“We are Europe”: Official New Year’s Eve party

The Hungarian government began its rotating presidency of the European Union with a large official party in Millenarian Park. Several thousand attended. The interviews journalists conducted on the spot indicate that those present were almost exclusively active supporters of the current government.

Although politicians were not present, the government spokeswoman, Anna Nagy, and Piroska Bakos, the designated spokesperson of Hungary's EU presidency, attended. Anna Nagy announced that Hungary's EU presidency will be marked by an incredible number of cultural events. The coming six months will be "the most cultured half a year in the history of the European Union." In addition, she stated her belief that "we will be able to show Europe and the world how fantastic [klasszak], how creative we are."

All sorts of Hungarian groups performed. In order for all of us to enjoy the party and its offerings, I selected a few videos available on YouTube. The following groups took part: the Dresch Quartet and Kishúg (Little Sister), the Presidance Company, the Budapest Bár, the Sárik Trió, the Cassiopeia Buzogány Csoport, and finally a woman whose name, believe it or not, is Szirtes Edina-Mókus. The Szirtes and Edina are okay, but I don't quite know what to do with the Squirrel!

In the middle of all these activities came Pál Schmitt's New Year's speech as he wandered around the Presidential Palace (Sándor-Palota).

MTI journalists reported the following opinions from the party goers. Marcell (28) believes that Hungary's image will change as a result of the presidency: "We will show that we are capable of conducting politics and solving problems on a European level." Doyle (67), who is an actor, thinks that at last the West will know more about Hungary because "until now they have known nothing." According to him the presidency is a huge responsibility and, although one can always fail, "with such an excellent prime minister one cannot talk about failure. He is the greatest statesman in Europe." 

Gyula (66) thinks that Hungary will be better known as a result of the presidency and will be able to assert its own political and economic interests. The presidency is important for Hungary because through it Hungary can regain its importance on the international stage and the trustworthiness that it lost because of the lies of the former government. Another Gyula (40) told the reporter that Hungary "will show the world that it can lead Europe." He and his friends hitherto didn't feel that they were citizens of the European Union, and in any case the European Union's reputation is low. People "don't look up to me because I'm a citizen of the European Union the same way people look up to a citizen of the United States." The reporter inquired from our man whether Viktor Orbán will be a good president. The answer was "as far as I know Viktor Orbán he will be excellent. After all, in the last six months he has changed a lot at home… He is a well known politician abroad, and in spite of the media law he is welcome everywhere." 

Gabriella (65) is expecting the prime minister–whom she considers to be a trustworthy man of grit [karakán]–"to fix up the Union." After all, he fixed up Hungary already. (Actually she used the slang term: gatyába rázni.) Éva (50) is convinced that the goal of the presidency will be to make Hungary better known in Europe. "We are different within Europe and it is this difference that makes Hungary valuable. This is what we have to show." Zoltán (51) agrees: "In the world there are an awful lot of wrong assumptions about Hungary." The presidency will "give us the opportunity to show that we are capable of more than the world, the European Union, or even we ourselves think." Zoltán is sure that Hungary will be successful, that Europe's opinion of Hungary will change for the better, and that the next six months will raise the self-esteem of the Hungarians.

The recurring themes are: (1) the world doesn't know Hungary and the Hungarians; (2) the world doesn't think that Hungarians are capable of behaving in a "European way" but they are wrong; (3) Viktor Orbán is a capable man who managed to straighten out Hungary and surely he will be equally successful on the European scene; (4) the presidency is an opportunity to demonstrate the greatness of the Hungarians.

So, on the one hand, there is the belief that Hungary and the Hungarians are great but for one reason or another the world doesn't appreciate them. There is also this nagging thought that Hungarians are different but that they are Europeans who can handle things just as well as the western European nations. They all seem to be supporters of Fidesz who are certain that with Viktor Orbán at the helm the European Union will also be reborn. We who are reading all the bad foreign press about Hungary and Orbán might be astonished by the fact that most of these people don't realize that Hungary's reputation at the moment is at rock bottom.

Another impression was that these people have very little notion of what the rotating presidency actually means. They consider it a much more important role than it actually is. For example, in their eyes Viktor Orbán will actually lead Europe "in a positive direction." I found these answers fascinating.

 

 

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Öcsi
Guest

A quick question.
Who held the EU rotating presidency two years ago (2009)?
Does anyone know? Does anyone care?
It was the Czech Republic and Sweden but if you had no idea, and had to look it up like I did, Hungary’s presidency will be just as fondly remembered.
So it’s okay with me if the Fidesz supporters are deluding themselves while they celebrate. They’ll eventually come to their senses. Or not…

komp kalauz
Guest

2011 will be tough.
I can not see one decent Hungarian leader.
There is a similarly disappointing R & D leadership in DC.
Let us pick some leaders from the Iranian opposition.

Paul
Guest
One of those (very) rare moments today when Hungary made it onto the BBC Radio 4 news – a very brief interview with (I think) the Hungarian Minister for Foreign Affairs. It was mild to the point of pointlessness, almost along the lines of “is there anything you’d like to say to the people of the UK, Minister?”. The interviewer asked a few questions, but only one was mildly interesting. This dealt with the awarding of Hungarian citizenship to ‘external Hungarians’, but even here the question was flacid and the reply (although utterly confusing) not challenged. The issue of new media law wasn’t raised at all. I was left wondering why the BBC had even bothered. Still, there is at least something (at last) about the media law on the BBC web-site: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-12104203. Although you have to search the ‘European’ section to find it, so not many UK readers will even know it exists. But it does include the first official UK Goverment concern about the media law I have seen: Hungary and media freedom 23 December 2010 Foreign Office reponds to reports about media freedom in Hungary An FCO spokesperson said: “Freedom of the press is at the heart… Read more »
Paul
Guest

Sorry, that link works better without the full stop on the end!
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-12104203

Paul
Guest

Éva – the Budapest Bár and the Sárik Trió links are the same.
I quite liked the Little Sister (as did the cameraman!) and the ‘squirrel’ ones.
A vast improvement on the rubbish we get to watch in Kossuth Tér in Debrecen!

Joseph Simon
Guest

I just hope that Orbán and his ardent supporters will lower their expectations somewhat as to what a rotaing EU president can achieve in six monnths. They should largely concentrate on avoiding mistakes and missteps. These high hopes are to some extent understandable. Hungary is a small country and this is a chance to have a ‘place in the sun’. Hopefully Orbán is intelligent enough to learn and listen ‘menetközben’.

Paul
Guest

“They should largely concentrate on avoiding mistakes and missteps.”
Not off to a blinding start then…
“Hopefully Orbán is intelligent enough to learn and listen ‘menetközben’.”
I suspect, dear ‘Joseph’ that you know the answer as well as we do.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Paul, The problem is that Orbán is far too stubborn to change his course. Enough to look at what happened with the media law. It didn’t matter what everybody said he went ahead like a bull.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Paul: “One of those (very) rare moments today when Hungary made it onto the BBC Radio 4 news – a very brief interview with (I think) the Hungarian Minister for Foreign Affairs.”
If he had a ridiculous looking mustache it was János Martonyi, the minister for foreign affairs.

Member

Eva: ” It didn’t matter what everybody said he went ahead like a bull.” He is bully, so what to expect?
Everything he tries to do now is suspicious, because most of the things he has done in the past is either by taking credit for things he did not achieve, or blaming others for his shortcomings, or going ahead with his “vision” without communicating with anyone who is not 100% behind his ideas, pushing everyone out of his way. He, just like his forbearers misunderstood the bible, and instead of using “Aki nincs ellenunk az velunk van”(Whoever is not against us is for us) believes that “Aki nincs velunk az ellenunk van” (Whoever is not for us, is against us).
…and I am not even religious.

Hoping
Guest
Roland
Guest

Hi,
first of all P.F.2011:-)
I am new at this site.Reading through articles I see a situation in Hungary is rather specific compare to other european countries. What about to make a predictions how the situation at yearend will look like? Are you ready to make a small contest?:-)
My prediction: There arise a new political movement for “better Hungary”, HUF will drop below 300 but the economy will stay “stable”,media law will not be changed until new government in place etc…What do you think?

Joseph Simon
Guest

So how many of you brave bloggers will apply for Hungarian citizenship. And how many of you are already dual citizens. I became one right after the ‘rendszerváltás”. This Blog should encourage that. Berényi József president of the Magyar Koalició Pértja will become a Hungarian citizen. In Kolozsvár, Csikszereda and other larger cities in Erdély people are flooding to the consulate offices to apply. Judging by this seemingly enthusiastic response, it was a good decision by the Orbán government to grant dual citizenship to Hungarians living abroad. I wonder what the degree of interest would be in the USA.
This Spectrum should promote this idea.

MJ
Guest

The enthousiastic crowd is right about one thing: Western Europe will know about Hungary. The point where they are wrong is the reasoning. We make it to the news with the lack of press freedom not with our great leader who “fixes up” the EU…
I just hope Hungary will be able to clean its reputation after this adventure…

Member
Joseph, I am a dual citizen by default, as I didn’t forfeit my Hungarian Citizenship. I am a proud Canadian. I am not sure if by the standard of some Hungarians I can be considered to be Hungarian although, as I am a Jew. My parents are jewish and my children are half jewish. It has never been an issue in Canada (not once I had been questioned by anyone or in any forum or hinted by any political party that as a Hungarian or as a Jew in origin am I really, truly Canadian or not? My parents on the other hand have to listen to this kind of garbage in Hungary. Your birthright, the bloodline to Arpad in Hungary is more important that your contribution to society. Mr Orban never separated himself from this kind of thinking, and never misses a chance to bang his chest as a true Hungarian Christian (like no other religion belong). Did you read some of the Hungarian forums regarding Mr Andras Schiff’s letter to the Washington Post? He is a traitor, a jew, not a Hungarian according to those very true Hungarians! I am sad to see that Hungary is back to… Read more »
Joseph Simon
Guest

(someone) It is indeed sad what you write about. Schiff András had defined himself as a ‘European Jew’ years before Hungary joined the EU. Perhaps that is why he drew the ire of some officials. It is unfair, of course. The media law will fight anti-Semitism and child pornography. I still believe in a decent and democratic Hungary.
We should go forward and not backward.

Member
Joseph: THere are a few talented Hungarians who had to go through identity crises since the Hungarian government (current and past) did nothing to step up to the plate and stop hate propaganda and hate speech. Orban especially guilty in this. This is just a couple of example of Hungarian attitude in articles and in feedback. Where is Szalai Annamaria when we need her? I guess she is to busy with stopping Ice-T , and protecting her image as a porn diva. If the real reason of the Media Authority would be what they say it is, these kind of “journalism” (first quote) and feedback (second quote) would not be tolerated. It took less then a day to take down Szalai’s image from the web, but then again, she is just a porn princess versus Schiff who is just some musician. “A fenti levél [Washington Post] egy újabb undorító példája annak, hogy nagyrészt kiknek is köszönhetjük a hazánk külföldön történő lejáratását, az iránta történő rémhírek keltését, mely döntő szerepet játszott hazánk első világháború utáni megcsonkításában is: nagyrészt azoknak a galíciai jöttmenteknek, illetve leszármazóik hazudozásainak, uszításainak és bomlasztásának, akik félrevezették a világot és akiket sajnos gyermeteg és jóindulatú módon előtte befogadtunk.”… Read more »
Mutt Damon
Guest

The great Hungarian Ostrich in action. Type the words “Schiff” and “zsido” into the Google search. A couple of dozen of anti-Semitic articles will pop up and explain to you that it is the nasty Jews fault that the world thinks we are anti-Semitic. I wonder how many of these guys will receive a letter from or Queen Of Porn. I guess she is busy fighting (child) pornography.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Mutt: “A couple of dozen of anti-Semitic articles will pop up”
Indeed, but even Magyar Nemzet claimed that Schiff had no right to say anything because he lives abroad. This is being said when Orbán and Co. want to give citizenship and voting rights to millions who don’t live in Hungary.
I also wonder what kind of rag spreads the news that Schiff doesn’t consider himself Hungarian.

Bálint
Guest
Someone – Consistently enjoy your comments, and we couldn’t be in more agreement on Orban, but – if you’ll forgive my pedantry – I do have a correction on a point of fact: If you have a look at Matthew 12:30 you’ll find that Jesus actually did say (well according to a source that is about as close to authoritative as you can get under the circumstances) “He who is not with me is against me,” rather than the alternative your humane imagination has substituted for it. I remember the passage popping up like the nemesis of western civilization when George W. Bush quoted it substituting “us” (as in “us in the US”) for “me” in one of his tough-guy speeches to Congress – specifically the one he made after 9/11 just as soon as he’d stopped scampering around the country like a scared bunny. I expect religious people not to be familiar with the most basic texts of their faith – it’s almost a prerequisite – but the non-religious needn’t operate under the same constraints, nor should they -especially not with all the battles of the Enlightenment waiting to be refought. And I truly hope things haven’t degenerated here… Read more »
John G
Guest
Since Joe was asking how many of us here on this forum are citizens or dual citizens: I am a dual citizen both of Hungary and Canada. Proud to be both and carry both Passports. Admittedly the Hungarian one is more a symbolic one since when I travel I use the Canadian one. I have a Hungarian “matrica” displayed on my car. True, lately I have been thinking that maybe I should remove it, but decided against it. In for a penny in for a pound as they say in England. Since I do not have a registered address in Hungary I am not entitled to vote in Hungarian elections. Looking forward to have that changed by this current government. Though as things stand I have no idea which party I would vote for. It certainly would not be the current coalition (the Fidesz-KNDP “conspiracy” as some Hungarian bloggers refer to it) nor would it be for the MSZP in it’s current form. There were two parties I may have but it is hardly likely that either of them will present themselves at the next election. At least not in their last form. Now if the Charta were to become… Read more »
Member

Bálint, I truly appreciate your comment. You certainly know more about the bible then I, and so you are right, as Jesus did say in Matthew 12:30 as well as in Luke 11:23 “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” Still in Luke 9:50 “Do not stop him,” Jesus said, “for whoever is not against you is for you.”
What it means really that even the bible is ambiguous and people will use some parts for their advantage. It is certainly Matthew 12:30 that Orban took to heart.
Thank you for bringing this up.

Joseph Simon
Guest

So far three of us dual citizens. Somehow I feel Hungary needs all the support we can give her. Of course I donot equate that country with the present government. FIDESZ has a lot of explaining to do in view of the protests at home and abroad.
‘My country right or wrong’, a very American saying. Also, Americans will not criticize their country or government when they are abroad. Something to think about.

Bálint
Guest

Someone – Serves me right for sticking with Matthew (all that repetition in the synoptic gospels drives me crazy); the Luke passage had completely slipped my mind. The nice-guy hippie amanuensis must have been on duty that day instead of the dour fanatic.
When I read the gospels though I do get the impression that, on the balance, the hippie took more than his fair share of sick days.
Sorry Eva, awful headache at the moment, can’t think of a clever way drag this back into the Carpathian Basin.

Bálint
Guest

America? Do you refer to my native land? That largish country on the North American land-mass proverbial for bloated complacency and hypocrisy bordering on delusion known as the United States? The one where the seeming willingness of the majority to stand anything – so long as it comes decked out in the right sort of kitsch – comes unpleasantly to mind as I contemplate the current situation in my adopted country?
But perhaps someone talking in this way can’t be a real American? Some help here in settling this vexing question:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/True_Scotsman_problem

Member

Bálint: True Scotsman problem.
Exactly. THis is the problem what the Fidesz and Jobbik are faced with. True Hungarians cannot be this or that, they can only be one thing, according to them.
Thanks for the great explanation.

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