Jean-Claude Juncker: “The dictator is coming”

More than a million people have looked at the YouTube clip of the by now infamous scene where Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, greets Viktor Orbán with “The dictator is coming” and raises his right hand in a quasi-Nazi salute. The news spread like wildfire. I found well over fifty articles in the Hungarian media describing this 26-second video. I’ve seen an unusually large number of references to it in American papers, in addition to the usual German and Austrian avalanche of Hungarian news items. Those commentators who are critical of the Orbán government found it hilarious, while the two pro-government organs, Napi Gazdaság and Magyar Hírlap, decided to remain quiet on the subject. Orbán’s press secretary explained that there is nothing new in this exchange. Juncker always greets Orbán this way and, in return, Orbán calls Juncker Grand Duke. How jolly.

A commentator from the right Dávid Lakner didn’t find the scene at all funny. Instead, it struck him as embarrassing, especially at a time that more and more people view the European Union itself as a joke. Lakner called Juncker “an imprudent clown.” He suspects that the president was inebriated. (Juncker has been accused of heavy drinking by some of his critics.) On the other hand, journalists of Luxembourger Wort, who ought to know Juncker very well, were not not shocked, nor did they accuse him of drunkenness. They simply noted that “Juncker lived up to his reputation for straight talking … when he hailed Hungarian Premier Viktor Orbán as ‘dictator’ on his arrival at an EU summit in Riga.”

I have also have objections to Juncker’s joking mood, but on very different grounds from Lakner’s. Hungary’s sinking into a one-man dictatorship is no laughing matter. It is not a joke. It is a deadly serious business. Merriment over what Orbán is doing in Hungary is an inappropriate reaction from the president of the European Union.

And this brings me to an op/ed piece by Sergei Guriev and Daniel Treisman in yesterday’s New York Times titled “The New Dictators Rule By Velvet Fist.” Their short article is based on an earlier longer study, “How Modern Dictators Survive,” prepared for the Centre of Economic Policy Research in London. Their argument is that modern dictatorship no longer needs to have totalitarian systems and tyrants like Stalin, Hitler or Mao. Instead, “in recent decades, a new brand of authoritarian government has evolved that is better adapted to an era of global media, economic interdependence and information technology.” These new dictators achieve a high level of control over society by stifling opposition and eliminating checks and balances–and they achieve this without any violence at all.

Among “these illiberal leaders” we find Viktor Orbán alongside of Alberto K. Fujimori of Peru, Vladimir Putin of Russia, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey, Mahatir Mohamad of Malasyia, and Hugo Chávez of Venezuela. What illustrious company! But at least the others are not being financed by European democracies the way Viktor Orbán’s dictatorship is being subsidized by the EU. I wonder how the taxpayers of Western European countries would feel if they fully realized to what end Viktor Orbán is using their hard-earned money. I doubt that they would find it a joking matter.

According to Guriev and Treisman, “the West needs to address its own role in enabling these autocrats.” This is certainly true about the European Union vis-à-vis Hungary. But the authors also talk about lobbying efforts on behalf of these dictators. We know from earlier posts what an incredible amount of money is being spent by the Orbán government on foreign propaganda just in the United States. The four-year contract Connie Mack and Századvég signed was for $5 million.

The authors suggest, and I fully agree with them, that “lobbying for dictators should be considered a serious breach of business ethics.” Although Representative Dana Rohrabacher, speaking to Kriszta Bombera of ATV, denied that he was coached by the Hungarian government through Connie Mack and said that holding the hearing was his own idea, the director of Századvég made no secret of Connie Mack’s usefulness as a top lobbyist in Washington in getting a hearing on U.S.-Hungarian relations during which the chairman and his Republican colleagues defended the Orbán government with full force. “It was a breakthrough,” said Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky of Századvég.

And finally, let me talk about other enablers, specifically the two Hungarian-American associations whose leaders claim that for years they have been tirelessly promoting better understanding between the two countries. They are the Hungarian American Coalition and the American Hungarian Federation. Although they claim to be politically neutral, in fact they are conservative lobbying groups which support right-wing Hungarian governments. I know from personal experience that the Coalition at least moves into high gear only when a right-wing government is in power. After Fidesz lost the election in 2002, the Coalition paid for a group of Fidesz members of parliament to spend two or three weeks in Washington to learn something about American democracy. When I asked why only Fidesz politicians were invited, I was told that the socialists were simply not interested in spending time in Washington. I found the explanation improbable. So I wrote to Ildikó Lendvai, who was the whip of the socialist parliamentary delegation at the time, and it turned out that the socialists had never received any such invitation. That should give you some sense of the true nature of these organizations.

I was therefore somewhat surprised when I heard that the presidents of these two organizations decided not to attend Rohrabacher’s hearing. I thought that perhaps they realized that something was very wrong in Orbán’s Hungary. Perhaps they decided that they would no longer stand by the Hungarian dictator with a velvet fist. I was hoping that the statement Maximilian Teleki, president of the Coalition, released on May 22 would explain his reasons for not participating in the hearing. Instead, we learned only about the dangers of Jobbik and the great achievements of the Orbán government, which in 2010 “faced a Greece-like economic and financial crisis” and which by now has achieved “a respectable economic growth.” As for Jobbik’s anti-Roma and anti-Semitic propaganda, the only thing Teleki could say is that “the Hungarian government has taken a zero-tolerance policy,” adding that much still remains to be done.

Maximilian Teleki with April H. Foley, former U.S. ambassador to Hungary ad a great supporter of Viktor Orbán

Maximilian Teleki with April H. Foley, former U.S. ambassador to Hungary and a great supporter of Viktor Orbán

In his opinion, the United States “has done little to assist Hungary in developing a long-term [energy] strategy and implementing an effective action plan.” He mentioned “Russia’s aim of reestablishing Cold War-era borders and spheres of influence in the region” but had nothing to say about the close Russian-Hungarian relations and Paks II. What should the United States do to improve the “bilateral relationship” between the two countries? The U.S. should offer more opportunities for Hungarian decision makers to visit the United States; more U.S. officials and decision-makers should obtain first-hand experience by visiting Hungary frequently; and the U.S. should “make possible meetings at the highest political levels: it has been more than 10 years since Hungary’s Prime Minister was received in the White House.” And yes, the United State should support educational and cultural programs sponsored by NGOs. In brief, the dictator with a velvet fist should be rewarded for degrading Hungarian democracy into a modern-style dictatorship.

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Minusio
Guest

“Hungary’s sinking into a one-man dictatorship is no laughing matter. It is not a joke.”

I couldn’t agree more, and Juncker is making a serious mistake. But he is only heading a EU that is totally blocked. And that is not his fault. It is the fault of Merkel and Cameron and similar do-nothings or nationalists (The Polish presidential election doesn’t bode well either.). What in its good times has been a concerted effort has become an everybody for himself struggle. Nowadays the European Central Bank is more important than the EU Commission.

I just heard a radio programme about the 450-km long French-German border region. The borders are open, people go shopping where it is cheapest, they cross the border for workplaces or restaurants, but the number of people who are bilingual decreases. Basically, people are no longer interested in this wonderful peace and integration project.

And that is sad and a shame.

Minusio
Guest

Indirectly, this state of affairs is connected to an eroding tax base, as the original consensus of progressive taxation was given up in the 80s. This is the time the rich became richer, and the poor became poorer. In the US it has made the middle class to “have gots” (once had a house, two cars, kids went to college, etc.) and most of the rich pay no taxes at all while the infrastructure is crumbling. In Europe things are a little more complicated but the effect has been the same.

gdfxx
Guest

I am not sure what you mean by “progressive taxation was given up in the 80s”. In the US the income tax is progressive. The higher your income is, the more taxes you pay. This table from Wikipedia also illustrates who pays what percentage of all federal income taxes:

Breakdown of Income Brackets and Percentage of All Income Taxes Paid

Top 1% 38%
Top 5% 59%
Top 10% 70%
Top 25% 86%
Top 50% 97%
Bottom 50% 3%

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progressivity_in_United_States_income_tax

karmester
Guest

this is deceptive. most of the financial gains of the 5% and 1% are appreciating assets, not earned income. It’s therefore not taxed.. if i have a million dollars on January 1st. and through dividend reinvestment and buying and selling share the value my 1 million dollars is now 2 million dollars on Dec. 31 – that extra million dollars is not treated the same as ‘income’ for tax purposes.. some of it is taxable, but not at the same rate as my income.. and.. if I’m a hedge fund manager a great deal of the money i ‘earn’ through my actions is shielded from taxes…

like i said.. this is DE CEP TIVE.

gdfxx
Guest

Nothing is deceptive, the bottom 50% pays 3% of all the taxes, the top 5% pays 59% of all the taxes, the top 25% pays 86% of all the taxes. These are absolute numbers. Dividends are taxed at lower rates but that has nothing to do with the above numbers.

I guess you would like the simplified tax form:

Line 1: How much money do you have?
Line 2: Send it in!

googly
Guest
gdfxx, The deception that karmester is talking about is the fact that you only included federal income taxes, not any of the other, many, taxes levied in the US, and the fact that you didn’t bother to include similar statistics that showed the wealth and income from ALL sources that each bracket accrues (I hesitate to say “earned”). If you want to know more about this subject, check politifact for “does a secretary pay higher taxes than a millionaire?” Besides, it’s irrelevant what percentage of the total federal income tax revenue is paid by each bracket. What matters, besides the other taxes, are the loopholes, as is also true here in Hungary. In countries like the US, the loopholes are legal, while in Hungary they tend to not be legal. One reason why Fidesz can embezzle so much money is that the system here is set up to encourage a mindset of illegality, so people are effectively complicit in the siphoning of funds from the state. This attitude towards the government is yet another holdover from communist times that Fidesz has skillfully exploited. As much as I detest this government and almost everything they do, I’m glad they have instituted… Read more »
Guest

Very good, googly – especially that 27% VAT is an important factor in the tax calculation. Maybe someone finds a breakdown (income tax, VAT, gas, banks, telecoms etc …) statistic on how much tax is paid in Hungary – ideally compared to other EU countries (the USA are atypical).
One last remark about Robbin’ Orbán and his people:

Didn’t a Fidesz politician say some time ago:
If you have nothing then you are nothing!

Minusio
Guest

I think it was Lazar.

gdfxx
Guest

googly, I do not dispute any of the facts you listed. All I said was that the numbers I published were real. Regardless of the facts that the wealthy pay less or nothing on their wealth, the fact is that they pay most of the federal income tax. This cannot be disputed.

I also disagree with not using the word “earned” for other income. If I saved a dollar, put it in the band and I get interest on it, I earned it. If I invest a dollar into a share of a company and I receive dividend on it, I earned it. And so on. I think the time when this was considered stolen money (especially in Hungary) has passed.

I also disagree with loopholes, although their definition has a wide variety.

But I doubt that this is the forum to debate US tax policies.

googly
Guest
gdfxx, You wrote: “I do not dispute any of the facts you listed.” Great, we’re in agreement. I believe that karmester was making the point that the numbers you provided were deceptive because they made the situation look like there is actually progressive taxation in the US federal tax code, when in reality there is some regressive aspects of the code. You wrote: “the fact is that they pay most of the federal income tax. This cannot be disputed.” It’s quite easy to dispute, since the definition of wealthy is really up to the beholder. To people whose annual income is less than 1 million dollars, those whose annual income is over 10 million dollars are the wealthy ones. Everything is relative, and someone who earns $200,000 a year in the US is probably not considered to be wealthy by many people in the US, but probably is considered to be wealthy by most people here in Hungary. The point, however, is that regardless of how you define “wealthy”, it’s probably true that the wealthy in the US pay a lower percentage of their disposable income as federal income tax than the middle class, depending on how you define that… Read more »
gdfxx
Guest

googly,

I just would like to add two points:

It is true that wealth is relative. But the fact that the top 50% earners pay all the taxes is not relative. And yes, the wealthy pay a smaller percentage of their income if most of their income is from dividends or similar investment income. This incentive is built into the American tax system to encourage investment. But if their income is earned income (which includes interest), they pay the highest bracket, which now is over 39%, and with Obamacare it just got higher.

As far as tax avoidance by cheating is concerned, the law is clear, and many people go to jail for it (in the US). Otherwise, the principle is: pay as little as legally possible. Every American follows it.

googly
Guest
gdfxx, Again, and I cannot stress this enough: the top 50% DO NOT pay all of the taxes, only the income taxes (and even that number is now about 57%). Everyone who receives a paycheck in the US also pays payroll taxes, while those making over $100,000 do not pay much (and those who live on capital gains and other investments pay none. There is also a sales tax, there is property tax, there is a tax on making phone calls, there are utilities taxes, there is even renter’s tax, and many taxes levied on businesses are passed directly to the consumer.This is irrelevant, however, since the point was about progressivity. You seem to be trying to make some broader ideological point about how supply-side economics hasn’t been proven over and over to not work, and how anyone who isn’t rich is free-riding on the backs of the downtrodden wealthy. Only fools believe this, and very few of said fools live here in Europe. A society requires many kinds of people, and most of those who are currently wealthy would be very unlikely to keep their wealth if not for the extensive support of the existing legal and political system… Read more »
Guest

My interpretation of the bottom line. Half of the US population are unable to pay taxes.

googly
Guest

Actually, Jean P, in 2009 over half of the population paid no federal income taxes, though practically everyone over the age of 18 pays some kind of taxes, if only sales taxes or ” option” taxes. There are taxes on telephone use and other utilities, too. Of course, many of those people are children and pensioners. The rest are unemployed, make very little money (officially), or have large numbers of underage children (or have structured their large incomes to avoid paying federal tax, as a very wealthy person easily could).

Since 2009, statistics have changed. According to Forbes magazine, in 2013 about 43% of households did not pay federal income tax. That’s partially because the economy had improved. Of course, households differ drastically in size, so a single retired person living alone could pay no income tax, as well as a family of two adults and 8 children. They don’t break it down to percentages of individuals, though I’m sure you could find that somewhere.

gdfxx
Guest

Actually a lot of them receive what is called earned income tax, a negative tax. That is also paid for by the top 50%.

Member

I was also angry at first and posted on Juncker’s FB wall. It’s like walking up to Mengele in 1945 saying “What’s up, doc?” Then I realized later that the upside of this is the huge internet presence this incident generated. People, who otherwise didn’t care, were asking, “Hey, what’s funny in this? Aha. So he really is … Oh, I get it!”

By the way I wasn’t actually the first on Juncker’s page. The turul troopers beat me to it. Writing things like “you slapped the face of the whole nation”. Omg. But of course the other side suggested that Juncker should try a baseball bat on the next meeting.

doracsegei
Guest

They are bilingual, though.

They speak their mother tongue + English.

Jean-Paul
Guest

The hateful aspect of the video is the disastrous message it conveys on the part of Juncker: “Hey buddy, nice to see you. You are a funny guy with all your stupid petty dictatorial, extreme right-wing, anti-EU etc games, and I have to disapprove publicly, sorry, but on the whole I like you, and we both know that we can get along fine”.
How could Orbán not feel that he is conducting the right politics? And how can Juncker forget that he represents the EU? I quite agree with Dávid Lakner, even if his criticism comes from the right, this is a very embarassing video and a political blunder

buddy
Guest

Fidesz has said many times in the past that those who do not speak and understand Hungarian are unable to comprehend, and therefore cannot comment on, whatever happens in Hungary. And we know that Teleki does not actually speak Hungarian. So according to Fidesz’ own statements, Teleki is unfit to comment on matters that take place in Hungary.

Minusio
Guest

@buddy

Is this meant ironically?

buddy
Guest

I’m just pointing out the obvious double standard that the government and its backers apply to foreigners who comment on the political situation in Hungary.

If Viviane Reding or whoever say something critical about the Hungarian government, supporters of the government say, “Well, she doesn’t speak our language, so she doesn’t know what’s going on here.” So shouldn’t that same criteria also be applied to Teleki when he gives his assessment on Hungary? He doesn’t actually know the language either.

And if it can’t be applied to him, then clearly this argument as applied to other foreigners like Reding etc. that are critical of the government is totally bogus. See what I mean?

Don’t tell me that Teleki has some indefinable “Hungarianness” he was born with that makes him uniquely qualified to comment on Hungary that other foreigners do not have…

An
Guest

I had the exact same reaction; I thought that Juncker’s joking around trivialized (if not condoned) Orban’s democracy deficit. A rather unfortunate joke, to say the least.

Member

Lakner called Juncker “an imprudent clown.” He suspects that the president was inebriated.

Inebriated are honest at least dont lie just because of the protocol. I admit it sounds “unortodox” like Hungarian policy

nwo
Guest

Juncker’s behavior is not acceptable for many reasons, but most significantly it makes a joke out of a serious issue of the democratic deficit within the EU and the EU’s unwillingness or inability to address this issue. This goes to the heart of many of the failings of the whole EU project.
As for the political “bias” of the main Hungarian-American organizations, this is not new or unique to Hungarian Americans. I saw with surprise and disappointment yesterday that more than 80% of the votes from voters in the U.S. in this weekend’s Polish Presidential election went to Mr. Duda of PIS. It seems the farther away all these Eastern Europeans live (within the safety of the U.S or Canada or AuNZ), the more they want to believe in populism and cheap nationalism. It is a lot easier to believe in these things without regard to the real world consequences, when your livelihood does not depend in part on the ruinous policies that come with such populism.

csoda.peter
Guest

Whatever the Junckers intention, Orban is now the butt end of not merely a personal private joke but a very public joke.

The humiliation will stick, unless Orban finds a suitable response.

How long will we wait for it, I wonder

Miklos
Guest

Juncked acted as a clown in Riga. There was a lenghty French video about the reception, he played clown with everybody in the reception line.

bimbi
Guest

Commentator David Lackner surmises that Mr. Juncker was inebriated when he greeted Mr. Orban in Riga as “the dictator” and that the EU is in any case a joke. It is a pity that Lackner did not include the full spread of rumour regarding these figures i.e., that Mr. Orban is a wife beater. Then Lackner could have reduced Hungarian-EU political interaction as The Bruiser vs the Boozer.

In 2010 it was clear that Mr. Orban wanted Control, Control, Control – and he achieved that, albeit often in corrupt and petty directions. However, his government’s success or failure was defined by economic recovery and in this, after five years, it is a resounding failure. Half a million Hungarian economic refugees are now spread throughout the EU and (quote Orban) “Hungary as the engine that will drive the EU out of recession” is revealed merely as based on an upturn in German automobile sales. Let it be writ large. After five years the Fidesz-KDNP government is revealed as an economic failure (except for their own corruption).

István
Guest
Max Teleki does not speak Hungarian similarly to the vast majority of those here who identify as American Hungarians. I did not put my children through the Saturday Hungarian school process that still exists here in Chicago, because the entire culuture is extremely alien to them if not odd. Unlike my childhood where I had grandparents and parents who spoke Hungarian on a daily basis the only time my children heard Hungarian was when we went to church or a social function or visited Hungary. The vast majority of Polish Americans also do not speak Polish with any fluency. This is not a surprise. Central European “American” organizations were promoted from the 1950s through the 1970s primarily as anticommunist organizations or pro-Christian formations. The involvement of these organizations in US foreign policy is a legacy of anti-communism and an odd parody of American Jewish lobbying efforts on behalf of Israel. American Hungarian organizations prior to communism were basically settlement organizations and social service agencies. Cultural preservation was not a real objective of these groups but a natural part of the reality of emigrants in cities like Chicago or Cleveland in the early 1900s. Hungarians were thrown into linguistic melting pots… Read more »
Webber
Guest

All it takes to raise one’s children bi-lingualy in a linguistically mixed family is for the father to always speak his native tongue with the children (from birth) and for the mother to always speak her native tongue. It works, anywhere in the world (I am speaking from experience). No special schooling needed. One language will end up being more dominant (English in the States, Hungarian in Hungary), and without special schooling the children will only have a mastery of the literary language in that dominant tongue, but still the children will speak both languages fluently without accents.
These days, media makes it that much easier – one can get children’s stories and films in whatever language very easily, and the kids can speak with grandma and grandpa on Skype. Twenty years ago it was a bit more difficult, but we managed in my family just fine.

An
Guest

Yes, in most cases it works, but only if it is important for both parents that their children speak both languages. For many immigrants in the US it is a lot more important to blend in rather than to stand out. Even if the parents are committed, children may be ashamed of their own heritage in school and refuse to speak their mother language (it happens a lot among Hispanic children in the US). If you live in the US there is no practical use of speaking Hungarian other than keeping in touch with family, and there is no prestige coming with knowing Hungarian either. If a bilingual family lives in Hungary, English is very useful to know, and even in the current xenophobic environment, knowing English has social prestige. So the social-cultural situation of the family matters just as much as the parents’ dedication.

Guest
@Minusio: My extended comment was lost somehow, so now I’ll make it short: Growing up in the French Occupied Zone in Germany we had to learn French at the Gymnasium – but I forgot almost everything because the schooling was so extreme: We read Molière and Racine but couldn’t read a menu or talk to a hotel’s reception after 9 years … So I fully understand younger people who think that French is unnecessary! And I was really lucky that through my interest in rock&roll I learned English on my own which later of course helped me a lot in my job in IT (or EDP as it was called then). In the seventies that was a real advantage – I got involved in many projects because I was the only speaker fluent in English in the company … @Webber: You’re right – my sister’s children (her husband is English) are also bilingual. But my wife’s nephew’s children which grew up in the USA speak and understand less Hungarian than I do … It will be funny again when they visit us in a few weeks and we’ll have a conversation in German, English and Hungarian – especially in a… Read more »
buddy
Guest

I guess I’m in a minority here, but I think the Juncker video is absolutely hilarious. Juncker is giving Orbán the exact amount of respect that the latter deserves.

HiBoM
Guest

Minusio, electorates don’t buy into this “wonderful peace and integration project.” Unfortunately, people like you decide the electorates are wrong. The EU is a sensible trading alliance, nothing more. That was why it was first called the Common Market. But it is has turned into this ghastly political machine and people are fed up with it. I’ll be seriously considering voting to leave unless it reforms.

Guest

“But it (EU) has turned into this ghastly political machine and people are fed up with it.”

People would not have been fed up with the EU if they had been properly informed about it. What people believe they know about EU is the lies of populists.

Who has told you that EU is a ghastly political machine? If you take a look at the Orban government then you will know what a ghastly political machine looks like.

Guest

PS
There will be no voting.

Olek
Guest

I’m quite surprised with opinions on this blog. I realize that you represent anti-Orban point of view but Junckers manners are actually disgraceful for your country and nation (I’m not Hungarian). Furthermore, you call Orban a dictator, while his popularity charts are decreasing and there is a very big chance that he’ll lose next election. What kind of dictator is that? I’ll answer you – he is not a dictator. Actually Juncker is a part of a oligarchic government of the EU, because he, as the entire European Comission, was not chosen in any kind of election. Your whole point of view on this case is wrong. As a non-Hungarian I see in this movie a oligarch hiting a democratically chosen prime minister of a sovereign country. You should look on this case with fewer emotions.

Guest

Why this sudden EU-bashing?
Are we overrun by Putin-Trolls?

Dose anybody really want Europe to return to the “Nation States” that had at least one war every generation?

When Schuman, Adenauer and later De Gaulle started the Economic Community they knew that this had to lead in the long run to a United States of Europe!
I find it really strange that nowadays so called conservatives want to go backwards in time!
I clearly remember “the good old days” and the hassles when we wanted to go on holiday to the Mediterranean Sea or just to London by car, all those customs and police checks and the different rules and regulations.
Of course the common market is also an important aspect – my favourite point is looking at a product we buy in the Aldi in Hungary and find the description etc in more than 20 languages …

PS:
Orbán really is playing “dictatorship light” – and his latest ideas about refugees and death penalty sound more than crazy not only to me. Everybody in Germany that I talk to asks me about this and they shake their heads in disbelief …

Kirsten
Guest
To Olek, actually Jean-Claude Juncker was elected more than once by the population of Luxembourg as their prime minister. He was also considered the “leader” of the Conservative Parties group in the elections to the EP in 2014, and he was elected to his current post by the European Parliament on 15 July 2014. So “he was not elected in any kind of election” is plain wrong. But generally, indeed, the manners of Jean-Claude Juncker at this encounter are debatable, even if it is funny to hear “here comes the dictator”. I share the assessment of Minusio that this proves that of course the other politicians in the EU are aware of the problem with Hungary but that they either cannot or do not wish to do much about it. (In a press conference this week, when asked by a Hungarian journalist why Juncker greeted Orban with Hallo dictator, the incident was classified as a joke without any content. That was dubious.) But in the end it is us, the European citizens, who should put pressure on our politicians. Currently, there are too many problems that the European countries have individually and collectively, and the same that applies to Hungarian… Read more »
Kirsten
Guest

Wolfi, I believe that people take the positive aspects for granted, which is why the negative aspects are then so overwhelming. I do not at all want the UK to leave the EU, but of course it would be useful to know what exactly it would mean for the UK and the other countries should such decision be made. In the 1960s, the UK wanted to join because the Community on the continent was getting a bit too large and powerful and London wanted to have a say in the negotiations. Why the EU should now be less powerful than the EC in the 1960s, I do not know. But it needs to be conveyed to the citizen, which is why the debates about staying or not, benefits and costs, can be beneficial.

petofi
Guest

I saw the Juncker video. It’s without doubt that he was ‘feeling no pain’…but he was not falling-down drunk, either. He treated Orban with the levity he deserves, spiked with about two martinis too many. Nothing wrong with the end result: a greater focus on the machinations of Orban in Hungary.

Guest

I’ need a few martinis too to stand Orbán …
Yes, the good news is that everybody reported again on the crazy world of Viktor Orbán:
Death penalty, xenophobia, homophobia, corruption …

Olek
Guest
It is very funny for me to be called a Putin-troll 😀 To make everything clear – I am a Polish citizen. As a Pole I believe in Europe more than most of the Europeans and also unlike most Europeans my familly actually lost homes because of Soviet imperialism. But I know also very well that EU is not equal = “Schengen”+”free trade”. Nowadays EU is a bureaucratic monster that orders shape of bananas and tells my country that our coal-based industry should collapse while at the same time Germans cry that we should not build any nuclear plants. As a country we improved drastically because of the EU money, please come to Poland and see how modern our country has become. But we paid our cost: two million people left Poland and they are not supposed to come back. So, to sum up, after 10 years in the EU we have new problems and we see very cleraly that Brussels government doesn’t have any solutions. Only a Union of strong countries joined by an alliance based on a great European tradition can grant that every country will prospere. Now, it is all about Germany 🙁 To Kirsten: I understand… Read more »
spectator
Guest

For your information about “keeping borders” at bay – here on this blog I’ve learned, that whoever traveling from Kosovo with Serbian documents has free entry to Hungary, due to Hungarian – Serbian treaty, because of the ethnic Hungarians reside in the region of Vojvodina, or something of similar effect.

I’ve asked around in the time of Ms.Merkel’s visit to Hungary, when coincidentally a couple of hundred people from Kosovo were detained at the Austrian – Hungarian border, the way out from Hungary!

So, if you bother to look at the different possibilities, how can anyone enter to Hungary, you’ll be surprised just how many none EU citizens grants Hungary free entry to EU territory.

You see, there is a significant difference between letting the starving and dehydrated boatload to lands – as mostly the case in Greece and Italy – and giving away entering possibilities on phoney National(is)t basis.

In the the first case it is humanitarian duty, in the second is the question of National Vanity, – letting uncontrollable amount of wannabe “Hungarians” strolling around, coming and going at will.

Then, to save the face, the Great Leader demand the right to put everyone in prison, just for entering without the proper documents…

googly
Guest
Olek, I empathise with you, I really do, but I think you don’t have all the facts. When you wrote: “Nowadays EU is a bureaucratic monster that orders shape of bananas”, I wonder if you realise that the banana-shape controversy is really a non-issue. If you really don’t want to spread falsehoods, then you should google (or even just look up on Wikipedia) “Commission Regulation (EC) No 2257/94”, which states that the shape criteria only apply to the highest class of bananas, and that strangely-shaped and even unusually small bananas can be sold in the EU. If you consider consumer protection to be excessive bureaucracy, than you should move to China, where businesses are free to put anything they want into toothpaste and dog food, among other things. Most Europeans prefer to be protected from those who would like to sell substandard goods to unsuspecting consumers. It seems to me that you have decided to only read about things that reinforce your perception of the world, rather than finding out for yourself what is true. You would fit in very well here in Hungary. You continued: “and tells my country that our coal-based industry should collapse while at the same… Read more »
gdfxx
Guest

googly,

Your question ” Is nuclear really worth it, especially when there are non-dangerous alternatives that aren’t much more expensive (and possibly less expensive when spent fuel disposal is factored in)?” is not valid. At the present time the only viable energy source that does not contribute CO2 is nuclear power. And talking about Chernobyl or Fukushima in these terms is not productive. There are nowadays safe designs and safe operating methods. One just has to build in the proper safeguards and follow them. Wind and solar are nice but they are just not enough. Maybe fusion will be the solution, but it does not work yet.

googly
Guest
gdfxx, You wrote: “the only viable energy source that does not contribute CO2 is nuclear power.” That’s not true at all! How much CO2 do you think is created when building a nuclear power plant? All of that cement and steel and all of those vehicles moving back and forth over the work site for years, and then the decommissioning – there is no such thing as a power source that does not involve CO2 creation. Of course you ignored the point I made about storing the spent nuclear fuel, which probably would involve at least some CO2. A hydroelectric dam has a similar problem, except for the fuel disposal, plus it helps regulate flooding and provides irrigation and a regular supply of water during droughts. Nuclear is so risky that even those ever-practical Germans have given up on it. Everyone should, including Hungary (eventually). You wrote: “There are nowadays safe designs and safe operating methods”. That’s what the designers of the Fukushima plant certainly said, and look what happened there. As long as you have such a dangerous fuel, no design is fully safe, and the penalty for being wrong about the design is catastrophic, especially in a small… Read more »
Guest

Re: “The first generations born in the USA created the need for cultural and linguistic preservation. Many emigrant Hungarian families wanted nothing to do with that and wanted their children as Americanized as possible”

Spot on. That is why I am personally intrigued in how succeeding American generations especially those of today will be reacting to the ‘overtures’ made by Jobbik around these parts.

I would hope that if and when they hear their exhortations for the ‘motherland’ these new generations would be well to know not to simply use their heads as hat racks as they listen to the songs being played to them. What will be interesting is what Jobbik picks up on their ‘research’ of American attitudes and how they’ll play their cards. I’d sure be curious on all that.

spectator
Guest

I really hope that one of these days we will see some footage of how Orbán and Juncker together chewing the sunflower seed and spitting around happily – about the same level of style, albeit entirely different background.

Well, I hope it isn’t the effect of the “Unified Europe” – only their personality in full glory, as it was…

googly
Guest

Those who applaud the clip as a way to spread awareness of the autocracy in Hungary may be right – I hope you are! However, I wonder if the jovial and friendly manner they seem to share (Juncker slaps Orbán’s face playfully, and both are smiling) is not sending the message that Juncker sees the accusations of autocracy as a joke, and is mocking those who criticise Orbán for his power grab. Of course, knowing that Orbán voted against Juncker makes me think that Juncker actually despises Orbán, but most people probably don’t realise this.

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