How not to win friends and influence people: Viktor Orbán

I’m sure that Viktor Orbán never read Dale Carnegie’s famous self-help book How to Win Friends and Influence People (1936) that has sold more than 18 million copies in the last 78 years. In fact, I fear that his own anti-Carnegie principles will ensure that he will eventually be hated by everyone, with the exception of the “hard-core” who think he walks on water.

One of the chapters in Dale Carnegie’s book speaks about the virtues of leaders, specifically “how to change people without giving offense or arousing resentment.” Among the principal virtues Carnegie mentions are qualities that Viktor Orbán totally lacks. He suggests that a good leader should talk about his own mistakes before criticizing the other person. Orbán and self-criticism? Carnegie also suggests that if a leader is wrong he should admit it “quickly and emphatically.” Or another piece of advice: “Be sympathetic with the other person’s ideas and desires.” Or “show respect for the other person’s opinions.” All these are alien concepts to the prime minister of Hungary. In fact, he does just the opposite of everything that Carnegie thought was necessary for a successful leader.

Take, for example, the erection of the ill-fated Archangel Gabriel monument. Regardless of how much criticism he receives, regardless of how many historians and art historians tell him that the concept is historically and artistically inaccurate, he plows ahead with it. Yesterday the Hungarian Academy of Sciences organized a conference on the issue; their condemnation was unanimous.

Or there is the decision to extend the capacity of the Paks nuclear power plant. As Bernadett Szél (LMP member of parliament) continues to dig into the details of the planned expansion it is becoming obvious that no serious feasibility studies were done before Orbán hurriedly signed the contract with Russia. But that is perhaps the least of the problems Paks is causing Hungary. Orbán’s newly found friendship with Vladimir Putin has led him to regard Ukraine as a potential trophy not only for Putin but for himself as well.

First, he tried to ignore the issue of Russian aggression in the Crimea, but since Hungary happens to be situated in a region that borders on Ukraine, Orbán had to line up, however reluctantly, with Hungary’s neighbors. He decided, however, to make a claim of his own–though for people, not land.

In the same speech I wrote about yesterday, he spoke briefly about Hungarian foreign policy. Here is a translation of the relevant part.

We will continue our policy of the Eastern Opening; we will strengthen our economic presence in the Carpathian Basin. This is in the interest of Hungary as well as of the neighboring countries and the European Union. This strengthening of regional economic relations is not in opposition to a resolute national policy [nemzetpolitika]. The question of the Hungarian minorities has not been solved since the end of World War II. We consider the Hungarian question a European affair. Hungarians of the Carpathian Basin deserve dual citizenship, communal rights, and autonomy. This is our view, which we will represent on international forums. The Hungarian question is especially timely because of the 200,000 strong Hungarian community in Ukraine whose members must receive dual citizenship, the entirety of communal rights [ közösségi jogok], and the possibility of  self-government [önigazgatás]. This is our expectation for the new Ukraine currently under reconstruction that otherwise enjoys our sympathy and assistance in the work of the creation of a democratic Ukraine.

Not exactly a friendly gesture toward a neighbor that is in great peril at the moment because of Russian aggression. As if Hungary would like to take advantage of the troubled waters for its own gains. Apparently, according to a leaked foreign ministry document, “Fidesz with its own national policy [nemzetpolitika]–even at the price of ‘fertile chaos’–is striving for a change in the status quo.” If there is one thing the European Union and the United States are worried about, it is ethnic strife in Eastern Europe. And Hungary just took a rather aggressive step in this direction.

The Hungarian ambassador to Kiev was immediately summoned to the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry. He was told in no uncertain terms that such a step “is not conducive to the de-escalation and stabilization of the situation.” The spokesman for the ministry noted that “certain aspects of [Hungarian] national policy were criticized by Hungary’s partners in the European Union.”

The Ukrainian reaction was expected. Donald Tusk’s response, however, was more of a surprise given the normally warm relations between Poland and Hungary. Both Tusk’s party and Fidesz belong to the same conservative People’s Party, and usually Orbán receives a lot of help in Strasbourg from Polish members of EP. But this time the Polish prime minister was anything but sympathetic. “I am sorry to say this but I consider the statement made by Prime Minister Orbán as unfortunate.” And he continued: “Today, when we witness the Russian efforts of Ukraine’s partition such a statement must raise concern. We need to be careful that in no way, whether intentional or not, it should sound as backing the actions of pro-Russian separatists.” He added that the Polish government will make sure that none of its neighbors threatens the integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine.

Donald Tusk and Viktor Orbán / Photo Barna Burger

Donald Tusk and Viktor Orbán on May 5, 2014 / Photo Barna Burger

In cases like this it is Foreign Minister János Martonyi who comes to the rescue. According to Martonyi, Orbán’s words were misinterpreted. Orbán invoked “self governance” not autonomy. But if you read my translation carefully, you can see that he talked about both self-governance and autonomy in the Carpathian Basin. Martonyi tried to explain that self-government and autonomy are actually “cultural autonomy in Hungarian.” No, they are not. Cultural autonomy exists in Subcarpathian Ukraine already. There are Hungarian schools, Hungarian associations, Hungarian theaters.

Naturally, the opposition made hay out of these careless sentences of Orbán. Ferenc Gyurcsány recalled a sentence from the farewell letter of Prime Minister Pál Teleki to Miklós Horthy before he committed suicide. In April 1941 Hungary agreed to let German troops through Hungary in order to attack Yugoslavia with whom Hungary had just signed a pact of eternal friendship. In that letter Teleki told the Governor: “We became body snatchers!” On Facebook Gyurcsány asks Orbán whether he is playing the role of a body snatcher in these hard days in Ukraine.

Martonyi might have tempered Orbán’s harsh words but Orbán himself did not. He announced this afternoon that he simply reiterated the Hungarian government’s “long-standing views on the Hungarian minorities.” As far as he is concerned, the case is closed.

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Karl Pfeifer

Orban locuta causa finita. Orbán the genius of the carpathians.


Well, Orban is not a leader, he is a ruler. Problem is, many Hungarians don’t seem to understand or care about the difference.

Eva thanks for posting the part of PM Orban’s speech relating to the Ukraine. It is highly problematic given the chaos and civil war taking place right now. Pro-Russian separatists ambushed Ukrainian troops yesterday, killing seven in the heaviest loss of life for government forces in a single clash since government of the Ukraine sent soldiers to put down a rebellion in the country’s east. The civil war is real and is now taking place, the only question is whether it intensifies are remains at this level. There is little hope that the endless attempts of the Germans to broker some deal will work given where all of this seems to be going. Poland has now formally asked NATO to station 10,000 troops on its territory as a visible demonstration of the Alliance’s resolve to defend all its members after Russia’s seizure of Crimea. The US is expected to send 600 airmen to Mihail Kogalniceanu airbase on the Black Sea coast of Romania and is also likely to send a warship to the Black Sea. There are now NATO and US forces in the Baltic States. Yesterday Der Spiegel reported on a NATO “restricted” document that singles out Armenia, Azerbaijan… Read more »
“In fact, he does just the opposite of everything that Carnegie thought was necessary for a successful leader” Maybe, but the world consistently underestimates the staying power of autocrats. Orban will stay long and he doesn’t give sh**t about the Poles or the EU. This is the best part of his job, he doesn’t have to. The Germans desperately need his votes in the EU just like they need Russian oil and gas, and if there is any disagreement with the EU, Lázár will engineer a compromise and the impotent EU will even be ecstatic like Viviane Reading was when the EU accepted what Fidesz wanted all along re the constitution/media rules. After all, “one can really work with Hungary, and Mr. Orban isn’t so bad after all.” (By the way, under the radar Bulgaria became a complete Russian puppet within the EU, so again there is somebody else who is more problematic than Hungary.) Orban thinks Pál Teleki was a just a weak “loser” and he despises weak people, including most EU politicians, and especially those who apologize for or regret anything. Only losers do such things. Orban’s sole constituency is at home, and people there have just handed… Read more »

“By the way, under the radar Bulgaria became a complete Russian puppet within the EU, so again there is somebody else who is more problematic than Hungary.)”

Russia, Bulgaria, Hungary–mafia run states. And, like in feudal times, it seems quite obvious that Hungary and Bulgaria owe fealty to Putin and his KGB boys.

Lila Lali

Pros in action, part 63:

MSZP seriously considers running György Hunvald in district 7 of Budapest.

Hunvald has been charged with several misdeeds and in one of the ongoing criminal trails at least on first instance he was convicted and sentenced to 1.5 years of prison. (He probably spent already more in pre-trial detention).

While it is likely that many of these legal proceedings were fabricated by the Fidesz-lead prosecution, Hunvald was widely known to be both crazy and deeply corrupt.


A photograph of the extreme left Orban refers to. (It is not a joke!) Photo is taken on the 13th of May.
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Many times we talked about how Orban and his gang (Fidesz) keeps changing their attitude, and their “religion” as the wind blows. Recently some drive by poster made a comments about how the MSZP will copy the “genius” of Orban (as if).
So here is an other fact (JB and the Rev. I hope you can read, and open the link.)
In 2002 Laszlo Kover considered the acacia the “enemy”
Th acacia is a stranger of the Hungarian landscape and the Carpathian Basin, it is extremely malicious and aggressive plant, whose spread threatens our native forests with distinctions.” said cover in 2002 for the magazine Magyar Demokrata (Hungarian Democrat). So, what have changed since above the obvious that Kover and Fidesz are not democrats? Well, in 2002 it was Peter Medgyessi the socialist Prime Minister who tried to protect the acacia. So, here we are twelve years later, and acacia in the twelve years became the Hungaricum of Kover.
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” Apparently, according to a leaked foreign ministry document, “Fidesz with its own national policy”

Strangely, the internet does not know about this “leaked document”. These same words in quotes appear nowhere else on the internet. Maybe because this “document” does not exist?

Maybe Hungary should apologize for repeating that Hungarians should have human rights. But only after blacks apologize for not being satisfied with 3/5 of a vote and asking that they have the same rights as others. Hungarians do not ask for any more rights than what others already have for decades. Territorial autonomy was never mentioned yet it is practiced all over the EU. It already exists in many countries, it’s not some extraordinary demand. Why should any group be satisfied by being second class citizens and living under oppression? Acting like having rights is some sort of “offense” shows how crazy, oppressive-minded and anti-democratic some people really are.


That acacia story (thanks, Some1!) is really typical for Fidesz “policies”!

Re Ron Werber – I heard about him and Molnár on the news but didn’t get the story until I found this:

Very interesting – sorry if it’s been linked before.

@bob 1. “But only after blacks apologize for not being satisfied with 3/5 of a vote” Of course, no slaves (of any color) had the right to vote before the 13th (1865) and 14th (1868) amendments were enacted. The 3/5 referred to the division of direct taxes among the states. Article. I.Section. 2. of the original Constitution: “Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.” 2. Ethnic Hungarians in neighboring countries are not slaves, of course. They are citizens of those countries. They have their school system through university level. I think Romanians would permit territorial autonomy for the Szekely area of Transylvania, but they rightly think that this would be a precursor of secession. Orban smells something in Carpatho-Ukraine however. When I traveled there, I purchased Ukrainian historical atlases for high school students. They clearly show the Beregszasz (Beregovo) strip as outside the historical Ukrainian ethnic area. I think… Read more »
Karl Pfeifer

bob the question is, do ethnic Hungarians in Slovakia and Romania want autonomy. The answer is, the majority does not.
Orbán wants to deflect attention from the “postcommunist maffiastate” he and his ilk have established with nationalist rhetoric and he is ready to risk a lot.
By the way what about the human rights of those Hungarians who dare to critizise Fidesz?
I remember the dirty campaign led by Fidesz against six Hungarian philosophers who were accused to have embezzled Billions of Forints. Last year the state attorney found no cause to start procedure against the philosophers.


Another ethnically mixed area of Western Ukraine is the Budjak area. Ukrainians make up only 40% of the population (2001 census). The rest are Bulgarians, Russians, Romanians (Moldovans) and Gagauzians.



If Orban succeeds to obtain a square inch of land he will be crowned for life and allowed to have the dynasty he anyway plans to instal. I am sure Orban is working on this issue like crazy.

Since all the new citizens regardless of ethnicity would become EU citizens, which is better than living in a no man’s land buffer zone Ukraine is and will be, there is a certain incentive for the non-ethnic-Hungarians too to want to join Hungary.

Having said if given the chance geographically it would also be possible for them to join Slovakia or Poland and they would be much richer there (plus language wise Polish is quite close), Hungarian economy is unlikely to improve.


A revealing map of the Ukraine.
Languages spoken at home, 2001 census data.

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This is how real pros work. Poor lefties will be cut out from the rural areas for ever. And without the rural areas winning is impossible. I guess the lefties don’t even have a clue what is about to hit them. Decision on agricultural land purchases (ie. an approval if somebody would want to purchase agricultural land in the vicinity of a municipality) will be in the hands of a committee made up of local big land owners. They will of course be beholden to the local politicians (the mayor) who will appoint such members and in exchange for the appointment they will naturally make sure to organize local elections (the get out the vote exercise) so that the people (employees, day laborers and their families) who depend on these local bigwigs (in poor areas these local landlords are the big people, as there is no industry or middle class) will elect the necessary parties (ie. Fidesz). And the land law is a 2/3s law, so once the system is in place, nobody can purchase land from outside the committee members as no new government can alter the system. The committee members will be able to further increase their holdings… Read more »

Rudika, you’re probably right – still my wife hears people complaining about this land grab (and about other machinations of Fidesz too like the tobacco shops which went to the Fidesz mafia also, it’s not that they don’t see anything), but it seems they still vote for Fidesz?

Do the people in the country really want a return to the Feudal system as it was under the Austrian emperors and also under Horthy?

Of course then it was even easier for the rulers:
I remember reading somewhere that less than 3 million were allowed to vote in Horthy times.



If the EU was not insisting mindlessly on opening all markets (including the land market) even though Hungarians have no capital to purchase the available plots themselves (and as such just cannot compete with such foreign purchasers), this would not be necessary.

Wouldn’t it be more reasonable from the EU to allow further derogation accepting the fact that it cannot be expected that every asset class is welcomed to be owned by investors of older member states?

Voters just don’t like that they don’t have the money but some foreigner folks who, they feel, are not much better than them can do so easily (though admittedly such foreigners have better know-how about marketing, quality assurance etc.)

This naturally forced Fidesz into this scheme (I reckon 90% of people would prevent rich foreigners from purchasing cheap Hungarian land), which allows it to entrench itself forever in rural Hungary.

Taking about the rule of unintended consequences.



Most people never escaped feudalism in the first place.

This is how power works in rural areas and poor people accept that as part of life, it is so natural it doesn’t even occur that it would be problematic or could be otherwise.

Feudalism is mostly about protection (the lord must protect the vassals in exchange for the services and taxes) and as such it offers great security and structure where there exist neither. (At least for poor people floating with anxiety in the sea of capitalism).

D7 Democrat

“The Germans desperately need his votes in the EU just like they need Russian oil and gas….”

Huh? You must be joking. The German government has no need of the “Hungarian Voice”, either in the parliament or in the EU as a whole.

Indeed they (like the rest of civilised Europe) see Orban as that self-important bumpkin idiot and embarrassment of an uncle that they deal with at arm’s length and only when absolutely necessary. Hence their belated *congratulations* for his re-election.

Admittedly, Berlusconi is still a mate though.


Who are “the Germans” in the EU?

There’s a bitter fight now between the CDU (part of EPP) and the Social Democrats re who will be the next president – even though they are in a coalition in Berlin!

The problem for the EPP in the elections for the EU parliament are the right wing loonies like Jobbik and UKIP who will steal some (many?) of their votes, so the German Social Democrat Schulz has a good chance imho to become the EU’s next boss – though this doesn’t mean too much …



You may be right re Hungarian country people’s acceptance of Feudalism – still I can’t believe or rather I’m shaking my head at this, we live in the 21st Century, don’t we?

This whole thing reminds me again of some those bitter/tragicomic Hungarian films we’ve watched, especially the one with the young man giving birth to a child (forgot the title).


The GDP increase in Hungary was +3.5% in the first quarter, HVG called it a “brutal data point of GDP”, forint immediately shot up as a result. This data is for january, february, march only so the big question, is it sustainable? And also what caused it???

“A magyar gazdasági növekedés kiigazítás nélkül 3,5 százalék volt az idei első negyedévben. A jó gazdasági adatra a forint árfolyama erősödésnek indult az euróval szemben, egy óra alatt másfél forintos volt az ugrás.”

D7 Democrat: Well, you wish. Orban’s votes in the People’s Party are necessary and we all know that. Especially now that the eurosceptic parties will advance. He will soon be the committed EU-supporter there, on whom the PP can rely. (Perhaps there will be a grand coalition in the EU Parliament even, such is the problem in the EU.) But the conservative CSU (and CDU) people – whether or not the Berlin federal-level bosses like it or not – just somehow dig Orban and know that he delivers the votes and they together hate the Genossen. They have been acting as his protector that’s for sure, as we have seen from the arrangement of Kohl’s letter to name but one weird incident. I can’t think of any other reason why the Germans would be such a wuss about Orban, who is indeed a mean idiot, although truth be told Merkel is extremely weak all around when it comes to foreign policy/relations, so in a way I am not surprized. Her achievements and abilities are overrated as is usually the case for leaders who preside over economic successes (which are almost never their own achievements). As the Germans are the undisputed… Read more »


The headlines of journals and portals about the stock or forex markets are frequently out of touch with reality, discard them.

The market is not a buyer of this propaganda number.

EUR/HUF= 303.81 before the announcement, 303.42 in this minute, so the forint went up by a mighty 0.1%.

D7 Democrat


“Orban’s votes in the People’s Party are necessary and we all know that.”

Nope. Wrong. Check out the composition of the present EP.

The EPP is by far the biggest party in the EP (274 seats), the bumpkins comprise 14 of that total. The next biggest party the socialist grouping is 195, ergo whether Fidesz sits with the EPP or their fellow fascist fruitcakes makes little to no real difference. The next election may somewhat change the composition but not to the extent that 10-15 Fideszers make a difference.


Statistical Office:

“[Our] estimate is based on a limited data base, so the final number may be different form this preliminary number […] The details will be published on June 4.” [after the European election]