Viktor Orbán: “No significant minority among ourselves”

A day before yesterday I wrote about the Hungarian reaction to the terrorist attacks in Paris. Or, to be more precise, about Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s long-held views on immigration and multiculturalism and the right-wing media’s attitude toward freedom of the press. Orbán is against immigration, and right-wing journalists blamed the victims for the tragedy.

A few hours after I posted my article we learned that Viktor Orbán, along with many other prime ministers and presidents, was invited to join the Paris march against terrorism and on behalf of freedom of speech. All told, 44 high-level politicians from all over the world gathered in Paris yesterday, Viktor Orbán among them. The Hungarian media immediately reported that Orbán would fly to Paris on the private jet that belongs to OTP, Hungary’s largest private bank, and that on the way back he would stop in Zurich, apparently to attend a gala gathering of FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) today.

From the very first moment, news of Orbán’s attendance was received with misgivings in the opposition media. Zsolt Sebes in Gépnarancs  was one of the first who questioned Orbán’s right to be among those marchers who are committed to liberal democracy, to freedom of the press and freedom of speech. He is anything but a democrat, in fact he himself admitted that he wants to build an illiberal democracy, the journalist pointed out. “Orban n’est pas Charlie, what is he doing in Paris?” asked Sebes. Sztárklikk considered Orbán’s attendance one of “his most hypocritical gestures since 2010.” This march was about “the republic, freedom of the press, unity of Europe, about everything which is the essence of Europe. What is Orbán doing there?”

But Hungarian opposition papers were not the only ones who considered his presence in Paris incongruous. Le Monde expressed its surprise at seeing such politicians as Benjamin Netanyahu, Sergey Lavrov, Viktor Orbán, Ahmet Davutoğlu, and Ali Bongo in the front rows of the march. Le Monde‘s criticism of Orbán focused on his government’s attacks against the media. Le Monde was not the only paper to object to the presence of certain politicians. Libération and Metro followed suit. And The Independent had the same kind of negative opinion of Viktor Orbán: “In Hungary, Mr Orban pushed through a law in 2010 which restricts independent media and gives the government extensive power over the flow of information.” In brief, he shouldn’t have been among the marchers.

The French president’s reception of Orbán seems not to have been the warmest, as Hungarian opposition papers gleefully pointed out. It stood in sharp contrast to his warm embrace of other dignitaries. Indeed, judging from the pictures taken at the scene, Hollande extended his hand at a moment when Viktor Orbán was still quite far from him, two steps down. Apparently a sign of distancing in the world of diplomacy.

Hollande and Orban

Viktor Orbán is not the kind of man who, when encountering resistance, tries to keep a low profile. On the contrary, in situations like his unwelcome presence in Paris he makes sure that he further incites ill feelings toward him by making inappropriate pronouncements. The rally he attended was “in support of free speech and tolerance in Europe” yet Orbán right on the spot told the Hungarian state television that the Charlie Hebdo murders should make the EU restrict access to migrants. According to him, economic immigration is undesirable and “only brings trouble and danger to the peoples of Europe.” Therefore “immigration must be stopped. That’s the Hungarian stance.” He added that “Hungary will not become a target destination for immigrants…. We will not allow it, at least as long as I am prime minister and as long as this government is in power.” As he said, “we do not want to see a significant minority among ourselves that has different cultural characteristics and a different background. We would like to keep Hungary as Hungary.”

These words got extensive press coverage in the last couple of days not only in Hungary but also abroad because they go against the common values of the European Union to which he himself officially adheres. As the spokesman for the European Commission tersely said: “I don’t comment on statements of any prime minister but the Commission’s viewpoint in connection with migration is unambiguous.”

All opposition parties criticized Viktor Orbán’s nationalistic, xenophobic statement with the exception of Jobbik, whose spokesman praised the prime minister for speaking “almost like a member of Jobbik.”

Lajos Bokros was perhaps the most eloquent. Bokros is the chairman of the Movement for a Modern Hungary which he describes as a liberal conservative party. He wrote an open letter to Orbán, published on Facebook, in which he told the prime minister that he should not speak in the name of all Hungarians. “This is the view of you and your extremist xenophobe allies.” He asked the prime minister why he went to the rally when he does not understand what the whole thing was all about. Bokros repeated Orbán’s words about Hungarians who don’t want to see among themselves people who are different from them, who have different cultural characteristics. It is “terrible even to repeat these words…. If Hungary belongs to the Hungarians, then why doesn’t Romania belong to Romanians? Or Slovakia belong to the Slovaks? What would happen to Hungarians if the neighboring states thought the same way you do?”

DK pointed out that Viktor Orbán’s politics have gotten closer and closer to the extremist attitudes of Jobbik. Orbán’s “chronic populism” has reached a point where he is capable of uttering anti-freedom thoughts at the march for the republic. Orbán’s statement is especially disgusting since about half a million Hungarians currently work in Western Europe and the British Isles. PM joined in, stressing the ever decreasing differences between Fidesz and Jobbik. József Tóbás of MSZP added that “Viktor Orbán sent a message to David Cameron and Angela Merkel to send those Hungarians working in their countries back home.”

If you want to reflect on the irony of the prime minister’s xenophobic position you need look no further than yesterday’s celebration of the country’s German minority, an event that occurs every year on January 11. For the occasion President János Áder made a speech praising multiculturalism. “During the one-thousand-year-history of Hungary it has become evident many times that the members of our national minorities became great Hungarian patriots who enriched our common values, cultures, language.” And he quoted, as is usual on such occasions, the famous line from St. Stephen’s Exhortations to his son Imre: “nam unius linguae uniusque moris regnum, imbecille et fragile est” (a kingdom where only one language is spoken and only one custom is followed is weak and fragile).

M. André Goodfriend, the U.S. chargé d’affaires, recalled this quotation in a tweet: “Over lunch, among other things, discussed St. Stephen’s advice about the benefit of diversity.” And he gave a link to the bilingual text available in the Hungarian Electronic Library. Lajos Bokros also asked Orbán: “Didn’t you learn anything from the history of Central Europe? When was the last time you turned the pages of St. Stephen’s Exhortations?” A very long time ago, if ever.

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Minusio
Guest

As lots has been written about several politicians being out of place at the march, just two footnotes.

The politicians didn’t lead the march, they were in a side street under strong security just for a photo opportunity.

Abbas was there because Netanyahu invited himself. Netanyahu was not invited because the French were afraid he would abuse the occasion for his election campaign (which he promptly did). As he insisted on coming anyway, Hollande decided to also invite Abbas.

But the French invitation policy as a whole remains a big question mark to me. There were just too many politicians there whom you would never associate with freedom of speech (or a stance against terrorism, for that matter)!

Paul
Guest

“we do not want to see a significant minority among ourselves that has different cultural characteristics and a different background. We would like to keep Hungary as Hungary.”

Like the Roma, for instance?

Paul
Guest

It would be interesting to ask Orbán what Hungary would do if the rest of the EU sent the 500,000 (at least) Hungarian immigrants home.

How would he house and feed half a million extra people? How would be find jobs for them?

With money sent home from Hungarians working abroad, perhaps?

fusion
Guest

Let us all remember how utterly moronic and laughable it is for an American to try to lecture others about immigration.

While Orban talks about putting some limits on certain types of immigration in Europe (which everyone else would have to approve first anyway), the USA has used the most brutal methods to stop immigration. These methods would give a stroke to any Brusselocrat and are unheard of in Europe. It is really unbelievable. What is next? To remind the Hungarians about barbaric nature of killing civilians in a war with atomic bombs and how to never ever do that under any circumstances.

Webber
Guest

@fusion – Oh, really? The most brutal methods?
When Europe engaged Muammar Ghaddafi to patrol the Meditterranean to keep migrants from going to Europe by boat, that was not brutal? see here:
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/sep/01/eu-muammar-gaddafi-immigration
When Greek border guards shoot at migrants, that is not brutal? see here:
https://icantrelaxingreece.wordpress.com/2013/08/04/three-pakistani-migrants-shot-dead-by-greek-border-guards/
and here
https://www.dur.ac.uk/ibru/news/boundary_news/?itemno=12174
It may be funny when Americans preach. What is not funny is when those who live in Europe deny what is going on here and claim superiority to Americans and (therefore) claim Americans have no right to discuss along with us better ways for us all to deal with migration.

Webber
Guest

Also, fusion, before you start with a bunch of nonsense about walls at the American border with Mexico, look here:
http://www.businessinsider.com/greece-fence-immigrants-2012-2

Webber
Guest

And, fusion, I suggest you look at this little film about what Hungary did to immigrants under this current government:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u1rjccBO_XA
Or this report from the Helsinki Committee, if you don’t believe your eyes>
http://helsinki.hu/wp-content/uploads/HHC-immigration-detention_ENG_final.pdf

I’d say there was plenty of brutality in Europe – and in Hungary -, and that Americans and Europeans have a lot to talk about to jointly resolve these issues in both continents.
But go ahead, fusion, make more snide comments about European and Hungarian superiority. It’s so very appealing, sympathetic, and attractive when you do.

Marcel Dé (@MarcelD10)
Guest
@Minusio The officials were not on a side street, but on the march’s itinerary place Léon-Blum, 1,7km away from the place de la République on the same boulevard. They ‘opened’ the march for 300 meters, followed by the victim’s relatives. For obvious security reasons as long as the officials were in the open the bulk of the demonstrators was not allowed to pour out of the place de la République. Regarding freedom of speech, again things had changed with the anti-semitic murders, and the theme had become wider than that (though understandably the media followed up on that angle). A tribute to all the victims, for the Republic and against terrorism. As far as I know, all EU heads of state and government or FMs were invited and 24 made it – but neither Borisov nor OV reached the front row. The President of Mali certainly did, as well as the royals of Jordan, both for obvious reasons. In such circumstances it’s not really the list that counts, but protocol. The Israeli PM inviting himself turned out quite well eventually, him marching with Abbas was quite something – a sight which probably sparked a very interesting controversy in the U.S.… Read more »
tinshed (@tinshed)
Guest

@Paul – You make a good point that Hungary has a large number of emigrants and expects their host country to look after them. And of course also claim credit for them as Hungarians whenever they are successful.

Your second rhetorical point about Roma reminded my of an older in-law family member once saying of another Hungarian, “She is not a Hungarian, she’s a Jew.” The narrower you define who a Hungarian is, the more easily you slide into this type of outright racism and bigotry with the inevitable disastrous consequences.

And while we are quoting great Hungarians on the virtues of diversity, who can forget József Attila epic poem, By the Danube, and its meditations on the nature of Hungarian history.

My mother was Cumanian, my father
Half-Szekler, half-Rumanian or whole.
From my mother’s lips sweet was every morsel,
And from my father’s lips the truth was gold.

All those damn immigrants….

fusion
Guest

I see that instead of refuting the point (that the Americans instituted very limited immigration policies sometimes enforced with Brutal methods) you launched into an anti-European tirade citing a few anecdotes that are mostly irrelevant to the current situation.

If the European immigration policies move towards the American standard that means that they will be more restrictive. So how about this:

Europe should copy the American immigration policies (with less brutality in enforcement) but otherwise aim for the same goals and results as the Americans have in the past few decades. Do you agree?

gdfxx
Guest

I find it interesting that fusion is complaining US immigration policies. US is one of the few countries that is based on immigrants. It always opened its doors to refugees, since this is a blog dealing with Hungary and Hungarians, just look at the waves of Hungarian immigrants and refugees during hard economic times and after failed revolutions.

One is an American not because one’s great-great-great-parents belonged to some privileged tribe of Americans but because one choses to become one and takes the citizenship oath.

Occasionally the USA decides to restrict immigration because of mostly economical reasons (after all if the borders were open, half the population of the Earth would migrate here) but I am not aware of brutal methods of enforcement. Actually, they are probably the most humane methods.

Curly
Guest

@ fusion: I really don’t understand your point. The US has instituted “brutal policies” and restricted immigration. If so, then please explain the following statistics:

“According to estimates from the 2012 ACS, the U.S. immigrant population stood at almost 40.8 million, or 13 percent of the total U.S. population of 313.9 million.” http://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/frequently-requested-statistics-immigrants-and-immigration-united-states

“There were 33.5 million people born outside of the EU-27 living in an EU-27 Member State on 1 January 2013, while there were 17.3 million persons who had been born in a different EU-27 Member State from their country of residence. Only in Ireland, Hungary, Luxembourg, Slovakia and Cyprus was the number of persons born in other EU-27 Member States higher than the number born outside of the EU-27 (in other words in non-member countries).” http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Migration_and_migrant_population_statistics

If the EU wants to achieve the same goals as the US, then it looks like they won’t be initiating any “brutal policies” in the near future… Quite the opposite.

Max
Guest

@Minusio

For me the biggest mistery in that huge political photo opportunity was the absence of Cameron and Obama. More than that the US has failed to delegate a single Cabinet member. Only the US Ambassador attended the high-flying event. How weird, if not humiliating for the French.

I am sure it was not an accidental diplomatic slip. But I honestly can not figure out the real reason.

gdfxx
Guest

@Max, Cameron was there. Obama’s absence is widely criticized in the USA. Not only he didn’t go, but the Attorney General (Holder) who was in Paris didn’t go either…

Webber
Guest
@fusion Kikérem magamnak! Nothing I said was anti-European. I object strongly. Read what I wrote again. It is perfectly legitimate for a European, an Asian, a Central American, or any other thinking and feeling human to criticize American immigration policies and practices – to criticize any American policies or the policies of any government. Nowhere have I suggested the opposite. Since you don’t understand that, I’ll explain some other stunningly obvious things. It was a sign of ignorance on your part to claim (as you did) that European policies and practices are better than American immigration policies. Ignorance such as this can corrected (I have presented facts for your edification). I have shown you that what you wrote was simply wrong. You should be grateful to have been taught something you did not know. Unfortunately, it is a sign of bigotry and deep stupidity to claim that another person has no right to talk about something simply because of that person’s nationality. Hungarians (or Germans, or Senegalese, etc.) who criticize American policy, based on the facts, are perfectly free and right to do so – and Hungarians (and Germans, etc.) do it in the press all the time. From your… Read more »
Webber
Guest

@gdfxx – You are right that America still welcomes huge numbers of legal immigrants. Unfortunately there have been shootings of illegal immigrants on the Mexican border, and the American border control detains people for a time before deporting them. There is plenty to criticize in American immigration policy, and Americans themselves argue about it all the time. I agree that, on paper, American policy looks humane and rational. In practice, humans are suffering and dying (many of thirst in the desert, walking to the US) trying to get into the US illegally, just as humans are suffering and dying (many on the sea) trying to get to Europe illegally.
I’m not sure what the solution is. I know many Europeans aren’t happy with what they see as a tide of migrants coming from Africa and Asia,and resent the changes they see.
I know many Americans aren’t happy with what they see as a tide of migrants coming from Central America, and resent hearing less and less English spoken.
I certainly wouldn’t say Europe is wrong or the US is right. I would say that some horrible things have been done in Europe and in the US alike.

Ron
Guest

Totally OT Eva had some articles back a comment regarding carrots, and how it was harvested. In the UK they have a program called “Food unwrapped” from Channel4.

http://www.channel4.com/programmes/food-unwrapped/episode-guide

Yesterday, the new season started. This time about tomato’s, which is healthier fresh or tinned (you will like the harvester). Difference between pro-biotic oand pre-biotic (you may not like the answer) and my favorite: gelatin.

Guest
I am going to say something here which is politically very incorrect, and which all of you will no doubt vehemently reject. Whilst in Israel for ten years, I had known many Palestinian Arabs, both Christian, Arab and Druze, from all social strata, and some were very close friends. That was a time when there was still ardent, if in retrospect naively misplaced hope that some mutually beneficial compromise could be reached between Jew and Arab in the matter of sharing the land between the river and the sea. Over time, I became very familiar with the ways Arab society works, the ways of extended families, clans and tribes, and the core issues of religious faith and identity. One thing that became very clear to me very quickly is that Moslem Arabs and Westerners, be they Americans, West Europeans or East Europeans, do not mix well together. Like trying to mix oil and water (though not so, or much less so in the case of Christian Arabs or Druze, and Arab Jews and Arab non-Jews of course mix quite readily). But the case of Moslem Arabs versus Europeans or Americans is much, much worse than even the village-Hungarian versus village-Roma… Read more »
NWO
Guest

Maybe someone should ask Orban about the propriety of selling residence permits to non-Europeans, if he feels immigration is such a bad thing.
http://www.discusholdings.com/hungary-sold-1783-residency-bonds-2014/

Guest

May I add that in my experience the fundamental reason for the irreconcilable clash between the mentality of the vast majority of Moslems (not of course the Sufis or Achmadis) and that of modern Westerners is the core tenet of Islam about its all-encompassing superiority over every other system of belief and practice, whether religious, political, social or economic.

This leads to a marked superiority complex in viewing the non-Islamic world. This, then, is in sharp and incredibly painful contrast with the actual facts on the ground, which leads to an angry and deeply frustrated inferiority complex in the mind of a Moslem, which is irreconcilable with his/her native superiority complex. An excess testosterone and primitive brutality then do the rest.

This is an extremely dangerous and explosive mix. At the same time it is also sad and pathetic.

However, the bottom line is that allowing, nay, inviting masses of people with this horrible psychological conflict eating away at their self-esteem to settle in Western Europe was a heedless act of cultural and civilizational suicide, where we are yet to see the worst of its outcomes.

Guest
@fusion: Your trolling is not appreciated here – this is a site about Hungary and your kindergarten logic is nothing new: The other boy did something bad last week, so why am I being punished? Go to some US site to discuss their immigration problem – if you’re really interested in it! @Mike: Your description of (some) Muslims fits very well the description of (some) Christians a few hundred years ago and later – so there is hope for change! I just met again an Egyptian (very nice guy and as anti-religious as I am, medicine professor and old friend of an old friend, we’ve met each other from time to time over the last 40 years) who told me similar things about his father – who had tried to convert the European visitors of his son … Re Obama: The security in Paris must have been a nightmare for the people responsible – if you add the typical precautions for a POTUS visit, that would have been impossible to work out in less than a week! I remember when Bush senior came to a German town and people were forced to leave their houses for the duration of the… Read more »
tappanch
Guest

The bishop of Veszprem blames the “ultraliberal laws” of the West to protect the freedom of press and the Charlie Hebdo journalists themselves for showing “the Prophet Muhammad naked and ridiculing the Holy Trinity”.

He demands blasphemy laws.

“Europe is going bankrupt from the freedom” people have,
He refers to a painting in the abbey of Pannonhalma, whose title is “Libertate periit” – Freedom spoils you.

http://veol.hu/hirek/gondolatok-a-parizsi-terrorcselekmenyekkel-kapcsolatban-1671678#_=_

tappanch
Guest

I would not be surprised if the Hungarian Catholic clergy excommunicated the Pope. 🙂

tappanch
Guest

Bishop mistypes the title of the painting. It is “Libertate perit”

The expression may come from:

Libertas, inquit, populi quem regna coercent,
Libertate perit.

The liberty of the people, he says, whom power restrains unduly,
perishes through liberty.

Lucanus—Pharsalia. Bk. III. 146.

tappanch
Guest

“These words from Cotta:
When men bow to power
Freedom of speech is only Freedom’s bane
Whose shade at least survives, if with free will
Thou dost whate’er is bidden thee. ‘

[That is, the liberty remaining to the people is destroyed by speaking freely to the tyrant.]

http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Luc.+3.145&fromdoc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.02.0134

Guest
@Wolfi Point well taken re Christianity a few hundred years ago. Islam has not passed through the stages of religious reformation and the subsequent age of enlightenment that Europe has, and this really is the root cause of the problem we are facing today. Interestingly, Al-Sisi, the president of Egypt himself pointed this out as the core problem of Islam today in a speech he gave a few days ago to Islamic clergy at Al Azhar university in Egypt. So, yes, definitely, there is always hope for change. Our problem of course, is how to survive the currently ongoing clash of civilizations without overmuch compromising our liberal democratic value system, until such time that the broad masses of Moslems finally start being able to cope with modernity through religious reformation and embracing the values of the European enlightenment through secular education, tolerance of the ‘other’, and the emancipation of their women. We shall be home and hosed on this issue, once we see a series of Nobel Prizes coming their way in consonance with their changed self-image and intellectual outlook, which will reflect a level of economic, cultural and civilizational competitiveness beyond being mere wealthy purveyors of oil and sand.… Read more »
Marcel Dé (@MarcelD10)
Guest

@tappanch

I guess the bishop of Veszprém won’t approve of the French Jesuit’s cultural review Études (est. 1856) publishing online last saturday some saucy Charlie Hebdo cartoons, along with a short but very thoughtful text.

[Warning: as the texts within the cartoons are essential to their understanding, non-francophone readers may misinterpret what they see]

http://www.revue-etudes.com/archive/article.php?code=16641

PS: the refutation of fusion’s post seems complete. Well done everybody 🙂

Guest

@Mike Balint:

It really depends – but I’m still optimistic! Of course my idea is to leave any kind of religion behind …

An example:
The co-chairman of the German Green party is Cem Özdemir (whom I know personally) – his parents came from Turkey in the 60s, he was born in Germany in 1965:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cem_%C3%96zdemir
Özdemir describes himself as a “secular Muslim” and is married to the Argentine journalist Pía María Castro.

PS and maybe interesting for the “Gymnasium discussion”:
He only got basic schooling, then went into an apprenticeship and only later started into an academic career. So he’s agood example of the German schooling system that offers something for those “late comers”.

Guest

@Wolfi

All credit and a big hat tip to any Moslem who made it into modernity. Well done!

It could not have been an easy task by any means, given their own cultural baggage that they had to overcome and the probable suspicions and resistance of the society into which they endeavoured to integrate.

A real ‘Jewish’-type of problem, if there ever was one.

Hank
Guest

tappanch
I would not be surprised if the Hungarian Catholic clergy excommunicated the Pope. 🙂

To be fair, a huge difference of opinion seems to be emerging within the Hungarian Catholic clergy, with the bishop of Vác, Miklós Beer, in his recent Christmas sermon lashing out against the way the gypsies and the poor in this country are being treated and against the corruption and power hunger of those governing the country (see: http://444.hu/2014/12/26/korrupciorol-beszelt-es-jozsef-attilatol-idezett-a-vaci-puspok/).

wpDiscuz