Is Viktor Orbán’s foreign policy Jobbik inspired?

In the interview Gábor Vona gave to Magyar Nemzet yesterday, the chairman of Jobbik talked about the foreign policy strategies of the party. He said: “I have been repeating ever since 2010 that Hungary must realize its national interest in a German-Russian-Turkish triangle. Not long ago Viktor Orbán himself admitted that much.”

Vona was referring to the rambling speech the prime minister delivered on March 9 to the Hungarian ambassadors who were called home to be personally instructed by Orbán on the intricacies of Hungarian diplomacy. In this speech Orbán said:

I think that, historically, Hungary’s fate depended primarily on its relations with three countries. I am currently watching what is happening in German-Hungarian, Russian-Hungarian, and Turkish-Hungarian relations. These are the three great powers that have determined what happened to us in the last one thousand years…. This is the network of foreign relations that we must maintain.

A German-Turkish-Russian triangle as the cornerstone of the Orbán government’s foreign policy is new. Or at least this was the first time I heard Viktor Orbán talk about it. I suspect that the idea came from Márton Gyöngyösi, the “foreign policy expert” of Jobbik. The son of a Hungarian diplomat from the Kádár era, he has spent most of his life abroad. He is a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin, and prior to his university studies he and his family lived in several countries, including at least one in the Middle East. He has never hidden his anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli feelings. He is pro-Russian and might be on a list of undesirables in Ukraine because he assisted in the plebiscite in Donetsk.

Following up on Gábor Vona’s interview yesterday, Gyöngyösi gave a lengthy interview to 444.hu that appeared today. The interview was wide-ranging. Here I will concentrate on those ideas I think most closely resemble the foreign policy articulated by the prime minister. Just as with domestic policies, the foreign policies of the two parties overlap at several points.

Márton Gyöngyösi

Márton Gyöngyösi

According to Gyöngyösi, the oft-repeated adage that Hungary must choose between the West and the East is a false dichotomy that has plagued Hungarian thinking “ever since St. Stephen.” Instead, Hungary should adjust its foreign policy to the three great powers: Germany, Russia, and Turkey. He launched into an analysis of foreign policy during the reign of Gábor Bethlen (1580-1629), prince of Transylvania, when, in Gyöngyösi’s opinion, Hungary successfully navigated among the three great powers–the Austrian, Russian, and Ottoman Empires.* In his view, Hungary shouldn’t accept any kind of “one-sided dependence or colonization.” It should keep its independence, especially because of “the duality of Hungarian national consciousness [which is] both western and eastern.” I don’t think I have to remind readers of very similar ideas expressed by Viktor Orbán himself.

Although Orbán is careful not to alienate the western powers by expressing sentiments that would indicate that he stands on Russia’s side in the Ukrainian-Russian conflict, he has made it eminently clear that Hungary has no stake in allying itself with either side. Gyöngyösi goes so far as to say that he would seriously consider leaving NATO, thereby realizing the Hungarian right’s desire for neutrality. After all, if a neutral Finland is safe and not threatened by Russia, why does Hungary need the NATO umbrella?

Vona might talk about an “opening to the West” and Gyöngyösi might envisage Hungarian ties to a German-Russian-Turkish triangle, but thus far Jobbik has shown itself to be committed almost exclusively to a pro-Russian policy. Gyöngyösi views Moscow as a peace-loving country that has wanted nothing since the end of the Cold War but a security zone in which “the CIA and NATO don’t operate.”

As far as Hungary is concerned, “the country fell from one dependency into another. The Russian soldiers left and then came a different kind of dependency, which arrived in disguise…. Is this colonization? Yes, it is.” The problem Hungary faces is “the unilateral euroatlantism which results in the loss of sovereignty.” This is familiar text from Orbán’s speeches.

Gyöngyösi has no problems whatsoever with the Russian loan for Paks’s two new reactors. “There is a huge difference between this loan and the money coming from the EU, because Brussels has a say in how it is spent. Russia, on the other hand, does not have a say in what we spend the money on. Russia does not meddle in Hungarian internal affairs.” Viktor Orbán would heartily agree.

When it comes to autocratic regimes like Putin’s Russia or Erdoğan’s Turkey, Gyöngyösi thinks, just like Viktor Orbán, that such regimes suit the Russian and Turkish psyches. He also believes that the Russian and Turkish models, perhaps with some modifications, suit the Hungarians better than unrestricted democracy. Just as Hungary adopted Christianity in a modified** form, so there are different versions of democratic regimes. Hungary surely will have its own, tailored to its needs. Again, this sounds familiar. How often we heard similar sentiments expressed by Viktor Orbán.

And finally, Gyöngyösi “already in 2008 talked about ‘the eastern opening,'” which includes good relations with Russia. Viktor Orbán’s concept of the eastern opening definitely postdates 2008, and therefore there is a good possibility that even that foreign policy initiative was taken over from Jobbik. But, according to Gyöngyösi, there are problems with Orbán’s credibility in eastern countries. The political leaders of these countries remember only too well what Orbán’s opinions of them were in 2008 and 2009. Sure, he is the only one now who can negotiate with them, but Gyöngyösi knows “from first hand” what these people think of him. They think he is a “turncoat.” And “one cannot base a stable foreign policy” on purely short-lived economic interests.


*I suspect that Márton Gyöngyösi’s knowledge of early 17th-century European history leaves something to be desired. In vain did I search for Russian involvement in Austrian-Hungarian affairs during the reign of Gábor Bethlen. Russia was going through one of the most difficult times in its history, the period called “The Time of Troubles” when Moscow lost large parts of its territories to Poland-Lithuania. The Russians had enough trouble of their own; they didn’t need to get mixed up in Austrian-Hungarian affairs.

**I don’t know what kind of modified Christianity Gyöngyösi is talking about.

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Live long and prosper
Guest

I’m starting to think that I was perhaps in error to have considered Hungary to be an eminently eligible member of the western liberal democratic fold. I put it down to what Eva recently called ‘wishful thinking’. The current regime, in addition to its barefaced hypocrisy and the sickening personality cult of the leader presiding over the Magyar polyp, would at least fit more naturally with the political culture of Russia and Turkey than with the West. NATO and the EU would probably both be better off without Hungary’s destabilizing influence and I’d at least have some small modicum of respect for its leadership, for which I now have none at all, if they walked the talk. I’d be sorry to have to take my family and leave, of course, but perhaps it would be for the best. It’s really a place where you have to be OK with a system based on cronyism, and to my way of thinking that’s a revolting way to live your life, although a lot of people here seem to see nothing wrong with it.

Member

Remember Singapore! (for those not familiar: its in Asia, Malaysia acually) “independent” from Malaysia in 1959 when OV had not even born! (or attending kindergarden)

Jestocost
Guest

Keeping the same is always no progress – change is what generates progress. The more the better as it’s even adjusting itself to the central opinion!

spectator
Guest

You probably have seen clips of “the case of the monkey and the bananas” – or at least, can imagine the scenario.

There is this monkey with a heap of bananas and trying to take as many as it can. Problem is, that after awhile there is no way it could gather more bananas, nevertheless, greedily trying to grab more, while dropping what had already, and it goes on, couldn’t stop, – and couldn’t really have and enjoy the fruit.

I’ll bet, that even “adjusted to central opinion”, but it didn’t helped, obviously.
Oh, well.

cheshire cat
Guest

Anyone who thinks Hungary “should adjust its foreign policy to the great power of Turkey” is not quite with it.

exTor
Guest
The “Jobbik inspired” of your title more than suggests that Jobbik is calling the shots in Fidesz when it comes to foreign policy, Éva. The convergence on Germany/Russia/Turkey may be indicative of no more than one person’s greater influence. That is the worth of an advisor. If, on the other hand, you believe that Márton Gyöngyösi has been coopted by Fidesz to also be its advisor, then you need more evidence. Given Viktor Orbán’s mindset, it was probably a natural that he would latch onto something like Germany/Russia/Turkey. Does adding Hungary to the mix make the triangle a rectangle? When Gyöngyösi and Orbán talk about Hungarian cultural ‘duality’, I presume that they are referencing the Magyar historical roots in the Urals millennia ago. I can understand the historical Turkish connection. Do Hungarians buy this putative ‘duality’? Somehow, notwithstanding the traditional outfits sometimes worn in certain Hungarian villages, I would think that most Magyars locate their collective psyche in Europe. Would Russia even be in the picture if it weren’t for the gas it can offer? Germany is the engine of Europe, it needs to be in the picture. And Russia can be the counterweight to Germany in Orbán’s mind. The… Read more »
Webber
Guest

Inspired does not mean calling the shots, and there is no such thing as a “German, Russian, Turkish triangle.” The term shows a complete lack of knowledge about current foreign affairs. Those three countries do not act in tandem and are in no way comparable.
One of them is in the EU. Two of them are in NATO. One of them wants to destroy NATO and undermine the EU. I could go on.

jebbb
Guest

Orban instinctively likes Turkey and Russia — of course these have absolutely zero in common with Hungary other than the one-person autocratic rule (aka dictatorship), which is the most important issue for Orban.There isn’t any strategy. Germany is big and rich and is the paymaster of the EU so we better be on good terms with the meek Germans. But real power belongs to the people who assert themselves and who have the nukes so in the region these include Russia and Turkey. That’s all. Orban gives a shit about foreign policy because he knows that the voters are in Hungary and he is being paid by the EU. Nothing else really matters. His travels to Kazakstan or Korea are substitute acts, for show to the fidesznik rural Hungarian entrepreneurs base who hate the EU (i.e. competition), never mind that much of their business comes from the EU funds. They love the idea that we can sell apples or whatnot to Uzbegistan.

Guest

Strange that the proponents of Atlanticism, Martonyi and Zsolt Németh, now seem quite sensible, moderate and intelligent compared to the nonsense now being spouted by Gyöngyösi et al.

Julie
Guest

Agree with cheshire cat. Turkey hasn’t been a great power since what, the late 19th century? This guy’s delusional.

Member
I am glad I read the last remarks from Eva. As I was reading the accounts of history by Gyöngyösi, I had the feeling, that he was missing a few classes and he has big gaps in his recollection. Of course, if he is smarter than the viktor, he may just do it purposely to deceive everyone, who is willing to listen to his stupid political theories. On the other hand, the viktor is really lacking comprehensive knowledge in anything, least of all in history and foreign policy making, except is corruption and grand theft, robbery. Many Hungarian politician plays the sovereignty card, when anyone tells them that their views on foreign policy and orientations are entirely false. Yet, there is not one of them, who would ever say, that Hungary should be a neutral country, as Austria, Switzerland, Sweden, Finland, Ireland. There are many good reasons for it, but here is just a couple. Every Hungarian politician is like a stone drunk driver, who waives left and right and cannot keep a straight line for a second. None of them can ever develop a consistent, long term policy, with the understanding of World politics, least of all, they can… Read more »
buzz
Guest

Giro-Szasz (government spokesman, gazillionaire, Századvég money launderer etc) now says Orban did not remember correctly the details of the Questor scandal.

http://444.hu/2015/03/31/giro-szasz-andras-orban-viktor-rosszul-emlekezett-a-brokerbotrany-reszleteire/

Webber
Guest

That’s the Jobbik leader, Vona, on the right:comment image

Member

So, he changed his “guilty” plea to “non-guilty” plea, and it took them almost a week. I can just imagine all the brainstorming that went into how they going to save Orban’s a$$. hahaha
If he made a mistake, they would of corrected it the very next day. They wouldn’t of wait this long. THey just had to go back to drawing board and make sure that the cover up will line up this time.

Lurkó
Guest

“..a Hungarian diplomat from the Kádár era..”

I guess the word diplomat should be more like “diplomat”.

In Hungary there was a saying in the Kadar era: nem minden belügyes külügyes, de minden külügyes belügyes.

A play with words meaning not all people who work for the Ministry of Interior work for the Foreign Ministry, but all people who work for the Foreign Ministry work for the Ministry of Interior. And the word belügyes (employee of the Ministry of Interior) was a shorthand for communist spy/informant/secret police person who should be avoided.

Ie. essentially all diplomats during the Kadar era were in one capacity or another part of the socialist internal security establishment. And let’s also add that some were also loyal to Moscow too.

timeless
Guest

“And the word belügyes (employee of the Ministry of Interior) was a shorthand for communist spy/informant/secret police person who should be avoided.

Ie. essentially all diplomats during the Kadar era were in one capacity or another part of the socialist internal security establishment.”

Not just diplomats. The role of the communist media was even more important they had “reporters” stationed all around the world, and essentially all of them were ” communist spy/informant/secret police person who should be avoided.” as you said.

For example Gyorgy Bolgar, one of the most vicious communist journalists was stationed in the United States as reporter for communist state media in the 1980s. He then changed his tune to become a “democrat” but I would be willing to bet millions he was a really nasty fellow back in the day. Wouldn’t surprise me if he reported to the KGB as well. This is why full openness and transparency of the archives is so important, because the politicians and journalists who were communist agents then are still in power today (many politicians and journalists in power today were informants / agents like Bolgar).

HiBoM
Guest

Timeless, I’m sure you will be viciously attacked here for your attack on that ghastly old windbag, who is a hero here! But I think you are probably right. One of the fascinations of living in post-change Hungary was finding out that journalists and others I knew, who were liberal and “western” post-1990, had lived quite different lives before the change of system and espoused quite different views. Some of the strongest nationalists proved to be the most abject Marxist Leninists too!

Member

May we get some examples of those journalist who were so much against the system out in the open? Just curious, as in fact what I find that many who benefited from the previous system the most are the ones who try to prove that others are still secret communist. Are greatest examples include: Orban, Kover, Csurka, etc.

Webber
Guest

Don’t forget that “great anti-communist” András Bencsik, one of the organizers of the Peace Marches (Békemenetek), the editor of Magyar Demokrata, and the father of the man who ran Friends of Hungary and who helped found Magyar Gárda, Dávid Bencsik.
I understand that earlier in his career the great anti-communist András Bencsik wrote the Communist Party news for Népszabadság.

observerM
Guest
“Timeless” calls attention to a very nagging problem, that of judging those persons who were active either in politics, or in the media in the communist regime and who are active now. Being in America since I left after the 1956 revolution, I am not familiar with the work of György Bolgár in the era that followed. Whatever that might have been, by following his work, I have developed now a deep respect for his exhaustive knowledge of the Hungarian political and societal past and present, his judgement on those, and his willingness to suffer great disadvantages because of his critical posture concerning the Orbán regime. The problem is this: should we eliminate him, and others with the same background (Endre Aczél comes to mind) from the very important and useful role they have now because of their past, whatever that may have been, even if we emphatically agree what they are doing now? Even if what they did was condemnable (and I am not sure that is the case), should we not accept “what counts is not where you came from, but where you aim to go”? Is forgiveness not going to serve a higher goal: the struggle to… Read more »
Webber
Guest

It’s never too late to open the secret police files.
I’ve heard the argument that “it’s now too late to open them” repeatedly since 1991. The line then was that the secret police had “obviously” cleaned and altered the files, so there was no point in opening them. Variations of this argument have been constant ever since.
It seems like a variant on one of my least favorite Hungarian phrases “fél munka nem munka” (a job half done is not done at all), which is just idiotic in my view. Give me a room half cleaned out over one that hasn’t seen a broom, any day!
People who make this argument about the files keep it up even though there were very serious and important revelations from files in all countries that opened them, no matter how late they did it.
What was revealed in Bulgaria is a particularly interesting proof that it’s never too late.

Zing
Guest

The magnetic tapes are there and full of data, they were not altered. The printed, written, traditional files were culled, but the data bases (lists) are available.

petofi
Guest

“For example, Gyorgy Bolgar..|”

This looks like damnable Troll work. Have you got proof of Bolgar’s ‘viciousness’?

spectator
Guest

A lovely way of thinking, but really!

When someone taking his own ignorance to a new level and treating his own imaginations as truth is really something!
I particularly like the part – the last sentence, actually – when the final declaration of “fact” coming, founded entirely by tree earlier sentence about the subject!

Truly amazing, people!

Even brilliant!

However, missed an important detail, regarding:
“How György Bolgár reported on his fellow soldiers, even his friends, during his military service!”

It must be included next time, otherwise nobody will believe the whole story!
It would be really wonderful then!

Hardly wait to read more!

István
Guest
First off I agree with Eva’s assessment of PM Orban’s speech to the Hungarian diplomatic corps, it was indeed rambling and confused. But like Orban, Márton Gyöngyösi uses bizarre ancient historical references as a guide to modern international affairs. If my country the USA is profoundly anti-historical in the sense politicians rarely use historical analogy in speeches because so many of my fellow citizens can’t identify the difference in the texts of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, then Hungary has to be considered obsessed with historical analogies. Even if a historian like Eva understands the crude natures of such analogies. The idea that contemporary Turkey is a significant global power is really absurd, what have they done to contain the Islamic State which controls many areas on that nation’s borders? Really nothing because both the two longtime Islamist allies, the AKP and the Gulen movement in Turkey share some ideological affinity with IS. During much of the Syrian Civil War, the Turkish government has allowed the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant army to use the “jihadi highway.” just inside the Turkish side of the Syrian border. While there were a few incidents, relations between Turkey and… Read more »
Member
Just a couple of quick notes: 1. It appears to me that Gyongyosi’s father was not a diplomat. He was probably a trade representative or a company rep (such as one of those giant state monopoly trading firms). He might still had diplomatic passport but then it makes even more plausible that he was an undercover Secret Service agent at the same time. Disregard he might have been be a pro tradesman but not someone who followed political developments for bread. Children of such “diplomats” were normally sent to Russian (not local) elementary schools. Gyongyosi has spent his childhood in Egypt and India that are founding members of the Non-Aligned Movement as well as Iraq and Afghanistan that were also NAM-med at that time. To maintain a NAM or a neutral status even today you need strong armed forces and/ or even stronger international interest in and guarantees for the respect of this non-alignment. All these countries had one (with the exception of the afghans). Finland, Sweden and Austria has a much stronger army and everything else than tiny Hungary does not possess. 2. Anyone suggesting you that a 17th century event is relevant for today’s Hungary he surely tries… Read more »
Gelb
Guest

The cool kids want to associate with Jobbik, Fidesz is just a bunch of losers…

http://gorillavideos.tumblr.com/post/115113941939

HiBoM
Guest

There is an interesting speculative piece in Index today, saying that Fidesz has an “atomic bomb” to use against Jobbik but that is has resisted doing to until now. And that bomb is that Jobbik is funded from Russia. And given Fidesz’s control of the media, I can that could be pretty disastrous for Jobbik. But it would surely mean Orbán having to distance himself from Russia!

Webber
Guest

I don’t think revelations of funding from Russia could be so bad for Jobbik. Funding from Russia was discussed in the press during the Bela Kovacs affair. Jobbik supporters seem to like Putin. Also, I don’t think outing that will damage Orban’s relations with Putin – exposing Kovacs as a Russian agent didn’t do any damage, nor did more recent revelations about Kiss, the Fidesz fellow arrested who worked for Russia. To Putin, these things are surely just a sign that Orban has things under control – as long as the big fish, Orban, stays on Putin’s line, I’m sure Putin isn’t bothered at all to see such small fish hung out to dry.
What could be damaging to Jobbik would be a recording of its leader Vona promising certain things to the Russians, or to other people.
By outing Russian agents, Orban can appear to be anti-Russian while all the time doing everything Putin asks him to do.

govoritye
Guest

Well, Fidesz’ control over the media isn’t as strong as it used to be since Orban’s falling out with Simicska and RTL Klub’s start of producing normal news shows. But Fidesz can inflict some pain on Jobbik. Will people care about the Russian financing of Jobbik? I’m not so sure.

Webber
Guest

Maybe I’m missing something, but Magyar Nemzet and Hír t.v. still seem awfully pro-Fidesz to me. The only difference is that, sometimes, other viewpoints are represented – but commentators still seem strongly pro-Fidesz.

Gál
Guest

Is this really an atomic bomb or does Fidesz hope that it will be an atomic bomb? Fidesz has misjudged a lot of things lately, its legendary genius in political machinations isn’t what it used to be. It may be too late for Fidesz to attack Jobbik. Jobbik’s internal issues are more important than attacks from Fidesz which is getting less popular by the day.

Webber
Guest

I think it was more like an atomic balloon, and there’s no telling whether those float.

Member

I think that if my suspicions are true about Jobbik being a “created” opposition by Fidesz, that this is just a test. The point of the test is to see the tolerance of the electorate to the news. There have been several tests lately to see if the people will be outraged at the idea of Russian cooperation and also to test whether or not the anti-western/American propaganda is working in Hungary.

Member

Well, I guess everyone on this blog is better informed than Fidesz. There are plenty of comments for the last year also about Jobbik being financed by Russia and other Eastern friends… I am not sure why would anyone be shocked as it is also clear that Fidesz is also get some “incentive” form Russia…

petofi
Guest

Ok, how about this for the ‘atomic bomb’: Jobbik is a creation of the Israeli secret services…

HiBoM
Guest

Well, if I wanted to spin it with my own media, I’d show images of 56, show images of the Russians invading, stress the Russian subjugation of Hungarian nationhood, and then focus on a party that stands for Hungarian nationhood and Hungarianness and ask what the hell are they doing funding themselves from a nation run by a former KGB officer? Would that work? I don’t know but I don’t think I would criticise anyone who judged it might.

Morningstar
Guest

Istvan, I completely agree with you that Turkey is not a global power, not even close. But if news reports are to be believed in a few years Turkey could be the country that sells gas to several countries in southern and central Europe (after buying gas from Russians in bulk and re-selling it). This could increase Turkey’s relative influence, on the other hand in a few years this would decrease Ukraine’s role as a transit country in gas.

Istvan do you think this scenario will actually materialize, or Turkey’s role in gas distribution will be somehow undermined or the whole idea abandoned in the near future?

Istvan
Guest

Morningstar I think Turkey must stabilize its borders and if it does not its natural Gas distribution reliability factor will decline. While this blog is not about Turkey there is an analogy to be made between the corruption of the AKP in Turkey and Fidesz. In both cases the well known corruption hurts the economic development of these countries.

Hungary has the advantage of being currently in a far more stable part of the world even given the situation in Ukraine than does Turkey where dozens of Islamic State militants were killed in the Syrian border town of Kobani last January by US air strikes while Turkish soldiers just watched across the line. There is plenty to worry about in relationship to the pro-Islamist politics of the Turkish government.

Guest

The GRT triangle……not sure what makes Orban think he can add to the grouping. I know though he’s averse to medieval terminology especially the one that says ‘vassal’. Too bad the word also seems to scare him when he looks ‘west.

I think I know what he sees and wants out of it. But from the looks of that scenario he seems to be aligning Hungarian foreign policy within the atmosphere of a big, dark ‘black hole’, And eventually it sucks up everything into it. And the country is already sucking up to we know who.

Not sure there’s an upside. Mr. Gyongyosi is a smart diplomatic guy but I’d suggest he think things through. Question is how would Hungary hang out with those guys and at the same time handle the Western relationship? To say things are complicated is an understatement. Hope he’s not filled with too much ‘Russian’ ideas.

Istvan
Guest
On Topic Long Live the Czechs and the US Army 2nd Cavalry! From a Reuters report today: Thousands of Czechs welcomed a convoy of U.S. troops to Prague on Tuesday on their return from exercises in the Baltics, defying expectations pro-Russian groups would protest over the country’s alliance with the west. The convoy of 118 mostly Stryker armored vehicles has been on a 1,100 mile-path from Estonia to a base in Germany via road instead of the usual rail transport to demonstrate support for NATO nations in central Europe amid the Ukraine conflict. The convoy raised no fuss in the Baltics or Poland but there was vocal opposition from leftist and nationalist political groups in the Czech Republic as well as activists on social networks that created expectations of a tense passage. A number of rallies against the convoy of the U.S. Army Europe’s 2nd Cavalry Regiment were announced. But since first U.S. soldiers crossed the border from Poland on Sunday, small groups of protesters were vastly outnumbered by thousands of supporters, many with U.S., NATO, EU and Ukrainian flags. On Tuesday, the troops mingled with locals around the armored vehicles outside a Prague barracks to the tunes of a… Read more »
EgyKulfoldiMagyar
Guest

gyongyosi/vona/orban have got no credibility.
they are failing hungary and humanity.
putin/erdogan are the same.
megalomanic tyrants.
freedom will come only from the west.
otherwise the hungarians will go to the west.

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