Viktor Orbán’s foreign policy doctrine: only national interest

Every year Hungarian ambassadors assemble in Budapest to listen to very lengthy lectures by Viktor Orbán on their duties.  I began covering this gathering in 2010, when the prime minister outlined “a much more courageous, much more aggressive foreign policy”  than the one pursued by the socialist-liberal governments. In 2011 he announced his intention to wage a war against the European Union in defense of the country’s sovereignty, and he urged the ambassadors to steadfastly defend all of the government’s unorthodox moves. In July 2012 his speech centered around the protracted economic crisis that was “not made any easier” by the existence of the democratic model. “Europe chose the democratic model after World War II,” so that’s that. This was not a criticism on his part, he added. And a year later, in 2013, he claimed that Europe can remain competitive only if it finds accommodation with Russia. He admitted that this is a difficult proposition because Russia is not a democratic country. “However, we must understand that for Russia it is not democracy that is the most important consideration but rather how the country can be kept intact.”

If anyone thought that after his speech of July 26 Orbán would try to retreat, realizing that foreign reaction was exceedingly critical of his illiberal ideas that are incompatible with the values of western democracies, they were mistaken. Here are the most important segments of his long speech as reported by MTI. It appeared on the government’s website.

Orbán in his 2010 speech urged the ambassadors to defend the Hungary’s unorthodox policies. Today he suggested the opposite. They “should not assume a defensive posture” because “the Hungarian position can defend itself.” They should listen to what other nations’ representatives have to say, but their answers should not be substantive. It should be no more than a polite gesture, “a civilised obligation.” In brief, Hungary needs no advice from anyone.

Source: Népszabadság / Photo: Zsolt Reviczky

Source: Népszabadság / Photo: Zsolt Reviczky

The ambassadors must not represent a country which is constantly criticized and questioned on its economic indicators or on its historical sins. “No one in the whole world has the right to take us to task, especially since Hungary’s democratic credentials are the best in all of Europe.” After all, at the time of the acceptance of the new constitution every possible legal question was answered satisfactorily.

As for Hungary’s place in today’s world order, there is no question that “Hungary’s place is within the western alliance system,” but “we no longer follow a foreign policy based on ideology.” The only consideration is “Hungarian national interest.” In his opinion “clever nations invented foreign policy based on ideology for half-witted nations.” And surely, Hungary is not one of them.

Normally, Orbán does not like question and answer periods. For example, apparently the reason for his recent cancellation of a speech at Georgetown University was the university administration’s insistence on such a format. It seems that on these occasions, however, whether he likes it or not, he has to answer a few polite questions by the ambassadors.

So Csaba Balogh, ambassador to Bratislava, asked him about Hungary’s position on the Russian-Ukrainian crisis. We already knew that Orbán is reluctant to support joint European efforts at containing Putin’s expansionist plans. This time he made his position crystal clear. For him the Russian-Ukrainian crisis has only economic ramifications, and these are obviously negative. Already last year on the same occasion Orbán advocated closer ties between Russia and the European Union. Today he sadly noted that, despite his advice, relations between Russia and the European Union are getting worse and worse. And that is bad not only for Hungary but also for the European Union.

So, what will Hungary do under these circumstances? Orbán’s Hungary will seek out those countries whose interests lie in preventing further rifts between Russia and the EU and promote closer cooperation with them. In plain English, he will try to drive a wedge between the member states in their policy toward Putin’s Russia.

Orbán seems to be convinced that criticism of his “seeking a different political model”–as he euphemistically called his illiberal vision of Hungary’s future– is some kind of punishment for his “different views on Russian sanctions.” Otherwise, there would not be all that fuss.

Finally, Orbán stated that he is “dead against” immigration because he does not consider multiculturalism a desirable end. Homogeneity is a valuable feature within individual countries, and therefore these homogeneous communities should not be broken up. To quote Reuters, Orbán told his audience that “we must fight to keep this issue under national jurisdiction…. I make no secret of this: we will continue with a very tough policy that does not at all encourage immigration … For Europe to have general rules that affect all of us who think differently is out of the question.” I assume he means only extra-European immigration. In plain language, this is a “whites (and probably Christians) only” policy. He called the EU’s immigration policy hypocritical, impractical, and without moral foundation. As Reuters rightly pointed out, that might put Orbán at odds with Brussels.

It is also interesting to note what MTI’s summary left out, which other journalists who were present noticed. The most obvious to me was Népszabadság’s reporting that “one must not overrate the so-called common European values.” The liberal paper considered that sentence so important that it used it as its headline.

So, there is plenty to chew on here, and I am sure there will be more to discuss when the complete transcript is released. In any case, the European Union has a problem on its hands as Wolfgang H. Reinicke, president of the Global Public Policy Institute, pointed out a few days ago. He optimistically predicted that “Europe’s Orbán problem” can be fixed. It all depends on the political will to confront him. Orbán is ready for that fight.

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Guest

London Calling!

“……….Hungary’s democratic credentials are the best in all of Europe.”

HAHAHAHhAHHAAAAAAAAAA ha ha ha! ha HA HA HA!!

Haaaaaaa Haaaaaaaaaaaaaa Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

Oh stop please! Haaaaaaaaaaaahaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!

Regards

Charlie

Paul
Guest

“Homogeneity is a valuable feature within individual countries…”

So Trianon was pretty much along the right lines then? Just a few changes to the new borders and it would have been fine?

This man is barking mad.

Paul
Guest

Odd too that he needs the banner behind to be repeated in English.

Can this be the same man who wanted all adverts and all company names to be in Hungarian?

Guest

London Calling! (2)

This man doesn’t understand what he signed.

The EU regards the Schengen Area is one of its greatest achievements.

Chief President Thug doesn’t realise that one country’s emigrant is another country’s immigrant.

What about all those Hungarians that have left Hungary?

The EU isn’t going to like it!

Not one little bit.

Go go Jean-Claude Juncker!

Regards

Charlie

Bowen
Guest

@ Charlie. Orban (as it happens) wasn’t present when the Hungarian parliament voted on EU accession.

Bowen
Guest

In all honesty, I’m not sure why Orban is using this platform to start banging on about the perils of immigrants. Really, hordes of foreigners desperate to live in Hungary is not something this country needs to worry about at the moment.

Paul
Guest

The irony is that Hungary has quite a history of inviting foreigners in to settle, to make up for depleted population. And with the declining birth-rate and mass exodus of youngsters, she’s going to need to do the same again pretty soon.

His understanding of history is a bit skew-wiff too – where does he think countries like the US and the UK would be today without mass immigration, and indeed the acceptance of refugees and dissenters?

Down at the bottom with Hungary, probably.

Guest

well ok – he doesn’t understand what his country signed….

Paul
Guest

Good point, Bowen. The people most likely to be desperate enough to want to live in Hungary are exactly the ones Orbán would least like!

Guest

London Calling!

Bowen

Hungary is seeing very big increases in immigrants from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kosovo and Syria.

Hungarians twice blocked the roads near me in Vamosszabadi to prevent its operation and in general are very hostile to all the immigrants – who they think will rape all their women.

Many many people want to settle in Hungary given half the chance.

Regards

Charlie

Guest

oops….. forgot bold off!

Ivan
Guest

Had exactly the same thought, Paul, about the much pined for pre-Trianon Hungary – an overwhelmingly multicultural state.

But nonsensical speeches, especially about history, are rarely challenged in Hungary.

gdfxx
Guest

“So Csaba Balogh, ambassador to Bratislava, asked him about Hungary’s position on the Russian-Ukrainian crisis.”

All these poor ambassadors are sitting in their embassies, trying to figure out what their government’s position is on various international issues. How lucky that they have these annual speeches by the prime minister, this gives them the opportunity to try to find out…

Bowen
Guest

@ Paul: yes, it’s ironic, because of course Hungarian immigrants did a lot for the development of Hollywood, the US automobile industry, the Manhattan Project, etc. etc. And places like Transylvania were the epitome of multiculturalism for centuries (to their benefit).

I think Orban’s just making this stuff up now, and saying whatever comes into his head at any given moment. His official apologists and faithful followers can ‘divine’ meaning in his profound words later on.

Ivan
Guest

He also seems to be arguing that Hungarians living abroad should be excluded from the society they have settled in (whether temporarily or permanently), rather than enrich it with aspects of their Hungarian culture. This is not a particularly pro-Hungarian stance to take, I would have thought.

Marcel Dé (@MarcelD10)
Guest

@Bowen: keeping his options open / building up some leverage in case things get tricky with the EPP at the EP. For I’m sure Le Pen & Wilders, who failed to form a parliamentary group in June, are all ears.

Paul
Guest
OT again – as ever… Chatting the other day about the demise of Thatcher (as you do…), it occurred to me that the surprise win by the Tories in 1992, when Labour had been expected to win, had actually been the worst possible result for them. It not only gave a tired and internally feuding party another five years to tear itself apart in public, and ultimately make itself unelectable for 13 years, but also the shock of defeat caused Labour to remake itself and create a party machine that would ensure a landslide victory in 97. Had they lost in 92, the Tories would have had five years in opposition to get all the blood-letting and fighting out of the way and to rebuild the party, and, after five years of an ineffective, unreformed Labour government, they probably would have easily regained power in 97. And I suggest the same is true of 2006 in Hungary. We tend to regard 2006 as a great, and unexpected, victory over Fidesz, but what it actually was was an almost accidental surprise win for a tired coalition, that had really just about had its day. The result meant that it was MSzP… Read more »
Marcel Dé (@MarcelD10)
Guest

Veronika Gulyas for the WSJ reported some really juicy quotes. Love ‘the ethnic basis of a nation state’.

http://blogs.wsj.com/emergingeurope/2014/08/25/hungarys-orban-bashes-liberal-immigration-policy/

Ivan
Guest

@ Paul. Yes, that’s valid, but I think comparisons only go so far, in comparing countries where one is told what to think with those where one is asked what one thinks (i.e. proper respectful discourse). There is a point, though, that it’s the parliamentary super-majority that has been the biggest problem, rather than the majority.

Paul
Guest

Bowen – I think you’re on to something with your ‘religious leader’ parallels – that’s more or less how he’s seen by the Fidesz faithful. It doesn’t really matter what he says – they will divine meaning out of it somehow. After all they are the words of the great prophet, the Saviour of Hungary.

And, at the risk of upsetting Éva’s religious readers, as ‘Christians’ they should, after all. have had plenty of practise of trying to make sense of much of what’s it the Bible!

cheshire cat
Guest

Orban said:

“miután elkötöttük magunkat az ideológiai megközelítésű külpolitikától, sokkal nyitottabban tudunk kapcsolatokat építeni olyan államokkal is, amelyek nem a nyugati szövetségi rendszerhez tartoznak”.

” now that we have untied ourselves from ideology-based foreign policy, we can establish ties much more openly with countries who do not belong to the Western alliance system.”

This seems rather black-and-white and more than just some chit-chat to crony ambassadors. Orban will not allow NATO and its founding principles to prevent him from doing what he wants, re Russia, among others. Representing only Hungarian interests as opposed to considering the common values and the interests of the other member states’.

I think as he has noticed the sudden change in the tone of Western critics after his Tusvanyos speech, he is runnig ahead, provoking more, grinning like a stupid kid, enjoying the attention, totally blind to danger.

I might be overdramatizing it, but this is a further confirmation of what he said in Tusvanyos – I will not stick to the liberal values and the ideology, it’s for half-witted idiots naa-na-na naa-na.

I really wonder how long it’s going to take the EU to start taking this seriously.

cheshire cat
Guest

Paul, it’s an interesting thought, but the problem is you can’t change or remove one episode in history and expect everything else to not have changed with it.
We can’t even begin to imagine how much Orban would have invested in destroying MSZP, Gyurcsany etc while in government, even though not with a 2/3. If Gyurcsany doesn’t make that speech, he would have done or said something else, that would have given Orban ammunition to make his folk excited.

Istvan
Guest

The more speeches PM Orban gives the deeper the chasm he is creating with NATO. It was not the United States that asked Hungary to fall under the US nuclear umbrella, rather it was the reverse. How long does Orban think his heroic army would stand up to the Russian Federation, possibly Orban could turn the Russians back with a fine speech.

Unfortunately Orban seems to believe that as he was quoted that “clever nations invented foreign policy based on ideology for half-witted nations,” when the truth is powerful nations that can destroy civilization as we know it create the ideological framework for nations that do not have such vast powers and global reach. Orban is the fool and Hungary could pay the price for his intellectual nonsense.

Member
So Orban now truly has a full fledged schizophrenia! The Hungarian Investment Immigration Program http://www.complex.hu/kzldat/t1200220.htm/t1200220.htm Program overview The Hungarian Investment Immigration Program (“Program”) allows third country nationals (non-European Union citizens) to acquire Hungary’s residency, and – after 6 months – permanent residency status through investing in Special Hungarian Government Bonds that have a 5-year maturity and are issued by the State through the Hungarian Government Debt Management Agency (“AKK”). Euro-Asia Investment Management Pte. Ltd.(Euro-Asia) incorporated in Singapore is the only enterprise approved by the Hungarian Government to invest in Special Hungarian Government Bonds on behalf of applicants – regardless of their nationality – through Singapore. Hungary Immigration Services Limited is the only company authorized by Euro-Asia to provide immigration advisory services to these applicants. Hungary Immigration Services Limited and immigration consultants selected by Hungary Immigration Services Limited will provide these applicants with additional specific services related to the Program. Applicants are required to first purchase the Special Hungarian Government Bonds through Euro-Asia with a lock-up period of minimum 5 years. The minimum initial investment by each subscriber is EUR 250,000. The applicants’ investment will be 100% redeemable after the lock-up period. Successful applicants who already hold the permanent residency status… Read more »
Member

Oh, the above became the law in 2012, under Orban!!!!

petofi
Guest

@Istvan

“How long does Orban think his heroic army would stand up to the Russian Federation…”

Answer: For a long, long time.

Why? They’re whistling the same tune…

petofi
Guest

Has anyone researched why only one particular investment house in the states is buying all the Hungarian paper?
Does Prokhorov have an account there…?

tappanch
Guest

1.
Contributions to Orban’s village (Felcsut) soccer hobby:

2013 [2012] in millions of forints

State budget: 726 [177]
Earmarked taxes (TAO): 3,568 [1,947]
Private gifts: 2,842 [850]

http://nepszava.hu/cikk/1031274-allami-penzekkel-tomik-a-felcsuti-focialapitvanyt

2.
Profit landed at the offshore companies (Grand Cayman, Malta, Cyprus, 2 Liechtenstein, Singapore, Budapest) from the “investor green cards”:

67 million euros from the 975 permits issued so far

tappanch
Guest
tappanch
Guest

Shabby “Communism research” by Maria Schmidt.

http://nol.hu/velemeny/aczel-el-1482281

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