Interview with Viktor Orbán, Eger TV
The first interview took place in Eger, the town where the Fidesz parliamentary delegation held a three-day pow wow before the start of the new parliamentary session. It was originally aired on the local community station, but Hír TV used part of the footage for its evening news. In this particular interview I couldn’t hear the questions, only some of Viktor Orbán’s answers. I hope that Hír TV chose the most significant parts of the conversation, ones that MTI also emphasized. According to Orbán, “That tone used in the European Parliament makes only enemies” and “one cannot tell from Brussels what is good for the Hungarians.”
Although Hungarian politicians in Brussels try to give the impression of being willing to cooperate with the European Commission, at home they talk differently. In this particular interview Orbán complained about pressure being exerted on Hungary and the Hungarians: “They want to tell us how to live our lives, but we reject such pressure because the ten million Hungarians will make that decision.” Foreigners want to tell the Hungarians what kind of constitution to adopt, how to defend their own economic interests, and whether they should demand that banks pay their fair share during these difficult times.
According to Orbán many Hungarians are great supporters of the Union, but Hungary’s experiences of late with the European Union are turning Hungarians away from Brussels. “The kind of behavior, treatment, flippancy, the offensive, insolent, insulting tone in which they talk to us and about us doesn’t make us friends but rather enemies of the Union.” He added that what one needs are calm negotiations in which “we expect them to respect the will of the Hungarian people.”
We didn’t let them wipe up the floor with us. Just the opposite!
End of interview. I might add here that Orbán today in parliament returned to the subject of the hearings in the European Parliament on February 9th. He remarked that those Hungarians who watched the proceedings will perhaps have a higher regard for their own parliament where serious discussions are taking place.
Interview with Tibor Navracsics, Hír TV, Péntek8
Hír TV’s Péntek8 is a one-hour political program led by two right-wing journalists, Péter Csermely and Ottó Gajdics. Both also work for Magyar Nemzet. On February 10, Tibor Navracsics was their guest for the first half hour.
Csermely began by calling the EU hearing of the previous day a “flea circus.” (Anyone who’s not quite familiar with the term can read the story of the flea circus here.) The whole hearing was pointless, and the Dutch commissioner went beyond the realm of the acceptable when she tried to force Navracsics to accept her terms without any discussion. This is open meddling in another country’s internal affairs.
At this point Gajdics took over. He called Neelie Kroes “an arrogant, insolent harpy” who tried to refute Navracsics and who already has the verdict in her pocket.
At this point Navracsics chimed in. First he denied that he had said one thing in private to Kroes and something else at the hearing. He added that Kroes wasn’t correct because she took sides instead of simply listening to the proceedings. “This is also Europe,” he sighed.
The discussion itself was totally useless because the positions were determined by party affiliation. However, Navracsics added, the final verdict will be negative from the Hungarian point of view, which I find interesting considering that the largest parliamentary delegation is that of the Christian Democratic People’s Party to which Fidesz itself belongs. “There is a war launched against us. The European Parliament is trying to prove that they are important.” However, there is a serious lack of knowledge of Hungary and what little knowledge they possess is shallow.
At this point Csermely took over. He couldn’t understand why Europe is bothering with such trifles. “The Hungarian case is a laughably small matter.” What are they talking about? “Why is Europe preoccupied with such stupidities?”
Navracsics had the answer. The European Union has two reasons to probe into Hungary’s affairs. One is that they are afraid that the European Union will go bankrupt. So, these proceedings are “a public counter production.” The other reason is a certain worry about institutional changes in general. In addition, they look upon the Eastern European countries with a certain suspicion. If there is any change, they think that an anti-democratic regime will be introduced. They keep talking about the spirit instead of the actual wording of the laws.
Finally, Csermely made some ugly references to Kinga Göncz, the spokeswoman of the socialist caucus, as being “the true daughter of Árpád Göncz” who was the first one to run abroad and complain about the first Orbán government’s antidemocratic practices.
Árpád Göncz was the first president of the Republic of Hungary (1990-2000), and his popularity was phenomenal. Csermely here is most likely referring to an interview he gave to an Italian newspaper in which he spoke critically about József Antall’s government. The jab at Göncz was especially nasty considering that Göncz celebrated his ninetieth birthday on practically the same day that this interview took place. You might be interested in a couple of “serenades” organized in his honor. In the first a small group sang the famous chorus from Verdi’s Nabucco with lyrics rewritten to express hope that the “Republic” will return to Hungary. In the second a larger crowd organized by some of Göncz’s old friends from SZDSZ and Ferenc Gyurcsány joined in singing János Bródy’s signature piece, “Ha én rózsa volnék.” It was a protest song against the Kádár regime which everybody seems to know by heart. Enjoy!