Viktor Orbán: Hungary, Hungarians, and the world

I will continue yesterday’s discussion of Viktor Orbán’s speech at Tusnádfürdő/Baile Tusnad because I didn’t cover some important topics. Moreover, at the time of the post’s writing I had access only to Orbán’s speech and not his answers to questions from the audience. Since then I have read a summary of what transpired in the hour and a half after the prime minister finished his speech.

I should emphasize that the Tusnádfürdő extravaganza was organized not by RMDSZ, the largest Hungarian party in Romania, but by the Erdélyi Magyar Néppárt (EMNP) headed by Tibor T. Toró. So, the enthusiastic crowd came from the more radical right in Transylvania, from those who enthusiastically supported or most likely initiated the reburial of József Nyirő whose political sympathies lay with Hitler and later Szálasi. The other important speaker was László Tőkés, who is the chairman of an organization called Erdélyi Nemzeti Tanács which is in close alliance with EMNP.  An RMDSZ politician who was originally chosen to deliver a speech was forbidden to participate.

By way of background, Tasnádfürdő is in the Szekler region. The Szeklers  live in the counties of Hargita/Harghita, Kovászna/Covasna and Maros/Mureş and for a numbers of years have been demanding territorial autonomy which the Romanian majority refuses to grant.

I think László Tőkés’s speech was a window into the mindset of these people.  His speech was sprinkled with statements such as “we now are in a community of the Szekler Autonomous Region” or “we are gathered in Tusnádfürdő of the Szekler Autonomous Region.” These and similar claims give you an idea about these people’s sense of reality.

And as long as I’m bringing up Hungarian minority politics I might as well return to a part of Viktor Orbán’s speech that I didn’t touch on yesterday. It was his close to incomprehensible discourse on the concept of  the “world nation” (világnemzet), a word that at least until now didn’t exist in the Hungarian language. Among the compound words starting with “világ,” “világcég” means “international company” and “világnyelv” means “language widely spoken.” For example, today English is a “világnyelv.”

On the T-shirts: Great Hungary and Even Greater Hungary / Nepszabadság / Malabu

On the T-shirts: “Great Hungary” and “Still Greater Hungary / Népszabadság / Malabu

I guess a “world nation” means that there are Hungarians all over the world but regardless of where they live they all belong to the nation. That is simple enough, but what are we going to do with the following claim? “We must find a way that the Hungarian from Budapest, or rather from Felcsút, the Hungarian who lives in New York or in Argentina will all prosper.”

In my opinion, he can look high and low but he won’t find a way to achieve this, How could he? He has no power over the lives of those who live on a permanent basis in other countries. But it seems that his mind works differently from mine because he claims to have found the key to solving this problem. What is necessary, in his opinion, is “a strong Hungary.” He will draw all these people “into the new political and economic order that is being built by the two-thirds majority.” How, may I ask? But such practical questions don’t seem to occur to his admirers.

The same thing is true about Orbán’s deputy, Zsolt Semjén, who went even further when he claimed that if the Hungarian minorities totally assimilate sometime in the future in Ukraine, Romania, Serbia, and Slovakia, Hungarians altogether will disappear from the face of the earth. What is the connection? Why does the fate of the Hungarians of Hungary depend on the Hungarian minorities in the neighboring countries? There are, of course, no rational answers to these irrational statements, but that doesn’t seem to bother these people.

In the last couple of days I have been listening to a lecture series on the structure and the laws of the European Union. One of the lectures concentrated on the EU’s stages of development from its beginnings. The lecturer emphasized the fact that the Union even today is an entity in constant change. Something still in the making. The trend is toward closer and closer integration, especially since the crisis of the eurozone. Viktor Orbán will not be able to stop this trend and he can only lose this war. He may win a battle or two, but he will not succeed in transforming the European Union to his own liking.

It seems that Orbán was carried away during the Q&A session when he revealed the “secret”of how he fools the European Union. For example, the EU insists on changing certain passages in the new constitution. Eventually the Hungarian government obliges but at the same time they change a few more words here and there. The final result is that the European Union would have been better off if it hadn’t insisted on the changes at all. What upright behavior! And he is even proud of it.

And, continuing my random thoughts, here are a couple of corrections to Viktor Orbán’s figures. He claimed that since 2010 the Hungarian national debt was reduced through his efforts from 85% to 79% of GDP. A lie. Not since the mid 1990s has the national debt been at 85%, and at the moment it is climbing to a new cyclical high. It currently stands at 81.3% of GDP. Paying back the IMF loan early actually means borrowing money at a higher interest rate to repay a loan with a considerably lower interest rate. But according to his admirers, including László Tőkés, sending the IMF packing is a patriotic act.  As Tőkés said, “as in 1989 a young man sent the Soviets home today the same man with graying hair sent the IMF home.” Another lie. Viktor Orbán didn’t send the Russians home in 1989. Their departure had already been arranged between the Németh government and Mikhail Gorbachev’s Soviet Union.

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LwiiH
Guest

From the dictionary;

Nationality: the status of belonging to a particular nation, whether by birth or naturalization
Ethnic Group: pertaining to or characteristic of a people, especially a group (ethnic group) sharing a common and distinctive culture, religion, language, or the like.

I know for many countries there is no difference between nation and ethnicity but this mis-use and mixing of terms is maddening!!!!

Paul
Guest

“Another lie. Viktor Orbán didn’t send the Russians home in 1989. Their departure had already been arranged between the Németh government and Mikhail Gorbachev’s Soviet Union.”

Not only did he know this had been agreed before he spoke, as he was part of the round table discussions, he also knew that it had been agreed amongst the representatives (including him) that no one would mention it or make a fuss about it. The last thing they wanted was the Soviets getting upset over a loss of face and starting to get awkward.

So OV’s ‘great speech’ wasn’t just a bit of selfish promotion, it was also stupid and potentially dangerous.

Paul
Guest
A little OT, but relevant to understanding the Fidesz mind-set: When we arrived in Debrecen this summer, both of us noticed that the centre of the city is looking a little grubby this year. It’s hard to put your finger on, as there’s no obvious lack of maintenance or cleaning – indeed it could just be that there are no trams running at the moment (the terminus is being reconstructed), or that the trees have grown and altered the view from where we were sitting. I reasoned that, if there really had been a change, it was probably just the economic pigeons coming home to roost and Kósa having to cut his costs back a bit, and, anyway, we pretty soon ceased to notice it. But it bothered my wife and she mentioned it to her parents, who in turn raised it when they went to visit friends who live in the City centre. And they certainly had noticed the decline – and knew exactly why it was. The EU had forced Debrecen to take in refugees – Afghans and the like – and they did nothing but cause trouble. They wouldn’t work and expected hand-outs, and when they didn’t… Read more »
Member
I am not sure of any of you can recall when I said that they should let Csurka’s hideous play “The sixth coffin” to be played. I bet it would of taken care itself, just like the other plays they did in the Ujszinhaz. A repertoire and quality will make it or brake it to theatre. It was easier to say how successful Ujszinhaz will be with all the hidden gems, then actually make it successful. Those “fantastic” ideas were not so fantastic and the number of audience fell with 20,000. Each ticket cost 10,309 forint average to taxpayers, making it the most expensive venture for taxpayers. How does this relate to this blog entry? Well, I would in fact love if Orban could restore Hungary. THis huge fairytale about how fantastic it would be for all to have Hungary back as it was before the bad wolves ate it, and the only thing Hungary needs know to get its former glory back (what glory you may ask, and I cannot give you the answer) is to be reunited with its lost territories and people would collapse in a year. I am not sure what the Hungarians across the border… Read more »
Member

@ Paul: “For a brief reassuring moment, I saw doubt cross my wife’s face, and thought to myself at last, after all these years in the UK, she’s starting to see Hungary less irrationally. But my hopes were dashed with her reply – “they only come out at night, of course”.’

Member

Sorry Eva, I did not mean to embed the previous clip. You can remove it. I just wanted to put the link up to Paul, I tried to surpass the embed function but I failed.

Sandor
Guest

…nor did Orban, or Matolcsy did send the IMF from Hungary.
The fact of the matter is that the IMF already announced to the government that the resident, Irina Ivaschenko’s term is expiring in August and because there is no negotiations in progress, there is no plans to appoint a successor. When this news reached Matolcsy, he quickly sent a most uncouth letter to Mme. Lagard to say: “you cannot fire us, we fire you!”
There is just no end to the boorishness of these people.

Po'K
Guest

The last Soviet troops left in 1991 July 19

Po'K
Guest

After Hungaria Turania

Po'K
Guest

Romania has the lowest pci in EU
Slovakia has higher than Hungary

Pruitt
Guest

The issue in Romania is that you have apathy among ethnic Hungarians. The only active, grass-roots organizing people are the nationalistic Seclers (importing all Hungarian extreme right crazyness including antisemitism and the like) and their supporters from Hungary and Romania (like Tokes, who is from a region called Partium, geographically close to Hungary). They care, the rest don`t (they are bored by RMDSZ, the nationalists are more colorful and new), so like in Hungary, the nationalistic wing will triumph, especially as they have unlimited funds thanks to Orban.

Stevan Harnad (@AmSciForum)
Guest

could somebody

get pok

to stop posting multiple squibs

instead of

putting it all in one message

at a time?

It tries our patience, wastes our time, and makes his form as obnoxious as his content if he keeps doing that disruptive, attention-seeking scout-camp nonsense…

Po'K
Guest

the Sekler Autonomous Region existed under the communists (1952-1968).

What is the objection to Tibetans Basques Kosovans Scots Kurds wanting more autonomy ?

Po'K
Guest

Bishop Tokes set off the Romanian Revolution

Po'K
Guest

Orban’s “world nation” is a follow up to “unification of the Hungarian nation”
2001 Hungarian Status Law

Po'K
Guest

Dear Stevan Harnad,
I am sorry my poverty offends. I work off a cheap mobile fed at 300kB /second.

medium or message ?

Marcel Dé (@MarcelD10)
Guest

LwiiH :
From the dictionary;
Nationality: the status of belonging to a particular nation, whether by birth or naturalization
Ethnic Group: pertaining to or characteristic of a people, especially a group (ethnic group) sharing a common and distinctive culture, religion, language, or the like.
I know for many countries there is no difference between nation and ethnicity but this mis-use and mixing of terms is maddening!!!!

I’m afraid these concepts cannot be apprehended with a dictionary.

May I suggest reading for instance Jenő Szűcs? I find his theory of Nation as a fiction built upon three main ingredients: political loyalty, political community, and what may be translated as ‘nationality’ in Central Europe (but also as ethno-cultural community, or lingua et moribus) quite interesting.

OV’s nationalist fiction always stresses the first component (‘Fidesz’, ‘Fidelitas’…) and the third (‘nemzet’, of course, which as Szűcs pointed is a very old magyar word for, among other things, descent). The second component, which today is represented by the democratic institutions which form the State, is always downplayed. Or more exactly, it seems doomed to be subordinated to the other two.

No wonder the EU makes a wonderful villain, and ‘világnemzet’ makes sense.

Po'K
Guest

Dear Steve Harnad,
please can you be more specific ? What did I squib today that you found “obnoxious” ?
thank you

Po'K
Guest

A third party goes unmentioned: Partidul Civic Maghiar led by Jeno Szasz who met Orban 27 July 2012.
Our little village council flies the Szekely flag (Covasna) after Nemeth’s intervention in the flag dispute 2013 Feb 5

Po'K
Guest

the Erdelyi Nemzeti Tanacs is in more thsn a “close alliance” with the Erdelyi Magyar Neppart (founded by Tibor Toro). Tibor Toro is a vice president of EMNT
toro.t.tibor@emnt.org

Ivan
Guest

I think we need to make clear, especially to ‘foreign’ readers of this blog, that when the word ‘Hungarian’ (or ‘Magyar’) is used by a Hungarian, it almost NEVER means ‘Hungarian citizen’ but ‘ethnic Magyar’ (whatever that is). Whereas other countries use Anglo-Saxon or Gaul or whatever to differentiate, Hungary doesn’t. Recent high-profile discourse regarding ‘Jews and Hungarians’ or ‘Roma and Hungarians’ makes this point very clearly – even families that have been here for centuries are not accepted into the linguistic umbrella. Most right-wing commenters (and an awful lot of left-wing ones, too, to their shame) adopt this ethnic slant. The Hungarian language needs another word.

(O/T good to see a black British man winning the Hungarian grand prix, yet again. I have witnessed absolute apoplexy from my Hungarian sport-fan acquaintances on the previous occasions that his has happened … and a fair amount of palinka-fuelled racism, too … but he keeps on winning here … he LOVES it here … DEAL with it!)

Po'K
Guest

Dear Dr Balogh,
Romanians are poorer than Hungarians and are allowed dual citizenship; this makes emigration to Hungary more attractive.
By contrast, Slovaks are better off than Hungarians and are not allowed to have dual citizenship. I visit Slovakia regularly; Hungarians have few complaints.

Po'K
Guest

Dear Ivan,
A great post on a very delicate topic.
Roma here refer to each other as gypsies (not PC) but there it is.
And the sublime von Neumann ?

Guest
London Calling! Po’K Your ‘guerilla ejaculations’ are a deep source of annoyance on here – and mostly meaningless to readers from this part of the planet. Your ‘points’ are either meaningless; pointless; lack a context; or completely un-understandable – and are ignored. You claim ‘poverty’ (“I am sorry my poverty offends.”) as a reason for you ejaculations – but it is not. I often contribute on a tablet device and it is slow and annoying. But if your point is worth posting – you should take that trouble. You managed a 50-word post to Eva – which could accommodate at least four of your ‘in-line’ ejaculations. So desist. As an English language blog you need to build an argument – with background explanation if necessary (as a courtesy to those who are not so familiar with the spectrum of being Hungarian). For example what does: ” After Hungaria Turania” mean? Just a comment for most of us to ignore – so we did. You have been identified as a troll – and you are. You not prepared to see your beloved leader’s mendacity illuminated. If you read back on this blog you will see a melting pot of views –… Read more »
Marcel Dé (@MarcelD10)
Guest

@Ivan : I agree with you. But it has to do with a very old national fiction, of which OV is a continuator. Without going as far back in time as the Gesta Hungarorum, the Magyar aristocracy in the XIXth century identified with the ‘nemzet’ – people of magyar descent.

After 1989, one could have hoped that a new Hungarian political class would try to forge a new national fiction, much like the Czechs did. But the Czechs could exploit the ‘good’ sides of their interwar period to re-invent themselves as a nation based mainly on a political community, whereas the Hungarians could hardly find easily those elements in the Horthy regime, and they’re quite scattered throughout the XIXth century as most of the classic Hungarian nationalist thinkers participated in giving this ethnic coloration to the concept of nation.

In the West in the early 1990’s, the conceptual nature of both Hungarian and Polish nationalisms were identified as possible threats to a coherent Europe. 25 years later, it seems that Poland is trying a new path, while Hungary keeps driving in reverse.

Guest

“….and the sublime von Neumann”

What the *??!!++*** does that mean?????

Guest

……I think you are a racist…..

Ivan
Guest

@CharlieH … I love your posts. And I agree with most of what you have to say. It’s also good empathy to hear the experience of other ex-pats in Hungary … But I think,just maybe, that you’re being a little unfair on Po’K here.

It strikes me that he/she is a much more interesting figure than most of the fidesz trolls who appear here, in that he DOES engage, and that he is so self-contradictory that it’s actually quite difficult to know what he/she actually thinks on any topic.

‘Racist’? Quite probably, but it’s actually difficult – as I’m sure you’ve come to realise – to meet someone who isn’t racist on some level in contemporary Hungary. This comes from family, school, media, and is very difficult to rebel against. This, of course, is NOT an excuse.

But it DOES seem to me that here we might have a ‘troll’ who might, actually, be open to debate.

I might be wrong. And I’m being TERRIBLY patronising to the poor Po’K. But let’s try and engage …

wpDiscuz