Silence in Hungary since the mini-summit

The silence in the Hungarian media about the Leaders’ Meeting in Brussels has been deafening.  After searching for well over an hour, I managed to find two op/eds and a couple of interviews with former diplomats. Both op/ed pieces, in my opinion, misinterpret both the significance of the meeting and the role of Viktor Orbán.

If you were to ask even the most diligent follower of the Hungarian media, I’d bet he/she would be hard pressed to tell you what actually happened at the mini-summit. The only thing he/she would know is that Viktor Orbán was there only as an observer. The op/ed in Népszabadság is full of ambivalent sentences like: “Officials in Budapest talk contemptuously about the results of the meeting while part of the German press seems to discover the basis of a common migrant policy in the 17-point action package.” Keep in mind that the media hasn’t given the Hungarian public any details of what is in this package. Viktor Orbán’s role is barely touched: “Orbán nodded [to the proposals] but didn’t take part in the debate.” The headline uses even stronger language: “Orbán got out, Merkel in trouble, Tsipras attacks.” The discrepancy between Orbán’s rhetoric and his obediently signing the document is ignored. György Sebes of Népszava in an opinion piece titled ” Viktor–Victory” is convinced that the Hungarian prime minister won this latest battle as he wins them all. He managed to gain popularity at home by successfully diverting attention from the serious domestic problems to the migrant crisis. And now he has saved the country from participating in the solution to the migrant crisis.

As far as the Hungarian media is concerned, there was a meeting of eleven prime ministers and they signed something, but nothing has really changed. Indeed, the greatest news seems to be that someone discovered the youthful Viktor Orbán spinning the wheel of fortune on TV2 in 2001. The only substantive news item came this afternoon from the new pro-government Magyar Idők, which reported that the government named Tibor Lakatos, a police colonel who works in the ministry of interior, to be Hungary’s coordinator. Mind you, the paper learned about this appointment only from the website of European Commission. The government didn’t consider it necessary to inform the Hungarian public of Lakatos’s new role.

Tibor Lakatos, who until fairly recently was deputy police captain of Vas County, will be an odd addition to the list of coordinators who, by and large, currently occupy high positions in their governments. All seem to have diplomatic experience. The European Commission is represented by the diplomatic adviser to Juncker’s cabinet. Albania is sending the prime minister’s adviser on security matters. There are a number of undersecretaries and several so-called sherpas or personal representatives of a government whose job is to prepare international summits. It is hard to tell whether Lakatos’s appointment is supposed to be a snub to Juncker and the Commission or just an example of the Hungarian’s government ineptitude when it comes to diplomacy. I just hope that this police colonel can speak English.

At the mini-summit, in the words of the European Commission, “the leaders … committed … to increasing the capacity to provide temporary shelter, rest, food, health, water and sanitation to all in need, triggering the EU Civil Protection Mechanism where necessary.” Yesterday Croatia activated the protection mechanism, which means financial support from the European Union. (For more information about the EU Civil Protection Mechanism there’s a detailed description of it on the European Commission’s website.) In the past, 55% of the cost of the necessary steps was covered by the European Union, but as of yesterday the decision was made to raise the level of support to 85%. In addition to Croatia, Serbia and Slovenia have also activated the mechanism for material support for such items as tents, blankets, sanitary equipment, and other essentials to help refugees this winter. Yesterday the Commission also awarded €5.9 million in emergency assistance to Greece from the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund. None of the above was reported by the Hungarian media.

In vain was I searching for any statement by Viktor Orbán, but Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó had a busy day. He gave interviews to Kossuth Rádió as well as to MTV’s M1 news channel. In the latter interview he complained about certain prime ministers in the European Union who are not paying the slightest attention to the rules and regulations of the Union. Their governments aren’t registering the refugees and aren’t providing for them but are simply moving them across the border to the neighboring country as soon as possible. Szijjártó seems to have forgotten about the tens of thousands of asylum seekers who were moved from the Croatian border straight to Hegyeshalom on the Austro-Hungarian border.

borders of greece

These are the borders Viktor Orbán wants to defend

According to him, the European Union has an easy task: “they should adopt the Hungarian model with lightning speed in Greece; in plain language they must defend the external borders of Greece.” On Kossuth Rádió he revealed that today he will travel to Lebanon and during the week he will be talking with his Cypriot and Greek colleagues about “the possibility of Greece accepting the assistance of the 28 Union countries in the defense of Greece’s borders.” So, Hungary is now trying on its own to negotiate with Greece concerning the country’s border defense. We will see what comes of this meeting–if, that is, the Hungarian media finds out anything about it. I don’t predict a roaring Hungarian success in Athens.

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kornél jozsef
Guest

Forget Népszabadsag, for chrissakes, its political articles are orchestrated from Fidesz and that’s been known for some time in the profession.

The articles cannot be overtly supportive of Orban because that would – the owners fear – alienate the (remaining) readers (and Fidesz could not access them if they left), but slowly the tone changes, the articles tend to imply Orban is good, successful, not so bad after all, he’s also a loveable family guy etc. (Also the left-wing doesn’t do anything interesting to write about and doesn’t supply enough scandals about Fidesz shenanigans.)

Nepszabadsag isn’t a left-leaning paper and it’s not critical of Orban and Fidesz.

Circumstances changed e.g. Népszabi is hopelessly loss-making and is owned by a well-known fronting operation advising Eastern European oligarchs. Who do you think covers those losses and why?

So the best is when ATV is inviting Ildiko Csuhaj from Népszabadsag and Balogh Akos Gergely from mandiner.hu for a “balanced debate” when in fact both of them are paid by Fidesz (ie. the Hungarian taxpayers) and ATV became an Orban-leaning/apologist TV.

The left-wing is so over in Hungary and the leftists are fine with that.

exTor
Guest

I gave the Népszava online piece [Viktor – Victory] a looksee without reading it. According to the Hungarian Free Press, which is sympatico with Hungarian Spectrum, Népszava is a left-of-center website/daily.

This poster claims that Népszabadság is actually a Fidesz mouthpiece (in effect) because it is Fidesz-controlled. How do we know that to be true?

Perhaps Éva can do an article on the media (such as Népszava and Népszabadság) that purports to be left. A view on the left reality would assist those like me who are new to Hungarian politics, who need to understand the lie of the Magyarország political landscape.

The ‘Viktor – Victory’ headline disturbed me.

MAGYARKOZÓ

Webber
Guest

Népszava is still independent. So is HVG.
Népszabadság was purchased by a front for Fidesz some time ago. It is still critical and readable (better writers than at Magyar Nemzet, for example), but the change in reporting is clear (to me, at least): it has a certain slant faintly favorable to Fidesz, and there are certain topics that it doesn’t seem to touch any longer (corruption in govt., certain items about the Great O).

Tyrker
Guest

“The left-wing is so over in Hungary”

Seems to be a regional thing.
E.g. in Poland, they no longer have representatives in parliament.

Guest

So it’s “Back to the good old times” of fundamentalist Christianism, Feudalism, bigotry, homophobia, xenophobia (and antisemitism too?) – crowned by a lot of corruption as usual in Eastern Europe and the Balkan?

Oh well, if you people want it that way …
As we say in German:
Des Menschen Wille ist sein Himmelreich!

It would be funny in a way (but really sad) if Putin had his way – put all these countries in his Eurasian Union.

Some people in Western and Middle Europe think it would actually be a good idea – the East just isn’t ready for the 21st Century, democracy, human rights and all that liberal nonsense.
Get rid of them (let them leave the EU) and save a lot of money that has been and would be constantly flowing to the East …

Observer
Guest

A lot of truth in your words.

In Hungary, I know little about the rest of E.Europe, it is exasperating to listen to the naive and sometimes silly arguments of the Hungarian left, liberals or democrats. Their inept strategies and actions have brought them to where they are and still there is little recognition of the situation or correction of their course.
Exceptions are some old MSZP stallworths, some young small party politicians and the DK and Jobbik as a parties to some extent.

The EU should have/should coach and pressure the budding fascists much harder applying not only carrots. And if they don’t subscribe to the principles of democracy, ethics, human rights and all that “nonsense”, cut the EU carrots to such regimes, i.e. the staple of Orban’s oligarchs.

nyulambulam
Guest

The EU will never ever do anything.

The EU, as every organization, wants one thing and one thing only: to continue to exist.

Nothing else matters.

Anything that has even the remotest chance of appearing as realizing the fears of member states, ie. “the out of control Brussels” which of course is one of the most useful (as it’s politically correct) memes of local politicians, is a total no go.

The EU always, always will appease as is the case now with Erdogan or Orban or Putin.

The EU is a fragile free trade zone (whose very existence is challenged by multiple state and political actors) which was oversold by delusional liberals as a new United States of Europe. It’s a bloody free trade zone, that’s all.

Members states have to sort out their own shit.

Which can of course take forever.

And in many places it’s just impossible given for example that the costs of entry to the political market are so high.

d101
Guest

Decent liberal/conservative Hungarians, must search for a new liberated decent leadership.

The stain left by the Orban regime must be erased.

ambator
Member

Orban’s “plan” is fueled mostly by self-interest, bravado and ignorance. Greece’s borders amount to approximately 3000 Km. defending it is almost impossible, particularly by the Orban-method, by building fences. The Aegean see is actually a see of Greek islands and every one of them should be surrounded by the fence to satisfy the demands of the Orban’s nightmare. It would be technically daunting, but financially impossible.

csibe
Guest

I told you Orban will best friends with Netanyahu soon.

Even “the Hungarians in Israel” (previously a shunned topic as they essentially cover Jews who realized they are not really Hungarians, but ethnically jewish, though it’s still good to keep an EU passport) are now a great source of information and they reliably hate those poor, dangerous Arabs just like any good fidesznik (and average Hungarian).

Jobbikniks must be conflicted for sure – who used to sympathize with the oppression of the Palestinians and hated Israel but now “the stakes are higher: the future of Jewish-Chirstian Europe in a war of Islam.”

Isreal is the first bastion in the clash of civilizations (sorry, war of civilizations) and Hungary will soon appreciate that. Liberals do you want Europe to look like Jerusalem during Intifada? There you go.

Bibi and Viktor will soon be BFFs. Orban is winning as he always have. He just can’t make mistakes and the Hungarian left wing has internalized that. They learned to love big brother. Mission accomplished.

http://index.hu/kulfold/2015/10/28/izrael_keseles_palesztin_terrorizmus_magyarok_intifada/

i12
Guest

Csibe, I am sure, you have got no idea of current and past history.
Israel is a successful democracy, technology boom-territory.
The Arab-Israeli relationship will be ideal, as soon as the Russian/Iranian incitement ceases, and Abbas/Hamas/Tanzim disappear.
Orban’s Hungary is a maffia state.
There can not be any cooperation between them.

Guest
@i12 October 28, 2015 at 8:43 am Not so fast, my friend. 1. Israel is a democracy for Jews only, even though formally, there are of course quite a number of Arab parliamentarians too, in the ranks of the parliamentary opposition in the Israeli parliament. Yes, there are very good reasons for this, and yes, the Arabs of Israel are, on the whole, economically far better off than their fellow Arabs in most Arab countries. But the fact remains that while all Israeli citizens are equal, some Israeli citizens are a heck of a lot more equal than others. 2. You are either dreaming or you are totally delusional, when you come out with a statement like “The Arab-Israeli relationship will be ideal, as soon as the Russian/Iranian incitement ceases, and Abbas/Hamas/Tanzim disappear.” 3. Israel is most definitely also a maffia state. Just look at the many prominent Israelis, from prime ministers and ministers of finance to chief rabbis and other holy ones actually convicted and jailed for egregious corruption. The fact however is that although Israel is just as suffused through and through with Balkan-style corruption as Hungary, the big difference between Israel and Hungary is that the Prime… Read more »
tappanch
Guest

What can we expect in case of a close election in 2018?

Orban’s hero Erdoğan takes over opposition media a few days before the election, using a newly established type of court.

http://www.todayszaman.com/anasayfa_turkish-police-break-gates-storm-critical-media-group-amid-brawls_402702.html

Mikkamakka
Guest
@tappanch There is no opposition media in Hungary. Where do you live? Only – mass – media that has access to undecideds and right-wing voters would have any relevance. 168 óra, Magyar Narancs, ÉS and suchlike have a combined readership of 15,000 urban liberals existing in an echo chamber who would never vote for Fidesz. Népszava is sold in less than 10,000 copies daily. As such, these titles are completely irrelevant. There are maybe 250,000 regular individual readers of HVG.hu and 444.hu (mostly overlapping and mostly from Budapest which is compartmentalized in the election system) which media are still independent when there are 8m voters. So if TV2 and RTL Klub (both own several smaller stations too) are subdued and believe me they are, and Class FM and other popular radio stations are (will soon be) controlled by Fidesz, then Orban has nothing to worry about. Fidesz also controls regional papers, the tabloid dailys, popular women’s interest weekly magazines, local municipal papers, free papers like Lokál etc. Perhaps index.hu and origo.hu can still be considered limited mass media which are not completely fidesznik although index.hu is owned by Spéder a fidesznik oligarch and origo.hu is leaning towards Fidesz and soon… Read more »
Guest

Now that’s some future history that wouldn’t be too nice to see. But anyway I’ll ring the bell that we have to watch out after what we see has happened to the country’s constitution after VO has ensconced himself in the ‘palace’. You never know.

Just saw a drama ‘Hitler On Trial’ where a German lawyer pegged the Fuhrer as to who and what he actually was back in those early days of the ‘Party’. He knew he had the measure of the man who had the audacity to say he followed the law but yet was on quest to undermine German democracy. We know what happened after the lawyer failed to convince the masses of the man in the dock. Point to always ponder.

tappanch
Guest

A shopkeeper in Harkány protested against the deputy mayor, who joked with Hitler on his Facebook page.

Shopkeeper Varga, whose great grandparents were murdered in Birkenau found his store vandalized – windows broken and swastika scratched on a table in his store.

http://hvg.hu/itthon/20151027_betortek_a_tiltakozo_boltos_kirakatat

exTor
Guest

Thanx for this, tappanch. The RTL video snippet (which is part of the link) shows that perhaps no other big news outlet will air anything remotely critical of Fidesz. The criticism is indirect, to be sure, but at least it’s out there.

MAGYARKOZÓ

Istvan
Guest
The Népszabadsag article which Eva cited, as did I in another post, is not an isolated interpretation of the so called Leaders’ Meeting in Brussels. I agree that the title of the article is demonstrably loaded in favor of Orban and as we all know article titling is the purview of editors, not the authors of articles. In general many writers on international affairs have been looking with dismay at the EU’s response to the refugee crisis. Professor Kim Lane Scheppele of Princeton University who this blog has featured repeatedly has pointed out that Orban’s anti-refugee stance finds it legs in the fact that the EU has up to now offered no realistic solution to the endless refugee crisis. Jan Techau the director of Carnegie Europe located in Brussels has written on the desperate state of the EU extensively. For example not long ago he wrote: “The most important lesson these crises (faced by the EU including the refugee crisis) have to offer so far will not surprise realists, but it will stun those who thought that the days of the nation-state were numbered and that postmodern, transnational governance was the new name of the game. What Europeans need to… Read more »
Bimbi
Guest
“But time will answer this question for all of us and we shall see what happens.” Gosh Istvan if you had written that at the start, you need not have put in all the rest at all. There is plenty of evidence that Nepszabadsag is in the Fidesz camp so there is no need to write, “whether or not the editors of that newspaper are in the Fidesz camp” Then there is Mr. Techau’s quote: “What Europeans need to recognize is that the majority of people, in times of crisis, turn to the nation for protection, for accountability, and for a sense of belonging.” Not really. I am sure that most (western) European nations do not have “a majority of people” who think in this way nor was it the philosophy on which the EU was founded, but it is exactly this idea that Orban constantly plays on, posing as the Protector of the Hungarian Nation, the Saviour of Christian civilization etc, etc. – and it sells internally for sure to an unsophisticated and gullible electorate accustomed to be fed propaganda. You may have observed, even from the distance of Chicago, that Orban is the Taker-in-Chief of the EU (the… Read more »
Istvan
Guest
The German media, with the exception of the explicit social democratic media, clearly questions the further capacity of the German State to absorb more than one million refugees as does the US media (I linked last week a CBS news story that raised just that issue) one does not need a direct connection to the inner workings of the German government to grasph that. I think that Mr. Techau’s idea of people turning to their own nation state in a time of crisis does apply to nations in Northern Europe and even nations like France. We saw it here in the USA following the 9/11 attacks. But I appreciate your perspective on those issues Bimbi. As to my conclusion which you believe should has been my introductory sentence. I have learned I think with aging not to assume my own perspectives are infallible, Eva may be correct that the EU will utilize all of its economic levers to eventually break the will of Orban on admitting legitimate refugees.That would not be a bad thing, but it could I think generate a backlash against the EU in Hungary and for that matter in several other nations. I suspect that would have… Read more »
bimbi
Guest

Kedves Istvan,

Egyaltalan nem. But they could be shorter and, as I have said before, it would be nice to hear more of your opinion on questions and less of your opinion on what the opinion of others is. No problem, I hope?

tappanch
Guest

Number of migrants/refugees/illegal aliens that arrived by sea in Greece between January 1 and October 26, 2015:

562 thousand (UNHCR data)

Lesvos 57.7%
Samos 13.1%
Chios 12.6%
Kos 8.5%
Leros 5.0%

Total 96.9%

If the European Union declared that reaching these Greek islands along the Turkish coast
does not translate into reaching Europe for immigration purposes, the immigration could be cut by 90%.

Tyrker
Guest

“If the European Union declared that reaching these Greek islands along the Turkish coast does not translate into reaching Europe for immigration purposes, the immigration could be cut by 90%.”

Alas, no EU leader appears wise enough to suggest that.

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[…] pakolaisuuskriisiä käsittelevässä äskettäisessä huippukokouksessa – kuten Eva S. Balogh kirjoittaa blogissaan, Orbán, joka ennen kokousta mahtaili ”Euroopan puolustajana”, on ilmeisesti […]

tappanch
Guest

Poll by Tarki, October [July] 2015

Fidesz: 28% [22%] +6%
Jobbik: 12% [13%] -1%
LMP: 2% [2%]

MSzP+ DK+ Egyutt + PM: 12% [17%] -5%

(DK: -1%, MSzP -4% or 1/3 of its remaining support]

No party, no answer, other: 46% [46%]

http://www.tarki.hu/hu/news/2015/kitekint/20151028_valasztas.html

Tyrker
Guest

Just one remark, tappanch – you really ought to learn the difference between percentages and percentage points (százalék & százalékpont in Hungarian). When something goes up from 22% to 28%, the difference is not 6% but 6ppt.

Webber
Guest

Tyrker, almost nobody cares about the difference.
Ordinary people read that as a 6% change, and I see nothing wrong with that. Do you, really?
Those who care will make the distinction easily enough.

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