Just as I suspected, by yesterday the politicians of the European Union had already heard about the infamous speech of Viktor Orbán. One really must be an unquestioning true believer in the Fidesz propaganda to think that the Hungarian prime minister's attack on the European Union was not a grave mistake. Yesterday László Kovács (MSZP), former EU commissioner in charge of taxation, received a few telephone calls from former colleagues who already knew about the details of the speech. Since then more and more embarrassing details have come to light.
The five hundred college students who were paid to cheer was bad enough. By today people were asking in comments to newspaper articles on the subject whether the cheering crowds at previous Fidesz meetings were also compensated. Or who paid those people who went to disrupt the speeches of Ferenc Gyurcsány or the mayor of Budapest, Gábor Demszky?
Then came another bombshell. At the official celebration in front of the National Museum a woman recited an abominably long and not a very good poem by Sándor Petőfi entitled "15-dik március, 1848" written on March 16, 1848. Neither Petőfi's name nor the title of the rather obscure poem was mentioned. But there are diligent journalists who took the trouble–and nowadays it is not even a difficult task–to find the poem in the Hungarian Electronic Library's collection. It has 19 four-line stanzas; six were omitted in the recitation. Unfortunately the very first stanza that was left out started with "Freedom of the press … no longer I'm worried about you, my nation." Then there was the stanza asking "the youth of the country to act, to break the lock that was put on our sacred press by godless hands." And another stanza talks about the no-good parliament in Pozsony (Bratislava). Very unfortunate, I would say.
In the prime minister's speech, as I wrote earlier, was a strange paragraph that somehow didn't fit with the rest. Orbán said that no Hungarian can be found among those who came up with the ideologies of national socialism and communism. Therefore, Hungarians won't tolerate any lecturing and they demand respect. To whom was he addressing these strange words?
It seems that others caught on a lot faster than I did. Orbán was telling the Germans off. Who are the fathers of communism? The Germans Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Who came up with the ideology of national socialism? Adolf Hitler and fellow Germans. So Orbán is telling the Germans: don't preach about democracy and don't tell us that we are not a democratic nation. You have no right because you had plenty to do with both communism and national socialism. We were not the ones who are responsible for the two most deadly ideologies of the twentieth century.
Considering how important Germany is to the well being of the Hungarian economy, such an unfair attack on today's Germans is ill advised at any time, but since Pál Schmitt is just making his "maiden voyage" to Germany as the president of Hungary it is most unfortunate indeed.
Schmitt first met with Christian Wulff, the president of Germany, who made it clear that the Germans will be paying special attention to the freedom of the press in Hungary. Wulff also talked about the new Hungarian constitution, stressing that thoroughness is much more important than speed. He also said that with such a large government majority comes a special responsibility for the Hungarian government. In brief, Wulff was preaching.
Schmitt didn't fare too well at his next stop either, at the office of the German chancellor. Angela Merkel "understands the levying of taxes on certain companies, but she thought that in the long run they cause more harm than good." So Merkel was preaching too.
And just imagine what kind of preaching will be waiting for the Hungarian government when the European Commission finds out that the promised 3.8% deficit for 2010 was not met. According to unnamed but reliable sources it will be more like 4.5%.
All in all, things are not going well for Viktor Orbán. Troubles are brewing at home and abroad, and loud and antagonistic speeches will not help the situation.