Fidesz charge: The U.S. wants to topple the Hungarian government

Napi Gazdaság, which will soon appear under a new name, Magyar Idők (Hungarian Times), continues where the Magyar Nemzet of old left off before the outbreak of the Orbán-Simicska war. In fact, Napi Gazdaság today is an even more extremist paper than Magyar Nemzet ever was because those who decided to leave Nemzet and form a new team are the most hard-core, loyal media servants of the Orbán regime.

Those who would like to get a balanced picture of what’s going on in Hungary and abroad shouldn’t bother to read Napi Gazdaság. On the other hand, in the last few months Magyar Nemzet has become a much more balanced publication where one can increasingly find opinions that would never have been tolerated earlier. A good example of this new attitude is Magyar Nemzet‘s willingness to publish Mária M. Kovács’s rebuttal of Gábor Ujváry’s piece on Bálint Hóman.

Such a thing couldn’t possibly happen in Napi Gazdaság, which is continuing the strongly anti-American editorial policy that was the hallmark of the Magyar Nemzet of earlier days. The latest example of the pro-Fidesz newspaper’s anti-American bias is an especially outrageous editorial written by Imre Czirják. Czirják abandoned Simicska’s HírTV and became one of the two deputy editors-in-chief of Napi Gazdaság. If you find the ideas expressed in this editorial so absurd that you think they must be the product of a madman’s overly fertile imagination, I hate to disappoint you. The kernel of this bizarre story comes straight from the highest echelon of the Fidesz leadership, from the owner of Fidesz membership card #1, László Kövér, president of the Hungarian Parliament, who is the closest and oldest friend of Viktor Orbán.

A month ago László Kövér gave an interview to Pesti srácok (Scamps of Pest), an internet news site catering to the right wing of Fidesz, which is practically indistinguishable from Jobbik. The conversation was supposed to be about the refugee crisis, and in this connection the reporter disapprovingly recalled that Tímea Szabó, co-chair of the small opposition party Párbeszéd Magyarországért (PM) and a member of parliament, held up a sign to the refugees saying “Welcome to Hungary.” Then came Kövér’s non sequitur: “In the last hundred years or so internationally trained agents have been showing up from time to time in Hungarian politics. These people work in Hungary because here they are not restricted by linguistic difficulties. This is how it was already with Ernő Gerő and Co., and also after 1990. Barcelona or Belgium, Afghanistan or Africa–it matters not. They do their job whether it is here or there. And they do what their keepers tell them to do.” Clearly, Kövér was accusing Tímea Szabó of being the agent of a foreign power.

A quick look at Tímea Szabó’s biography explains Kövér’s rant. Szabó studied at Harvard and later was involved in a research program under the aegis of the Harvard Law School. She headed a research team commissioned by the United Nations to study strategies for the prevention of military conflict. In the summer of 2001 she spent three months in Pakistan, and after 9/11 she did research on the Afghan conflict and the subsequent rebuilding of the country. She subsequently went to Afghanistan as a member of a UN team and then as a representative of CARE International. Altogether she spent two years in Afghanistan. She returned to Hungary in 2003 and a year later joined LMP. (In 2013 PM split off from LMP.)

Tímea Szabó, the secret U.S. .agent

Tímea Szabó, a member of parliament accused of being an agent of the U.S.

Although Imre Czirják’s editorial is titled “Miss Afghanistan,” it is not really about Tímea Szabó. She is merely someone whose past plays into yet another tale of alleged espionage, which fuels the paranoia of Fidesz leaders. Just think of all those stories about an international conspiracy led by western politicians bent on removing Viktor Orbán from power. In government circles and in the right-wing media it is widely believed that foreign powers are financing the opposition parties. They have been especially suspicious of Gordon Bajnai’s financial backers from the United States. And here is where Tímea Szabó’s past comes in handy. Czirják finds it most suspicious that on the united opposition’s party list Szabó’s position was high enough to ensure that she would become a member of parliament. She also represented her party at the farewell party given for M. André Goodfriend, the chargé d’affaires of the United States, before his departure from Budapest. She must be guilty of something, thinks Czirják.

The United States, with the help of Hungarian agents, is hard at work. The question is “what is the real goal of Goodfriend and company and their allies” because up to now Goodfriend’s “unprecedented media campaign achieved only Jobbik’s spectacular rise.” What kind of a strategy are they contemplating now that they have strengthened Jobbik and weakened Fidesz? Are they planning to use Jobbik to their own advantage? It wouldn’t be the first time in Hungarian politics that two parties coming from opposite ends of the political spectrum, for example “the communist MSZP and the anti-communist SZDSZ, found common ground with the effective assistance of George Soros.” Czirják suggests that Tímea Szabó, the alleged American agent, is being used to approach Jobbik for an alliance between the neo-Nazis and the so-called democratic opposition under American tutelage.

In Czirják’s opinion there are already signs of a closer collaboration between the two sides. Szabó told Jobbik’s leader in no uncertain terms that it was unacceptable for one of Jobbik’s MEPs to spit into the empty shoes on the bank of the Danube that had been placed there in memory of the Jews who were shot and thrown into the river in 1944. Czirják admits that Vona didn’t answer her directly, but a few days later he sent the culprit to the embankment “to atone for his sin.” When Szabó later asked Vona what he thinks about his party’s racist attitude toward the Roma, or about the paramilitary Hungarian Guard, again the Jobbik party chief didn’t respond, but soon enough he announced his plans to change the party’s image by abandoning its extremist stance. So, Czirják indicates, an alliance is being forged between the extreme left and the extreme right under the watchful eye of the United States in order to ruin Fidesz and Viktor Orbán. Even if we strip the story of its more fanciful details, the United States is being accused of supporting (up to this point indirectly and perhaps in the future directly) a neo-Nazi party.

Let’s return briefly to László Kövér, who in the interview with Pesti Srácok also made the United States responsible for the immigration crisis in Hungary. It all started with the war in Iraq and the Arab Spring, for which the United States is responsible.

Although André Goodfriend’s “unprecedented media campaign” coincided with the growth of Jobbik, it was not responsible for it. Fidesz’s precipitous losses were due primarily to bad governance and an accumulating dissatisfaction with the whole Orbán regime. Many former Fidesz voters left for Jobbik or, for that matter, for MSZP and DK, while the number of undecided voters grew substantially. Admittedly, the Ipsos chart of Jobbik’s fortunes in the last couple of months shows a drop in support for the party (from 18% to 15%). But, again, Goodfriend’s departure can’t be causally linked to this decline. Most likely Vona’s new, more accommodative strategy didn’t appeal to the extreme elements in the party. Moreover, Fidesz ratcheted up its nationalistic, anti-immigrant rhetoric.

In any case, the current Hungarian government’s attitude toward the the United States is not the kind upon which a strong friendship can be built. It is not enough to send an ambassador to Washington who sounds reasonable and moderate when the most important party leaders in Fidesz accuse the United States of using agents to topple the Hungarian government. Or when Fidesz leaders accuse the United States of aiding and abetting a neo-Nazi party.

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August 17, 2015 8:24 pm

Well Comrade Kover may have a point about the rampant Mata Hari infestation in the Hungarian parlament … I am convinced for instance that Orban is also an agent of a foreign power. A foreign power, that finances the extra right and the extra left in Hungary and very likely pays Orban directly for the lucrative deals they get from Loserland, like Paks 2 or refurbishing the BP underground trains … Spy vs. Spy, goulash edition.

August 17, 2015 8:37 pm

This US is responsible for the Arab spring theory is really picking up among the country’s intellectual drags. But they are thinking bigger than just Hungary. They claim that the US wants to destroy Europe with the refugee wave. The moslems will rape everybody in there way. Of course Gaddafi was a dictator, but he wasn’t “that bad” and Lybia was stable – goes on the analysis. What strikes me in this view, strongly believed by conservative Christians, is that dictatorship is OK for certain nations and only the uber-euro-cultured Hunkies had the right to get rid of their dictators, like Rakosi or Kadar.

Geza Kmetty
Geza Kmetty
August 17, 2015 9:39 pm

The FIDESZ paranoia looks like a chapter out of Putin’s script for reviving the Cold War.
The only difference is that Hungary is on the wrong side of the “Iron Curtain”….yet.
The day may come, when Hungary is either kicked out or departs on it’s own from the EU. Orban and his cronies are more comfortable with the dictatorial style of Putin’s governance than with a western style Democracy. The second coming of Russian occupation/association/partnership with Hungary is a real possibility…

August 18, 2015 5:17 pm

Re: “Orban and his cronies are more comfortable with the dictatorial style of Putin’s governance than with a western style Democracy. The second coming of Russian occupation/association/partnership with Hungary is a real possibility”

What gets me on that is will the Magyar electorate go for that shady shady ‘bizness?’ I know Orban has had a field day with ‘democracies’ and getting his rabbit punches in. But to move to kleptocracy and Putinism? And in sight of Heroes Square? Yikes.

Before it was tanks which made a nice visit without passports for their drivers and ‘other’ personnel of course. As for tomorrow perhaps Hungarians’ hard work will once again be ripped off and stuffed in the bulging bags of would-be Magyar and Russian ‘Czars’.
A sickening thought.

Sure looks as if Orban and the rest of the cohort are deeply in love with the ‘siren-song’ not of the Volga boatmen but the Putin chorus. Hope it doesn’t happen my correspondents. It’s really almost like having signs on Magyar necks saying ‘Kick me’.

August 18, 2015 2:35 am

Orbán’s pretend anti-American stance is nonsense, since his main adviser is a right-wing American. Perhaps someone should do some investigative journalism here, and ferret out who this marvellous person is? Apparently he devises all the rhetoric, strategies and hate-filled speeches. Possibly a Ku Klux Clan member?

August 18, 2015 12:54 pm
Dude, Orban actively dislikes the US. That said Orban also respects its power, he has no choice. Orban does respect power just like that of Putin and at the same time he hates weak people like the European politicians who just like the Hungarian Socialists became “enfeebled” and thus “are going down the drain of history”. Finkelstein is a gay Jew and yet he is happy to advise – among others – anti-gay and anti-semite politicians. Money talks. Finkelstein existence doesn’t prove anything. Look, a lot of racist pornstars are happy to let themselves ***** for money, there’s nothing new in this. You are trying to make naive American readers here who are (like the previous US ambassador to Budapest and her posse) believe Orban is pro-Western. To be sure, it’s not a big challenge, I don’t know who did not fool them. Orban is pro-Russian and he believes in the Untergang of the West (meaning Europe) although he agrees that US may survive the new multipolar world order (the emergence of China, Russia and the emergence of new regional powers) given its stockpile of nukes. But most importantly Orban doesn’t care about the US really, as it’s too far… Read more »
August 18, 2015 6:13 am

Ridiculous but unfortunately dangerous.

August 18, 2015 2:05 pm
Fidesz uses the anti-US rhetoric to convince Hungarians, that they are the only ones with Hungarian interests at heart. At the same time Orban likes to play the sitting on the fence game which also allows him to obtain loans and funding from opposing sides. He tells Russia one thing, the EU something different and the US he knows he can fool them into thinking they are harmless. Fidesz knows that many Hungarians will beleive all the conspiracies and so they pump them out like mad to ensure that people again, think Orban is their saviour. Fidesz doesn’t care about the possible consequences of this because they will long be gone from the picture when and if there is ever a military conflict on the Hungarian doorstep. By then, Hungarians will be so brainwashed, all they will care about is getting back land that was taken under Trianon. In my opinion, they truly think they can accomplish this by not being clear what side they are on until they can pick the winning side, to be determined at that time (it worked well for Horthy). They know that the Hungarian American diaspora will play a big role in protecting them… Read more »