Joint warning to Hungary about corruption

Ambassadors of nine countries (the United States, Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Japan, Great Britain, Germany, Norway, and Switzerland) wrote a joint letter to Prime Minister Gordon Bajnai complaining about corruption and the unfriendly attitude toward foreign investors. Népszabadság wrote that one diplomat told their reporter, "Don't think that the addressee is Bajnai!" Surely it was a warning to Fidesz, the party most likely to be in charge of Hungary for the next four years. In the letter they mentioned foreign investments in utility companies–obviously referring to the case of Suez versus the new Fidesz mayor of Pécs, the treatment of foreign companies in the entertainment industry (Radios Danubius and Sláger), and finally foreign companies involved in building Hungary's infrastructure.

The current government did not initiate any of these problems. As far as the fate of the two radio stations was concerned, the government was on the side of the German and American owners but was unable to prevent the "deal." Fidesz, on the other hand, successfully prevented the construction of a tire factory in Gyöngyös, launched a campaign against the privatization of health insurance, stopped a deal to build a casino near the Slovak border, and one could continue. All this didn't go unnoticed.

Such a move was a very serious warning and quite unusual, especially since the letter was not only sent to Gordon Bajnai via diplomatic channels but was also made public. The ambassadors, it seems, wanted to make sure that the real addressee would get the message. Gordon Bajnai reacted immediately and invited the ambassadors for a private conversation. Fidesz naturally put all the blame on the government and predicted that Bajnai would have a lot of explaining to do.

Put it this way. I wouldn't like to be in Bajnai's place. After all, he is the prime minister and in the final analysis he is responsible for everything that happens in the country. At the same time, the central goverment by law is prevented from meddling in local affairs. As for corruption, the government has few resources to ferret out shady business deals between foreign companies and lower Hungarian officials. As far as I know, when Gordon Bajnai was in charge of European Union monies he tried everything in his power to prevent fraud and corruption. How successful he was, I don't know, but it is clear that corruption is rampant on all levels. The government just lately offered assistance to employees who would be willing to report suspected wrongdoing in their companies. The idea, I assume, came from the United States where the whistleblower law was enacted some years ago. The initial Hungarian reaction was negative because of the fear that some people would misuse the opportunity to get even with people whom they dislike. They also claimed that Hungarians like to report on others as it is. It shouldn't be encouraged. However, it seems that the government is going ahead with the plan to introduce the law in Hungary.

Fidesz, already bruised by the IMF's reaction to a higher budget deficit, cannot afford to go against foreign investors who are so essential for Hungary's economic growth and development. Viktor Orbán might change his tactics once he is in power. Or at least one hopes so.

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Odin's lost eye
I fear the Leopard cannot (and will not) change its spots! Orban and his pals (including Gábor Vona and his little chums) cannot wait to get total control over the whole honey pot. They see it as the proverbial ‘Crock of Gold’ at the end of the rainbow. Once they get their sticky fingers on it, embezzlement, graft and plain good old fashioned theft will occur on a truly gargantuan level. Nothing will be safe even if it is welded down. They want the lot and will have it! Orban thinks that he is above the law and Vona believes that he is (He says that God told him so). Orban says one thing to the International Community and something different to his supporters. He thinks that the rest of the world does not notice, Oh but they do! The joint letter from the nine (9) ambassadors would have been instigated by the governments concerned. Its wording and contents would have discussed at a very high level by the Foreign Offices of all concerned. A letter of this type is a stark warning to every one, great and small, in this country to mend their ways quickly OR ELSE! I… Read more »

@esbalogh: “the government was on the side of the German and American owners but was unable to prevent the “deal.” By the government you mean the MSZP. The then head of ORTT, Majtényi, objected to the behaviour of both MSZP and Fidesz. One of the radio stations was replaced by a company set up and composed of ‘friends’ of MSZP. The idea that a ruling government couldn’t prevent anyone from following the letter of the law is damning enough in itself. Do you not think that after 7 years that is more than a cause for concern? As the head of ORTT has clearly stated that he believes the law was broken and detailed this in a clear statement to that effect ( ). He believes the MSZP and Fidesz were/are both to blame.
Unlike you I won’t start listing the fraud, embezzlement and lawlessness that MSZP and SZDSZ have presided over, conducted and encouraged: the list is too long. MSZP are getting what they deserve in the polls. May they and their lackeys be shown the full appreciation of the electorate for their lawlessness and lack of decency.