Jobbik in Europe and in Hungary

I would never have thought that my simple little heraldic history would interest so many people and I'm almost tempted to continue, but there are other contemporary issues that came up. The first that concerns Slovak-Hungarian relations is the visit of Knut Vollebaek, commissioner in charge of minority affairs of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, OSCE, to Budapest yesterday and today to Bratislava. However, I still don't quite understand what position Vollebaek took in the Slovak-Hungarian controversy. Perhaps tomorrow we will know more.

On the other hand, we know only too well what Krisztina Morvai did in Brussels yesterday. My readers may recall that one member of the three-person Jobbik delegation, Előd Novák, appeared on the opening day of the European Parliament in the uniform of the banned Hungarian Guard. The Hungarian socialists were outraged and the head of the socialist delegation, Martin Schulz, made noises about wearing uniforms in the chamber. In the end it turned out that the rules and regulations say nothing about uniforms. The response of the Fidesz members was that there are so many members of parliament and the chamber is so vast that almost no one could see what the Jobbik member wore. And those who did see him might have thought he was a workman doing some repair work!

Well, if they didn't notice Előd Novák's uniform, they certainly noticed Krisztina Morvai's tongue! Some people thought that Morvai was going to mellow in Brussels. After all, earlier she had an opportunity to learn something about international cooperation while representing Hungary as a member of the Women's Anti-Discrimination Committee of the United Nations. I wasn't so sure. Knowing the woman, not personally of course, I was certain that she would continue her less than truthful propaganda about Hungarian "dictatorship." I was right.

According to her own statement she spoke in the European Parliament three times within the first day and a half! I can't even imagine what kind of house rules allow such frequent speeches. However, she managed. Anyone interested in Krisztinai Morvai's contributions can find them on her website. At the moment only the first speech is available which I assume she made in English. Unfortunately it is translated into Hungarian on the attached video by a woman whose Hungarian pronounciation is, how shall I say, a bit odd! This is about the Hungarian farmers' plight. In this speech she claims that farmers are going bankrupt, they will have to sell their lands and these lands will be sold to foreigners. Hungary will become a colony! Her second speech was about the question of subsidies to the auto industry, specifically about the fate of Opel. Not suprisingly Ms Morvai didn't want to give a penny to save these industries. After all, it is their fault that they are in trouble!

But the third speech was the best! She expressed her outrage that Kinga Göncz, former foreign minister of Hungary, became one of the vice-chairmen of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (EP LIBE). It is an outrage, said Krisztina Morvai, because on October 23, 2006, that Hungarian government ordered the police to attack peaceful demonstrators, ordinary pedestrians minding their own business, even foreign tourists just finishing their dinners at nearby restaurants. Many hundreds of people were hurt, the police using rubber bullets shot into the eyes of fourteen people, several of whom became blind. Hundreds were arrested and jailed, and court proceedings were rigged. Moreover, the prime minister praised the police for the "excellent" job. She asked the new speaker of the house, Jerzy Buzek, to dismiss Ms. Göncz.

I watched the coverage of these so-called peaceful demonstrators and I can assure everybody that not one-tenth of her story is true. The truth is that more policemen received serious injuries than those who attacked them. Surely there were some mistakes, mostly with people who out of curiosity got mixed up with the rock throwers, but nothing like Ms Morvai has been telling the world ever since.

Jerzy Buzek, according to Morvai, asked her to submit her complaints in writing, adding that he "is willing to meet with [her] personally." But, continues Morvai, Kinga Göncz immediately approached Buzek and told him that Morvai "represents a neonazi party and that for the events of October 2006 the neo-nazis were also responsible." Morvai called Göncz a liar and told Buzek that she would ask for an appointment in writing.

Morvai in her own description of the events doesn't mention that Martin Schulz, the head of the socialist delegation, called her "the representative of a neo-nazi party" and that the number two man in the Jobbik delegation, Zoltán Balczó, called Schulz's description of Jobbik as a fascist party "a slander."  Morvai also left out her "request to Jerzy Buzek to fight for the cessation of a continuous human-rights abuse that has existed ever since the fall of 2006 in Hungary." Göncz rightly pointed out that if there were no democracy in Hungary Krisztina Morvai wouldn't have been able to give her speech. She mentioned that an independent committee investigated the behavior of the police and although they found some abuses, on the whole the members of the committee found the work of the police satisfactory. She mentioned Jobbik's activities in Hungary, its creation of a uniformed paramilitary organization whose goal is to frighten minority groups, gays, Jews and Gypsies and that "this party campaigned with rascist, homophobic, xenophobic slogans and tried to portray Hungary as a colony of the European Union." Somehow I don't think that Jobbik needed that. At least not in Brussels. Perhaps in Hungary they will receive additional votes as a result of their "humiliation" in Brussels.

Let's see what Jobbik's situation is at the moment in Hungary. A new poll was taken (Progresszív Intézet and Publicus) about people's attitudes toward extremism and conservatism. The poll is interesting enough to spend a little more time on it, but here I just want to mention one question posed out of the many: "Which party is considered to be extremist in Hungary?" Sixty-eight percent named Jobbik and that sounds quite good but one has to keep in mind that when people were asked whether there was any extremist party in Hungary, twenty-four percent of the population claimed that there wasn't. The percentage among Fidesz voters was higher (29%) while among MSZP voters it was lower, only 16%. Thus, if this poll tells us anything it is about the openness of about one third of the population toward extreme right propaganda. So it just a question of how well Jobbik manages its affairs until the next elections.

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Friend
Guest

Thanks for covering these disgraceful moments in the European Parliament! I heard about it in the Hungarian media, but I had not read Göncz Kinga’ response. Those seem very satisfactory.

Thrasymachus
Guest

“I watched the coverage of these so-called peaceful demonstrators and I can assure everybody that not one-tenth of her story is true.”

delisa
Guest

An other point of wiew:
http://fsp.nolblog.hu/archives/2009/09/17/A_magyarok_nyilasai/
(in Hungarian only)

Adam LeBor
Guest

Thrasymachus – One of the most annoying things (among the many pleasures and satisfactions) of being a foreign correspondent in Hungary is the rush to categorise those of us non-Magyars who have the effontery to write about Hungary.
For example, if we write something about the rise of the far-right – a major story at the moment, by any journalistic standards – we are instantly boxed into the liberal/urban/cosmopolitan corner. But, Thrasymachus, a cursory check on the Times database would pull up the following articles by me that can only short circuit your categorising:
on the endemic corruption and former communist nomenklatura’s self-enrichment that helped lead to the IMP bail out:
http://tinyurl.com/lycprp
on Zsuzsa Demscak’s blog (after which she resigned as govt. spokeswoman)
http://tinyurl.com/m6g5uw
on police brutality in 2006
http://tinyurl.com/nyd9fz
and so on, and so forth.
I don’t have an agenda, except to report what is happening. And unlike some commentators on this blog, we journalists at least put our names on what we write.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Adam LeBor: “And unlike some commentators on this blog, we journalists at least put our names on what we write.”
I absolutely hate those commentators who don’t give their own names. I have been writing on the internet for over fifteen years and not once did I try to shield my identity. I take responsibility for every word I write. I checked some of my remarks from those early days of the Internet and I mustn’t be ashamed of anything I ever wrote. It is possible that fifteen years ago I didn’t see everything clearly or that I saw something differently from how I see it today but I basically I can stand by all I ever wrote on the Internet.
As for the October 23, 2006 events I saw what I saw. In any other country the police would have been much harsher than the Hungarian police was. What I saw was mostly the police retreating and trying to defend themselves. In this country, for example, the retaliation would have been much harsher. So would have been the punishment in the courts. In Hungarian courts they receive ridiculously light sentences, if at all.

Friend
Guest
The issue is not if Morvai’s statements about the brutality of the policy force on the 50th celebration of the 1956 revolution are correct or not. Ths issue is that Morvai makes a fool of herself with the connection she makes between the appointment of Göncz Kinga as vice-chairmen of the EP LIBE and her alleged role – as Minister of Foreign Affairs – in the street fights between the Hungarian police and several groups in Budapest on September 23th 2006. Morvai’s self-righteousness seems to be boundless, as is her ignorance on European politics. Within days she made herself known to be a complete bore in Strasbourg, and I doubt she will ever be able to regain enough respect to be taken serious again. But even if Morvai’s statements are dramatically overdone, there is no question that the police acted improfessional and brutal that evening. I would suggest to the interested reader the collection of articles Tamás Bodoky wrote, bundled in his price winning book “Túlkapások” (Hungarian: http://indexkonyv.blog.hu/2008/09/15/kepeskonyvben_jelent_meg_bodoky_dijnyertes_tenyfeltarasa). I believe that book to give a more balanced account than the above mentioned “Crisis in Hungary”. I actually took part in the celebration and I had my children with me, although… Read more »
Friend
Guest

Oh! I write September 23th instead of October 23th. How stupid can one be? Phew (sweeping the sweat of one’s forehead), luckily all under an alias…

Thrasymachus
Guest

@Adam LeBor
“But, Thrasymachus, a cursory check on the Times database would pull up the following articles by me that can only short circuit your categorising.”

Thrasymachus
Guest

@Eva S. Balogh
“I take responsibility for every word I write… As for the October 23, 2006 events I saw what I saw.”

Thrasymachus
Guest

@Friend
“The issue is not if Morvai’s statements about the brutality of the policy force on the 50th celebration of the 1956 revolution are correct or not. [er… yes it is!] Ths issue is that Morvai makes a fool of herself with the connection she makes between the appointment of Göncz Kinga as vice-chairmen of the EP LIBE and her alleged role – as Minister of Foreign Affairs – in the street fights between the Hungarian police and several groups in Budapest on September 23th 2006.”

Sandor
Guest

No, my verbous friend Trashymachus, the state TV did not broasdcast the events of october, because, as it happened, they were under the siege of the very people you are busy exonerating.
The broadcast was on HirTV, the right wing mouthpiece, that already on the spot, and at the very moment, qualified the mob as freedom fighters.
As to the “civil right” activities of Ms. Morvai and the report she cobbled together, I can refer you to the website (http://www.morvaikrisztina.com/)(alas, only in Hungarian), where you will find a light hearted, but well founded summary of why the “report” is a piece of useless fluff.
This inverted jacobine is providing endless amusement to the observer and frankly you are not so bad yourself.

Mark
Guest

Tharsymachus: “In which you blithely intersperse reporting on Jobbik, with stuff you’ve made up for your book. I quote:
“In my novel, the conspiracy reintroduces the Gendarmerie, the national paramilitary police force that in 1944 forced half a million Jews on the trains to Auschwitz. The Gendarmerie was disbanded after the Second World War. Its return is now a major plank of Jobbik’s platform.”
Once you remove the words “in my novel, the conspiracy reintroduces”, I’d like to ask which of the rest is made up. I can prove the first two statements are true (and before you start, I’ve lots of original documents from the period that demonstrate it) which leaves the third. So, I take it Jobbik is no longer calling for the re-creation of the gendarmerie? Which – as I’ve pointed out before – was a pretty stupid demand, as if one looks at what a gendarmerie is, it is pretty clear the Hungarian police force is one already, in all but name.

Odin's lost eye
Guest
I see that Jobbik and Co (very Limited) have had to trot out someone who can write and not the usual mono-syllabic twerps they used to use. I hope they pay you well! Mr Thrasymachus for all your verbiage, attempted obfuscation and ‘spin’ the facts remain that someone tried to re-enact the events of October 1956 in the hopes that it would engender a similar reaction from the police. It did not! There were no bursts of machine gun fire from the radio station as there was in 1956 and no general up-rising! Yes the truth has an unfortunate way of ‘oozing out’ no matter how much you write or that Muppet Ms Krisztina Morvai rants. MEPs are not idiots they have good sources of reliable information and are well briefed. In the sort of situation we had in 2006 where the riot was carefully planned and orchestrated, the probability of innocent bystanders being swept up in the resulting mêlée is very large. The planners of the riot knew this and exploited it for at least four reasons. These were firstly to swell the numbers. Secondly, the hope that some of these innocents would be hurt –good propaganda-. Thirdly that… Read more »
Katalin
Guest
Mark, thanks, I wanted to make a similar comment. “So, I take it Jobbik is no longer calling for the re-creation of the gendarmerie?” Jobbik stressed the re-creation of the gendarmerie already in their EU-campaign spot (“Rendet, csendôrséget”). And meanwhile, the “New Hungarian Guard” actually starts appointing them. So far it’s only some members of a banned organisation sticking rooster feathers on their caps and wearing protective vests saying “csendôrség” on the back, but this is about attracting voters for next year. Like, “if you vote for us, we will re-create the grand and noble tradition of the Hungarian Gendarmerie as replacement/in addition to the corrupt police force we are having now; their role in the holocaust is a.) a lie b.) only a problem for “magukfajták”. Odin on 2006: I agree. To me it felt like a scripted all-day theater show all over town, re-enacting 1956 to create a revolutionary setting for 2006, towards a violent climax. For example, during the day, there were these people in 1950s costumes on open trucks driving around downtown Budapest all afternoon, waving flags shouting for the Russians to go home, and from a distance I thought what a good idea. When I… Read more »
Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Katalin: “a small correction: the third EP delegate is not Elôd Novák but Csanád Szegedi.”
Thanks. Indeed. But I keep getting lost among all these Előds, Csanáds, and Botonds.

Thrasymachus
Guest

@Sándor
Your double standards are, quite literally, staggering. Oh yes, it’s always the other way round: isn’t it? Always!
It’s HírTV that’s a right-wing mouthpiece. When of course MTV et al are whiter than white and would never DREAM of making politically motivated editorial decisions. What are you suggesting? Some sort of absurd moon landing conspiracy, in which HírTV set up a studio somewhere with mock ups of parts of Budapest and actors dressed up like policemen to beat the living daylights out of people?
Do you realise how absurd you sound when you spout this nonsense? And your knowledge of the facts is spurious at best. The MTV siege happened considerably prior to 23rd October. But it does hold significance here. It is precisely because the head of the police admitted to receiving direct orders from Gyurcsány when the MTV siege was broken up: that Orbán considered it absurd for the regime to suggest that the horrors of the 23rd weren’t state sanctioned.
And unlike you he speaks from knowledge, knowing a great many of the senior policemen from his days as PM. As he makes clear here.

Thrasymachus
Guest

@Mark
Oh no! Not all this “remove the words” nonsense again! How you love to meddle with people’s words and not take them at face value… Might I suggest you consider the possibility that being pressed for space, and time, it is neither within my power or desire to quote Mr LeBor’s article: at length. And that’s kind of why I provided a link to it.
Read it.
And then ask yourself why he has not returned here to answer the charge of applying a sub-standard order of journalism to Hungarian affairs. Ask yourself whether you think it would be internationally acceptable to interweave fact and fiction in a piece of political reportage about Germany or Italy or the UK.
And as for the return of the Gendarmerie… perusing the wealth of video footage from 23rd October and the behaviour of the police hierarchy after those events… what possible reason might Jobbik have for thinking Hungary desperately requires root and branch Police reform? I wonder.

Thrasymachus
Guest
@Odin’s Lost Eye The same as usual, eh? Make up your mind. Am I to be castigated for being a mono-syllabic twerp or for being a verbose obfuscator? Tell me. What cheeses you off more? The idea that I’m articulate, or that I have the nerve to come here and call you on all your utter nonsense? Nothing like implying payment for services rendered as the highest possible political crime! What? You mean like donning a uniform and being a paid enforcer of a corrupt socialist administration; and firing a rubber bullet into the face of anyone who might dare disagree with my masters? You Lefties really think you own the past, don’t you? Like its pre-1989 when it was your exclusive preserve to rewrite whatever you saw fit. Like it’s your own little colouring in book, and you have exclusive access to the crayons. Well I’m sorry buddy: not so. And it’s not I who say so, but the reams upon reams upon reams of footage, from that night, that exists across the internet. How, I wonder, did I manage to “spin” or “obfuscate” all of those into existence? That’s the ultimate absurdity of you pal, and people who… Read more »
Thrasymachus
Guest

@Katalin
If this blog’s author is so deliberately determined to get the facts wrong, what on earth makes you think she was actually going to get people’s names right? When it comes to Nationalists: castigate first, confirm minor details such as identity later. Come on, keep up!
(Cheap shot I know. But I’ve taken so many rabbit punches here, I figured I was about due for one myself… Just so you know I can mix it up if necessary. See you soon my darlings.)

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Thrasymachus: “@Sándor Your double standards are, quite literally, staggering. Oh yes, it’s always the other way round: isn’t it? Always! It’s HírTV that’s a right-wing mouthpiece. When of course MTV et al are whiter than white and would never DREAM of making politically motivated editorial decisions.”
Let me correct first Sándor. He is mixing up two dates: September 19 and October 23. Storming of MTV occurred on September 19 and it was HírTV that showed the event while one of its reporters announced that the wonderful revolution arrived and cheered the vandals on. The police action Morvai is talking about happened on October 23, 2006. It was MTV that showed what happened for hours on end and I watched the whole thing. The trouble started somewhere close to Deák tér and ended hours later close to Erzsébet híd. The police were retreating, retreating all along. It was pitiful to watch it.

Adam LeBor
Guest
Once more: it is not me, but current events in hungary which are mixing fact and fiction. I wrote a novel, the Budapest Protocol. In the novel an extreme right wing party takes power and re-introduces the Gendarmerie. This is now a central plank of Jobbik policy, one of the party’s three slogans in the recent EU elections in which it did so well. There is no mixing of fact and fiction, merely a noting of how something I imagined fictionally now seems to be moving towards reality. Here, again, are three links to some of my reporting, some of which is highly critical of the socialists and this current government: on the endemic corruption and former communist nomenklatura’s self-enrichment that helped lead to the IMP bail out: http://tinyurl.com/lycprp on Zsuzsa Demscak’s blog (after which she resigned as govt. spokeswoman) http://tinyurl.com/m6g5uw on police brutality in 2006 http://tinyurl.com/nyd9fz Readers may be amused to learn that my critical article on Zsuzsa demacsak short circuited the usual reflexes at Magyar Nemzet. After a day’s thought they published an article explaining that Ruper Murdoch wanted me to write the article because of his business interests to do with various pipelines to damage the govt,… Read more »
Thrasymachus
Guest

@Adam LeBor
“But welcome to the wacky world of hungarian conspiracies and journalism to order…..in which some commentators here certainly feel at home.”

Adam LeBor
Guest

If the Times correspondent in Berlin/Paris/NYC/Moscow wrote a thriller, some of which then seemed to be becoming true, of course the editors would commission a feature article about the book and the current reality in that country. Believe it or not, Hungary is not singled out for special treatment. So the answer is yes.
You keep repeating your complaint about the interspersing of fact and fiction, but the article absolutely makes clear which is real and which is fiction, so I really don’t see what all the fuss is about.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Thrasymachus: “WE who have to live with the international consequences of your shoddy journalism.”
I’m warning you! If you keep going like this and attack people’s professional competence, I will get your far too long comments off the blog.

Öcsi
Guest

“I’m warning you! If you keep going like this and attack people’s professional competence, I will get your far too long comments off the blog.”
I hope you don’t trash Thrasymachus. Oddly enough I enjoy reading his comments. They are so, how shall I put it, vaguely Nietzschean, but without the humour and wit.
Of course, if he continues to cross the line of acceptable posting, I will understand his banishment from civilized discourse.

Thrasymachus
Guest

@Adam LeBor
Thank you for your straight answer.
As I said: pull the other one.

Thrasymachus
Guest

@Öcsi
Is that meant to be a compliment or an insult? If the former then you shouldn’t be surprised:
http://www.iep.utm.edu/thrasymachus/#H3
If the latter, then hold fast foolish wanderer! Haven’t you seen? Insults are verboten. They’re contrary to the double standard that passes here for the rules of “civilized discourse.” Oh that’s right, a person of your politics is allowed to make them. I’d forgotten.
Well if I do find myself subject of a ban I hope you will be mature enough to realise its origins lie not in a violation of any sort of etiquette (that changes according to the implied politics of the comment poster); but rather that the author of this blog may be all too familiar with Nietzsche’s work also. As the man said:
“All things are subject to interpretation. Whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth.”

Adam LeBor
Guest

I don’t mind the insults, I’ve been called far worse than ‘shoddy’ and will doubtless be again in the future. But I do really wonder why you say ‘pull the other one’ about my answer to your question as to whether other countries would be treated the same as hungary if a foreign correspondent there wrote a novel about that country.
why bother asking if you don’t believe the answer? and why wonder why people think you are a conspiracy theorist if you seem to believe that Hungary, a country which much as we love it is not actually that important in the grand scheme of geo-politics, should be singled out for special treatment?

Sandor
Guest

Gee, thanks Eva: “Let me correct first Sándor. He is mixing up two dates: September 19 and October 23.”
I deserved to be corrected, it’s true, and let it be first all right, but the second never came.
You din’t get around to Trashymachus and his usual wailings of double standards.
Double standards are to the dolts as the garlic is to the vampire. But they never hesitate to employ double standards themselves: law and order they yearn for, and attack police wherever they can find them.
Double standard at its best as you my dear Trashymachus, attack the messenger with unrelenting zeal, demanding evidence and then, reject the evidence offered and fail to bring your own.
Hey, Trashymachus (do appreciate the intentional misspelling, would you) how about some honesty, for a change? Try it! You may like it.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Thrasymachus: “May I remind you that prior to this Mr LeBor had: 1. Hinted at my being a coward for using a pseudonym. 2. Then went on to imply that I was a wacky Hungarian conspiracy theorist.”
Well, I hate pseudonyms too and I said so. Our privilege to have an opinion on that matter. As far as your second point is concerned, unfortunately Adam LeBor is right. Conspiracy theories abound in Hungary. Some of them are truly ridiculous.

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