Viktor Orbán at the EU summit

Anyone who listened only to the Hungarian state television and radio—and unfortunately a lot of people do—would think that Viktor Orbán is the center of attention at all the negotiations that take place in Brussels. He tries to give the impression that he arrives at these meetings with a definite agenda that is radically different from all others. And by the end, as a result of hard bargaining, he conquers all. The Hungarian point of view is accepted by everyone due to the diplomatic skills and the eminently sensible suggestions and demands of Hungary’s prime minister. When one looks at the reports on these meetings by leading western papers, however, it turns out time and again that Orbán’s name doesn’t appear anywhere. Nor is the Hungarian position, which he claimed was embraced by the other EU leaders, mentioned.

Once again, with the summit on Thursday and Friday, neither Orbán nor Hungary’s position got any coverage. Although before the summit many articles appeared about Orbán as the most adamant opponent of Angela Merkel’s immigration policies and the man who was behind the more or less common policy of the Visegrád 4 countries, his absence from the pages of western papers reporting on the summit itself is glaring. Another Visegrád 4 prime minister who went unnoticed was Robert Fico of Slovakia. Beata Szydło’s discussion with David Cameron was noted by several papers. It turned out that it was not Viktor Orbán, the architect of the Visegrád 4 policy on immigration, who represented the group. Rather, Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka negotiated on behalf of the Visegrád bloc with David Cameron.

What we normally hear from the Hungarian prime minister about these summits is a tall tale à la János Háry. Only the giant sneeze is missing. Orbán usually prepares the ground by stating some alleged demands of the European Union that Hungary will resist at all cost. David Cameron, for example, never tried to put an end to the free movement of  tourists, visits to family members, or working in another member country, as Orbán claimed before the summit. Refusing to accept nonexistent demands ensures easy victory.

When it comes to Hungarians working in Great Britain, I suspect that Orbán purposefully muddied the water because it is hard to reconcile two of his statements on the subject. He said first that Hungary’s goals “include ensuring that Hungarians working in the United Kingdom are not discriminated against” and, a few minutes later, “it seems possible to realize demands that no new regulations will be introduced retroactively.” So, there will be discriminatory legislative action but it will not be applied retroactively. Considering that the U.K. is not Hungary where retroactive legislation has become commonplace of late, this last demand was empty. Another easy victory.

Orbán’s explanation of his participation in the summit again got rather confused when he tried to reconcile his position (“we have defended the most important European principle that no citizen of the Union can be discriminated against”) with the outcome that Great Britain can limit social benefits to citizens of other countries for four or seven years if necessity arises.

Another Hungarian success, according to Orbán, was that the prime ministers of the member countries clearly stated that “the masses of migrants must be stopped and that the Schengen rules must be obeyed by everyone. This is the first time that the European Union accepted the Hungarian solution.” Another blustering statement about the alleged importance of the Hungarian position.

Despite this boastful self-aggrandizement one has the distinct feeling that Orbán knows that hard times lie ahead for him. For example, he cleverly prepared the ground for a possible retreat on the topic of quotas. He announced that “the situation is getting worse in the West. Still, many countries insist that the migrants must be allowed to settle on the territory of the Union and they must be divided de jure among the member states. The voice of these representatives was very strong at the summit.” This explains to the faithful that despite all the Hungarian propaganda the western countries have not followed the Hungarian Plan B to build fences along national borders. There is still pressure on the Visegrád 4 to cooperate in trying to find a common solution.

In addition to that defeat for Orbán’s vision, French president François Hollande, in connection with the Polish and Hungarian governments, reminded his listeners in a radio interview that the European Union “has legal tools, through articles in treaties, to prevent a country from violating democratic principles. … When the freedom of the media is in danger, when constitutions and human rights are under attack, Europe must not just be a safety net. It must put in place procedures to suspend [countries]–it can go that far.”

The first report from Brussels to reach Budapest was that of Népszabadság, which called the results of the summit “a total failure from Orbán’s point of view.” Especially since Orbán and his Visegrád friends hoped that the discriminatory pieces of legislation against foreign workers would be limited to the United Kingdom, but now it looks as if the Germans, the Austrians, and the Danes would also like to introduce the same system in their countries.

The opposition parties naturally shared Népszabadság’s assessment of the results. First, István Ujhelyi, MSZP MEP, released a statement, according to which Orbán “has clearly lost this battle.” He suspects that “the European community with these humiliating decisions wants to punish the illiberal policies of Orbán and his followers.” He also reported that Orbán in his press conference claimed that there are only 200-300 Hungarian families who live in Great Britain and therefore the decisions don’t impact Hungarians very much. Of course, this is a lie. According to official statistics, in 2011 1,225 Hungarian children were born just in England and Wales.

Viktor Orbán leaving the summit. He doesn't look very happy. Photo: Eric Vidal / Reuters

Viktor Orbán leaving the summit. He doesn’t look very happy.
Photo: Eric Vidal / Reuters

Csaba Molnár, DK MEP, attacked Orbán for his signature on the final document, which included the provision to divide the immigrants among the member states, while Fidesz is currently collecting signatures to support the party and the government in its effort to keep all migrants out of the country. The slogan is: “Not one migrant in this country.” Orbán became “a political celeb who is successful only on posters but is unable to defend his own point of view in Brussels and thus cannot defend the country.” Jobbik’s spokesman, Dániel Z. Kárpát, accused Orbán of double talk when it comes to the quotas. While at home he uses combative rhetoric and collects signatures, abroad he doesn’t stand by his convictions. Orbán’s signing the final document is “an act of astonishing treason” which will allow 1,300 refugees to settle in Hungary.

Fidesz didn’t wait long with its answer: it is “the party of Gyurcsány and Jobbik who have betrayed the interests of the Hungarian people. They are the ones who serve foreign interests; they are the ones who didn’t support the erection of the fence, the tightening of the rules of immigration law.” Of course, as usual this quick Fidesz response is no answer to the problem at hand.

That Viktor Orbán signed the final document, which says that all member states must take their share of the burden caused by the influx of refugees, was difficult for the Hungarian government to explain, given the incredible government propaganda against the settlement of any refugees in Hungary. Zoltán Kovács, the spokesman for the prime minister’s office, was immediately dispatched to explain the situation. According to him, those who criticize Viktor Orbán for signing the document don’t understand how the European Union works. It is true that Orbán signed the document which includes the provision to disperse 40,000 Middle Eastern and North African refugees who are currently in Greece and Italy. But countries at that point were merely asked to voluntarily offer quotas. Neither Slovakia nor Hungary ever agreed to allow any migrants to settle in their countries. Hungary’s position today is the same as it was last summer. Nothing has changed as a result of Orbán’s signing the final document. I guess we will hear more about what his signature on the document actually means, what kinds of obligations, if any, Hungary will incur as a result of this act.

February 20, 2016
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webber
Guest

OT, for our Turul Triumphalists (copyr. S. Harnad):
The GDP of Russia before the fall in oil price ($2,097,000 m.) was smaller than the GDP of California ($2,424,033 m.)
The GDP per capita of Hungary ($13,481) is less than half that of the GDP per capita of the poorest US state, Mississippi ($28,944).

Guest

@webber
Today 3:46 am

More precisely: Turul Triumphalist Trolls, or one might say TTTs or 3Ts for short.

Kim
Guest

As someone smart just mentioned it both the citizens of the US and Russia love to think of their countries as super powers – the Russians however are happy to pay/make sacrifices for it.

There is absolutely no discontent within Russia, 90% of the people wholeheartedly support Putin’s super power strategy.

The defense budget will not be cut, instead the budget for social services will be. People will endure, however, and are happy to do so if the result is Russia’s regained superpower status (Ukraine, Syria etc.).

Western people underestimate the resilience of non-Western people and non-democratic systems.

Non-Western people have different values and in any case the media is 100% controlled by Putin. The Russian media is full of reports about the economic problems of the US and the EU, so most Russian people actually feel pity for the Westerns people whose ‘epoch is about to end’.

Plus, the more economic problems Russia will be having, the more belligerent it will be. Wars are always the best way to distract attention from domestic issues. Don’t expect Russia to give in anytime soon.

webber
Guest

Привет Ким! Only a Russian or a Fidesznik could think “the West” wants the Russia (or Hungary) to “give in.”

Below is a quote for you from German Gref, Putin’s former minister for economic development who is now head of Sberbank. The quote is from Russia Today. Gref was talking about the effects of low oil prices, and the decades of low investment in the real economy:

“…we have found ourselves in the ranks of countries that are losing, downshifter countries.”

According to many analysts, if there is no rise in oil prices, Russia could go bankrupt as early as next year. I dearly hope that does not happen. Instability in Russia is in nobody’s interest.

Incidentally dear Kim, “the West” (as a monolith) and “Western people” (as a group that thinks alike) exist only in Russians’and Hun. security apparatus’s imagination. To which do you belong?

Report here:
http://www.themoscowtimes.com/article/555889.html

webber
Guest

P.S. Kim, to clear up a misunderstanding, I might add that the GDP of the EU as a whole is even higher than that of the United States, and some EU states have GDP per capita that are significantly higher than the richest of American states. I might have made a comparison with Russia that was even more shocking if I had wanted to. My point, however, was Hungary.

Guest

“While at home he uses combative rhetoric and collects signatures, abroad he doesn’t stand by his convictions. Orbán’s signing the final document is “an act of astonishing treason” which will allow 1,300 refugees to settle in Hungary.”

Jobbik relax. He will not stand by his signature either.

Guest

@Jean P
Today 3:48 am

Yes, and even if Hungary was compelled by the EU on threat of sanctions to accept those 1300 for resettlement, not only would everyone of those 1300 be supremely eager to leave Hungary for the West as quickly as possible, but the Hungarians would be just as supremely eager to encourage them on their way with all possible means. So the whole thing would in any case quickly degenerate into a revolving door farce.

Guest

@Jean P
Today 3:48 am

–“He will not stand by his signature either.”–

Too true.

After all, to Orbán’s mind a signature is no doubt just a smudge on a piece of paper, nothing to do with the price of rice, and of no consequence whatsoever.

Observer
Guest

A GYPSY HORSE TRADER level, whether its word or signature.

webber
Guest

That’s not fair. With a Gypsy horse trader you end up with a horse. They always honor the contract, once they shake your hand. You might very well end up paying more than the horse is worth, but the horse really is yours.

Guest
Here we go again with Orbán, the Great Statesman, blaming everyone else, including his own followers, Jobbik, for his ineptitude and inability to lead. According to him…..”it is “the party of Gyurcsány and Jobbik who have betrayed the interests of the Hungarian people. They are the ones who serve foreign interests; they are the ones who didn’t support the erection of the fence, the tightening of the rules of immigration law.” ‘ Since this is such a good example of the psychology of criminal minds, I would like to mention again what I learned when I worked as a teacher in a men’s prison in the UK. Once I overcame my initial fear and trepidation at coming in contact with criminals, what astonished me was the absolute “ordinariness” of most of the men (with a few exceptions), some of whom were actually quite nice chaps. The common factor amongst them, which brought them to this “fine mess”, seemed to be their childishness and inability to shoulder responsibility, as well as simply making some bad choices in their lives. The nastier ones, however, were full of vindictive and spiteful wrath who blamed everyone else for their actions. They were the violent… Read more »
webber
Guest

It seems to me that liars are considered by an awful lot of people in Hungary these days as “clever” (ügyes) if the lie achieves its aim. If it doesn’t, then the liar gets an understanding shrug, and it is forgotten. There is no longer much stigma attached to lying in this segment of the population. Hence the weird comments regarding lies about “winning” by some of the trolls here.
I seem to recall that twenty years ago the comment “clever” (ügyes) was generally used sarcastically for liars. These days, it seems to be used with admiration (mafia morality?).
(Magyarok – nincs igazam?)

Guest

Yes I agree with you webber, and it is a shameful indictment of the Hungarian government under Orbán, that “getting one over” on fellow citizens is now deemed to be a virtue and therefore positively encouraged.

csepeli
Guest

You are right. Igazad van.

But it’s a basic psychological phenomenon to admire people who are so unabashedly corrupt, who have no moral inhibitions whatsoever. Even the most cynical opposition people were too naive (hence their fall and inability to survive in these days) to imagine this corruption.

So it’s part of the ambivalent relationship.

People hate these gazemberek but at the same time one can’t help but envy them too, they always seem to get away with murder. if only they (the average joes) too would be so unscrupulous they would be so rich too – instead they are toiling and not getting ahead. Hatred and envy are almost always go hand in hand.

Guest

@time4change
Today 4:01 am

Coming to think of it, Orbán’s behaviour and mentality reminds me very much of the behaviour and mentality of psychotic cult leaders. L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of the Scientology cult comes immediately to mind.

Guest

I agree, ambalint, and it is certainly scary. But the really alarming aspect is the extent to which Orbán, who is clearly psychotic as well as an inept statesperson, manages to pull the wool over the eyes of so many.

The likes of Orbán can be found everywhere, but usually they can be kept in check in more civilized countries whereas, in Hungary, he has garnered votes from people who have confused values, and their inability to tell right from wrong is largely responsible for his rise to power, by believing that these characteristics are virtuous.
So his supporters are the real scary ones.

Guest

@time4change
Today 5:39 am

–“But the really alarming aspect is the extent to which Orbán, who is clearly psychotic as well as an inept statesperson, manages to pull the wool over the eyes of so many.”–

That is precisely the skill and art of a cult leader. And also of a fraudster, a charlatan or a mountebank. In that way Orbán is like the rat catcher of Hamelin, where Hungarians are the rats.

Guest

Or rather, Hungarians are like the children mesmerized by the rat catcher-pied piper to follow him until they all vanish in the Hertz mountains.

petofi
Guest

@ ambalint & time4change

re: “pull the wool…”

Gentlemen,

you don’t give the Hungaricoes enough credit: they play the innocent whilst knowing well what is being done. But they care not and as others have written, consider it ‘clever’. They wish to do the same and to profit by ill-gotten gains given the slightest oppurtunity. It’s the way of Hungary and Hungarians.

Moreover, the act of innocence avoids any necessity to take responsibility. Clever, ain’t it?

Guest

Ja. Spot on. You are right.

Guest

Well, well, it looks like Viktor got well and truly rolled in Brussels.

The entire Hungarian debate around the resettlement of refugees and economic immigrants is of course quite vacuous, since once an Arab or Afghan is “resettled’ in Zalakaros or Bettyóújfalu, he or she would undoubtedly be on the way to greener pastures in the West within seconds.

After all, having to learn a language that is useless anywhere else, the low Hungarian living standards and the generally nasty ways of Hungarians do not make Hungary a particularly appealing settlement destination for a refugee or economic immigrant.

It is of course a wonderful place to live in if one happens to be a member of the upper crust of the Hungarian Mafia, and not a bad place at all for Hungarian expats returning with dollars, pounds or euros to live out their retirement years relatively prosperously in the country of their birth, or that of their forebears.

Guest

Correction: “Berettyóújfalu” instead of “Bettyóújfalu.”

webber
Guest

They will doubtless settle every single refugee in places with socialist mayors.

momo9
Guest

I don’t think it would be a smart move, the opposition mayor (there aren’t too many) would have a field day appearing as the defender of local interests vs. the tyranny of Orban. Probably Budapest will have them.

webber
Guest

Budapest is where most of the opposition mayors are.

Guest

Current popularity or not, too many such screw ups could become deadly for the Viktor. Unless of course he succeeds in turning this around in the eyes of his supporters by a cry of “I wuz raped by the evil ones in Brussels!” However, if he does not succeed in muddying the waters this way, then with each such stuff up his Pinocchio nose grows ever longer even among the Christian Nationalists and National Socialists, and that, rather than anything the left liberal opposition might or might not do, which could then well become Viktor’s Waterloo in Hungarian right wing politics.

webber
Guest

I just want to know what they said to Orbán to get him to sign. What was the threat? I hope an insider will spill the beans.

tappanch
Guest

Here is the full text of the EU agreement (“conclusions”) :

http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/meetings/european-council/2016/02/EUCO-Conclusions_pdf/

Guest

O/T Orban’s fence is coming under increased pressure as breaches of the razor wire fence increase substantially – or it’s part of Orban’s propaganda game and the BBC have fallen for it.

Is it justifing a future clampdown – or increasing the seige mentality?

I – the Great Leader Orban – will protect you.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-35624118

Guest

….. and btw – a Nick Thorpe alert too!

Guest

Where’s the troll, Harnad, to show you’ve misunderstood this too?

Member

@charliecharlieh you’re right. I apologize. I saw the typical Turul Triumphalist Troll text and assumed that someone else was imitating the London Charlie. (The boldface and quotes are not cue enough.) The confusion is partly because all of the name changes since the change in software. (And I added the other troll caricatures without re-reading all the texts, having thought I spotted a troll.) Anyway, I’m sorry. I know the London Charlie’s posts for years now, and perhaps if it were the old login I would have noticed it was a spoof.

Guest

Stevan – thank you. I thought it might have been that – WordPress forced me to change it. I’m sorry for my overreaction too. Apologies.

Regards

Charlie

Guest

I think that most of that report was not Nick Thorpe.
It is lacking his usual manipulative bias.
I read it twice and it seems to be written by someone else, who has just added a few quotes from Thorpe.

But I could be wrong, and maybe he has just had his knuckles rapped by the BBC, after numerous and serious complaints, such as from Kim Schepple after an article he did on her.

webber
Guest

Here’s the Hungarian government’s official explanation of why they signed for the quotas: “GOVERNMENT: ITALIAN PM “BLACKMAILED” HUNGARY OVER MANDATORY MIGRANT QUOTA AT EU SUMMIT
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has threatened Visegrád countries with decreasing EU development funds if they refuse to take part in the “effective management” of the migrant crisis. In response, government spokesman Zoltán Kovács has branded Prime Minister Renzi’s statement “political blackmail” against Hungary and other members of the Visegrád group.”

BWAHAAHAHAHAAAA! The “winners” say they’ve been pushed around by the Italians?? And they crumbled? A word from Matteo Renzi, and Orbán chickened out? Surrendered? The puppy ran with his tail between his legs because Renzi gave him a stern look? Since when did Italy control EU development funds?
And this is supposed to satisfy Fideszniks? That Orbán can’t even stand up to RENZI???

Story here:
http://hungarytoday.hu/news/government-italian-pm-blackmailed-hungary-mandatory-migrant-quota-eu-summit-96790

webber
Guest

2 million signatures collected (they claim – I don’t believe that) and a promise that Hungary will not accept a single refugee, that Orbán will veto quotas….
And Renzi says funding could be lowered and they surrender? Because funding might be reduced, they surrender….
That’s the official explanation (see above)
Can we start calling Orbán and his government losers now?

petofi
Guest

The ‘genius’ of Orban: the forced signature as a possible prelude to an Hungexit strategy–“At the expense of my good name, I will recant and protect the pristine nature of Hungary!”
Ahem.

Guest

A farce.

But from this point forward the EU knows that they got the Hungarian Mafia State by the balls, and all they got to do is squeeze gently to get Orbán and his boys to comply like good little Puli dogs hearing the master’s whistle.

And there goes down the gurgler Orbán’s vaunted “international stature” and his supposed “leadership” of the V4 too, all in tatters, no matter all the protestations in the world that “we wuz raped in Brussels by Renzi.”

The question is how will Orbán be able to wriggle out of this mess of his own making, and if not, how soon will he get it in the neck from his own side.

Guest

Re: ‘ According to official statistics, in 2011 1,225 Hungarian children were born just in England and Wales’

And thus it just may follow as the generations age Hungarians abroad they will be able to look on and make assessments on the country and the phases it passes through.

Perhaps in a more free media environment they will be better positioned than those living there to influence opinion on its goings on. At the least they’ll get a much different perspective as some already do

webber
Guest

Seems doubtful that enough of them will return to Hungary to make much of a difference.

spectator
Guest
Definitely beside the topic, but somehow typical – as much as I concerned. For some funny reason I even expect that the ‘number one’ person of a country may even look like one. Well, he don’t. Another option” there isn’t any decent tailors reside nowadays in Hungary..! And I don’t even dare to think of the third one, namely that there was no brave enough people to utter a single word regarding ‘the clothes of the emperor’. Let alone for the moment that the jacket a size too tight while the trousers a size too long — I take as the manifestation of wishful thinking — but I just can’t ignore the frighteningly low quality of the craftsmanship being represented on his jacket! Just look, how the arm fits in, or how the back ripples when it shouldn’t… I mean: come on, Viktor, haven’t you earn enough to afford a decently tailored suit, when you out and about to represent Hungary? Well, I know, it’s perfectly alright to spit around the sunflower shells during a soccer match, but this is another event, you know, another level, so to speak… Hey, you fidesnik stylists out there, tell to your ‘master and… Read more »
webber
Guest

Maybe they had him sweating in a chair for a very long time. That could explain the wrinkles.

spectator
Guest

Now I figured: the tailor must be exceptionally loyal to the party and it’s leader, – and this is the most valued quality nowadays.
Hell, the only one!
No wonder you see crappy work all over, nobody get promoted for outstanding quality of work, only for outstanding quality of ass licking…

Guest

OT.
Just posted this on pol.hu:

Back to reality:
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-35624118
Sorry- the first version of the link was incomplete.
Police in Hungary say increasing numbers of migrants are breaching a razor wire fence built to stop them crossing the border from Serbia.

But police say migrants are now increasingly getting through, mostly by cutting through or climbing over the barrier.
The report includes pictures of the “high quality” but actually rather useless fence – is this the best Hungary can do?
And they want to sell this crap to other countries?

dos929
Guest
Let me quote: …French president François Hollande, in connection with the Polish and Hungarian governments, reminded his listeners in a radio interview that the European Union “has legal tools, through articles in treaties, to prevent a country from violating democratic principles. … When the freedom of the media is in danger, when constitutions and human rights are under attack, Europe must not just be a safety net. It must put in place procedures to suspend [countries]–it can go that far.” » » » Brave words from the French president, but words only. The leaders of the EU could and should used this argument scores of times during the past 5+ years, alas they didn’t. When will the very same leaders realise that with the likes of Orban no threats, no promises and nothing else expressed in words or even on put on paper matters? One thing would matter; actions. And action are nowhere to be seen. Until the EU administration won’t understand that Orban is nothing more and nothing less than a terrorist. The countries of the world have to deal with ISIS, have to deal with Boko Haram, etc…, but don’t fool yourself about Orban. He is just the… Read more »
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