No rest for the weary: A busy summer in Hungarian politics

During the summer everything slows down. Soon members of parliament will leave for their summer holidays. Certain programs on KlubRádió will suspend broadcasting for the next two or three months, and ATV has only skeleton programming. One would think that political life must be really boring in Hungary. Nothing to discuss or analyse. But the funny thing is that there are so many topics worth thinking about or investigating that I simply cannot keep up with them. At the same time I don’t want to ignore them, so I decided to cover two topics today.

The Biszku case

You may recall that sometime at the end of May the Budapest appellate court ruled that the verdict of the court of first instance, which had sentenced Béla Biszku, János Kádár’s first minister of the interior, to a three-year prison term, was null and void. The fault lay with both the Budapest Prosecutor’s Office, which prepared the case, and the lower court judge who most likely felt pressured to produce quick results. Even Ádám Gellért, the young lawyer who was responsible for Biszku’s indictment, had to admit that the case the prosecutors came up with was unspeakably poorly prepared. The appellate judge had only two options: either to throw the case out or to acquit Biszku.

The reaction of the Budapest chief prosecutor, Tibor Ibolya, was not that of a “shrinking violet,” as his family name would indicate. (I saw him in action once with Olga Kálmán and in fact recommended viewing this interview in one of my earlier posts.) In his frustration and anger, he accused Biszku’s defense lawyer of “making a clown with cap and bells out of the court, which, instead of objecting, assisted him.”

The chief prosecutor of Budapest is not the only one who is upset. Ádám Gellért is also frustrated. At a conference held today, he offered a dangerous suggestion: a law should be enacted that would transform political responsibility into a criminal act under certain circumstances. A right-wing historian, Tibor Zinner (Veritas Institute), went even further. He wouldn’t mind having a law that would allow the sentencing of people already dead.

Since Biszku is 94 years old, by the time the prosecutors, judges, legal scholars, and historians decide what can be done with high-ranking communist politicians who may be responsible for the deaths of people after the uprising of 1956, he will most likely be dead.

What’s happening with the Hungarian Gripens?

During the first Orbán government (1998-2002), under mysterious circumstances, Viktor Orbán went against the advice of his military advisers and acquired 16 Gripen fighter planes. The cabinet had been expecting an announcement that Hungary would purchase F16 planes from the United States. Instead, out of the blue, Orbán announced that he had decided on the Swedish Gripens. The decision was suspicious at the time, but it became even more so after we learned that the Saab Group, manufacturer of the Gripens, was quite generous when it came to “convincing” its customers. I wrote about the Gripen scandal at least three times: in August 2007, March 2009, and September 2012.

Now we have a Gripen scandal of a different nature. On May 19, one of the 16 fighter planes was totally destroyed while taking part in an exercise in the Czech Republic. The Hungarian public has learned nothing since about the cause of the accident. The Hungarian planes are leased because the country’s finances didn’t allow for an outright purchase. The original arrangement was that after a certain period Hungary would be able to take full possession of the fleet. But eventually it became clear that the country couldn’t even keep up with its monthly payments. In any event, the plane, which is a total loss, is probably a further strain on the Hungarian military budget. The financial situation of the military is so bad that, as Magyar Nemzet sarcastically remarked, although the planes have been in Hungary for nine years, “they didn’t manage to buy a single bomb for them.”

And then, less than a month later, another accident happened, this time in Kecskemét, the Hungarian airbase. The plane is not totaled, only damaged, but the pilot who had to catapult from the plane, just like a colleague in the Czech Republic, injured his spine. This time, it looks as if the accident was due to technical difficulties. Something is very wrong with either the Gripens or the Hungarian airmen and servicemen, or both.

After the accident in Kecskemét

After the accident in Kecskemét

Imre Szekeres (MSZP), minister of defense between 2006 and 2010, commented on these accidents on Facebook. According to him, perhaps the biggest problem is the lack of flying time. Szekeres suspects that there is not enough money for fuel. The pilot of the plane that was damaged in Kecskemét had eight hours in the air this year. Moreover, apparently it is not known how many planes are actually flyable. Two are definitely not, but there was a third plane that was returning from Sweden where its pilot had received flying instruction. It never reached the Kecskemét base but had to force land in Košice/Kassa. No one knows in what shape that plane is.

The Hungarian Air Force, with its inexperienced pilots and its ailing planes, will soon be responsible for the defense of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Beginning in August, it will be spending four months on a Lithuanian airbase. Since these countries don’t have air defense capabilities, other NATO countries protect them on a rotating basis. We can only pray that no one decides to attack any of these countries between August and November.

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Paul
Guest

Something to cheer you all up:

(page down to the video)

http://vs.hu/mind/osszes/demjen-hatborzongato-himnuszt-irt-a-budapesti-uszo-vebenek-0616#!s4

Our great leader isn’t only interested in foci…

Istvan
Guest

The U.S. Air Force is considering deployment of the stealth-capable F-22 Raptor fighter jet, the most advanced in our arsenal, to Eastern Europe to help quell the fears of Russian hostility among NATO allies according to several articles I read today. I suspect the Lithuanian air space will be well protected despite the problems the Hungarian Air Force is having with its SAAB Gripens. But things are getting hot with the Russians and I heard an interview with a US Air Force General today in the NATO command basically chastising the Russians for their aggressive behavior.

It has amazed me how little coverage has been given in the Hungarian media to Vladimir Putin’s speech delivered on Tuesday at the opening of the International Military-Technical Forum ARMY-2015 in the military-patriotic recreation park Patriot in Kubinka, Moscow Region. Where he announced that over 40 new intercontinental ballistic missiles will be delivered to Russia’s strategic forces in 2015 to counter the US and NATO threat to his nation. Russia’s Foreign Ministry also today accused the United States of “inciting tensions and carefully nurturing their European allies’ anti-Russian phobias” toward “further expanding its military presence and influence in Europe,” in a formal statement.

Member
The NATO air defense responsibility of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania will be a difficult job for the Hungarian Air Force, since they don’t have night vision equipment, they will not have enough time to obtain and practice with them in just 30 days and the Russians know it even better, than we do, who are only reading newspapers. As with the US, the Russians are also trying to conduct war and aggression in poor visibility and at night, where the advantage is with the technically superior equipment and well trained men. The Hungarian pilots, as good as they can be with their training may be able to fly the planes, but they have almost no hands on actual training and experience in air to air and air to surface firing of missiles or bomb runs and no experience with battle proven fighter planes. The Gripen is a small multi purpose plane it does many things ok, but nothing really well. It is no match to the Russian Su-27, Su-30, Su34, Su-35 (Flankers) and to their more experience pilots. The Hungarians neglected the Army and the Air Force, the politicians stole the money and pocketed it instead. The average Hungarian person knows… Read more »
David Sade
Guest

You are 100% right… I would also add that the purchase of the Gripen fighters is clouded in a series of corruption scandals in which Hungary is only one of the players. And Orban’s hands and pockets were unquestionably in it… Orban and his cronies were “poor” individuals before they got into politics, now they are multimillionaires in the € sense… In any democracy, and even in the communist regime of China, they would be in prison and not at the helm of a country…

Member

Thank you.
The corruption of the Fidesz is proven, the hundreds of billions of Forints, stolen and self-enrichment of the Fidesz leaders from tax moneys and EU moneys are also proven.
Alas, so far they could not prove that Hungarian politicians got money from BAE-Saab, and how much of it, so I don’t want to state it, as a fact

It does not make the Fidesz/KDNP/Jobbik any less guilty, since they are all either heinous criminals, thieves and/or accessories , and accessories of murders, indirectly of the elderly, the sick, the ill, the homeless, the unemployed and the handicapped.

They took away the social net, medical care unemployment benefits (now it is only 3 months) and disability benefits of the most needy.

This is actually indirect murder and they should be put in jail for the rest of their lives – or if the viktor wants to have the death penalty legal in Hungary – make an exception, a “Lex viktor”, satisfy his wishes and hang him and his entire motley crew.

petofi
Guest

Hungary is not a country–it’s a playpen for those who had non such when young.

Member

You are right, just add, …and for those, who were beaten by the father regularly without any good results.

Perhaps Dad should have been more firm and complete the job of thrashing his son, until the viktor would have decided to be an “economic immigrant”, move to London to wash dishes in an Indian restaurant.

Guest

I certainly do not wish to defend Fidesz and this is certainly no excuse either but it seems to me arms sales in many countries too often involve bribes, certainly when it comes to huge contracts like those for military aircraft.

Member

theestampe:
You are right, that is why the US manufacturers are less successful, they cannot pay bribes, they are not allowed by law and the penalty is the loss of export license, if proven guilty.

Paul
Guest

More OT – and more madness…

Orbán building 175km, 4m high, barbed wire-topped fence along Hungarian-Serbian border.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-33168125

Member

Many people ask, if the border will be mined and is it going to be only on the Serbian border or at the others too, and is it to defend from entry or also against exit?
“These questions – and many others – will be answered in the next episode of (Hungarian) Soap.”
IT IS WORTH TO READ AND LISTEN TO:
“From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the continent.” http://www.historyplace.com/speeches/ironcurtain.htm
(Churchill speech, Westminster College, Missouri, USA, March 5, 1946)

petofi
Guest

THE WALL

The great O….doing his damnest to get evicted from the EU–

(I continue to maintain that, at bottom, all this is a sick man’s animosity toward the country and its people…)

Tyrker
Guest

Even more madness: Rogán calls this barbed wire fence the “final solution”:
http://www.blikk.hu/blikk_aktualis/30-milliardba-is-fajhat-a-vasfuggony-2369889

MusicLover
Guest

A few observations:

1) The building of this wall is just a PR stunt, it may boost flagging support but it also stops people asking awkward questions about Quaestor etc. Perhaps a section will be built but I bet it isn’t finished. But think twice before falling into their trap and believing they have principals…

2) The Grippen deal occurred at a time when Fidesz was less consolidated in power. The reason nothing much has come out of this transparently corrupt decision is that the MSZP was also paid off.

3) Not only does Orbán appear in the swimming video linked by Paul, but also Katinka Hosszú who has been widely accused of doping since her flop at the 2012 Olympics.

Member

MUSICLOVER: Who has proof positive, that the MSZP and the Fidesz was paid off (equally or not) for selecting the Gripen. When the MSZP was in power, they leaned toward and recommended to purchase the US planes and not the Gripen. Your statement lacks the logic.
The selection was by ONE man only, the felcsúti almighty, viktor the first. I seriously doubt, that he would have shared his take with anyone, let alone the MSZP.

petofi
Guest

re: “share the take”

You are seriously wrong here. The reason that the mini mites of Fidesz follow him so religiously is because the crumbs that fall are big and many. He liberally butters the hands of others. (Hmm, that rhymes nicely.)

The whole thing about Hungarian politics is the ‘take’; and it has never been larger than now. I would go so far as to say that the haplessness and inefficiency of the opposition may well be oiled by assistance…

István
Guest
Well if nothing else the wall did make the news here in the USA. National Public Radio even did a story on Syrian, Iraqi refugees, and others in Serbia waiting to cross the border into Hungary. This story was conceptualized by a story in Salon published in April http://www.salon.com/2015/04/22/migrants_take_long_winding_road_to_reach_eu_gateway_hungary/ We Americans are in no situation to complain about the great new wall in Hungary, we did the same thing on our Mexican border. Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic complaining about the wall is also a bit hypocritical. The economic refugees are following a path of border corruption and deals cut by the Serbian Mafia with Serbian border guards. By the early 2000s, the Serbian Mafia had more money than the Serbian government and was better armed than the Serbian Army and Serbian police. In 2011, Dr. Gilly McKenzie, Interpol Organized Crime Unit expert, compiled a “White Book” containing 52 criminal organizations of Serbia. In the same year, it was concluded that the Protection rackets in the harbour cities of the Black Sea were run by Serbian, Russian and Ukrainian criminals. So while I am opposed to the wall, because like here on our Mexican border it will not work. But… Read more »
Member
István: We Americans can complain about the wall in Hungary. The wall on our Southern border is to keep MILLIONS of illegal aliens coming directly into our country and staying here, as well as cut down on drug smuggling. The millions coming to the US do not leave and go to other countries, as those refugees do, who enter Hungary. Is there serious danger of drug smuggling from Serbia to Hungary? Are there millions of illegal refugees staying in Hungary? Are there tens of thousands of criminals coming to commit crimes in Hungary so their jails are full of them? By the way, Hungary is getting €500.0 millions a year to process the refugees, we don’t. Most of the €500.0 millions are pocketed by the Fidesz politicians and supporters. By the way, the US population is increasing by an average of 2.4 million per year, every year, for over 50 years, by immigrants, as the birth rate is still a little below replacement level. The population of the US increased from 1970 to 2010 from 203.0 million to 309 million and 319.0 million by beginning of 2015. Are these things happening in Hungary, so they need protection from overpopulation by… Read more »
István
Guest
Well we know that for many years there has been a massive transit from both Buligaria and Serbia in illegal drugs, non- taxed cigarettes, weapons, and even young women to EU nations. It is more than likely this transit route also goes through Hungary. The U.S. wall has failed and the key in this nation to control of undocumented aliens is the illegal hiring taking place. The root of illegal immigration are under the table jobs paid in cash that include even companies like Walmart which have been caught using subcontractors who are undocumented. The same Mexican gangs that control the movement of drugs control the movement of people. The guides, called Coyotes pay tribute to these gangs and it is the same in Buligaria and Serbia. Organized human trafficking is a big Bussiness worldwide. This type of corruption is linked by extension to things in Hungary like the selling of citizenship which Eva has written about in the past http://hungarianspectrum.org/2014/09/16/the-lucrative-citizenship-business-hungarian-passports-for-russians-and-ukrainians/ These economic refugees from Syria now are escaping from the collapse of the corrupt Asad government that some supported and their likely execution by the Islamic State. Many have converted their assets into gold and other transportable commodities and… Read more »
Member

István: Thank you, I am aware of our border problems, and one among them is the life-safety of our border patrols.
With all due respect, if you are trying to justify the proposed fence between Hungary and Serbia, you are wasting your time.

petofi
Guest

I submit that the best way to keep Putin in line is to place the heaviest burden of sanctions on the oligarchs and slivovici–they’d be most pissed off if they couldn’t get to their yachts and French Riviera resorts; not to mention laundering their ill-gotten gains…

Istvan
Guest

Kole Casule today published an article on the great wall of Hungary, this time for Reuters. In this article there is a reference to “violent trafficking rings” ripping off Syrians in places like Macedonia. There is a very good quote from Rados Djurovic, director of the Belgrade-based Asylum Protection Centre in relation to the futility of the Hungarian fence: “The price of smuggling will only get higher. The migrants won’t disappear; they have sold everything for this. A river will always find a way.”

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