Difficult passage: Orbán’s ferrying between Moscow and Brussels

Endre Ady (1877-1919), one of Hungary’s greatest poets, also wrote an enormous number of political essays during his lifetime. After all, he made his living as a journalist. He was a sharp-eyed observer of Hungarian politics from an angle conservative Hungary considered to be radical. His criticism of his country, which he loved dearly but also feared for, could be harsh and often prophetic.

Some of his descriptions of Hungary at the turn of the nineteenth century are applicable even today. One of these is the famous label he stuck on Hungary: “a ferryboat country.” Like a ferry, the country keeps crossing the river back and forth. With every crossing it ends up not on the side of progress  and democracy but its opposite, stultifying reaction and with it tyranny. It cannot decide whether it belongs to the East or to the West.

Today Hungary has a prime minister for whom this disturbing aspect of Hungarian reality that Ady wrote about causes no sleepless nights. On the contrary, he considers it a plus that will allow his country to become a negotiator of sorts between East and West. He is convinced that Hungary will reap enormous benefits from his ferrying between the two worlds.

It seems, however, that Viktor Orbán’s ferry is drifting farther and farther toward destinations like Putin’s Russia, Lukashenko’s Belarus, and Yanukovych’s Ukraine.

Observers often comment on Viktor Orbán’s incredible luck. In the past four years political and economic analysts predicted that Hungary’s unorthodox policies would bring certain collapse, and yet he managed to keep his head above water. People admire his skill in playing a double game with the European Union. One day, people predict, the European Union will have had enough of him. And yet, even though he compares Brussels to the Moscow of the Soviet Union, money continues to pour in from Brussels.

Occasionally, however, things can go wrong. Only a couple of months ago he decided to strike a deal with Vladimir Putin that put Hungary solidly in Russia’s economic sphere. Moreover, the enormous loan that Putin made available to enlarge the nuclear power plant in Paks can be used by Putin as leverage against Hungary if need be. According to people close to Orbán, Putin made a good impression on him. Yet Putin is a foxy fellow who is most likely using Hungary to move Russian money and power into the European Union. As one Orbán critic put it, the ferry set anchor in Putin’s harbor.

Yes, Orbán has been lucky so far, but this Ukrainian revolution came at the very wrong time for him. There are serious questions at home over the wisdom of such a long-term commitment with Putin’s Russia. It is dangerous to get too friendly with Putin, whose Russia is increasingly harking back to Soviet times. People ask how ferocious anti-communists like Orbán and László Kövér, president of the Hungarian parliament, can get so chummy with a former KGB agent. Fear of Putin’s intentions in Hungary is real. Perhaps this is the most serious complaint in Hungary when it comes to the Putin-Orbán agreement.

And now comes the upheaval in Kiev. Yanukovych hitched his wagon to the Russian troika for a few billion dollars. Ukraine received just a little more money than what Putin promised to Orbán. But there was a price: giving up the idea of Ukraine ever belonging to the European Union. A lot of Ukrainians, however, didn’t want to be part of the Eurasian Economic Union Putin has been dreaming of for some time. He himself stated in November 2011 at a conference organized by his United Russia party that this Eurasian Union would be built upon “the best values of the Soviet Union.” During the same conference a Russian political scientist said that not just former Soviet states but also countries which “have been historically or culturally close to the former Soviet Union” would belong to this union. Hungary was one of them.  As for Ukraine, Russians always looked upon this territory as their very own. After all, Kiev was where Russia was born in the late ninth century. The former Czech president Václav Klaus, calling himself a realist, announced just today that Ukraine is an integral part of Russia; this is where it belongs. Those hot heads in Kiev shouldn’t be encouraged by the politicians of the European Union that it should be otherwise.

Viktor Yanukovych and Viktor Orbán in March 2012 during a short visit to Kiev

Viktor Yanukovych and Viktor Orbán in March 2012 during a short visit to Kiev

So, here is Viktor Orbán’s predicament. As the prime minister of one of Ukraine’s neighboring countries, he should take an active part in the negotiations initiated by his friend Donald Tusk, prime minister of Poland. The Polish foreign minister, Radosław Sikorski, has been instrumental in brokering an agreement between President Yanukovych and the opposition which at least for the time being has resulted in a restoration of the 2004 constitution and the promise of early elections. If the truce holds, it looks as if Putin’s attempt at gaining a foothold in Ukraine will have failed.

But Orbán doesn’t want to offend Putin and therefore he is keeping a low profile. Although leading politicians all over Europe have condemned Yanukovych’s bloody efforts to suppress the revolt, Orbán remains quiet. As he said today in his regular Friday morning radio address, “We are watching the events from the background.” In fact, they are remaining so far in the background that Foreign Minister János Martonyi suddenly became too ill to attend the extraordinary meeting of foreign ministers in Brussels. Hungary was represented by Undersecretary Zsolt Németh.

Well, I’m not quite correct in saying that Orbán did nothing in connection with the Ukrainian crisis. He hopped on a helicopter and visited the Hungarian-Ukrainian border at Záhony. And he made sure that his activities were videoed. As usual, he kept a few pieces of paper in front of him which he studied intently for a few seconds. He looked at the snow-covered Ukrainian terrain where he spotted a couple of deer. Then he rushed to a hospital where he was told that there are plenty of doctors and beds to take care of the wounded. And finally he gave a little pep talk to the border guards for doing their best. I might add that there is nothing in Zaparttia Oblast that would warrant his presence there. But his staff immediately placed the video on Facebook. One blogger described him as “a man who is trying to reap political benefit from the corpse of his neighbor.”

Meanwhile the servile state media feel that they have to take a pro-Russian stance. For example, the centrally edited news called the demonstrators in Kiev terrorists. When called to explain this report, it turned out that one of their sources was the “Russia Today” television station and the other a Russian daily newspaper’s online edition. Gordon Bajnai’s reaction upon hearing the story was disbelief until he himself listened to the broadcast. He bitterly remarked that if the Orbán government keeps going in the same direction as in the last four years “Hungary might become the most western successor state of the Soviet Union.” He added that this is one good reason to vote against Orbán and his party on April 6.

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tappanch
Guest

Two hours ago,

Янукович вылетел в Харьков.

http://zn.ua/POLITICS/yanukovich-vyletel-v-harkov-139448_.html

tappanch
Guest

Will Yanukovich set up the new country of East Ukraine with capital in Harkov?

Marcel Dé (@MarcelD10)
Guest

tappanch :
Will Yanukovich set up the new country of East Ukraine with capital in Harkov?

Not tonight anyway. Both presidential airplanes seem way over Russia now.

17 statues of Lenin appear to have beem thrown down this evening all over Ukraine, West and South included.

Marcel Dé (@MarcelD10)
Guest

East not West – I must be ferrying as well.

tappanch
Guest

Map of the results of the 2012 parliamentary election:

comment image

Map of the results of the 2010 presidential election

comment image

Mr. Paul
Guest
Eva S. Balogh : Back to Őszöd. This is what Bajnai says. He is familiar wit the documents and the texts are manipulated. As the result the final conclusion bears no resemblance to the original The present government is trying to influence the outcome of the election. The manipulation is not true. The documents are 100% authentic and Bajnai knows this. This is why he uses the word “redacted”, but this is not new information. Anyone with eyes can see that the documents on the internet are indeed redacted. Let me explain in detail: Bajnai said this: “Miniszterelnökként az ügyben keletkezett jelentéseket ismertem, ezért állíthatom: a közvélemény elé tárt, megcsonkított szövegek nem azonosak az ügyben készült végső összefoglaló jelentéssel” Literal translation: As prime minister I am familiar with the reports created in this case. I can say the REDACTED reports are not the same as the final report in this case. SO what did he say? “These reports are NOT THE SAME as another report”. What a shocker. These two reports are not the same as a third, completely different report. So Bajnai said: The documents are redacted and are different from another document I’ve seen. This is a typical… Read more »
tappanch
Guest

The Fidesz liaison was MP Márk Bíró of Pásztó.

http://www.origo.hu/itthon/20130703-portre-biro-mark-fideszes-kepviselorol-az-oszodi-beszed-egyik-allitolagos-kiszivarogtatojarol.html

I still do not understand why it is important who disclosed the Őszöd speech.

The whole thing is just a Fidesz distraction that the public should not discuss important topics.

Member
Mr. Paul : Eva S. Balogh : Back to Őszöd. This is what Bajnai says. He is familiar wit the documents and the texts are manipulated. As the result the final conclusion bears no resemblance to the original The present government is trying to influence the outcome of the election. The manipulation is not true. The documents are 100% authentic and Bajnai knows this. This is why he uses the word “redacted”, but this is not new information. Anyone with eyes can see that the documents on the internet are indeed redacted. Let me explain in detail: Bajnai said this: “Miniszterelnökként az ügyben keletkezett jelentéseket ismertem, ezért állíthatom: a közvélemény elé tárt, megcsonkított szövegek nem azonosak az ügyben készült végső összefoglaló jelentéssel” Literal translation: As prime minister I am familiar with the reports created in this case. I can say the REDACTED reports are not the same as the final report in this case. SO what did he say? “These reports are NOT THE SAME as another report”. What a shocker. These two reports are not the same as a third, completely different report. So Bajnai said: The documents are redacted and are different from another document I’ve seen. This… Read more »
Mr. Paul
Guest

tappanch :
I still do not understand why it is important who disclosed the Őszöd speech.

It may be very important. Let me quote to you the words of Éva:

“Jano about the leak. Look one can love or hate Gyurcsány but one must admit that he is a very smart man. No sane person would make such a mistake.
Eva S. Balogh
February 21, 2014 at 5:59 pm”

So there is a possibility in which it is very important to know who disclosed. And that possibility is if Gyurcsany indeed made this mistake. As Éva said, no sane person would do this. In that case the electorate deserves to know this. At this point this is only a possibility but even so we can not make a general statement that “it is not important who disclosed the öszöd speech”. Maybe it is important maybe it is less os.

If it was a random MSZP politician who disliked Gyurcsany then it is not as important. As you said.

tappanch
Guest

Russian language usage in Ukraine by region in 2003

comment image%3Fw%3D1200%26h%3D960?w=456&h=364

Mr. Paul
Guest

” Apparently the original document still exist. So, why not publish it?”

There is no “original document”. There is ANOTHER document. As in: two reports were published already but there are more that are still classified (by MSZP) and are still state. So there is your answer. Because MSZP, Gyurcsany and Bajnai classified it and made it a state secret, that is the reason. As to “why not publish it”? Because MSZP and Gyurcsany made it a crime themselves to publish these documents.

Member

tappanch :
The Fidesz liaison was MP Márk Bíró of Pásztó.
http://www.origo.hu/itthon/20130703-portre-biro-mark-fideszes-kepviselorol-az-oszodi-beszed-egyik-allitolagos-kiszivarogtatojarol.html
I still do not understand why it is important who disclosed the Őszöd speech.
The whole thing is just a Fidesz distraction that the public should not discuss important topics.

I think this story backfires on Fidesz. They just wanted to beat a dead horse. They want people to believe that Gyurcsany did this because the previous government did not manage the budget in such brilliant way as the Orban’s government, so he wanted to distract people from the real problem. (Just as they try to district us from the real problems.)
From our perspective the interesting part is that how Fidesz manipulates the documents by editing it together as some montage. Maybe Kerenyi worked on that with his artistic talent. One thing for sure, Fidesz cannot be trusted with even releasing a document w/o doing some manipulation, just in case.

An
Guest

Mr. Paul :
” Apparently the original document still exist. So, why not publish it?”
There is no “original document”. There is ANOTHER document. As in: two reports were published already but there are more that are still classified (by MSZP) and are still state. So there is your answer. Because MSZP, Gyurcsany and Bajnai classified it and made it a state secret, that is the reason. As to “why not publish it”? Because MSZP and Gyurcsany made it a crime themselves to publish these documents.

Fidesz is in government so they could declassify those just as they did these two. Why are they so selective?

Member

Mr. Paul :
” Apparently the original document still exist. So, why not publish it?”
There is no “original document”. There is ANOTHER document. As in: two reports were published already but there are more that are still classified (by MSZP) and are still state. So there is your answer. Because MSZP, Gyurcsany and Bajnai classified it and made it a state secret, that is the reason. As to “why not publish it”? Because MSZP and Gyurcsany made it a crime themselves to publish these documents.

There is one document Bajnai refers to. I am sure there are plenty investigative documents. For goodness sake they spent months and months with it. Why did they have to clip together their version? Why don’t they just release the original 1,2,3,4,5, etc. (Pick your number as it seems you are in the know.)

Mr. Paul
Guest

“Fidesz manipulates the documents by editing it together as some montage.”

Once again there was no “editing together”. Part of the documents were redacted which anyone can see who has eyes on the documents themselves. Pointing this out as some sort of big reveal by a political side is a move that reeks of desperation.

Mr. Paul
Guest

“There is one document Bajnai refers to.”

Yes. Bajnai does refer to one. But there may be many others. Bajnai refers to one in particular because he feels that declassifying this document would mitigate some of the political damage that his side and especially Gyurcsany is getting from this. They were getting pummelled in the press for a few hours and it is only now that articles more sympathetic to them started to appear.

An
Guest

@Mr.Paul: The manipulation is that they only declassified two of the related documents. And, according to Bajnai, there were other documents related to this case, which the current government chose to keep classified.

Long night shift Mr. Paul, huh?

Ovidiu
Guest

Eva–“If the truce holds, it looks as if Putin’s attempt at gaining a foothold in Ukraine will have failed”

One can’t make such a prediction here.The country remains as divided as ever, and unstable.This revolution/truce only means that Putin’s attempt to have it stably oriented toward Russia has failed.At least for now.
Rest assured that Putin will use the Russian minority and the Russian speaking Ukrainians in the East to create an as big (or greater) chaos if somehow a new government would try to orient Ukraine decisively toward the EU/US-block.
The Ukrainians are the big losers in this game of the big powers which try to weaken eachother.

And it is not that certain how will Putin react to this challenge.Now he wants some peace to stabilize the situation.But tomorrow ?
Both EU and US have their own internal fracture lines which can be “helped” to start drifting.US is far away and thus protected by distance but EU or Middle East are close, and Putin is mad right now.

Mr. Paul
Guest

“Fidesz is in government so they could declassify those just as they did these two. Why are they so selective?”

This is impossible to say without knowing what is in the other documents. But I am sure you will regardless find the explanation :
“that they feel that declassifying more documents would politically hurt this narrative or the Fidesz party in the upcoming election”
– the most appealing.

petofi
Guest

Eva,

Can you not reduce the meagre offerings of this ‘Mr. Paul’? Every second comment seems to be his. Every time I see his name I have this impression of a shaking water pipe spewing rusty water….

Mr. Paul
Guest

An :
@Mr.Paul: The manipulation is that they only declassified two of the related documents. And, according to Bajnai, there were other documents related to this case, which the current government chose to keep classified.

If we are going down this road then the manipulation is quite obvious. It was when MSZP, Gyurcsany and Bajnai classified these documents and made them into state secrets.

If we can believe Bajnai, all these documents are safe to publish in full (he is requesting this, correct?). Without any redactions. So the manipulation was done when he and his friends classified them without any reason.

Mr. Paul
Guest

But if there was legitimate reasons to keep these documents classified when MSZP did so. (names of people involved, collection techniques, sensitive details or any other reason why documents are legitimately become state secrets). Then some of those reasons MUST be still in place for at least some parts of the documents.

In other words it is not possible to have it both ways. Either the classification was at least partly legitimate (when MSZP did it) or it was “manipulative” to keep some of these data sets hidden from the public (a classification which MSZP created in the first place for all data in question).

An
Guest

Mr. Paul :

An :
@Mr.Paul: The manipulation is that they only declassified two of the related documents. And, according to Bajnai, there were other documents related to this case, which the current government chose to keep classified.

If we are going down this road then the manipulation is quite obvious. It was when MSZP, Gyurcsany and Bajnai classified these documents and made them into state secrets.
If we can believe Bajnai, all these documents are safe to publish in full (he is requesting this, correct?). Without any redactions. So the manipulation was done when he and his friends classified them without any reason.

You can have your own opinion on who manipulates or who manipulates more. But without seeing the full documentation we cannot get a clear picture on exactly what went down in this case.

Mr. Paul
Guest

That is very true, An.

Mutt
Guest

Fifty some days before the election I seriously doubt that these things the Fidesz suddenly pulls out of it’s ass will sway anybody on either side of the fence. It’s just pathetic how they still fear Gyurcsany.

Kormos
Guest

petofi :
Eva,
Can you not reduce the meagre offerings of this ‘Mr. Paul’? Every second comment seems to be his. Every time I see his name I have this impression of a shaking water pipe spewing rusty water….

This Blog wants to promote democracy won’t it? So if you can spew rusty water, why on the world others could not?

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