The Seehofer-Orbán interview redux: Four questions to Seehofer from Hungary

When three days ago I summarized a double interview with Bavarian premier Horst Seehofer and Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán which appeared in the internet edition of the conservative Die Welt, I did not anticipate what followed. I simply pointed out that although Seehofer is a conservative politician, he disagrees with Orbán on some key issues: the European Union, the eurozone, and Russia. I spent time on this particular interview because I wanted to call attention to what I perceive as the generally deteriorating German-Hungarian relations.

What happened afterward was indeed unexpected. A regional Bavarian paper, Oberbayerisches Volksblatt, published an article saying that the interview was originally supposed to appear in the Sunday edition of the paper, Die Welt am Sonntag, but because the interviewer neglected to ask really important questions from Orbán, the editors decided not to publish the interview in the print edition of the paper. According to the Bavarian paper, the representatives of the Hungarian government were outraged and accused Die Welt of censorship. At this point, the complaint got as far as Edmund Stoiber, the honorary chairman of the CSU, who contacted the CEO of Axel Springer, the owner of Die Welt. However, says the journalist responsible for the article, Stoiber’s intervention was in vain. The interview did not appear in Die Welt am Sonntag.

Well, this was the version that came from Bavaria. The following description of what happened comes from the press department of the Hungarian Prime Minister’s Office. The interview was approved by both Seehofer and Orbán, but the next day the editor, through the Hungarian embassy in Berlin, asked Orbán to answer three more questions. The head of the press department claimed that the editor admitted that “the Hungarian prime minister performed too well,” so they would like him to answer three additional questions: (1) about Orbán’s anti-European Union rhetoric; (2) about his creation of an authoritarian democracy; and (3) about the firing of hundreds of journalists not to the government’s liking. Viktor Orbán called these queries “false accusations masked as questions” and refused to answer them. The Hungarian government considered Die Welt‘s behavior unacceptable and unethical.

And finally, here is Die Welt‘s version of the incident. The editors of the paper saw things differently. Their journalist did not do a good job, did not put the right questions to the two politicians, and therefore the interview turned out to be dull. The editors wanted to ask a few additional relevant questions but, since they received no answers, they decided not to publish the interview in the print edition of the paper. They added that this particular issue was published during the weekend when the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall was being celebrated and that this “incomplete interview was not up to snuff.” Asking questions later if necessary is a common practice in German journalism, claimed Christian Gottschalk, editor of the Stuttgarter Zeitung.

I might add here that recently there was another “journalistic scandal”–this time in connection with Imre Kertész, whose interview was not published in The New York Times. Kertész complained that the paper censored the interview because he refused to call the present Hungarian regime a “dictatorship.” According to David Streitfeld, the New York Times‘s Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Kertész simply told him that he is in bad physical shape and therefore does not participate in public life and is not really interested in politics. In brief, the interview was not “interesting” enough to publish.

Question

In connection with the Bavarian-Hungarian encounter and interview I would like to summarize an article that appeared in today’s Galamus by Gábor Endrődi. Since Horst Seehofer defended Viktor Orbán when he encountered criticism from opponents on the left, Endrődi wrote that he would like to pose four questions to Seehofer.

Question 1: Bild Zeitung is the most popular daily in Germany. According to statistics, it sells more than 2.5 million copies daily while the next largest paper has fewer than a million readers. It is a well-known fact that articles in Bild Zeitung had a role to play in the eventual resignation of the German president at the beginning of 2012. Could you find it conceivable that, instead of the president’s resigning two months after the appearance of these critical articles, the Bundestag would pass a law stipulating that every newspaper that sells more than a million copies a day must pay in the form of a tax half of its revenues, a tax that is one hundred times greater than the taxes paid by newspapers with smaller circulations?

Question 2: Is it conceivable that a legislative proposal about tobacco concessions was actually written by one of the tobacco companies that subsequently received ten percent of the concessions and then as manufacturer pays only one-twentieth of what its competitors must pay?

Question 3: Would you submit and vote for a piece of legislation in the Bundestag that would impose sixty times more “extra” levy on the leading firm in a certain area of business activity, let’s say on Neckermann, than on its smaller competitors?

Question 4: If the answers, even in part, are in the affirmative, then we have no more questions. If, on the other hand, they are in the negative, we have a final question: can a country with such a system of taxation remain a part of the euroatlantic alliance? Would you vote for this country’s membership in the European Union?

Endrődi at the beginning of the article expressed his hope that one day a German journalist will pose these questions to Horst Seehofer, the defender of Viktor Orbán. Well, I decided not to wait for that moment. These questions, to my mind, deserve a wider audience than a Hungarian-language internet site can provide. Perhaps their message will resonate with the politicians who have a say in European affairs.

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
buddy
Guest

Nice job as usual Éva, but there’s a translation error in the first question: Endrődi uses the phrase, “lapértékesítési bevétel,” which I suppose would be “revenue from newspaper sales,” not “profits” as listed above. The distinction, I think, is key, and of course reflects the real situation RTL Klub finds itself in.

buddy
Guest

Not at all, it’s just a small thing I wanted to point out. I really enjoyed your post today.

Member

Bravó Éva. Would there be someone, who could competently translate the four question in German. It can be forwarded to Herr Seehofer’s office and also posted on his website and Facebook page?

Member

OT: The famous Hungarian poet killed by the nazis, Miklos Radnoti’s estate will be auctioned off now that his wife passed away. What will happen to the apartment is unclear. Overheard today “If it would be Horthy’s heritage, probably Fidesz would keep the apartment, buy up the the estate, and make a museum out of it, honouring the “great man”.

Paul
Guest

OT – BBC radio midnight news has just reported anti-government demos across Hungary, including one in Bp where “riot police clashed with protestors”.

Has the resistance finally begun?

Paul
Guest

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-30086497

I will happily admit to being amazed by this. I thought we’d already gone too far with the development of Orbánisztán, and the people were too cowed.

Let’s hope this really is the beginning of something that will really worry Orbán.

Andryan
Guest
Bitteschön: Vier Fragen an Ministerpräsident Seehofer: – Die Bild-Zeitung ist das Tagesblatt mit der höchsten Auflage in Deutschland. Der Statistik nach werden davon täglich zweieinhalb Millionen Exemplare verkauft, während die Zeitung mit der zweitstärksten Auflage nicht einmal die Millionen-Marke erreicht. Es ist ebenso allgemein bekannt, dass kritische Bild-Artikel in gewissem Maße zum Rücktritt des Bundespräsidenten, Anfang des Jahres 2012 geführt haben. Könnten Sie sich vorstellen, dass -Anstelle des Rücktritts des Bundespräsidenten- sagen wir, zwei Monate nach Erscheinen der beanstandeten Artikel, der Bundestag ein Gesetz verabschiedet, nachdem jede Zeitung mit einer Auflage über einer Million, die Hälfte ihrer Verkaufseinnahmen an das Finanzamt abführen muss, also das hundertfache des Steuersatzes für auflagenschwächere Zeitungen? – Könnten Sie sich vorstellen, dass das deutsche Gesetz zur Regelung der Tabakhandelskonzessionen von einem Tabakkonzern vorgelegt wird, dessen Interessenskreis ein Zehntel der Konzessionsrechte gewinnt, um dann wiederum -als Hersteller- nur ein zwanzigstel der Sondersteuer zu zahlen, mit welcher seine Konkurrenten belastet werden? Würde es der Aufmerksamkeit der bayerischen Behörden entgehen, dass die -eigentlich geheimen- Bewerbungsanträge unter Mitgliedern der örtlichen CSU-Verbände verteilt werden? Würden Sie dem Bundestag ein Gesetz vorlegen, oder einem solchen zustimmen, welches ein marktführendes Unternehmen, sagen wir zum Beispiel Neckermann, überhalb einer festgesetzten Einkommensgrenze mit dem… Read more »
Member

I AM POSTING THE WEB ADDRESS OF THIS ARTICLE WITH THE GERMAN TRANSLATION (THANK YOU ANDRYAN) ON ABOUT 50 FACEBOOK PAGES, APPROX. 125,000 MEMBERS.

tommy
Guest
“And finally, here is Die Welt‘s version of the incident. The editors of the paper saw things differently. Their journalist did not do a good job, did not put the right questions to the two politicians, and therefore the interview turned out to be dull. ” What a load of bullshit. If the journalist “did not do a good job”, why was he not fired? If the interview “turned out to be dull”, then why was the interview published on the Die Welt website? “The editors wanted to ask a few additional relevant questions but, since they received no answers they decided not to publish the interview in the print edition of the paper.” They are free to ask for another interview if they want to ask more questions. The only reason we know about this interview because it was published on the Die Welt Website. And the original interview was published, not a falsified modified version, changed retroactively but the original. So in fact the additional questions were not relevant or necessary, because the interview was published without them just fine. The war between the Die Welt journalist and the Welt am Sonntag editors is an internal matter. the… Read more »
Member

TOMMY: The Editor makes the decision what article gets published in his paper, not you or I. That is his job. Our job is to read it. If you or I don’t like, we don’t have to read it. He’s got over a million readers, one or two less will not make a dent.
Personally I am glad, the MINI-Mussolini did not get free advertising in Germany.
Today, tens of thousands of people in Budapest, and thousands more in smaller cities and Hungarians around Europe demonstrated and told him where to go. It is not a printable word in civilized circles.

Member

Éva: I wrote an e-mail to Mr. Horst Seehofer and also put the questions in English and German on his Facebook page also. I hope someone will take the time and notice it.

Makkasz
Guest

The original interview was made by a completely different team and the report was low quality, boring, they did not buy it. That’s all.

Orban is the second less known prime minister in the EU (the Croatian prime minister is the less known one). Orban is like the bullfrog he wants to seem bigger than he really is. Boooring.

tommy
Guest

Maybe you do not understand the English language well enough.

The editor published the article. The editor published the article after all was said and done. This is why we are discussing this article in the first place, because it was published.

The editor had a disagreement with the journalist and attempted to rewrite the interview that the journalist did.

However this attempt failed and the original interview was published, written by the journalist.

So in that sense it was the journalist not the editor who decided what the content of the article should be.

Member

tommy: I may not understand the English language well enough, but I do speak and understand American English for almost five decades now. I am not going to debate the issue with you, because Eva summarized it well.
The interview only appeared in the Internet edition of the Die Welt so far and did not appear in print anywhere. Let’s just stay with this fact and you can make your case to others about your theories involving the journalists and the editor?
I am still glad, the viktor’s insincere answers and outrageous lies did not get printed and that’s what counts.

Melvin Mark Morrison
Guest

Victor Orban had a very good reason for not answering those three questions. They were worded to sound like accusations. Any answer would raise issues and controversy. I guess that makes them good journalism. No answer is a good answer to to be politically correct..

Vazul
Guest

These Bavarian politicians are the idiots Orban hate the most, which is not to say he wouldn’t take advantage of them.

Rich beyond belief and absolutely clueless about reality.

If you sit down with them and together start to hate “the communists” they will believe everything you say and will love you.

Yet, there’s no CDU government in Berlin without the CSU and this is known painfully well by Merkel and other non-Bavarians.

Guest

Tommy seems to be our latest troll …

Re Seehofer:

I wouldn’t expect too much from him. He’s the one who always talks about “Christian family values” but he got his secretary in Berlin pregnant and then left her with the child and returned to his wife and children in Bavaria …
he also had a corruption scandal in his office – only when the pressure got overwhelming he let go the woman involved …

And his crazy idea of having a motorway toll in Germany only for foreigners (obviously against EU laws) has given the government in Berlin a lot of headaches – they’ve been coming up with all kinds of proposals to make this legal in the EU and at the same time reduce the Germans’ tax load. There have been several ideas about this – one even madder than the other …

So Seehofer is not very popular with Mrs Merkel right now and the majority of the CSU in Bavaria is dwindling.

PS and OT:

There’s an old joke about the power of the CSU :

They could even put up a black garbage can as candidate for parliament – and it would be elected …

tappanch
Guest

The Fidesz government gives money only to fidesznik pseudo-NGOs:

http://abcug.hu/fideszes-bizniszekbe-toljak-civil-penzeket/

tappanch
Guest

Tax changes:

fideszization of alcohol wholesalers, (150 —> 5)
insertion of an extra, fideszized layer of traders into the tobacco commerce,
special tax on RTL
(50% of …, wait, not on profit, but on advertisement revenue – why not 95%?)

http://444.hu/2014/11/18/varatlanul-megis-kinyirjak-a-kisebb-alkohol-nagykereskedoket/

tappanch
Guest

Viktor Orban opened a new animal farm, specialized to pigs today.

We all live in a big animal farm, and we know who the boar named Napoleon is.

http://444.hu/2014/11/18/orban-adta-at-a-baratja-meszaros-lorinc-mangalicatelepet/

(The owner is Orban’s plumber, personal friend, the chairman of his soccer team, the mayor of his native village, Fidesz-created latifundium owner and new billionaire in one person – Lőrinc Mészáros)

PapaDoc
Guest

@tappanch

To be exact, the *formal* owner of the pig farm is Mr. Mészáros.

Member

Mangalica: a flagship of Hungarian-Japanese relationship …

Not entirely OT… To put a lot on my own plate here is some homework for myself:
http://csis.org/files/publication/141110_Cohen_GlobalForecast2015_Web.pdf
This is an earlier publication, but definitely worth reading:
http://cepa.org/sites/default/files/documents/Wess%20Mitchell%20Romania%20Presentation%20FINAL—.pdf seemingly about Romania.

Dr Fáczán Mária
Guest

Hmmmm.

Mindenesetre érdekes szomszédjaid vannak a lap alján:

: Die Welt, European Union, Gábor Endrődi, Horst Seehofer, Imre Kertész, New York Times, Viktor Orbán

Member

Paul
November 17, 2014 at 7:30 pm
OT – BBC radio midnight news has just reported anti-government demos across Hungary, including one in Bp where “riot police clashed with protestors”.
Has the resistance finally begun?

There were no clashes. The police lifted out one person, a woman who did not feel well. The police pushed back the crowd but it was not a violent action. The question today that most media (and people) have is what do the protesters want? The good news is that there are some civil groups, just like Fidesz had prior, that seem to becoming very active. This is not only in Budapest any more.

Orban made sure that there would be a cordon at the parliament, that was taken down by the crowd. In 2007 Orban in an interview accused the then Hungarian Government with taking anti-demoratic measures when after the 2006 riot, they put cordons around the parliament.
1:48

Gabor
Guest
“I might add here that recently there was another “journalistic scandal”–this time in connection with Imre Kertész, whose interview was not published in The New York Times. Kertész complained that the paper censored the interview because he refused to call the present Hungarian regime a “dictatorship.” .. In brief, the interview was not “interesting” enough to publish.” Kertesz is a nobel winning writer, it is an absolute scandal that he was censored. Kertesz was censored after the journalist traveled to Hungary for the sole purpose of interviewing him. And this “explanation” of the interview not being interesting enough is the most weak and cowardly explanation I’ve ever seen. The New York Times writer committed political censorship against a nobel winner Jewish writer. He should grow a spleen and admit it. Admit what he did, instead of trying to accuse Kertesz of various things. Otherwise people will start to wonder if antisemitism played a part in this censorship. This can also be interpreted as intimidation against intellectuals. If you don’t say what I want you to say, you do not exist at all. It is as if that interview never happened. And with zero integrity, the “journalist” denied handing over the… Read more »
Member

Instead of the Internet Tax, Orban and his Fidesz are implementing an 800FT/year bank card tax.

Guest

@Gabor the troll:

There was news on Kertesz when he was still healthy two years ago (now he’s a sick old man who just wants his peace and quiet):
http://www.politics.hu/20120210/hungarian-nobel-laureate-kertesz-likens-pm-orban-to-pied-piper-says-country-today-in-same-state-as-during-communist-era/
“Viktor Orbán has enchanted Hungary like the Pied Piper of Hamelin, and the country is in the same state today as during the rule of János Kádár, Nobel Prize-winning writer Imre Kertész asserts in an interview with the French newspaper Le Monde.

The government places itself in opposition to Europe in the name of defending Hungarian interests, Kertész said, adding that this may look like a return to sovereignty, but is just another mistake.

He asserted that democracy has never prevailed in Hungary as an organic process mobilising the entire society, rather than just as a political system.

Speaking about hatred of Jews and Roma, Kertész said this is essential to a simple-minded image of the nation.”
You should also read the comments by your friends in Fidesz on this!

Jakab Buga
Guest

Hopelessly naive Germans (Western Europeans), part 726.

The government is about hit with yet another special tax Aldi, Lidl, Spar as well as Tesco and Auchan.

Very informative post in Hungarian about how these companies have been licking into the anus of Orban reaching warm feces in the naive hope of getting along with the government and yet they are being hit by a giant special tax bill.

Appeasement is never ever a good strategy. I can only hope that sooner or later these amateurs will learn the lesson. They never will.

http://socialdance.tumblr.com/post/102968395311/nagyon-jo-ahogy-az-eddig-egyebkent-eleg-sok-mindenben

wpDiscuz