An exchange of letters between U.S. congressmen and Viktor Orbán

It was on May 22 that thirty members of the U.S. Congress urged Viktor Orbán to reconsider the erection of the Nazi occupation monument in its present form. The letter emphasizes two points. First, that “while there were individuals in Hungary who actively helped those persecuted by the Nazis, it cannot be ignored that there was also a portion of the population at that time that willingly participated in Nazi activities, including the deportation of Hungarian Jews” and, second, that “while we understand and greatly appreciate the desire to honor all Hungarians brutalized during the Nazi occupation, we also believe that Hungary’s remaining Jewish population should participate in determining the appropriate way to remember the suffering of Hungary’s Jews during this period.”

Here is the full text of the letter followed by Viktor Orbán’s reply of June 4, 2014. As you will notice, the Hungarian prime minister did not properly address either of these two issues. Instead, he talked about his great electoral victory and mandate and about his effort at “unifying the nation.” The message is that he and his government have every right to do as they please because “the people” entrusted them with this right.

As for the monument, according to Orbán it is not a Holocaust memorial. It symbolizes “the loss of state sovereignty.” The monument “reminds us all that the loss of our national sovereignty led to tragic consequences.” Thus, Orbán did not move an inch from his original position–the loss of sovereignty that began with the German occupation of Hungary and continued during the Soviet period.

Orbán stands squarely behind the preamble of the Fundamental Law of Hungary that states: “We date the restoration of our country’s self-determination, lost on the nineteenth day of March 1944, from the second day of May 1990, when the first elected organ of popular representation was formed.” And this is the crux of the matter. This is what the whole controversy is about. Historical facts do not support that view of modern Hungarian history, and thus the symbol the Hungarian government is erecting is false.

* * *

Dear Prime Minister Orban:

As Members of the United States Congress, and long-standing supporters of Hungary and the U.S.-Hungarian partnership, we are writing to express our deep concern over your government’s decision to move forward with the construction of a controversial monument commemorating the tragedies suffered in Hungary under Nazi occupation.

The Nazi occupation of Hungary was a horrific period in Hungarian history, which caused incalculable suffering and tragedy to millions of innocent people. And while there were individuals in Hungary who actively helped those persecuted by the Nazis, it cannot be ignored that there was also a portion of the population at that time that willingly participated in Nazi activities, including the deportation of Hungarian Jews.

According to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, one of the preeminent institutions on the history of the Holocaust, in mid-May 1944, Hungarian authorities in coordination with the Nazis began to systematically deport Hungary’s Jews. In less than eight weeks, nearly 440,000 Jews were deported from Hungary, most of whom were murdered in Auschwitz. In total, over 500,000 Hungarian Jews were killed during the Nazi occupation.

While we understand and greatly appreciate the desire to honor all Hungarians brutalized during the Nazi occupation, we also believe that Hungary’s remaining Jewish population should participate in determining the appropriate way to remember the suffering of Hungary’s Jews during this period. They too share in the Hungarian historical narrative and it is their leadership’s opinion that the current proposal whitewashes the fact that there were Hungarians complicit with the systematic murder of their relatives.

This issue is compounded by the fact that next year Hungary is set to assume the chairmanship of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance and the recent rise of theJobbik party, widely believed to be formed, in part, around an ideology that employs anti-Semitism.

Mr. Prime Minister, as a member of the European Union and NATO, Hungary is a friend and key ally of the United States. We greatly value the strong and enduring relations and partnership between our two nations, and it is with that in mind that we urge you to reconsider your government’s current plan to construct this monument against the wishes of the Hungarian Jewish community.

We are confident that a memorial which appropriately respects the sensitivities of all of Hungary’s citizens can and should, be erected to commemorate the tragedy and hardship of the Nazi occupation of Hungary. We stand ready to help find a resolution to this issue, and should you want to discuss this with us at greater length, we welcome the opportunity to meet with you or your designee.

Thank you for your consideration and we look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

ELIOT L. ENGEL                      HENRY WAXMAN                     ERIC CANTOR
Member of Congress             Member of Congress               Member of Congress

CHARLES E. SCHUMER       RICHARD BLUMENTHAL        CARL LEVIN
United States Senator             United States Senator             United States Senator

BRIAN SCHATZ                        BENJAMIN CARDIN                 AL FRANKEN
United States Senator             United States Senator             United States Senator

DIANNE FEINSTEIN               RON WYDEN                             BARBARA BOXER
United States Senator            United States Senator             United States Senator

STEVE ISRAEL                       ADAM SCHIFF                            BRAD SCHNEIDER
Member of Congress            Member of Congress                Member of Congress

SANDER LEVIN                     TED DEUTCH                           JERROLD NADLER
Member of Congress            Member of Congress              Member of Congress

JOHN YARMUTH                  JAN SCHAKOWSKY                  BRAD SHERMAN
Member of Congress           Member of Congress               Member of Congress

DEBBIE WASSERMAN        NITA LOWEY                              DAVID CICILLINE
SCHULTZ                               Member of Congress              Member of Congress
Member of Congress

JARED POLIS                        SUSAN DAVIS                          LOIS FRANKEL
Member of Congress           Member of Congress             Member of Congress

ALAN GRAYSON                    ALAN LOWENTHAL                STEVE COHEN
Member of Congress           Member of Congress             Member of Congress

 

And here is Viktor Orbán’s answer:

* * *

Members of Congress
United States Senators
Washington DC

Budapest,  4th June 2014

Dear members of Congress,
Dear Senators,
Esteemed Friends of Hungary,

We Hungarians are always moved by and grateful for signals received from across the globe that show attention, compassion and sincere friendship. We are proud to have friends around the World, in America as well, who pay attention to the developments  of Hungarian life.

I consider it a gift of fate that as a result of the 2014 parliamentary elections, by the will and mandate of the voters, I have the opportunity to continue the policy of unifying the nation which I started during my first term as Prime Minister, in 1998. Following the guidance of your great president: of the people, by the people, for the people. We Hungarians turned our steps towards a future based on mutual understanding, the culture of respect and the unconditional respect of human dignity.

In Hungary, the decisions to give moral and spiritual restitution to the members of the Jewish community, who had lived with us throughout history and had become an integral part of the Hungarian nation, have been taken. We established the Holocaust Museum, we introduced Holocaust Remembrance Day and we declared zero tolerance against anti-Semitism. As you surely know, we are commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Hungarian Holocaust this year. I can assure you that my government is counting on the opinion and the participation of the Hungarian Jewish community regarding every important moment of the Holocaust memorial year. We consider the Holocaust as an equally dark period in world and Hungarian history.

The monument that you referred to, which we are erecting on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of Hungary’s German occupation, and the loss of state sovereignty, is not a Holocaust memorial. Moving Holocaust monuments and memorial sites already exist in Hungary.

The composition erected now is a freedom fighting people’s memorial of the pain of having its liberty crushed. This monument, paying tribute to the memory of the victims, reminds us all that the loss of our national sovereignty led to tragic consequences, claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands, and brought immense suffering upon further millions, the entire nation.

For Americans, for a nation that celebrates its independence so proudly, the devotion of Hungarians to freedom might seem natural, and the pain caused by the loss of our sovereignty and freedom might be comprehensible. From March 19, 1944 until 1991, occupying troops were continuously stationed on the soil of our country.

The erectors of the monument are thus driven by the pain of losing our freedom, the aspiration to remind generations to come of the importance of freedom, and of the tragic consequences its loss has on the life of a nation. The inscription speaks clearly: “The German occupation of Hungary, March 19, 1944, in memory of the victims.”

In the spirit of respect towards you and the American people, let me please hereby thank you for your interest and your good wishes

Orban signature

 

 

 

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Guest

Orbán writes:

“we declared zero tolerance against anti-Semitism.”

Then why are there so many active antisemites in Hungary in Fidesz and in Jobbik and what is the government doing besides “declaring” something?

Just look at some of the comments on politics.hu!

Dénes Korpás
Guest

In Fidesz you find hardly any antisemites, neither active, nor passive ones. The commies (like “wolfi”) are crying for their lost power and our beloved American friends are stupid enough to believe them. Do you know, where Jews are killed today in Europe? Perhaps in Hungary? Oh, no, it happened recently in France and in Belgium. Yes, in the totally tolerant and PC Belgium! The worst antisemitic incident what occured in Hungary a few years ago was that a man told an old rabbi that he did not like the Jews. Next day the President of Hungary personally visited the rabbi and begged his pardon. So much about the “so many active antisemite”.

steve397
Guest

The US Senators are wrong, saying: “over 500,000 Hungarian Jews were killed during the Nazi occupation”. Some of these Hungarians were killed before the “occupation”, (Kamenetz, Novi Sad, Labour companies in Poland and Russia, Budapest by Arrow Cross).
Mr. Orban: Who were the non-Jewish vicims of the “occupation” other than Bajcsy-Zsilinszki, who was hanged by Hungarians?
Btw. can a country with its own Head of State, with a Government appointed by him, where 9 ministers were continuing in their previous post, with an independent and separate Army fighting as an ally to a country after an unopposed “occupation”, can such a country be described as having lost it’s national sovereignty ?

Dénes Korpás
Guest

Let me mention a remarkable fact. While a small but influential fraction of Hungary’s Jewish community strongly opposes the planned monument, Mr. András Schiffer, the president of a minor oppositional party, himself the child of Holocaust survivors, called that outrage an exaggerated tantrum. I think he is right. The whole issue is just another undertaking to counter the democratic decision of the Hungarian people. Dear American friends, dear Congressmen: you are being used!

Dénes Korpás
Guest

Dear steve397, you are just busy in mocking Hungary. Wouldn’t it be better to adhere to the facts? Or are you hating the Hungarian people so much that truth doesn’t matter?
1. Those “Hungarian Jews” killed before the German occupation where killed again by the Germans and outside the Hungarian border. They were Jewish refugees from other countries and were expelled by the Hungarian authorities because of lack of a residence permit. Their number was around 20-30 thousand.
2. You agreed with the contemporary Nazi propaganda: it was exactly their claim that Hungary did not lose its national sovereignty because of the occupation. But there were four German corps (about 120,000 troops) in Hungary with the best equipment.
3. Unopposed occupation:
a. Germany was a friend at the time (like the US now?)
b. most of the Hungarian army was out at the Russian front
c. the occupation came as a surprise, when the political and military leaders of the country were at a war conference at Hitler in Klessheim.

tappanch
Guest

Survey of Hungarians living in the UK. Sample size was 5,200.

When did you leave Hungary? After 2010: 65.1%

Why did you leave Hungary?

Bad economic situation: about 70%,
bad political situation: about 50%

When do you plan to move back to Hungary?

Never or not in the next five years: 73.1%
In a few years: 20.8%
Within a year: 6.1%

http://hataratkelo.blog.hu/2014/06/05/az_orszag_gerince_megy_el

Dénes Korpás
Guest

4. Novi Sad, Labour companies in Poland and Russia, Budapest by Arrow Cross: all these things happened AFTER the German occupation.
5. independent and separate army: the Hungarian army fought in subordination of the German command.
6. Who were the non-Jewish victims: Hungarian soldiers who fell at the front, civilians who were bombed to death, killed or deported by the Russians (300,000-400,000 people, beyond the Jews). All these thing would not happen without the German occupation. Nor would the Holocaust happen in Hungary.

tappanch
Guest

@Dénes Korpás

The Hungarian state was responsible for the murder or death of about 50 thousand Hungarian Jews in 1941-1943.

Romanian troops committed larger massacres in Moldavia and Trans(d)nistria in 1941-42.

But the Romanian government did not send their Jewish population to ghettos and to Auschwitz in 1944, although there were lots of German troops in the country.

So the presence of German troops cannot explain the extermination of 55% of the Jewish population of Hungary within a few WEEKS. (The total loss was 70%)

France was occupied for several YEARS. (Vichy from November 1942). Still, “only” 30% of its Jewish population were murdered.

tappanch
Guest

@Dénes Korpás

1.
“Novi Sad, Labour companies in Poland and Russia, Budapest by Arrow Cross: all these things happened AFTER the German occupation.”

Most people on this blog know history, it is a useless attempt to spread falsehoods here.

Novi Sad massacre was in January 1942, more than two years before the German occupation.in 1944. Tens of thousands of forced laborers were killed in 1942-43.

2.
Most occupying troops stayed in Hungary only for two weeks after the invasion.
Hungarian troops outnumbered them two pr three times even on March 19.

Member
Dénes Korpás June 5, 2014 at 5:14 pm In Fidesz you find hardly any antisemites, neither active, nor passive ones. The commies (like “wolfi”) are crying for their lost power and our beloved American friends are stupid enough to believe them. Well the fact is that no other parties have as many ex-communists as Fidesz. Unfortunately these commies (like, Matolcsy, Kover, Orban, Deutsch) pretend to hunt the “real communist” and Hungarians are stupid enough to believe them. In fact Fidesz slowly nationalized private savings, stores, and whatever they could put there hands on. THey redistributed the land to their non-qualified “farmer” friends as a “lease”. http://www.nepszava.hu/articles/article.php?id=496741 Oh, by the way, if they are so eager to expose all those “communists” why they are the only party that does not want to open up the secret files related to secret communists agents? I would love to hear your opinion. Dénes Korpás June 5, 2014 at 6:57 pm 6. Who were the non-Jewish victims: Hungarian soldiers who fell at the front, civilians who were bombed to death, killed or deported by the Russians (300,000-400,000 people, beyond the Jews). All these thing would not happen without the German occupation. Nor would the Holocaust… Read more »
Dénes Korpás
Guest
tappanch: “The Hungarian state was responsible for the murder or death of about 50 thousand Hungarian Jews in 1941-1943.” 1. that 50 000 surely contains the death of Jewish workers at the Eastern front (roughly half of that), from the hands of the Russian enemy. 2. responsible? All the murders were committed by the Germans. The Hungarian state shares responsibility (for expelling Jewish refugees) if and to the extent the leaders knew in advance what the Germans would do to them. “So the presence of German troops cannot explain the extermination of 55% of the Jewish population of Hungary within a few WEEKS. (The total loss was 70%)” Of course it can. Or do you think that without the presence of German troops the extermination would take place as well? Why didn’t it take place it before the occupation? Don’t you know that Hitler had demanded the deportation of Hungarian Jews (who possessed Hungarian citizenship) for years? The example of Romania is completely wrong. That country was not occupied at all by the German. It is completely different to have troops who are staying there for example to defend oil refineries (so, to help), than to have occupying forces who… Read more »
petofi
Guest

With people like Denes Korpas, how long before there begins a movement to build a statue to Laszlo Csatary?
Now there’s a hero for our Time!

Dénes Korpás
Guest

Some1:

I do not intend to react for the first part. Just the usual communist lies.

“THe Holocaust did happen in Hungary”

To be precise, it happened in the GERMAN concentration camps in occupied Poland.

“many Hungarians were just so eager to send the Jews and others into the cattle cars”

You are trying to apply the Nazi idea of collective responsibility. The effectiveness of sending Jews to Auschwitz depended on to factors:
1. the collaboration and hatred of just TWO men, Baky and Endrődy, secretaries of state (both hanged after the war),
2. the disciplined Hungarian gendarmerie, who fulfilled the orders whether they liked it or not.

Whether other people hated or liked the Jews, it did not matter. Surely, many of them fell victim of the contemporary Nazi propaganda, as YOU fell victim of the hatred propaganda against Hungary today…

AntiDenesKorpas
Guest

Dr. Dénes Korpás:

Nice try to argue on behalf of the Fidesz rulers, who are the real enemies of all Hungary.

What is your message to the roughly 50% of Hungarians who strongly dislike Fidesz, and for those, who already left Hungary?

The Galamus article:

http://www.galamuscsoport.hu/tartalom/cikk/386148_orbant_nem_lehet_balrol_levaltani_valasztasi_6.

will deflate almost all of your arguments.

The writer explains the schizophrenic views of countless clueless Hungarians who yearn for a repeat of the terrible Horthy times.

We are different, even if we are not commies, as called by you very rudely.

szajkarate
Guest

I guess the order was finally issued by the Hungarian government, it is now time to assign serious time and effort to troll Hungarian Spectrum. I mean how many times were Korpas’ points answered already at this site? Or, wait, is Denes Korpas the MD from Nebraska-Lincoln? Well, at least luckily for him there shouldn’t be too many blacks there, let alone Jews. I guess life would be tougher for him in LA or NY. (sarcasm).

steve397
Guest

I will not get into an argument with Mr. Denes Korpas. What he critisises and attempts to correct in my statements are known facts and I will not honour his arguments by correcting them. Maybe he learned his Hungarian history from a book. Had he lived at the time and experienced Hungary between 1938 and 1945, he would not make statements like he does nor would he try to attack people with being Communists just because they disagree with his misquoted comments. At least we should be grateful that he does not suggest that Admiral Horthy was the greatest saviour of Hungary’s Jews.

tappanch
Guest

Harassing Civil Society in Hungary

“Protecting and supporting human rights defenders is supposed to lie at the core of the European Union’s values. How can the EU be credible in pressing countries around the world if it allows its own member states to flout those values? So far Brussels has been silent on this issue.”

http://www.hrw.org/news/2014/06/05/dispatches-harassing-civil-society-hungary

Member
Dénes Korpás June 5, 2014 at 7:54 pm Some1: I do not intend to react for the first part. Just the usual communist lies. You know, it is very hard to have a discussion with someone who when hears factual information responds, I do not react for lies. Which part was the communist lie exactly? I do not want you to react, I just want to make sure I understand what do you consider a communist lie. “– Büszke voltam, hogy felvettek a KISZ-be, harmadikos koromig alapszervi KISZ-titkár voltam – jelentette ki Orbán Viktor.” “I was very proud to be admitted to the Young Communist Party (KISZ), until third grade [highschool grade] I was the secretary of the basic KISZ.” http://www.blikk.hu/blikk_aktualis/orban-viktor-hihetetlenul-elvert-az-apam-2232717 (Unfortunately the original tape “disappeared” from the Internet.) I hope you take Laszlo Kover’s own Biography as proof that he was in fact working for the Communist Party, right before he took Soros’ money to take some courses. http://www.parlament.hu/kepv/eletrajz/hu/k308.pdf …and the list goes on. Or maybe you do not believe that Fidesz nationalized all the private retirement savings? (all the proof is gone. They spent it all! LOL) How about he land leases? You do not believe that the… Read more »
matter
Guest
@Som1 “By the way I did not fell victim of any hatred propaganda against Hungary, so get hold of yourself. I love Hungary, and I love Hungarians, and my heart is broken to see how Orban and his bandmates are robbing…” You are in a historical discussion about Hungary in which waves of hatred were already expressed against Hungarians. Some are so interested in falsifying history that they are even willing to defend Nazi murderers and try to absolve them of as much responsibility as they can! Just so they can hate Hungarians more, and to deny basic historical facts. The Kállay government was negotiating for peace with the Allies for years. Do you know what happened with Kállay after the German occupation? Did he stay and continue his policy? So someone deranged ask who were the victims? Everyone who died because Kállay could not complete his policy of Hungary seeking peace with the Allies. Every single victim of allied bombing, every soldier everyone who died after 1944 March 19 is a victim of the occupation. Stop the hatred. it will only breed hatred. If you continue hating Hungarians so much the end result will only be that some Hungarians… Read more »
Guest

The trolls are back in force – and it’s almost funny that they immediately start calling everyone here a commie and a Hungarian hater …
But of course no answer to the facts presented by Steve (who was there – in Budapest 1945 …) and why Fidesz does not open the commie archives.

PS:

I’m used to being called an alcoholic Stasi Jew or Mischling on politics.hu – but if they start this here too? And on pol.hu they also openly say that they don’t want democracy, they don’t want those “Western values” etc – they want a return to the good old Feudal times when everybody knew their place ..

FreeFree
Guest

I am deeply disgusted by my many Hungarian friends who stand by orban.

They are willingly marching, and forcing others to march into the newly created Hungarian gulag pastures named patriotic national cooperation zones.

The Freedom ideals of Deak, Kossuth or Petofi are becoming again the cheapest commodity in orban’s Hungarian culture.

Guest
@ Dénes Korpás — I am a Belgian citizen. First, let me remind you that what happened in Brussels a few weeks ago was not even the act of a Belgian and has deeply affected the population and the entire political class. Many European countries have a Muslim population, a tiny fraction of which has been radicalized and left to fight the war in Syria. The greatest fear currently in those countries is to see them return and commit brutal murders like the one that took place in the Jewish museum in Brussels. And let me this proverb: pointing at your neighbor’s sins doesn’t make you a Saint. But since you mention my home country, let me tell you how appalled I am at reading comments on some Hungarian forums, where some users post DAILY anti-Semitic comments. In Belgium or France, these people would be prosecuted, in Hungary, not. I remember that some years ago, some people raised their concerns about Kuruc.info. The reply of the Hungarian authorities was that Kuruc is hosted in the USA and hence beyond prosecution in Hungary. Yet Twitter, a US-based company, helped the French authorities to track down some of its users who posted… Read more »
D7 Democrat
Guest

“The reply of the Hungarian authorities was that Kuruc is hosted in the USA and hence beyond prosecution in Hungary.”

Anti-Semitic and racist hatemongers (as long as they are Hungarian obviously) are to be tolerated and even encouraged by the Orban Regime but the fact that facebook, google, twitter etc are “hosted” outside Hungary hasn’t stopped the self-same regime pondering how they could be taxed.
Hungary 2014.

kommentelo
Guest
@theestampe Belgian citizen, I looked at your example, where you compare two events: “Twitter, a US-based company helped the French authorities to track down some of its users” and the “US authorities which did not help to track down the users of kuruc.info” Both events happened in the US and you somehow still manage to blame Hungary for them. Not even any government, but the whole country. Does that seem logical to you? There were many good faith efforts by Hungary to try to shut-down kuruc.info for many years. The Gyurcsány government asked the Americans for help and the USA refused. How is that Hungary’s fault? Then the Bajnai government asked the Americans for help, and the USA refused. How is that Hungary’s fault? Here, read this article from 2008 july 5.: http://www.szombat.org/archivum/nemetorszagi-szerveren-a-kuruc-info-1373028914 “A magyar hatóságok több esetben kértek segítséget az Egyesült Államoktól a honlap elleni jogi lépésekhez, de hiába, mert az amerikai törvények alapján nem kaptak adatokat a weblap működtetőiről.” (2008): “The Hungarian authorities asked for the help of the United States many times in the legal battle against the website. But based on the American laws they recieved no information about the operators of the website” “A miniszterelnök… Read more »
Karl Pfeifer
Guest

I am always surprised that the advocates of Orbáns revisionist agenda, qualify those opposing this nefarious activity “communists” like Mr. Korpás does. If you look for communists, then why not see, who is working for Viktor Orbán? Of course there are two kind of former communists, those like Pintér f.i. who has become an Orbanist and those who are fighting for democracy and oppose the “postcommunist maffiastate”
I am not surprised that @Korpás@ is an ignoramus as far as Hungarian History is concerned, for he want us make believe that during Horthy’s rule before the German occupation no crimes were perpetrated by the Hungarian soldateska and the Hungarian Gendarmes.
Korpás = Eliezer M Rabinovich?

googly
Guest
Dénes Korpás, You wrote, “In Fidesz you find hardly any antisemites, neither active, nor passive ones. The commies (like “wolfi”) are crying for their lost power and our beloved American friends are stupid enough to believe them. Do you know, where Jews are killed today in Europe? Perhaps in Hungary? Oh, no, it happened recently in France and in Belgium. Yes, in the totally tolerant and PC Belgium!” “Hardly any antisemites”? So, according to you, having anti-Semites in the government is acceptable. Very telling! The reality is, of course, that you are downplaying the number of avowed, vocal anti-Semites in the government, and ignoring the fact that they are tolerated by Orbán, which makes his letter a lie. The fact that some deranged anti-Semites in France and Belgium killed Jews does not mean that anti-Semitism is worse in those countries. Here in Hungary, not only does the government condone anti-Semitism in its actions and sometimes the words of its members, but polls show that anti-Semitism is much more common here than in the countries you mention, and indeed most, if not all, of the rest of the EU. Finally, does pointing to anti-Semitism elsewhere somehow absolve Hungary of the need… Read more »
googly
Guest

Dénes Korpás,

“The whole issue is just another undertaking to counter the democratic decision of the
Hungarian people. Dear American friends, dear Congressmen: you are being used!”

From what I’ve read, polls seem to indicate that the majority of Hungarians do not support the memorial, yet Orbán insists on installing it. That’s the anti-democratic decision that is being countered by the Americans. The Hungarian public is the one being used, by a government that only received 41% of the vote, but somehow managed to get exactly a 2/3 majority in the parliament.

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