Viktor Orbán and Libya

Martin Schulz, the leader of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament, visited Hungary over the long weekend. He participated in the Hungarian Socialist Party's celebration of the Hungarian national holiday commemorating the 1848-1849 revolution and war of independence. While in Hungary he gave an interview to Népszabadság in which he expressed his dismay that it is not Viktor Orbán, the rotating president of the European Union, who is speaking in the name of the nations of the union. Instead David Cameron, Nicolas Sarkozy, and Angela Merkel speak independently of one another.

Schulz was not quite accurate. Viktor Orbán spoke at least twice on Libya. First on March 11, after the Libya summit held in Brussels, he gave a brief press statement. Orbán informed the journalists present that the members managed to develop a common position but "naturally, differences remained." Some member states, including Hungary, think that "nothing would force Europe to go to war with the Arab countries." Moreover, he stressed that "military operations that could result in losing the trust of the Arab nations must be avoided."

Orbán didn't seem to be terribly concerned about the fate of the Libyans and instead emphasized the potential danger of increasing migration pressure on Europe. It would be nice if the "Arab countries would be able to keep their sons and daughters at home." However, "the Arabs themselves [should] decide the fate of the Arab world." He continued: "We must be very careful with every move, even every sentence, that the Arabs may construe it to mean that the Christian world, i.e. Europe, is about to interfere in one way or another and would be willing to go as far as to apply means." The Council decided on a more muted wording of the statement and Orbán personally was satisfied.

The next day, on March 12, by that time in Budapest, while the foreign ministers were having another meeting in Gödöllő, he expanded on the theme. Orbán likes to entertain far-reaching concepts, ideas that he thinks will prove historically significant. Instead of simply looking at the problem at hand, a civil war in Libya, he talked about "the historical opportunities that are waiting for Europe." Europe must act wisely because if Europe conducts a prudent policy, Christian-Muslim or European-Arab cooperation will be established for a long time to come. "But if Europe makes a mistake now this cooperation will not be possible for decades."

It says a lot about the confusion over Hungarian foreign policy that on the very same day that Orbán talked about Europe's historical opportunity in the Arab world János Martonyi, the Hungarian foreign minister, expressed an entirely different point of view on the question of Libya. He wisely distinguished between short-term and long-term policies. In the short term, the problem is Libya and Qadafi. The question is "how to stop the bloodbath in Libya and how the West can save the people of Libya from their own government." He emphasized that military action must not be ruled out.

Interestingly enough, Orbán's reluctance to intervene on behalf of the Libyan rebels resembles the opinions of the pro-Qadafi elements within Libya. Someone with the initials R.T. wrote a piece in the Eurasian Review entitled "Libyans Want the World To Keep Out." He quotes Libyans as saying that "Libya and Gaddafi are one. Long live Gaddafi. Let him stay in power for life." Another Libyan claims that "the Libyan people don't want another army to come into Libya." According to R.T. foreign nations seem to be paying little attention to what Libyans themselves actually want.

The author of the article quotes Dennis Kucinich, a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives and a well known advocate of peace at any price, according to whom "if Washington intervenes in Libya, the country will be lost to tyranny." Kucinich maintains that "the right of self-determination is an inherent right. But it doesn't become self-determination … if another nation intervenes on one side or the other." Translation: if Qadafi is the stronger force he will win and massacre his own people. That is called self-determination.

Kucinich, who is the co-chairman of the Congressional caucus representing the interests of Hungary, naturally liked Orbán's non-interventionist stance on Libya and said so. He expressed his regret that the United States doesn't seem to take Orbán's warnings to heart.

That was three days ago, but what do we read in today's papers? The Hungarian government is in complete agreement with the decision of the United Nations Security Council that last night authorized military action and the imposition of a no-fly zone over Libya. János Martonyi added that he personally would have been happier if the decision had been reached earlier.

What on earth is going on in Hungary as far as foreign policy is concerned? Do Martonyi and Orbán ever talk to each other? Who is in charge? The situation doesn't seem to be any better in matters of foreign policy than in domestic affairs.

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Ron
Guest

What on earth is going on in Hungary as far as foreign policy is concerned? Do Martonyi and Orbán ever talk to each other? Who is in charge? The situation doesn’t seem to be any better in matters of foreign policy than in domestic affairs.
They have no clue what to do.
Is a friend of my friend, my friend?
Or is my enemy’s enemy my friend?
That is difficult.

Member

The ever populist Orban tries to play both sides.
I knew an obstetrician around 60 years of age who was an extremely fun guy, and he told me that he was never wrong when predicting the gender of the baby of any of his pregnant patients. I told him that I do not believe that. SO, he told me what he did. When a mom was in visiting him he made a guess and told the mom, that you will have a “boy”, but made sure that he wrote on the mom’s chart the opposite gender than what he predicted. After the baby born, he told the mom “Didn’t I tell you you you will have a a girl?” and the mom said “No. You told me I will have a boy.” “Oh really? Can’t be, as I wrote down on your chart that you will have a boy, look at it.” At which point he showed the chart.

Kati
Guest

It says a lot that Viktor Orban is not even at the meeting in Paris at the moment. The EU is represented by President van Rompuy and High Representative Ashton. No sign of the EU rotating Presidency…

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Kati: “It says a lot that Viktor Orban is not even at the meeting in Paris at the moment. The EU is represented by President van Rompuy and High Representative Ashton. No sign of the EU rotating Presidency…”
It is embarrassing. Also, one can see on photos that politicians of the union avoid Orbán. He often stands alone talking to no one. There was lately one exception. He was chatting amiably with his old friend Basescu, the Romanian president.

Member

The poor guy is trying to make a few bucks on the side by cozying up with dictators but he keeps betting on the losers.

Odin's lost eye
Guest
What is the hope for Hungary? As I see it none, UNLESS the Hungarians can discriminate between the self seeking politicos who want power for profit, prestige and status, and those who ‘can do’ to and come forward to give their services for free because they want to do the job for the people. In an earlier comment I wrote about an old man who did what he did because he wanted to. In a local newspaper he was described by an ‘Important Political Person’ as a ‘shabby old man on a cheap suite with the intellectual ability of a worm’. His reply in another paper was -‘Shabby I am!’ My suite is old, but it was given to me by the King –It was some 30 years old, his ‘Demob suit’ from at the end of the war-. My hands are always dirty no matter how I wash them, I am a Millwright. I cannot read, in the original Greek, the ‘Croaking Chorus from the Frogs by Hairystuffyknees’ (a deliberate mistake –Aristophanes- and a reference to the Pirates of Penzance). I know that water will not flow up hill. I know you cannot put the contents of an 8… Read more »
GH1944
Guest

Even blind people can appreciate Deak.
Eva, you may read the Bela Kiraly biography to understand the genius of Deak. He remains greater than Jesus Christ. Not to mention that he accomplished the impossible, united Hungary.
The minority leaders never came close to his greatness.
Gene Sharp the modern age scholar of freedom modeled his works on the Deakian non-violence.
I love the guy. He is a saint.

Johnny Boy
Guest

“The situation doesn’t seem to be any better in matters of foreign policy than in domestic affairs.”
First of all, there are no problems in domestic affairs.
Second.
If Orbán were to say let’s intervene and stop the civil war, you’d be on a rampage on how the clueless dictator Orbán wants to plunge the whole Europe into a war.
You people are repulsive in your fierce hostility.
Hungary, since our military has been broken down by your groggy span Szekeres, is no factor at all in military affairs. It would seem utterly ridiculous if Hungary were to stand up and shout “after me!” to Germany, France and the UK.

Member

@Johnny: “First of all, there are no problems in domestic affairs.”
God! You sound exactly like the Iraqi propaganda minister MSS (Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf):
“There are no American infidels in Baghdad. Never!”
or
“My feelings – as usual – we will slaughter them all”
or
“Our initial assessment is that they will all die”
or
“I NOW INFORM YOU THAT YOU ARE TOO FAR FROM REALITY.”
http://www.welovetheiraqiinformationminister.com

Member

Well, I wonder how can one sum up what Orban has accomplished in his role as the EU rotating president so far (almost half-way). One thing he has a big problem with is to make the member countries respect the EU’s resolutions, principals and opinion. Example one of the prime ministers of a member country recently said that “We will not allow anyone to dictate to us from Brussels or anywhere else.” Who was that? hmmm I am sure Orban would not want to pose with him on the same photo.
As for domestic issues… tens of thousand of people protesting against the media law, he did not act against the half-military organizations (as he promised), he privatized private money, he has installed retroactive taxes, there is not an other party that will vote for his hew constitutions, he needed to hire extras to assure that enough people claps for him, so I guess things are status quo and going well in the domestic affairs.

Paul
Guest

I love the way the trolls gradually lose control.
They all start as ‘reasonable’ commentators, believing that OV has got it about right, but admitting that they are unsure of a few minor policy areas. Then they gradually become less and less ‘balanced’, relying more and more on repeating paragraphs of Fidesz propaganda and ‘statistics’.
This then deteriorates into personal attacks, calling people ‘liars’, and making increasingly mad personal comments about Éva. And finally they explode in a burst of personal abuse and manic attacks on all and sundry, and exit the blog “forever” in a flurry of curses.
And a few days, or a week or so, later a ‘new’ poster pops up with yet another improbably ‘English’ name, and off we go again.
‘Johnny’ is rapidly approaching the final stage, so if you want to read the little pervert’s mad rantings, get in quick before this latest manifestation throws his toys out of the pram and minces off out of the blog.

Odin's lost eye
Guest

Paul there is nothing wrong with these people that large dose of Paxo (if you come from the U.K.) or a visit to a good taxidermist would not cure.

peter litvanyi
Guest
Dear Eva, you probably don’t know just how much you mean to us, all of us. The once upon born hungarian community living abroad nowadays. Who all are hungry for a sane word/ world. With our loved ones held hostage. Having said that: your remarks about representative Dennis Kucinich were highly inappropriate. If you wish I can debate the libyian conflict with you; not the given scope of this site. I met Dennis on several occasions; he is a great man. I happen to share his opinion about the recent US intervention in Libya. We ourselves have no alternative any more to offer at this point; hey we can’t even afford the ordinance we shelled out. It is against the Constitution to go to war without authorization; it is internacionally illegal to attack a country that didn’t attack you first. I have no conculsive evidence that Quadafi comitted genocide agaist unarmed civilians/ oppressed them more than say two years ago; as a jew I keep an eye out for these things. This is not in defense of Mr. Quadafi /and his regime/ or Mr. Viktor Orban. As you know, both of those names should belong to the cesspool of history.… Read more »
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