back by the State Department for “face saving”.

    I am not going to argue the reason(s) of the departure of André Goodfriend, because I don’t know the facts and the truth. I accept his statement as is, because I did not experience anything, which would convince me that he is a liar. And this is based on his work in previous posts in Israel, where I have friends who worked with him while he was posted there. Everybody stated, that he is an honest man and a very knowledgable senior diplomat. I accept this to be true.

  28. Paul Summers: You got lost man, this is NOT the Mexican Playboy web page. I guess, you don’t even miss the pictures because you certainly have no brains.

  29. gybognarjr,

    So you’re taking the position that everything that André Goodfriend is quoted as saying is absolutely the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, despite the fact that we all know that diplomats lie, as part of their jobs, especially when told to do so by their government? Okay, that’s possible, though I don’t believe it. However, that’s completely irrelevant to what I was saying. You quoted me as saying that the State Department lies, and I know that to be a fact (do a search for “Wikileaks US State department diplomatic cables” for an idea of how much they lie). I never said that Goodfriend didn’t have personal reasons for leaving, which is vague enough to mean that he personally doesn’t like the new ambassador, or he personally wants to keep his job, or he would like to spend more time with his family, or a thousand other things. He doesn’t have to lie to keep Orbán from appearing to win. All he has to do is say that, for personal reasons, he is taking a leave of absence from his position and returning to the US, but FULLY INTENDS TO RETURN TO HUNGARY AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE. IN ORDER TO ASSIST AMBASSADOR FOLEY TO THE UTMOST OF HIS ABILITY. That’s just one possible alternative that leaps to mind, I’m sure there are many.

    I will, from now on, helpfully point out to you whenever you post a comment here that involves speculation in any way, and remind you of how much you hate it.

    You still haven’t answered my question, you know which one!

  30. GOOGLY: Whatever you say, you are right, even when you accuse a respected person to be a liar, when you have no proof. Are you happier now?
    I assume a person is innocent, until proven guilty.
    I am finished with this subject, no other posting on André from me.

  31. gybognarjr,

    Do you only read the first sentence of my posts? I specifically pointed out that I never accused Goodfriend of lying, only the State Department, and even then only rhetorically, to point out to Webber that he was wrong about something. By the way, if he was being completely honest, then why didn’t he just take a leave of absence? I’d really like to know, so maybe you can ask your Israeli friends to ask him for me.

    I will, from now on, helpfully point out whenever you post a comment, without providing proof, accusing anyone of lying. I will provide this service to you free of charge.

    I’m glad we’re done with this topic, since I’m sure you and I agree on more topics than we disagree on.

  32. gybognarjr,

    Oh, and by the way, when you wrote: “I am not speculating and guessing, that André Goodfriend was called back by the State Department for “face saving”.”, you missed the meaning of my sentence. I was pointing to the “praise” for Goodfriend as being face-saving (specifically, trying to make it seem that he was not recalled, or that he was recalled, but not because of anything he did, thus allowing Goodfriend to save face), not claiming that “face-saving” was the reason that I believe he was recalled. I’m not absolutely positive that he was, but it seems the most logical thing to me, since the State Department is not prone to making obvious errors like accidentally giving Orbán a win in his crusade against the US and the Hungarian people. Of course, they do make errors, so maybe it is what it seems, but I doubt it.

  33. gybognarjr, chicago Istvan earn an A+ in clarity.

    I do hope the others will try to contribute clear intellectually sound ideas.

    Remember, the common goal is a drive for the freedom of all Hungarians.

  34. 3.5% GDP growth is something the goverment can be proud of. Any other polemic about adjectives of democracy is waste of time.

  35. JJJKK: I hope you have a name and you can stand behind it with responsibility. Do you?

    You may think you discovered the common goal for Hungarians, unfortunately I don’t see, if there is anything common, except ONE. Corruption. Moral and financial corruption is the only common quality at this time. That is what the entire country does and their values, success and life style depends on it.

    You teach them to be honest and responsible, law abiding and live in a competitive, knowledge based society, I can’t. Nobody could, for 1,100 years, not with swords, ropes and fire. They behaved much better under Russian occupation and rule. They were more humane and cared about each other and had a common enemy. Now they are enemies of each other.

    Ákos Kertész gave a very good description of Hungarians, so good, they wanted to kill him for his honesty and he had to emigrate, to save his life.

  36. Kids, calm down!

    And don’t feed the trolls! I hope that when Eva (who has much more important things to do) finds the time, she will delete the posts of “Paul Summers,” whose FB page shows that he is yet another Staniszlo-like nutter, friend of kuruc.info and Zsold Bayer, and even more foul-mouthed than Simicska.

  37. It is fun to deal with the conflicting matters without names.
    I am a fan of Kertesz Akos. He was and remains right in all points.
    The freedom may cure even the Hungarian devils.
    The democracy maybe also a nice proposal for all oppressed Hungarians.
    We need to assure each other of these avenues.

  38. JJJKK: Discussing and arguing about the lives of people and societies, politicians, opposition leaders in various countries is NOT in the “fun” categories if one wants to have his/her opinion taken seriously.

    It also goes, that those, who are serious or even when joking, wants to be seriously taken, do it without hiding their names.

    Of course, there are many people in Hungary, who are still afraid to voice their own opinion without hiding behind an assumed identity. Of course, this is exactly why it is acceptable in Hungary, that politicians, the Government at all levels, down to the last little village, businesses and and individuals accept, that most businesses are conducted in secrecy, instead of doing it responsibly, openly and up front in a straightforward manner.

    Only criminals do their deeds in secrets, honest people don’t have to hide the facts, honest Governments and politicians don’t work in constant secrecy. We, in the US learned, that secret deals are seldom honest, secretive politicians and businessman tend to misleads us, therefore we made the Government accountable and open and the media to ferret out secrets and we, the people keep an eye on our politicians, so they have much less chance to cheat us.

    Learning and imitating this by Hungarians in Hungary would be a giant step toward Democracy and a toward a much better quality of life.

  39. I agree with Mr Bognar. There is no fun whatsoever in any of this. It is an awful, shameful, dangerous situation in Hungary. And the only excuse for the anonymity is self-protection from the vicious, vindictive forces in power — not to act out (like the trolls) nor to opine (like the puffed pundits) or malign (like the shills) freely about all things great and small without even having to answer for one’s banter with one’s identity and reputation. (This summer I went on several dog-walks with KA and his two littlest family members…)

  40. Bismarck fired a young, bright and promising diplomat. When asked why, he answered: “Der Kerl kann nicht lügen”.

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