Monthly Archives: May 2010

Fidesz gathering in front of parliament

Yesterday I summarized what Viktor Orbán had to say at the outdoor celebration of the Fidesz victory. He talked not as prime minister but as the leader of a party that for eight years worked hard, through thick and thin, to arrive at the gates of a better future. According to Fidesz ideology the last eight years were nothing but devastation, lies, and corruption. The country was falling behind instead of leading the pack of East European countries that joined the European Union. According to Fidesz politicians this lamentable situation … Read the rest

Speeches inside and outside of the Hungarian Parliament

Yesterday was a great day for Fidesz and its chairman, by now prime minister, Viktor Orbán. The second Orbán government was sworn in. It was decided about a week ago that after the official celebrations inside the building, at four o'clock in the afternoon there would be a mass meeting in front of the parliament. On the same Kossuth Square where Fidesz and groups farther to the right, including Jobbik, had been organizing mass demonstrations against the government over the last eight years.

These mass demonstrations began immediately after Fidesz lost the elections in 2002, but they … Read the rest

Hungary has a new government

It was this morning that the second Orbán government was sworn in. For those of us who are accustomed to the American custom where the chief justice of the Supreme Court swears in the new president, it was a bit odd to see the Hungarian prime minister read the text.

Viktor Orbán gave a short speech in which he turned again to religion and Latin. In April, after winning the election, Orbán drew on the Vulgate (Matthew 6:10): "Thy will be done," or in Latin: "fiat voluntas tua." However, he changed it … Read the rest

Three Hungarian reactions from Slovakia

Three well-known Slovak-Hungarians have written or talked about the new Hungarian citizenship law in the last couple of weeks. The first article that appeared in Élet és Irodalom (May 21, 2010) was by Péter Morvay, a commentator for the well respected and much read Slovak paper, SME. The second appeared only today in Hírszerző; it is by László Barak, editor of, an on-line paper that is apparently the most popular Hungarian-language site in Slovakia. And finally, I will mention an interview with Miklós Duray, a Slovak-Hungarian activist and actually a promoter … Read the rest

About János Martonyi, the new Hungarian foreign minister

Almost every time there is an opinion piece about the future of Hungarian foreign policy, commentators feel compelled to mention that János Martonyi is practically the only  minister of the second Orbán government who knows his business.

This is not a new phenomenon. I clearly remember that the failures of the first Orbán government in the field of diplomacy were usually chalked up to the inexperience of the prime minister and the nationalistic impulses of Martonyi's undersecretary, the aggressive Zsolt Németh. However, Martonyi protested even then when a reporter pointed out … Read the rest

The die is cast

Although it is likely that Knut Vollebaek, who is in charge of minority issues in the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe, warned János Martonyi, Hungary's future foreign minister, that the OSCE would prefer a negotiated solution to the controversy over dual citizenship that is currently raging between Slovakia and Hungary, the Hungarians were not moved. Martonyi stated that Hungary was ready to talk with Slovakia, but only "after the the formation of the new Slovak government." Martonyi also said that "Hungary's position will be unambiguous, clear and determined." In plain language Hungary … Read the rest

A footnote to Milan Jaroň’s writing on Trianon

Indeed, when we place the nationality question at the center of the discussion about the breakup of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy we are led astray. In many ways the situation that presented itself after World War I could have offered an opportunity for these nations, but no country with the possible exception of Czechoslovakia took advantage of it. Hungary in particular viewed it, in the words of the old saw, as a stumbling block not a stepping stone.

The Czechs were in an enviable position, in large part because they had a long bourgeois tradition. After … Read the rest