Interviews with Kim Scheppele, András Simonyi, R. Daniel Kelemen, and Edit Frenyó

Richard Field and Ben Novak of Budapest Beacon visited the United States recently and recorded several interviews with experts on Hungarian affairs. Here I am making available four interviews that I believe readers of Hungarian Spectrum will find interesting and constructive.

Our friend and contributor Professor Kim Lane Scheppele of Princeton University talks about how Viktor Orbán is using the refugee crisis as a pretext for turning Hungary into a police state. Kim Scheppele’s interview is followed by one with András Simonyi, Hungary’s former ambassador to NATO and the United States. Professor R. Daniel Kelemen of Rutgers University, who is an expert on the politics and law of the European Union, talks about the relations of the European People’s Party with Viktor Orbán. And finally, there is an interview with Edit Frenyó, a PhD. candidate at Georgetown University, who talks about her experiences as a Migration Aid volunteer at the Keleti Railway Station.

Enjoy!

 

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Miklos
Guest

My questions are: how much time did Ms.Scheppele did spend in Hungary and how well does she speak our language?

LwiiH
Guest

I hope you are not trying to imply that because she doesn’t live here she couldn’t possibly understand.

Miklos
Guest

Understand what? I just spent almost the entire September there.

gdfxx
Guest
The interview with Prof. Scheppele is very interesting. I have a couple of questions and remarks: – I did not hear her mention the status of Turkey in this whole affair. Turkey is not part of the war, so wouldn’t the refugees from Syria to Turkey legally be considered economic refugees, if they choose to move further, now not because they are in danger but because they hope for better economic conditions? – The professor mentioned that the Orban regime uses this occasion to introduce a police state. As far as I could see, police powers were exclusively used against the migrants. Not that I agree with those actions, but isn’t it excessive to call a country a police state when the population of the country itself is not subjected to any legal or illegal police actions? – The laws that the EU adopted to handle refugees were adopted in peace time. I think everyone has to agree that none of the member states were expecting at that time that hundreds of thousand or even millions of war-refugees would show up at the EU’s gates. Just today I read that not only the right wing Bavarian partners of Ms. Merkel’s… Read more »
gdfxx
Guest

In reference to Mr. Simonyi’s interview: I basically agree with his points. However, there are two items that bothered me:
– mentioning the 500,000 Hungarians who moved to other EU countries during the recent years in the context of the refugee/migrant crisis is not right. These Hungarians moved where they did because they belong to a Union that allows this to happen without any need for justification of any kind. Obviously this wasn’t the case with the hundreds of thousands of refugees/migrants at the border of Hungary.
– when told that many in the US would compare the situation at the Hungarian-Serbian border with that at the US-Mexican border, Mr. Simonyi avoided the answer and started to talk about Connie Mack. He is a diplomat.

Guest

“These Hungarians moved where they did because they belong to a Union that allows this to happen without any need for justification of any kind. Obviously this wasn’t the case with the hundreds of thousands of refugees/migrants at the border of Hungary.”

They belong to the union called Humanity.

gdfxx
Guest

Humanity at its present state resides in countries with borders. Moving across borders does not happen in an unregulated way. I doubt that we will see in our life time a World Union where this can happen. I have no idea how old you are, but even if you are a teenager, I doubt that you will live to see it.

Guest

@gdfxx I think that you pretend that you do not get my point. Humanity is the ultimate negation of rules.

gdfxx
Guest

Professor Kelemen’s assessment, while very realistic and to the point, is also very depressing. He, like many others, would like to EP members of the EU to come down on Hungary for its “illiberal” mode of government. I think it’s doubtful that this would happen, unfortunately.

Guest
Thank you Éva for all the time and effort you have taken to post these most interesting interviews. Regarding the query about Ms. Scheppele’s credibility, vis-a.vis Hungarian affairs, anyone who would like to read her report on the Hungarian judiciary, presented to the Helsinki Commission in 2013, will see that she spent several years here, working within and analysing the legal system. Please read: http://hungarianspectrum.org/2013/03/19/kim-lane-scheppeles-testimony-at-the-helsinki-commission-hearing-on-hungary-full-text/ And I suspect that, unbelievable as it may seem, one of the reasons for turning Hungary into a police state was directly aimed at foiling Gyurcsány Ferenc, who gave shelter and hosted several refugee families, privately, in his own home. Orbán has now made that illegal and a cause for arrest and imprisonment. What other country in Europe would imprison kind-hearted citizens who give shelter to a refugee family? Much of Orbán’s campaign is fuelled by his personal hatred of Gyurcsány, against whom he has led a very successful hate-campaign. Though I have not yet heard of the government actually implementing this latest infringement of our civil liberties, just the fact that it could, whenever and wherever it wants to, enter any home without a warrant under the pretext of anti-terrorism, and arrest whomever they… Read more »
gdfxx
Guest

From the interview with Ms. Frenyó what impressed me the most was the description of about 10,000 unaccompanied minors from Afghanistan. Just looking at the map it is hard to understand how these minors reached Hungary from Afghanistan. Then a brief google search brings up this article:

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2015/09/afghanistan-refugee-crisis-150915073827019.html

Apparently, parents of these children or youngsters pay up to $10,000 to smugglers to get them to Europe. As a matter of fact Ms. Frenyó herself describes this as a known phenomenon. I can understand the desperation of parents, their wish to assure their children a better life, but are these the real refugees, or are the real refugees those, who are in such situation that they cannot afford thew luxury to travel to Europe? Hard questions, probably nobody has the answers that would satisfy most of us.

Istvan
Guest
The interview with Edit Frenyó, a PhD. candidate at Georgetown University, was particularly interesting. Her discussion of the unaccompanied minors from Afghanistan, largely adolescent boys, was revealing. Unless one is in the US military, USAID, or involved in security affairs most Americans are totally oblivious of the military situation in Afghanistan and the situation of its army. One of the big problems is the high constant turnover of members of the Afghan National Army. This is caused by two factors – the high desertion rate and low re-enlistment rate. Not only does this drive costs up for recruitment efforts but it increases the cost of the training effort and decreases the effectiveness of the ANA. A third of the Army’s force has to be recruited and trained every year. Currently the ANA is about 195,000 possibly less. There are many reasons cited for the high desertion rate and lack of second termers – including poor pay, corrupt officers, lack of equipment, sub-standard living conditions, terrible medical care, and the pressure of the Taliban and chance of dying in combat. (On corrupt officers see this disturbing story http://nyti.ms/1V3hPb4 ) Because the recruits to ANA are often only 16 years old. On… Read more »
gdfxx
Guest

It’s a terrible shame on NATO and on the US Armed Forces.

Reality Check
Guest

If they are sending their kids away from violence and a repressive society, then the children are refugees.

It is not unusual for families to send their children to safety during times of conflict, as the British did during the bombings of London in WWII.

gdfxx
Guest

I don’t disagree. However, is Europe ready to accept 90% or more of the population of Afghanistan as refugees? After all the Taliban is a small percentage of the population there and they are the source of violence and I have to assume that the warlords who rape children are also a small percentage of the population there. The rest, the majority are all potential refugees.

Just imagine what will happen when the US forces withdraw completely.

gdfxx
Guest

By the way, I also would like to thank Eva for posting these interviews on her blog.

ER56
Guest

It is time to look around and try to end the tyrannies in the planet.

The worst error of humanity was to allow the Stalin regime to rise and bloom.

Hitler’s rule was another criminal oversight.

We have to empower the NATO to end the worldwide cancer, oppression, islamist extremism with soft and fire power.

All tyrants, incl. Orbans should be line up in the Hague.

Member

Not Just “Western Liberals”: All Decent Human Beings “Misunderstand” Fidesz

Another piece of Orban Apologetics by Fidesz MEP, George Schopflin: “Why Western liberals misunderstand Hungary

Schopflin is here echoing, almost verbatim, the shameful, shameless propaganda of Orban’s odious regime, portraying it, as usual, as if it were a matter of left vs. right whereas in reality it is humaneness vs. inhumanity. Cynical polemics like this article are simply playing to the very worst in human nature, wherever they can find or foster it, within Hungary or without.

Webber
Guest

I hate that I have added a “hit” to Schöpflin’s article. That is my own fault. I swore not to read anything more from him some years ago, but now that you posted that I mindlessly clicked on it. Shame on me! It was certainly not worth reading.

You might add to that apologetic the shameful interview with former ambassador Géza Jeszenszky which appeared in today’s Népszava (I will not give the link). Jeszenszky’s is a very refined whitewashing – much more subtle than Schöpflin’s. Perhaps this was because Jeszenszky was speaking in Hungarian, and did not assume that the audience doesn’t know much.

Off topic, slightly – is it just my impression, or has ÁTV become a subtle supporter of Fidesz, with a facade of opposition?

deng
Guest
No, it’s not just your impression. However. You have to understand that the Hit Gyülis people who own ATV really hate Arabs and/or people of Islamic faith. They are steadfast supporters of the state of Israel and hate its enemies. The Hitesek are evangelic Christians, real believers. They also really hate gays. So in a way they really did find some common ground with Fidesz. Also the leadership of Hit Gyülekezete contains rather apt politicians — so if they moved towards Fidesz that to me also means that they realized that “the left” is really hopeless, both as a constituency (a rather small constituency, and containing “Liberals” who promote gays and would invite “Islamists” to Hungary) and both as politicians (MSZP is currently selling its remaining real estate as it’s essentially financially bankrupt, it’s really game over for MSZP unless Fidesz gives some money so MSZP can happily play the role of the “opposition” that legitimizes the system. I guess Fidesz will give them some money in the end.). It’s also a symptom of “the left”‘s total hopelessness that it never owned a TV station, it never even occurred to the leftists to have a media strategy, they outsourced that… Read more »
Webber
Guest
LwiiH
Guest

“You should knock on a door when you want to come into a house,” adds the judge, Gy. Molnar Sandor

I really cringe when I see this house analogy being used. It’s childish and it’s not even correct. These people being prosecuted didn’t enter a house, they were in public spaces. You cannot compare a house to a public space.

And these trials are disgusting..

Guest

$34,200 for the Magyar egyetem? Whoa. I bet it doesn’t include room and board! Lots of suitcases to hold that in forints! I’m thinking that there are many Hungarians who are really missing out in many ways because they ain’t rich. Oh boy I’d have been in trouble if my past started there.

Kind of tough to see how ‘learning’ looks to be only for the lucky in Magyarorszag today. For really at bottom it is with ‘learning’ that one picks up the life skills of observing, evaluating and thinking to make judgments and comparisons relative to their society and further their vocation in life.

Doesn’t appear that the average Hungarian gets that chance. A pity for themselves and the country as well. There’s a great big world out there just waiting to get grabbed and shaken like a tree.

Paja
Guest

Pal Schmitt, the former Hungarian president who had to resign due to the fact that he bought his Phd thesis from an acquaintance (who of course plagiarized most of the text) is getting an EU job.

Apparently he is chairman of the EU’s expert committee on evaluating the significance of sports in EU’s external relations.

http://444.hu/2015/10/09/navracsics-tibornak-hala-vegre-tisztesseges-munkat-talalt-csufosan-bukott-koztarsasagi-elnokunk

Guest
Re: ‘Why Western Liberals Misunderstand Hungary’ I read the Fidesz representative’s spirited defense of illiberalism and a rejection of its opposite. Looks as if they have put a fork in democracy and consider it ‘done’. According to Fukayama in his ‘The End of History and the Last Man’, he noted mankind can be viewed as a wagon train moving on along a road to their destination. Some are moving well across the rutted roads. Others are ‘bivouacked’ or stuck and can’t move. Some go on alternate routes while others have ‘lost their sense of direction and are temporarily heading in the wrong direction’. After seeing the current government’s actions In context of their destination one has to make the conclusion that they indeed have ‘lost their direction’ with their wagoneering. Either that or getting shot in their eyes with arrows by Indians and not knowing where they are. In Fukayama’s assessment liberal democracies understand and are always concerned about affording ‘recognition’ to the body politic and the individual. That ‘recognition’ epitomizes the soul of a nation and its people taking in their goals and desires within the context of self-realization and individual freedom. Historically, democracies have achieved this better than… Read more »
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anseret
Guest

Thank you so much Eva for working to keep us informed. Regarding Professor Scheppele’s interview, she states that the ECHR in Strasbourg ruled last year that Greece is not safe. Have you any idea of the specific ruling? I found a case: Sharifi and Others v. Italy and Greece but I don’t think that’s the one. Pr. Scheppele also answers the question “why did Orban not accept the EU Council offer to remove 54000 refugees from Hungarian soil (with 500 euro transport costs being paid for each one)” Amazing how when you talk to people in Hungary the “man in the street” believes that that naughty EU Commission tried to force Hungary to accept those dreadful migrants and stood up to them!

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