Viktor Orbán and László Kövér on the warpath against Washington

While we were snooping around in Felcsút and downtown Budapest over the weekend, Viktor Orbán and his old pal from college days, László Kövér, were working hard to make American-Hungarian relations even worse than they already are.

The offensive started with a letter that László Kövér addressed to American Vice President Joe Biden. In it he complained about Senator John McCain’s speech in the Senate, in which McCain called Viktor Orbán “a neo-fascist dictator.” McCain with this unfounded statement “violated the sovereignty of Hungary.” The lack of respect McCain showed toward one of the leaders of the trans-atlantic alliance is unacceptable, said Kövér. But, he continued, McCain’s outburst is not just the single misstep of an ill-informed senator but “a brutal manifestation of a process which is becoming evident by the statements, gestures, behavior of government officials and persons who are in contact with the Hungarian government.” Kövér in the letter asked Biden to use his influence to temper the statements of government officials. In plain English, Kövér demanded a change in U.S. policy toward Hungary.

Kövér’s letter to Biden was followed by a Sunday interview with an MTI reporter in which Kövér expressed the same opinion, but even more forcefully than in his letter. From the Hungarian government’s perspective, American-Hungarian relations can be improved only by a change in U.S. policy. Hungary is an innocent victim, and therefore its government has no intention of changing its current posture in either foreign or domestic affairs. In this interview he actually accused the United States of playing a concerted “geopolitical game”  in which the U.S. “is using us, the Czechs, the Romanians, and the Slovaks for their plans ‘to make order’ in the immediate hinterland of the front line.” In his opinion, the situation is worse than it seems on the surface because “on the intermediate level of the State Department there are people who have been the opponents and enemies not only of Hungary but also of Fidesz-KDNP.” Fidesz politicians are absolutely convinced that Hungary’s bad reputation at the moment is due solely to antagonistic liberal critics of the Orbán regime who influence the middle stratum of government officials in the State Department. His final word on the subject was: “The key to the normalization of the bilateral relations is not in our hands.”

Today, echoing Kövér’s tirade, Viktor Orbán delivered a speech in the Hungarian Academy of Sciences at a conference commemorating the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Timișoara/Temesvár events in December 1989 which eventually led to the fall of Nicolae Ceaușescu. I must say one needs quite a fertile imagination to smuggle an attack on the United States into a speech on such an occasion, but Orbán managed. He quoted László Tőkés, the Calvinist minister who was the hero of the Romanian revolution, who apparently said on some occasion that “words uttered at the right time and place equal in value the Word of the Creator.” From here, with a sharp turn, he got to those “words uttered not at the right place” which produce destruction. Because calling another country a dictatorship, especially when uttered by those who have never in their lives lived in anything resembling a dictatorship, is wanton destruction. “Yet they think they are in possession of a description of a phantom picture of dictatorship, when they don’t see, they don’t know its essence.”

warfare

From here he moved easily to Yalta and Potsdam where “the representatives of the western world were not too worried about checks and balances” and “offered the people of Eastern Europe tyranny on a platter.” In 1989 each of those countries alone had to get rid of the shackles that were put on them in 1944-1945.

Checks and balances had to be on the Hungarian prime minister’s mind throughout the weekend because earlier he gave a very lengthy interview to Zoltán Simon of Bloomberg. Here I will summarize only those parts that have a direct bearing on U.S.-Hungarian relations. According to Orbán,”the U.S. in response to the geopolitical situation, has come up with an action plan, which they recently announced publicly, and it involves two dozen countries. This is fundamentally trying to influence alleged corruption in these two dozen countries.”

I suspect that the interview was conducted in English, a language in which the prime minister is no wordsmith, because these two sentences make no sense to me.  Perhaps what he wanted to say was that the United States is using the “fight against corruption” as an excuse to influence other countries’ foreign policies. But “this is the land of freedom fighters. And there’s public feeling in Hungary that sees a sovereignty problem in all of this. It feels that this is an attempt to influence from the outside the sovereign decisions of a freely elected parliament.”

Moving on to the U.S. criticism of Viktor Orbán’s “illiberal democracy,” he delivered the following history lesson to ignorant Americans:

Checks and balances only have meaning in the United States, or in presidential systems, where there are two identical sovereigns, that is a directly elected president and legislature. In Europe, this isn’t the case, there’s only one sovereign, there’s nowhere to “checks it or balance it,” because all of the power is delegated by parliament. In these instances it’s much more appropriate to talk about cooperation rather than checks and balances. Checks and balances is a U.S. invention that for some reason of intellectual mediocrity Europe decided to adopt and use in European politics.

Poor Montesquieu, who coined the term “checks and balances.” Or the ancient Greeks, who are generally credited with having introduced the first system of checks and balances in political life.

As for the American and European criticism of the illiberal state, Orbán’s answer is: “Hungarians welcomed illiberal democracy, the fact that in English it means something else is not my problem.”

Finally, an update on Ildikó Vida, who filed a complaint against an unnamed person who just happens to be M. André Goodfriend, the U.S. chargé d’affaires in Budapest. Everything is proceeding apace. She filed the complaint on Friday, December 12 and by today the prosecutors are already investigating. Magyar Nemzet speculates that the investigators will call in “witnesses,” but the paper admits that it is possible that “Goodfriend will easily get off.” The Hungarian judicial system, which is normally slow as molasses, can be very speedy when Viktor Orbán wants to expedite matters.

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gdfxx
Guest

I guess Kövér thinks that the American Senate works the same way his – and Orban’s – fiefdom, the Hungarian Parliament. So it’s just logical, write to Biden, the President of the Senate, and ask him to get that Senator McCain under control.

Member

Free election does not equal with people making informed decisions. Fidesz made sure that there were no informed decisions can be made. Their whole existence is based on misleading the public with information that often does not even come close to the truth. If people would of know what they know now, Fidesz would not been elected. Unfortunately still not everyone knows as Fidesz tries everything in their power to manipulate the news, facts, and data.
SO as far as I am concerned Orban can stick up his “free” election where it belongs.

onlyjustwords
Guest

I tried on one occasion to seek help with the Hungarian embassy in Canada and there was no response… very difficult to handle the disappointment.

Marcel Dé (@MarcelD10)
Guest

As a matter of fact, Montesquieu didn’t coin the expression “check and balances”. The only French equivalent, ‘freins et contrepoids’, comes from a translation of Bagehot’s English Constitution two hundred years later. Naturally, the baron wrote a fairly influent (and so stylish, though often confused) theory on how separate powers could have the faculty to limit each other’s domain, so he is, with a few other Europeans, credited with the concept.

And O.V. is wrong of course about sovereignty in Europe: the powers of the French President are not delegated by the Parliament. And though their powers are more limited, neither are those of the Presidents of Romania, Portugal and Cyprus.

Incidentally, the defense of the parliamentary regime by someone who supposedly wants to establish a presidential one is hilarious. Recep Tayyip, Vladimir Vladimirovitch, your new buddy is a turncoat…

onlyjustwords
Guest

I also ought to warn you that President Obama is not your puppet Master but apparently Vatican operatives are the problem. Also from Europe. Italy’s government, run apparently by none other than Angela Merkel, seems to think everyone south of France is nothing but a disposable meat puppet so that might motivate more domestic action.

Marcel Dé (@MarcelD10)
Guest

[correction] One hundred years later, not two. The French translation of Bagehot’s book was published in 1869.

onlyjustwords
Guest

Not to quibble but the power distribution on this chart suggests Hungary’s UN voting presence is weak to say the least: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Member_state_of_the_European_Union

onlyjustwords
Guest

Some of the Canadians who have attacked my family are also immigrant families from nations neighboring Hungary: our local police chief who gave permission for an old landlord to commit grand larceny and a judge who accepted bribes to suppress justice at multiple levels included.

Hungarians and other countries with Christian roots might have a read here to see what the core of the problem might be: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/legacy/ni/2009/09/holy_porn.html My understanding is this investment behavior, the resulting degradation on society including associated underground financial activity have a negative impact on society. However those of us who feel entitled to exploit others without reason and view anyone without loads of cash as little more than ‘dead meat’ have a long way to go to defend the communist means by which we acquired the machinations of this current system.

Guest

It seems that Orban is not familiar with the idea of tripartition of power which is the fundamental principle of many European constitutions, including that of my native country. I can warmy recommend it to be implemented in Hungary.

Tripartition of power was defined by Montesquieu as: “division of the legislative, executive, and judicial functions of government among separate and independent bodies.”

http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/473411/separation-of-powers

Henrik
Guest
Yes, Orban wants to fight, and Kövér wants to fight too. We established earlier that Orban will escalate and he is beginning to escalate. That’s his nature and it also fits his current politics. This is only the beginning of the escalation, however, by their standards Orban and Kövér were being very friendly and diplomatic. ‘Hopefully the US will not provoke them further.’ Since President Obama can’t send in the drones, they know they can get away with everything. And they will. Despite all the media hysteria Fidesz is just as united as it was at any time in its history, and now Jobbik is also on Fidesz’ payroll as we saw from the votes yesterday in Parliament. (Though we all knew that). At votes which required 2/3s (as Fidesz is missing one vote from the 2/3s because Navracsics went to Brussels as a commissioner) Jobbik readily lent a helping hand in one way or another (abstaining or voting openly with Fidesz). The Fidesz-Jobbik power conglomerate is extremely strong and popular, the Americans can’t break Orban and his loyalists. Orban is losing voters under the Fidesz brand and is winning them under the Jobbik brand, he just doesn’t care, he… Read more »
arriba
Guest

OT:

A nice blog, showing pictures of hospital food in Hungary (and some abroad).

I give you one advice: whatever you do, don’t get sick in Hungary.

http://korhazikoszt.tumblr.com/

Marcel Dé (@MarcelD10)
Guest

Finally, the Commissioner regrets that the Hungarian authorities did not take the opportunity of the reform of the Criminal Code to decriminalise defamation. On the contrary, the criminal regulation of defamation was recently tightened and the sanctions attached to it, increased. The Commissioner calls on the authorities to revise the current legal framework criminalising defamation in Hungary and repeal criminal defamation provisions in favour of civil sanctions, which should be strictly proportionate to the actual harm caused.

Report on Hungary by Nils Muižnieks, Commissioner for human rights of the Council of Europe, p. 4.

Great timing.

Istvan
Guest
Henrik: As can be seen in the fiscal collapse of Russia taking place now the United States of America can be a formable opponent (see http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/dec/15/russia-interest-rate-rise-17pc-rouble-collapse-oil-price ) PM Orban has hitched his car to the wrong engine. The United States makes a far better friend than enemy. The arsenal of resources of my nation is not limited to military intervention. Orban can’t maintain the semblenance of a functional economy without the extensive direct foreign investment at its current levels. Hungary has been a leading destination for FDI in Central and Eastern Europe, with approximately US$98 billion since 1989. However, the pace of inflows has slowed since the 2008 global crisis and Hungary’s relative advantage compared to regional competitors like Poland. The first problem for Orban and Fidesz could be a significant change in the US Department of State’s Investment Climate Statement for Hungary in particular in the section titled “corruption.” The following U.S. companies I 2013 had major investments in Hungary: GE, Alcoa, AES, Coca-Cola, O-l (Owens Illinois), General Motors, Guardian Industries, IBM, Lear Corporation, Pepsi Co, Sara Lee, Procter & Gamble, Visteon, Ford, Citibank, Emmis International, Emerson, Zoltek, PACCAR, Celanese, Exxon Mobil, EDS Sykes, Jabil Circuit, McDonald’s, Burger King,… Read more »
Tender
Guest
Istvan — You are of course correct as a rational observer. But rationality to a person like Orban (and his army of loyal supporters) means something entirely different. Thus don’t expect Orban to budge anytime soon. He will continue to escalate, in fact he’s just beginning. He needed a couple of days to get on top of everything, but he decided, as many predicted, to attack. If foreign investors leave (actually they have been leaving for a few years now as one can seen clearly from the GDP capex figures), that’s good riddance to him, he figures local companies will be able to fill in the gaps using Matolcsy’s cheap loans. It doesn’t matter it this isn’t true, that’s his position and his strategy is never to retreat. Rather if something doesn’t work the first time, he will try it again by doubling the efforts, if he still isn’t successful, he will use four times the efforts, but will not under any circumstances change course. Rest assured that he thinks you are very naïve assuming that he would bow before American corporations just because that would be good to the economy. His strength lies exactly in the fact that he… Read more »
petofi
Guest

The EU is not powerless; the US DOES care.
Orban is under orders to get Hungary out of NATO and the EU.
Orban cannot achieve this before the Hungarian people by himself–he needs Hungary to
be kicked out.
The EU and NATO knows this. And they’re not about to oblige.

Hence the Madness (ie. like the madness of King George) of Orban. He’s well nigh apoplectic.

ladislaus
Guest

A great list (in Hungarian) why Hungary isn’t a democracy any more.

A new term is needed, I hope the world is ready to use that term and stop being politically correct.

To the clueless EU bureaucrats — The EU apparently finds it normal and unquestionable that a deranged megalomaniac kleptocrat is waging an ideologic war against it, what’s more, the EU is financing this madman and his crime family.

http://444.hu/2014/12/16/12-nyilvanvalo-teny-ami-azt-bizonyitja-hogy-magyarorszag-nem-demokracia/

Pero
Guest

Now I got it what Szijjarto and Lavrov must have talked about yesterday.

Szijjarto – given the rouble’s recent performance – was afraid that Russia might not be able to provide the Paks 2 loan as they agreed, and Lavrov must have assured him that Russia will of course honor the agreement (which anyway favors Russia).

Orban needs this project like a piece of bread and he is increasingly getting worried that he might have to delay and this is the very last thing he wants to do, to delay Paks 2. He wants to assure that Hungary is put into a financial/legal/technical/political bondage so that Paks 2 and the necessary Danube dams would have to be built.

Paks 2 is on the top of Orban’s mind, not those ridiculous Americans.

ARTICLE 7
Guest

Propaganda – pure propaganda for internal consumption. Nobody on the other side is listening much.

regardless
Guest

Mihaly Varga, the “moderate” über-loyalist finance minister (who lives in the Pasha Park) had a rough couple of months.

There are great memes:

He gives justification why the internet tax is necessary — within a week Orban revokes the tax.

He says that the Sunday closing of the shops is not wise — he votes for it.

He denies that Ildiko Vida informed him about being on the US no travel list — Vida admits she did.

He wants to put Hungary’s foreign exchange reserve into roubles (to diversify) — within a year the rouble crashes.

Istvan
Guest
Sarah Sewall US Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights gave a speech on December 9, in which she noted US actions against corruption in Hungary. See http://m.state.gov/md234870.htm She stated in relevant part: “Addressing corruption is tough, but we are using a range of tools – and often working with other states and international institutions – to encourage and assist anti-corruption activity. At the State Department, our Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement works on corruption along with our bureaus that handle economics, energy, and human rights, and together State collaborates with USAID, Treasury, the Department of Justice, Interior, and Commerce – each of which brings specialized tools to the table.” Then Ms. Sewell stated “At the State Department, we use our visa sanction authority in a nonpolitical manner to deny entry to corrupt leaders. Recently, we denied visas to six Hungarian officials and their cronies due to their corruption. This action also bolstered public concern, and on November 9th, the streets of Budapest filled with 10,000 protesters who called for the resignation of corrupt public officials.” Let there be no question in Hungary the United States Government, Republicans and Democrats alike, fully support Mr. Goodfriend in… Read more »
Karl Pfeifer
Guest

Istvan: “Let there be no question in Hungary the United States Government, Republicans and Democrats alike, fully support Mr. Goodfriend in his comments and actions against the Fidesz attempt to extort money from US based corporations.”

This is what Orbán & Co call breach of Hungarian sovereignty. After all, their aim is to get even more rich and those who disturb them, are depicted as “enemies of Hungary”.
“Magyar Nemzet” explained not long time ago that there is a conspiracy of George Soros [and that “moderate” daily informs us, that his father was called Tibor Schwarz, an important detail for Orbán-believers] and the CIA.

Kormos
Guest

A one-year extension to a U.S moratorium on Internet access taxes was buried in a US$1.1 trillion government spending bill passed by the Senate on Saturday.

The Internet Tax Freedom Act, which also prohibits states from enacting Internet-specific taxes like email or bandwidth taxes, passed the House of Representatives in July, meaning Senate action over the weekend was the last step before heading to President Barack Obama for his signature.

This will be the fourth extension of the tax moratorium, first passed in 1998. The ban on states and local governments passing access and other Internet-specific taxes expired in November

Istvan
Guest

Kormos I have in the past noted the high taxation on telecommunications in the USA and I have even linked a report on what is called the digital divide in my home State of Illinois. By the way there were many more things in the bill you referenced that were actually more disturbing including additional banking deregulation. Putting add on to,budget bills is a historically bad practice in the USA.

Member

Kormos
December 16, 2014 at 9:56 am
A one-year extension to a U.S moratorium on Internet access taxes was buried in a US$1.1 trillion government spending bill passed by the Senate on Saturday.
Istvan
December 16, 2014 at 10:54 am
Kormos I have in the past noted the high taxation on telecommunications in the USA and I have even linked a report on what is called the digital divide in my home State of Illinois.
I am sorry what is this have to do with Hungary exactly, let alone with this Blog entry? Maybe you wish to take this conversation on an USA themed blog, as not to divert form the Hungarin issues.

Karl Pfeifer
Guest
Istvan
Guest

Some 1 as I have explained before this is a blog on Hungarian issues written by a citizen of the USA and as such the type of pointed comment made by Kormos or others relating to the domestic reality of the USA will be made. The tax issue raised by Kormos is seen as lowering the legitimacy of the claims of corruption made against Hungarians by the US government, I don’t see it that way at all.

Contextually therefore it has everything to do with the Blog entry which relates to warpath of Orban and Kover in relation to the foreign policy of the United States Government. I hope this explains “exactly” how I see this issue.

long day
Guest

I kinda feel like were in that James Bond movie, I think it was with Sean Connery.

Bond is at a roulette table and he seems to be on a winning streak. A lady asks him how does he do it? Bond answers, it’s very easy.

At every table there is some loser who just loses, who just can’t catch a break. One just has to identify that player and whatever the bet of this loser is, one just has to bet on the exact opposite.

I think this was very funny (ie. since the bets of course aren’t connected, so even being on a losing streak is a matter of pure un-luck).

Having said that, Hungary is in the situation of this pathetic loser. Do the opposite of what its idiotic leaders do and things will be good. Whether it was, Hungary as the very last supporter of Hitler, or Hungary as the supporter of Putin until the last bullet (barrel of oil), Hungary’s leaders always arrive at the wrong choice. Always, without fail.

Orban will not change course and will be loyal to Putin, no matter what. We can be sure of that.

Member

Istvan
December 16, 2014 at 12:04 pm
Some 1 as I have explained before this is a blog on Hungarian issues written by a citizen of the USA

Istvan, most of the time I agree with you, but not at this time. We have Simon also who also throws in something “relevant” about the USA. Eva is also a North American, so why don’t we drag in here Canada or Mexico? We will have people who try to drive the conversation, but it is our choice to pick the glows up or not. Let’s try to stick with the issues (and yes, I am guilty as charged) as not to make this blog a heaven for trolls, and shills, and making it hard for those to get information who want to know more about what is happening in Hungary. Cheers.

TeamBritanniaHu
Guest

Reblogged this on hungarywolf.

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