Ambassador Réka Szemerkényi on PBS’s NewsHour: A poor performance

In the last few months of 2014, when U.S.-Hungarian relations were seriously strained as a result of the U.S. ban of seven corrupt officials, representatives of the Hungarian government tried to console themselves. In no time, they said, relations will improve due to the arrival of a new U.S. ambassador, Colleen Bell, and the long-awaited acceptance of Réka Szemerkényi as the new Hungarian ambassador to the United States. These two “charming ladies” will do miracles, they announced. And how nice that both of them have four relatively small children, a virtue in the eyes of  the current Hungarian government.

The two charming ladies: Colleen Bell and Réka Szemerkényi

The two charming ladies: Colleen Bell and Réka Szemerkényi

Szemerkényi’s predecessor, although Viktor Orbán even changed the law regarding the maximum age of ambassadors for his sake, was anything but effective. So the prime minister decided to send his trusted adviser to Washington. As Index reported at the time of her appointment, Szemerkényi was practically the alter ego of Viktor Orbán. Her presence in the United State would be as if the prime minister himself sat in the Hungarian Embassy in Washington. So, I must assume that she approves of Viktor Orbán’s policies and that, after hearing his speech a week ago, she is all fired up to defend him and the country against unfair, unwarranted criticism.

Yesterday evening Szemerkényi was introduced to the American public via PBS’s NewsHour, which I watch regularly. Thus, I could witness her performance. I must say that it was not successful, although she tried valiantly to deflect all the questions about her government’s treatment of refugees.

Viktor Orbán’s behavior is so appalling that one almost feels sorry for anyone who tries to defend the indefensible. But Szemerkényi has had a long, close association with Fidesz. Surely, if Szemerkényi is as intelligent as her admirers claim, she should have noticed that there is something very wrong with the men she has been serving for years.

I must say that she didn’t try too hard to defend the Orbán government. Instead, on the one hand, she refused to answer questions about Hungary’s opposition to the quota system and, on the other, she misrepresented the role of her government in the distribution of humanitarian aid to refugees. Since she is the representative of the Hungarian government, one would assume that when she says that “we have been providing food, shelter, medication, even schooling for the children of the migrant families entering Hungarian soil,” she is talking about the Hungarian government. But we all know that the Hungarian government provided practically nothing for the new arrivals and that whatever they got came from those admirable Hungarians who have in the last two or three months been spending their days looking after them. And in fact, these were the people she seemed to be referring to when she talked about all the good things that “we” have been doing. We the people have been generous; we the government have focused on security. The distinction between the two we’s was intentionally blurred.

The only time she actually responded to a question about the Orbán government’s refugee policy, she needed the help of a cheat sheet. Indeed, what would happen if she left out a couple of words from the prescribed text?

I’m glad that David Miliband, formerly British foreign secretary and now head of the International Rescue Committee, brought up the 200,000 Hungarian refugees who arrived in Austria within two months. This is the same number of Middle Eastern and African refugees who have passed through Hungary in a year and a half. Austria welcomed us with open arms, and the whole world came to her rescue. It is shameful that the government of the same country whose sons and daughters were so generously treated is now behaving in such a xenophobic way.

What follows is a transcript of the news segment. Here one can see the interview itself:

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/eu-manage-borders-amid-migrant-crisis/#.VfeN2Wk5Iv0.email

* * *

GWEN IFILL: So, how much will today’s decisions [at the meeting of the EU interior ministers] in Brussels help ease the migrant crisis and the rest of Europe?

Jeffrey Brown has that.

JEFFREY BROWN: And with us is Hungary’s ambassador to the United States, Reka Szemerkenyi, and from the Greek island of Lesbos, former British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, now president and CEO of the International Rescue Committee.

And, Ambassador, let me start with you.

At the meeting today in Brussels, an U.N. official spoke of a heated debate, of the majority of countries wanting to move forward, but some countries, including Hungary, I gather, still against a quota system. Why?

REKA SZEMERKENYI, Ambassador, Hungary: The quota system is one that really doesn’t help in solving the situation.

What we can see in Hungary is an unprecedented wave of migration and that is really a dramatic shock to the world country, and I think it’s a dramatic shock to the whole continent.

What we could see is also a major need of basic humanitarian needs, and what we could see from the Hungarian society — I just got back from Hungary a few days ago — is a massive wave of response for the immediate humanitarian needs of these people coming into the country.

We have been providing food, shelter, medication, even schooling for the children of the migrant families entering Hungarian soil, but, unfortunately, sympathy is not enough. We have to move beyond.

JEFFREY BROWN: But the E.U. as a whole has not moved beyond.

Let me ask David Miliband.

What was your reaction to the seeming stalemate still today?

DAVID MILIBAND, Former Foreign Secretary, United Kingdom: I think that Europe has been very late to get a grip with this crisis, and it’s vital that big and bold decisions are taken by the European Union.

After all, there are 2,000 to 3,000 people arriving every day in Lesbos, the island off of Greece that has borne about half of the refugees entering Europe. I think it’s vital that we both tackle the symptoms of this problem, which are the unprecedented surge that the ambassador speaks out, with proper humanitarian help, coordinated across the European Union with competence, as well as compassion, and that we also tackle the problem at source, because organizations like mine are not just working here in Europe.

We’re also working in Syria, Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, whose societies are creaking under the strain of a civil war that seems to be without end.

JEFFREY BROWN: But, Ambassador, you speak of the need for more humanitarian help. At the same time, your government has gone even further, though, in announcing a zero tolerance policy for further allowing refugee — at the border for refugees or migrants.

Why go even further? What happens to those people that come to your border now?

REKA SZEMERKENYI: The Hungarian border is one that has been receiving the most impressive and biggest shock of migration coming into continental Europe on vital land.

And what we could see is that the response to this massive pressure has been, on one hand, the expression of empathy and sympathy towards the migrants, trying to provide them whatever is needed, down to baby strollers for the families and immediate help for the women and children coming into the country.

At the same time, what we also focused on is the establishment of the security for the rest of the continent. We live up to our promises and we live up to the commitments that we made to the rest of the European Union countries in defending the territory and in providing security for all of us.

What we try to do is to make as clear that we follow all the Schengen requirements to provide for the registration of these refugees and migrants. At the same time, what we’re trying to do is to go through the exact procedure that is what we have undertaken.

JEFFREY BROWN: You’re referring to the agreements over the borders.

But, at the same time, your country has been hit by a lot of criticism for an insensitivity to the refugee situation. Your prime minister of course got criticized after he spoke of working to keep Europe Christian.

What is your response to that criticism that has hit Hungary?

REKA SZEMERKENYI: What I have seen is a massive outflow of sympathy and support for the migrants.

What many Hungarian volunteers have shown was giving their free time day and night to work for the migrants, providing them the necessary help, both in food and medication, as well as includes blankets and sleeping bags for the stay — their stay in Hungary.

What we have seen is a very clear experience of sympathy towards these people.

JEFFREY BROWN: David Miliband, you spoke of Europe needing to take faster and bigger action. And yet right now, what we’re seeing is more countries taking action to close their borders. So what is the way forward? What do you see?

DAVID MILIBAND: I think that we have seen extraordinary leadership from Germany, backed up in a way by France, Italy and Belgium.

I think there is progress with Poland. I don’t think anyone doubts that the Hungarian people are full of generosity. No one is saying that the Hungarian people are as misguided and shortsighted as the decision of a government which seems to believe that building a wall is an answer to a refugee crisis.

This is of course especially ironic, given that, in 1956, when Soviet tanks rolled into Budapest, 200,000 Hungarians went into Austria and were welcomed as refugees. I think it’s absolutely vital that Europe is able to show that it can handle what, after all, is a small percentage of the European population.

If there are 500,000 refugees in a continent of 500 million people, your viewers can immediately do the math and see that this is a question of management, not of a continent being overwhelmed. Equally, it’s absolutely vital that we don’t simply bottle up the problem, either in individual European countries like Greece or Italy, which have been buckling under the strain, or in Serbia, which is the next-door neighbor of Hungary.

And the decision simply to build a fence and hope for the best, I’m afraid, is going to create a tinderbox in Serbia.

JEFFREY BROWN: Madam Ambassador, your response to that, the charge that building a wall is not the — not the answer here?

REKA SZEMERKENYI: Our common European space and open internal borders are really predicated on the premise that common external borders are secure. This is the commitment that we undertook and this is the commitment that we’re living up to.

Obviously, it’s all in our — everybody’s interest in the European Union itself to secure our borders. The border control and the border — registration at the border stations is a requirement that helps us to ensure everybody, all our friends within the European Union in the neighboring countries, that they can count on us, that we provide for their security and we take our responsibility very seriously.

We have made that commitment and we live up to that commitment.

JEFFREY BROWN: David Miliband, finally, you’re there in Lesbos. What are you seeing in terms of the continuing flow of refugees and migrants? You expect the numbers to continue?

DAVID MILIBAND: You can probably see behind me shadows. These are people who are sleeping in the port, waiting for ferries tomorrow.

My organization, the International Rescue Committee, has been trying to provide basic water and sanitation and humanitarian help, including some transport for people who, when they land in the north of the island, are expected to make a 40-kilometer walk.

This is women, children, families, as well as able-bodied young men. And I think that the message to Europeans, but also frankly to the United States, is a very simple one. The Syrian crisis is now a global refugee crisis with global responsibilities that need to attend to all nations.

That means that, in Europe, there needs to be some significant shift in policy, but also, frankly, the U.S., which so far has only taken about 1,500 refugees from Syria over the course of four years, need to live up to its historic standard-setting role as a leader of refugee resettlement.

We have got to tackle this at both ends of the problem, the immediate symptoms of crisis, the humanitarian crisis, but also the deeper political causes in the Middle East. That’s the only way to build the kind of security that the ambassador has rightly spoken of.

JEFFREY BROWN: All right, David Miliband and Ambassador Reka Szemerkenyi, thank you both very much.

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Member

Szemerkenyi is a disgrace. She tries to deflect the criticism of the insensitivity to the refugee situation by her country (that is the government, stupid!) with telling stories about the heroic efforts of the ordinary people. Basically taking the credit for the work. Shame on her! And of course she doesn’t even try to comment on Orban’s “keep Europe Christian” views …

The Embassy’s Facebook page is pushing the same orbanist propaganda BS. Go and comment comrades!

Live long and prosper
Guest

She’s a bare faced liar. ‘Providing schooling for the children’ what a disgraceful misrepresentation of the Hungarian government’s appalling inaction over and hostility towards the refugees. Shame. Shame. Shame.

BBC
Guest

Every representative of the Orbán regime talks from a script, e.g. same phrases launched simultaneously…
Half truths and blatant lies, here we have mostly the latter:
– The government started a scare and hate campaign in March, talks of “illegal immigrants” against which they “defend Europe” ..
– The regimeot didn’t provide anything until Sept, actually on several occasions it obstructed the work of or bared civil orgs from sites in Budapest and Röszke..
– Amended laws make walking across the border a crime, create a Catch 22 situation with ref applications and establish kengaroo courts to rule on the ref applications in contravention of both law and moral.

But this is why many call the regime fascistoid.

Guest

Mrs. Szemerkenyi sure acts the diplomat. She ‘walks the walk’ and ‘talks the talk’. But I contrast her remarks on the crisis with the German ambassador to the United States. Mr. Wittig in an interview appears to defend the German view ably on the refugees noting it is difficult and also to admit that this problem will no doubt affect the German generations yet to be born. I’m not sure the Hungarian ambassador and the country she represents has been thinking things through. It’s like they want to rid themselves of the great ‘unwashed’ who apparently carry ‘cooties’…and very very quickly. If out of sight out of mind.

And on watching much video on the crisis it is almost a motif to see the ubiquitous circular barbed wire showing up in many of the border shots. Looks like a forced crown of silver thorns waiting to be placed on all who come knocking on that land of a Magyar Getsethame. Some Christians apparently know much about the motif of suffering.

István
Guest

Ambassador Szemerkényi took a beating from David Miliband. I am honestly surprised she did not go on the offensive against the record of Great Britain as it relates to the current refugee crisis.

David Cameron has faced accusations of heartlessness after he insisted Britain should not take any further refugees from the Middle East, as community groups prepared to show that councils in the UK are willing to take thousands more. Cameron does not want to join any Europe-wide resettlement program for refugees, believing that if the UK became involved in a large-scale scheme, it would act as a magnet for other migrants and it would be impossible to distinguish economic migrants from refugees. The Ambassdor was not very impressive and does not think we’ll on her feet one might say.

Guest

I was just made aware that the EU will be calling a meeting next week for all the foreign ministers on the great crisis. If it can be considered the European Political ‘Super Bowl’ it just has to be televised. Europe and the world should get to see how the EU representatives handle this one. I mean this is what those diplomats get paid for. I’d like to see if perhaps ‘impressiveness’ can emanate and rise up from a group who have apparently a hard time stepping up to handle significant problems affecting many. Too much of eating jello is making them soft in their thinking.

Webber
Guest

Istvan – be serious. Look at how many immigrants the UK has already taken, and takes every year. If Hungary took a fraction of that number, there might be a revolution in Bp.
Incidentally, like the US (and unlike most EU countries) Britain has no personal i.d. and no requirement that citizens register domicile. Illegals who enter Britain just disappear, as they do in the US (hence all the people trying to cross at Calais) But the last time a British govt. said it MIGHT introduce personal i.d., there were practically riots, and that govt. fell in the next election.

Webber
Guest

I quote: Net long-term migration to the UK (immigration less emigration) was estimated to be 318,000 in the calendar year 2014. This was just below the previous peak (320,000 in the year ending (YE) June 2005) and a statistically significant increase from 209,000 in 2013.
641,000 people immigrated to the UK in 2014, a statistically significant increase from 526,000 in 2013. There were statistically significant increases for immigration of EU (non-British) citizens (up 67,000 to 268,000) and non-EU citizens (up 42,000 to 290,000). Immigration of British citizens increased by 7,000 to 83,000, but this was not statistically significant.
An estimated 323,000 people emigrated from the UK in 2014. Overall emigration levels have been relatively stable since 2010.

Source:
http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/migration1/migration-statistics-quarterly-report/may-2015/stb-msqr-may-2015.html

Bowen
Guest

Even if Szemerkényi had gone on the offensive against Miliband and attacked Cameron’s position on migrants (very unlikely, since it would have made her and Hungary look completely hypocritical), Miliband would have probably agreed with her, since he and his brother are a long-standing part of Cameron’s opposition.

István
Guest
Webber just the posts we write on this blog would use up more time than Szemerekenyi had to respond to Miliband. The object of going on the offensive on a talk show like the PBS News Hour is to create sound bites. Orban has a deep grasp of this art form, his Ambassador does not. In particular sound bites that can be used back home. There was not really much in her comments that the Fidesz media could utilize to further stir up nationalist sentiment back home. The deeper truths do not matter in these talk show formats, it matters only to those of us who are more intellectually inclined and actually sit down and watch shows like the news hour and we are relatively few in number. Going on the offensive when under attack as badly as she was by Miliband is always a wise media tactic as long as it doesn’t come off as angry. Hir TV could have reported it as: Hungary’s Ambassador to the U.S. today defended our nation’s policy towards the economic refugees overwhelming our nation and responded to David Miliband who attacked our nation’s right to protect our borders. She pointed out Hungary was… Read more »
Webber
Guest

Milliband is considered one of the weakest debaters to have run the Labour Party in recent history (no wonder he is no longer in that position!). But, had Szemerkenyi taken the line you suggest, Milliband would have eaten her alive. She would have been left a quivering lump. She did well not to respond. He has the figures on immigration to Britain at his fingertips.
I don’t know, but suspect that overall Britain has taken more immigrants than any other country in Europe for the past two decades or more. Another similar country is Sweden, which has taken per capita more than any other country. Quotas for Britain and Sweden could potentially leave them with fewer immigrants.

István
Guest
Actually not the Ambassador was given the final response in the show. In all of these shows there is a time clock and you know the amount of time remaining allotted for the entire segment. She was also shown great deference by the interviewer based on her status as the appointed Ambassador to the USA. After she and her government were directly attacked by Miliband she looked at her talking points for a response, Eva noted this observation too. She lacked confidence in her own ability to respond. The Ambassador is simply not western media sophiciated, Trump lies all of the time and gets away with it even when called out. That game may end, but it has worked for now because his supporters like his lies and half truths, so would Fidesz supporters back home in Hungary like if the Ambassador played to their nationalism. Media management is an art form in our modern world of 40 second news stories. As a lobbyist here in Illinois for children’s issues I have a media consultant and PR adviser. We often role play before I make a media appearance related to pending legislation, we are taught to use the clock in… Read more »
Webber
Guest

Eva, you wrote: “Surely, if Szemerkényi is as intelligent as her admirers claim, she should have noticed that there is something very wrong with the men she has been serving for years.”
Of course she noticed.
In that sentence you confounded intelligence with morality – though I guess you personally know (from your experience with communism) that the two are not necessarily paired. Fidesz has plenty of very intelligent people in its ranks. The job of intelligent spokesmen for the regime is to use their intelligence to devise arguments defending everything the regime does, no matter what. This takes quite a lot of mental dexterity.

sau
Guest
I don’t think she has noticed neither did his husband. They are in everyday parlance fanatically loyal fideszniks a part of the fidesznik deep state community. Morality has got nothing to do with this at all. They believe in Orban as the one leader, in The Party, in The Service and benefit from the system. Yours is the same naive belief that “oh no Orban (Szemerkenyi etc) really knows what is right and moral but he just pretends and does it for gaining popularity (money etc.)”. There’s no such thing in reality. These people have been living in a different Episteme from non-fideszniks hard as though this is to comprehend for people who believe in a mechanical, rational choice theory. Most Nazis or Japanese war criminals didn’t show any remorse and they simply did not understand why they were on trial. Same with rank and file Nazis. According to their belief they were right, they were just unlucky to have ended up on the losing side. No corrupt politician ever in the history apologized publicly even when found guilty (except for some in East Asia where the concept of face is very important) just as no (perhaps one or two)… Read more »
Webber
Guest

What was the weather like at Röszke last night? I ask because though it is unseasonably warm, there was torrential rain in parts of Hungary last night. I hope refugees have shelter. There are small children among them.

Guest

Here’s a report from a German village in our neighbourhood where – surprise, surprise – in the afternoon a transport of 600 to 800 refugees was announced – for the same evening. And everybody stood together, organised and prepared beds for them in an unused shed:
http://www.tagblatt.de/Home/nachrichten/rottenburg_artikel,-Ergenzingen-musste-ueberraschend-850-Menschen-unterbringen-_arid,317965.html
In the evening the local brewery also brought – no, not beer, but mineral water and juice …
That’s the spirit!

Webber
Guest

The Hungarian govt. has begun to extend fence to the east into Romania.
So, refugees in Serbia are now boarding (and paying for) buses heading west to Croatia. From Croatia, the border to Hungary is open. Alternately, there is the border with Slovenia.

Bowen
Guest

Well, it looks like Szemerkényi’s vision of “protecting” all of Europe, and saving other countries from those horrible migrants (who paradoxically, she has enormous sympathy towards) has failed dismally. Who would have thought?

New migrants reach Croatia today, causing headaches for the Croatians, and I’m sure the Slovenes, eventually.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-34264942

How funny that Szemerkényi wanted “to ensure everybody, all our friends within the European Union in the neighboring countries, that they can count on us, that we provide for their security”. I guess she was just joking.

Webber
Guest

Eva – There are two comments above that could be read as incitement to murder. I hope you will remove them.

Member

Webber

Sorry for my stupid comment.

Member

Some of the commenters on this blog to who agree with Orban, and/or want Hungary to be praised because we should be proud…. and we should share all the good news..

The German Neo-Nazi’s Facebook congratulated Viktor Orban, and they just love Hungary. They are certainly not across the ocean, so they have every right, don’t they? There are hundreds of “great” comments even from Hungarians.

http://444.hu/2015/09/16/a-nemet-neonacik-koszonik-orban-viktornak/

Member

As of January 2013, the official (registered) Hungarians
in Austria 63,251
in Germany 135,600
2015 in London about 200,000

I am not sure how those countries live with all these immigrants. Many of them obviously economical immigrants, and should be shipped back to Hungary, to live with Orban who they admire and voted for or let them elect Jobbik and live wit them as they want to leave the EU!
Of course there are the political immigrants, kind of like refugees, who should stay.

Let see how Orba would deal with the return of 500,000 Hungarians who he clearly cannot employ for decent wages if at all.

http://www.euronews.com/2015/02/27/london-calling-why-home-loving-hungarians-are-flocking-to-british-capital/

Tyrker
Guest

A Hungarian living in Austria, Germany or the United Kingdom is not more of an immigrant than a Texan living in Vermont, Utah or Washington.

Webber
Guest

I think most Europeans would disagree with you on that.
Texans and Vermonters, however, couldn’t care less.

Member

WRONG Tyrker. Let me explain. The USA is made up by various states and they use one common currency, and there are no borders inside the country. When a USA citizen represents the USA at the Olympic games, s/he is representing the USA with a flag, not under the flag of Texas even if s/he is from Texas. Canada is made up by provinces,but otherwise the same rule applies. Now, step int the EU. There are many countries, many different currencies, and restored borders.Hungary has counties with no borders, you are free to move in between, and pay with the same currency, but you will not be allowed to be a runner in the Olympics under the flag of Szabolcs.
Your welcome!

Webber
Guest

Some1 – excellent!
I would just add the small fact that Americans have the idea that they belong to the same nation. That is the most important thing. People from California might look down on Texans, but it’s just in the way that people from Debrecen feel about Nyíregyháza (can get nasty at football matches!).
Can you say that Hungarians feel they are part of the French nation? Do the French feel that they are in the same nation as the Finns? Of course not.

Guest

Re:
‘Can you say that Hungarians feel they are part of the French nation? Do the French feel that they are in the same nation as the Finns? Of course not’.

You know back in the late 18th the French Revolution helped to turn the ‘world upside down’ with the motto of ‘liberte, egalite and ‘fraternite’. Looking at the way various European countries have elected to approach the refugee crisis, it would appear that Europe could have been in a better position if the motto helped to perhaps construct a ‘United States of Europe’.

But there is of course no USOE. Probably never will be since culture looks to be the overwhelming driving force on European behavior regardless of idealistic phrases which relate to all who inhabit the continent. And so the EU goes on its experience of ‘Union’. Tough times ahead.

gdfxx
Guest

Las time I checked, Hungary and the other countries mentioned were in a union that allowed citizens to move freely and work in any country – within the union – they desired to.

Comparing this with the masses of migrants – who do not have this right automatically – makes no sense.

Member

You see this is what happens when you do not read all the comments prior to your comment.
gdfxx WRONG, on so many levels.

Please read (right above your comment):
Some1
September 16, 2015 at 8:38 am

Webber
September 16, 2015 at 9:04 am

Rikard
September 16, 2015 at 10:34 am

Your answers are there. Your Welcome!

gdfxx
Guest

I am probably missing something. I read the comments you referenced and they don’t seem to answer a question I posed. What was my question?

tappanch
Guest

Orban, the philosopher …

Excerpts from his pep talk in Kötcse on September 5, published today :

The migrant crisis ends the liberal rule in Europe.
The hegemony of Christian nationalist thinking will spread all over Europe following Hungary.

We cannot live well and see ourselves good at the same time.
[Well, Orban lives well… what about 90% of the country? 500 euro is the average net salary!]

Liberals are hypocrats. They bombed Iraq and Syria. [So Bush Jr is a liberal, according to Orban]

We have to defend the ethnic and cultural composition of Hungary.

It is not good to be morally perfect, if they exterminate us.

We have to make the “everyday nationalism” attractive to our youth.

The state is not responsible to provide support and wealth [to the poor], it is all right
to be charitable from one’s private wealth.
[Well, Orban the hypocrat is pretty charitable to his friends and family from state money !]

It is a bad combination if you are rich and weak at the same time.

http://index.hu/belfold/2015/09/16/orban_a_menekultvalsaggal_vege_a_liberalis_blablanak/
http://444.hu/2015/09/16/orban-vonzova-szeretne-tenni-a-fiataloknak-a-mindennapi-nacionalizmust/

lorant35
Guest

I agree. Orban is the lowest IQ in the zoo.

Member

OT. Eva, I ma not sure how will you like this one. After destroying so many things around here, Maris Schmidt now will be responsible for the 60th year anniversary of 1956. I can just see how the Hungarian government will expropriate and use the events.

tappanch
Guest

2:42 PM

“Crowds have broken the gate at #Horgos pepper spray, stones thrown”

2:49 PM

“Water cannon just arrived”

https://twitter.com/connellyandrew

Tyrker
Guest

Yes these “refugees” are very aggressive. Throwing stones as if they were still in the Middle East…

Bowen
Guest

Plastic water bottles, you mean? Try to get your information from a variety of sources, not just whatever Kovacs Zoltan’s department comes out with.

There seem to be many discrepancies between the information (or misinformation, if you like) the Hungarian government are now putting out, and what observers at the border saw with their own eyes.

Guardian report here:
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/16/hungarian-riot-police-use-water-cannon-against-refugees

Member

Reminds you to the aggressive soccer hooligans from 2006? You know the ones Orban hired to protect the Fidesz headquarters recently from the peaceful sit-down university demonstrators.
You know Orban’s man, the ones who were in jail for murder, or the one who committed an axe murder and then became a national hero with Orban’s help.

spectator
Guest

Well, if there is similar treatment, why should they respond differently?

gdfxx
Guest

Because throwing stones can kill people. Water cannons or teargas do not kill people.

spectator
Guest

Well, you certainly have a point here.

By the other hand, they may have expected that a police will throw back bread, which is a customary habit among them, perhaps the Holy Bible influenced it…

Otherwise, if anybody really could harm these guys, then the helmets and body armour must have been supplied by “Mészáros&Mészáros”, instead of buying from some trustworthy Chinese supplier on AliBaba…
comment image
Source: as above

An
Guest

Spectator, please check out how this whole thing started
http://444.hu/2015/09/16/felreertesbol-indult-a-roszkei-randalirozas/

spectator
Guest

Thank you for the link, An!

That’s what I meant, btw. The reaction of the police ain’t any better than any other force around there, where these people coming from.

An
Guest

You are welcome! Yes, I wasn’t quite sure what you meant by your comment.

Guest

A bit OT:
Even the traveler’s portal tripadvisor which I like many others use for finding recommendations for hotels, restaurants etc (I’ve recommended several in Hungary …) gives money to help the refugees:
“The TripAdvisor Charitable Foundation is making a donation of $250,000 to humanitarian organizations Mercy Corps and The International Rescue Committee (IRC). ”
Well, maybe after settling down in Europe they might some day be interested in travelling again …

szerdacsüt
Guest

Very funny in Hungarian about the “death of Europe” (the main theme of Fidesz-Jobbik).

http://nol.hu/velemeny/te-csak-haldokolj-boldog-europa-1563389

Guest

Re: “Water cannon just arrived”

Add tear gas as well. It appears we are witnessing a new phase in the ‘great migration’.

Paraphrasing the Bard, Hungary’s ‘sword can never win, it will lose much honor’.

Indeed with the pictures the country has lost much regardless of the rationalizations (‘criminals’) on an increasingly perilous situation. The PR I’m afraid is deadly. Put a fork in her she is done in the court of public opinion. The six ‘o clock news will be a calling card for Eastern Europe reaction.

An
Guest

http://444.hu/2015/09/16/felreertesbol-indult-a-roszkei-randalirozas/

According to this article (based on the account of the reporters who were on the scene), the fight between the police and the refugees broke out because of a misunderstanding. The Hungarian police opened a gate to let a few families through with small children and the refugees thought that Hungary decided to open the border and let everybody in. So the crowd started to hurry toward the gate, some even yelling “Thank you Hungary” only to be pushed back by the police (who did not have an Arabic interpreter at the scene). The police tried to disperse the crowd heading for the gate using sprays, water cannons and tear gas and that’s when the refugees started to throw rocks and bottles.

It seems that the police was not handling this very professionally… why don’t they have an interpreter at the scene to start with?? When facing a desperate crowd things can escalate easily.

King Thistle
Guest

Video from Euronews
“Hungarian police: Tear gas in the middle of a group including toddlers.”

Istvan
Guest
For the moment the Hungarian national police are using very normal crowd control techniques to prevent the refugees from just crossing into Hungary, but that could change. Eventually it is hoped the refugees will divert though Croatia, and maybe even try to enter Slovenia instead of Hungary. President Borut Pahor of Slovenia was in Hungary last weekend and met with PM Orban. In a statement Pahor said Slovenia would be “exposed to a big wave of refugees” Slovenian police meanwhile detained Saturday the largest group of undocumented migrants this year. Slovenian police spokesman Boris Ramot told journalists a group of 21 people, mostly from Afghanistan and Iran, were detained as they headed for Germany in a small bus driven by a Romanian citizen. About five hours ago Croatia’s deputy prime minister issued a statement saying more than 300 migrants have entered the country from Serbia using a new route into the European Union after Hungary sealed its border. Ranko Ostojic said authorities expect around 4,000 migrants to arrive in the coming days en route toward richer EU countries such as Germany or Scandinavian nations. Austria’s interior minister says the country will start selective controls on its border with Slovenia today… Read more »
Bowen
Guest

@ Istvan
“For the moment the Hungarian national police are using very normal crowd control techniques …”

Apologies: I stopped reading after that point.

Istvan
Guest
That is ok Bowen, the same basic crowd control approaches were used on the football ultras in Budapest two weeks ago also as I recall. But the TEK was not called out in that situation. I hate to say it, but this is what crowd control looks like. UN forces have done it many times and in many places too. The reality of crowd control is ugly with police or army dressed up like Darth Vader in riot suits whether it is in Ferguson MO in the USA or at the Serbian Border. My greatest concern is that the Hungarian national police do not use lethal force. So far that hasn’t happened and I hope it will not either. I saw Pakistani forces assigned to the UN switch suddenly from riot control to lethal force and it was horrendous. So as brutal as the footage is the Hungarian national police have not to my knowledge shot one of the refugees pushing through the fence. Let’s be clear here, the Hungarian people in the majority who bothered to vote elected the Fidesz/Jobbik government and this is the unpleasant reality of that vote. All on this blog know this and the national… Read more »
Rikard
Guest

Re: ‘So as brutal as the footage is the Hungarian national police have not to my knowledge shot one of the refugees pushing through the fence’

Yes that is true but we cannot deny that the actions by the police were to send a BIG message.

In my Rashomon view, something like a Talking Heads song was going on as Mr. Kovacs was being interviewed commenting on the ‘defense’ of the realm because of ‘criminals’ at the gate: ”This ain’t no party this ain’t no disco this ain’t no foolin’ around’. Lyrics courtesy from ‘Life During Wartime’.

After all is said I’d have to say the rendorseg at the ramparts were very very lucky. Indeed this time they dodged a possible disaster at the border.

Istvan
Guest

Rikard there is actually a theory of crowd control that includes escalated responses by the police or military forces. The US Army has a manual that includes that theoryhttp://armypubs.army.mil/doctrine/DR_pubs/dr_a/pdf/atp3_39x33.pdf

By the way the TEK that played a big role today in crowd control was trained in part by the US military. But the basic doctrine is used world wide. Which also does not excuse the fact that most of this could have been avoided by rapid transit of refugee through Hungary at least until the Germans closed their border. Then there would have likely have been a housing and detention crisis in Hungary anyway. But that would be better than what took place at the border today.

Webber
Guest

Istvan – please watch the news video above your comment closely. How many babies do you count just in that brief bit of video coverage? How many children under 5? How many between 5 and, say, 12?
Is that, or is that not a cloud of tear gas that they are emerging from?
Another victory for Orban.

Istvan
Guest

Webber you know of course there are stories no floating around about two young children of refugees supposedly having been thrown over the fence too that the Hungarian national police heroically saved. I don’t know the truth of that, but it is reported in Népszabadság. In a riot situation like this when little children are pressing a riot line they are going to get hurt, it has happened repeatedly in Africa where starving masses were trying to get through UN lines to get food. Its the horrible reality of the situation that Orban and his co-thinkers have created. But still neither the TEK nor the national police have opened live fire on the refugees trying to break through the fence, which is a good thing amidst all of the bad things happening.

spectator
Guest

‘Satisfaction is something for the Rolling Stones’

You couldn’t guess I bet, just who is this utterly funny and witty person whom the above quote coming from?
I knew it! Let me provide some hint:

“Satisfied is a shunned expression in Hungarian politics. Who would be so crazy to say that we are satisfied when countless migrants are coming and we have to stop them? Satisfaction is something for the Rolling Stones.”

The source:
http://www.bbc.com/news/live/world-europe-34272242?ns_mchannel=social&ns_campaign=bbc_breaking&ns_source=twitter&ns_linkname=news_central

You’ll find the reference by 18:17 – but I highly recommend to read the whole!

Guest

Wow who would’ve thought Vik’s a ‘rocker’…;-)…I learn things every day. Would be interesting if he hums some oldies like Illes’ ‘Nehez az ut’ or while at the Balaton belting out Koncz Zsusza’s ‘Elszallt a nyar’..;-)…

An
Guest

Hungarian authorities don’t exactly welcome journalists around the border, either.

“19:01
Serbian broadcaster RTS say three of their journalists were beaten, and their equipment broken, by Hungarian police – despite identifying themselves as journalists.

A report on the RTS website (in Serbian) says that a cameraman was beaten over the head and back with batons.

All three have received hospital treatment.”

http://www.bbc.com/news/live/world-europe-34272242?ns_mchannel=social&ns_campaign=bbc_breaking&ns_source=twitter&ns_linkname=news_central

Thomas
Guest

I watched PBS and must say the interviewer was either too kind or just very bad. He never pressed Sz. who deflected all the questions. It was a disappointing performance from the reporter. Sz. really did not disappoint me, I did not expect much from Orban’s crony.

Guest

Unfortunate that the hard won view of Mr. Szirtes seems to fail in getting a hearing within the government.

Hungary should not only be taken to task for their current and intensively reflexive treatment of refugees but also for the fact of their weakness in learning to apply some lessons of the country’s tumultuous history.

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