Seehofer in Hungary: A disappointment for Orbán

Horst Seehofer, minister president of Bavaria and the leader of Christian Social Union, has been pursuing an independent foreign policy of sorts lately. In December he paid a visit to Moscow where he met Vladimir Putin, a trip he is planning to repeat in the near future. His visit to Hungary yesterday was interpreted as a sign of Seehofer’s attempt to gain allies in his fight against Angela Merkel’s refugee policy. Politicians in his own party were uneasy about this trip. They were especially puzzled why the minister president decided to pay a visit to Budapest only three days before an important European summit dealing with the refugee crisis. One might add that not all Seehofer’s colleagues are happy with what has been an expensive Bavarian-Hungarian friendship. Some time back Seehofer championed establishing a subsidiary of the state-owned Bayerische Landesbank in Hungary. It flopped and was eventually purchased by the Hungarian state at a loss of two billion euros to Bavaria.

Der Spiegel was especially critical of Seehofer’s trip to Budapest, which it called “a mini-summit” against the European solution to the crisis. But almost all the German papers criticized his overly friendly relationship with Orbán, who was described by Die Zeit as “the chief ideologist of national closure.” Liberal papers especially considered the trip an outright provocation of Angela Merkel. They described Seehofer as two-faced. He keeps repeating that he and Merkel are in constant touch, but when it comes to supporting Merkel’s refugee strategy he refuses to answer questions concerning the issue.

It seems, however, that the assumption that Seehofer and Orbán are co-conspirators was misplaced. In fact, Seehofer went to Hungary to have a heart to heart with Orbán. Or at least this is what we learned from an interview with Manfred Weber, the leader of the European People’s Party in the European Parliament. The message he carried to Orbán was that “the essence of Europe is compromise” and that “if we want a European solution [he] must also move away from [his] current position.” That may mean that the EPP is no longer ready to shield Viktor Orbán from well-deserved criticism.

The press conference that followed the conversation between Seehofer and Orbán confirmed that Seehofer delivered Berlin’s message. Both men, as  Index put it, “ swore allegiance to Angela Merkel.” Orbán said practically nothing about the meeting itself except for some of his ill-phrased comments that are inappropriate and embarrassing. For example: “When two men get together, everybody is curious what their opinion is of the lady who is not present. But we know that this is man’s fate.” Otherwise, Orbán in his remarks didn’t show much inclination to follow the policies of Angela Merkel vis-à-vis Turkey, except to say that Hungary is willing to give money for the upkeep of the refugees. However, when it comes to moving Syrians out of Turkey and granting visa exemption to Turkish citizens, Orbán’s solidarity with Turkey, which he considers a strategic ally, seems to be totally absent. I wonder what President Erdoğan will think of his friend’s unyielding posture toward his country.

Seehofer was equally tight-mouthed, but he wished “with all his heart” that Merkel will succeed at the summit on Monday where she is planning to convince the prime ministers of the member states to accept as many refugees as possible.  Hungarian observers noticed disappointment in Orbán’s demeanor because it seems that he lost his most influential ally in the Bavarian minister president. Orbán’s only remaining ally is Robert Fico, who is in the middle of a national election campaign.

Seehofer and Orban2

Although Seehofer said little at the press conference, what he said in a speech delivered at the Andrássy Universität, a German-language university in Budapest, was, in my opinion, very important. He talked about the rule of law as a prerequisite of European solidarity. He called on everybody to stop “the erosion of law” in Europe. One cannot help thinking that he was referring to Hungary itself or perhaps Poland because I cannot think of any other European country that has serious problems as far as the rule of law is concerned.

 

After these introductory remarks he returned to the question of solidarity, the absolute necessity of European integration, and the continent’s low birthrate which, since 1946, reduced its population to only 7% of the world’s. The countries of Europe, he maintained, can achieve their individual interests only through a common policy. When it comes to important issues the European Union actually needs more integration, not less.

Seehofer went against Orbán not only on the question of integration but also on the treatment of the refugees. Bavaria’s immigration policy is built on three pillars, he said: humanity, integration of those who are deemed to be true refugees, and limits on immigration. In the past 25 years Bavaria has taken in two million immigrants. The integration of these people has been a great success.

He concluded by saying a few nice words about Hungary’s economic recovery and its generosity in 1989 when the country opened its border with Austria to the East German refugees.

Seehofer’s speech was followed by László Kövér’s harangue against the refugees, against immigrants in general, and against integration. According to him, “today the national, religious, family, and sexual identity of the European people is under attack.” If artificial European identity devoid of national consciousness materializes, it would be as unrealistic as the artificial Soviet or Yugoslav identity. It could be maintained only through force, relative well-being, and geopolitical interest which can collapse once force no longer can be sustained, the welfare state ceases to exist, or global interests change.” He went on and on in this vein. His tirade was dutifully reported at length in the far-right Magyar Hírlap, which found his message much more palatable than Seehofer’s. I wonder what Seehofer, who is a very conservative man, must have thought of Kövér’s speech, since it went against everything that European politicians west of Hungary think about the world.

All in all, I don’t think Orbán is a happy man today, especially since his fence, which he is planning to extend along the Romanian-Hungarian border soon, has turned out to be porous. Daily at least fifty people break through the “impenetrable” fence, which was supposed to save Hungary from the bandits who want to rape Hungarian women, from the migrants who can no longer be shipped off to the Croatian or the Austrian border. One temporary shelter after the next is being built and Orbán, I think, will soon enough have to ask for help from his enemies in Brussels.

March 5, 2016
Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Guest

Addig jár a korsó a kútra, amíg el nem törik. (English: A pitcher taken repeatedly to a well is sure to get eventually broken.)

Guest

You know if the themes enunciated by Kover continue ad nauseam the country will eat itself alive as a result of the hatred being spewed about. There cannot be an upside to it. Kidoboembers’, corrupters, corruptees, liars, cheats, fill in the blanks. What a bunch supposedly representing the ‘best’ with steadfast righteousness that a ‘European’ country can offer to the world and its people.

Unfortunately though the country looks as if it is in even a period before the days of civilization where it was ‘kutya vs kutya’. Its society now seems to exist only in relation to a ‘war’ on things and of all things …people themselves. And what have they done? All they want is life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

‘Power’ is all in the Fidesz political calculus. It is flat out might against all. Such is now the grim reality of political and cultural existence in Hungary today. Europe now has its hands full with the ghouls who gave them goulash. Tasty at one time but now a deadly dish. The zsir coming off is really really slimy. And also a great defense mechanism by the way.

Guest
@wrfree Today 8:44 pm –“And what have they done? All they want is life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”– Sorry, wrfree, but I have to take issue with both the above question and the statement that follows it. The question implies and imputes an innocence of the lambs to Hungarians. In actual fact, Hungarian reality is nothing like that. Hungarians have done an enormous number of really bad things in the Horthy era, during the war and during the first decade of the communist dictatorship, then continued in that same vein ever since from around 2006 Orbán & Co. began the systematic destruction of the Hungarian Third Republic. As to the statement, the fact is that the vast majority of Hungarians do not want liberty at all, a notion they find both fearsome and alien. They find the spirit of liberty totally alien, something that only Jews and left-wing intellectuals try to force on sainted, ever-suffering Hungary, so they can mercilessly oppress and colonize it for themselves. The term they use for advocates of liberty is “idegenlelkű” (a person of alien spirit or mentality), which is sadly ironic, since Petőfi, their national poet, was one of the most inspiring… Read more »
webber
Guest

“kidobóember”=bouncer in English.

Guest

Mike.. Just to be clear. I see a ‘war’ namely belligerence against the’ people’ both inside who live and those outside the country and do as much as simply ‘disagree’ and don’t take things as they are. A double whammy!

And when we see the ‘hoods’ , those Kidoboembers well it’s a ramping up and we enter very very sinister time travel. And the view is terrible and disgusting.

Guest

OK. :-))

bimbi
Guest

So, according to the speaker of the Hungarian parliament, “today the national, religious, family, and sexual identity of the European people is under attack.”

Gosh, if Laci is really worried about his sexual identity, maybe he just needs to drop his pants and look around down there. I mean, didn’t he get any sex education when he was growing up? Doesn’t he have anything more sensible to do than worry about his sexual identity?

Ingmar o/f Austria+Hungar
Guest
Ingmar o/f Austria+Hungar
We see that refugees need aid. That shouldn’t be any question. But they need aid in their countries or regions. And only if it’s not possible there they need aid elsewhere. What’s elsewhere is the next question. First, elsewhere is in the nearest countries. The Holy father correct said, what happens at the moment is an Arabic invasion. Question is: How can we handle these problems with the refugees and migrants? What at the moment are coming as is said in most cases are migrants not regugees. We never accepted that from immigrants can come to our countries and lands whoever wants to. And we shouldn’t do so now. I don’t know what Dr. Angela Merkel wants, what the EU wants. Do they really want a muslim Europe? Do the other inhabitants of Europe want a muslim Europe? Do we want a Europe where to the Human rights isn’t given attention to? If we see the people who come at the moment, we see: 1) There is one nationality against the other. 2) There is one religion against the other. There are islamic people against other Muslim people. There are Muslims against islamic people. There are Islamists and Muslims against… Read more »
Member

Well Hungarians should be thankful for that in the early 20th Century, in the 40s, and in 1956 there were people who thought differently from you. There were hundreds of thousand Hungarians who moved to America and to Australia (continents).
As for now, Canada already accepted 25,000 Syrian refugees the last few months. Yes, not everyone is happy, (and they were not all happy when the Hungarians came either), but you know what? Commons sense, humanity, education, positive messages, welcoming churches (you won’t say), welcoming neighbourhoods (no way), prepared schools (impossible) were ready. Hungary’s problem is not the refugees!! If it only be the refugees the problem of Hungarians, there would be no problem! Does this make sense? It should.

I also would like to remind you (when I am looking at your point 1, and 2: Serbia, Ukraine, WWII.
Peace!

Guest
@Some1 March 6, 2016 9:00 am Not quite, and not so fast, Some1. 1. Canada with its 35M population accepting 25K carefully selected Syrian, mostly families, is a completely different ballgame from a flood of over 1.5M unregistered and in effect unregistrable Arabs, Afghans and Africans – mostly single males in their late teens and early twenties – into Europe, or more accurately and principally into Greece, Austria, Germany and Sweden in just one year. You are comparing apples with bananas. And no wonder that Ingmar o/f Austra+Hungar is totally overwhelmed. 2. The hoary old chestnut of the 200K Hungarian refugees into Austria and Yugoslavia (or more accurately into the Yugoslav Socialist Rebublic of Croatia) in 1956 is a completely false analogy in the current situation. Until WW2 the East Block countries were part of Europe not only politically and racially, but culturally and religion-wise too, albeit culturally about a century behind the West Block, and religion-wise divided between Western and Eastern Christianity along the Balkan, Galician and Belorussian faultlines. Even more importantly, Hungary itself was one country with Austria until the end of WW1, and a very close ally of the Third Reich – which included Austria – during… Read more »
Guest

@Ingmar o/f Austria+Hungar
March 6, 2016 3:01 am

I totally understand just how overwhelmed you must feel about this situation.

Please see my response immediately below Some1’s response to your post.

webber
Guest

Seehofer and “the erosion of law in Europe.”
Call me paranoid, but that could be read as just the sort of veiled hint about crimes committed by immigrants that a German CD would make. I’d like to know how Germans understood his remarks. What was the hidden subtext? Was he hinting at Hungary and Poland, or was he hinting at refugees committing crimes?

Guest

@webber
March 6, 2016 3:27 am

Both, I suspect. A nice move on Seehofer’s part: satisfies both the pro-Eu and the anti-EU camp . . . .

:-))

Guest

London Calling!

Oh dear! I think I can see what’s coming with Orban’s snap election.

Robert Fico has just had a Slovakian disaster for his election. He concentrated heavily on the immigration issue and no longer has a big enough margin to form a government without a coalition.

And so did the Neo-Nasty party (concentrate heavily on the immigratyion issue) who gained 14 seats – from zero to ‘heroes’ – this is their first representation in parliament.

And yet how many people have applied for asylum in Slovakia during this recent crisis?

Less than 380.

How many of the 380 were successful?

Eight. So just eight people have successfully got asylum, and settled in Slovakia.

(Although we don’t know how many of the eight have actually stayed.)

The lies and hysteria will build as Orban’s election approaches – watch out for liar Zoltan Kovács who came on to our Channel 4 news programme on TV (a very well respected National News service here in England) and told Jon Snow that “10% of asylum seekers were claiming asylum in Hungary”!

I expect the real numbers not to be much different from the ‘Slovakian Eight’.

Regards

Charlie

Guest

The cancer in the Visegrad 4 is spreading. I have long thought that Hungary should be kicked out if the EU because it has made a monkey out of the EU – and just milks it for all it’s worth.

Maybe I should think ‘Visegrad 4’ instead.

webber
Guest

Slovakia and Hungary are now on a collision course. Slovak fascists’ traditional no. 1 enemy are Hungarians.
They’ll agree with Budapest on immigration. That is about it. My guess is there will be fireworks – a repeat of Slovak security guards beating Hungarian soccer fans in stadiums, and all sorts of nastiness from both sides.

webber
Guest

There’s not much to like on either side of this – Nazi salutes, cracked skulls:
comment image

Guest

Thanks Webber for the ‘football perspective’ which some on here really do appreciate. It’s a bit myopic n’est pas?

There is a ‘practical level’ of national agreement and cooperation – after all they are members of the Visegrad 4.

(However I do accept that they have had their difficulties. Who wouldn’t with Orban in the club?)

webber
Guest

Slovaks and Romanians are, not without reason, afraid of irredentism on the Hungarian right. If you look at that picture above closely, you’ll see 2 maps of greater Hungary.
Both nations have rather unpleasant memories of Hungarian rule prior to WWI and during WWII – memories kept alive by history textbooks in schools. Nationalists in both Slovakia and Romania underplay the brutality of heir nations’ treatment of Hungarian minorities at various times.
Hungarian nationalists remember the opposite. They see nothing wrong with putting greater Hungary stickers on their cars, and are outraged when they go abroad and Slovaks are angry with them, or try to scrape the sticker off the car (or even smash their car windows). Some Hungarian nationalists wear very stupid t-shirts saying “I am older than Slovakia.”
There is no love lost between the Slovak and Hungarian right.
Conflict at some level seems inevitable.

Guest

Yes – my partner apprised me of the enmity she had experienced when selling dog food into Slovakia right up to the late 90s.

She said the police would beat you up “if they heard one word of Hungarian” and the people were very hostile.

I know there is enmity with Slovakia (still) by some of the villagers in our village in Hungary – the woman who has a large land holding – attached to a house nearby – grows amazing vegetables. She is very bitter about losing her family’s land in Slovakia – “they just took it”.

It must be especially galling as the Danube is just a few metres from our houses – with Slovakia on the other side a (long!) stone’s throw.

Presumably they lost their lands due to Trianon in 1920? Or 1946 ? With Hitler’s involvement?

I know when I have referred to Bratislava, Hungarians are very quick to respond using ‘Pozsony’.

But shouldn’t all that have ceased with the EU?- participants were obliged to sign away any land
ambitions?

I know dual-citizenship is illegal in Slovakia and Orban’s citizenship machinations have caused enormous resentments.

Guest

And this is the supposed ”beautiful game’. This labdasag cannot stand. A sad travesty of the game.

Member

It must be nice! Isn’t this why Orban is pouring more money into stadiums than what he gives for healthcare and education?

webber
Guest

Charlie, If I were in Britain I might vote to get out of an EU because of this lot. Brussels is not going to do a damned thing about them.
Cameron might have made enforcing democratic norms in the EU a condition of staying in. He did not.
It’s clear now that Britain, even in the EU, will do nothing for democracy in Europe.

Guest

You read things well.

The feelings for Brexit are growing – it’s almost palpable. With much publicity focussing on the nasties under each stone as it is lifted the dissatisfaction is growing – even among idealists like me.

Many are wising up to what is happening – when before people didn’t give a damn. Ignorance was bliss.

The two campaigns just progress different forms of stalemate.

Many are thinking there are better ways of spending £18 billion a year, inter alia.

Istvan
Guest
I have read the posts thus far and in general find great skepticism for Eva’s argument that Horst Seehofer visit to Hungary was somehow a set back for PM Orban’s anti-immigration policy. Seehofer’s speech included according to the linked report comments on restricting immigration, he also made a reference to protecting the EU’s external borders and if that fails protecting the internal borders. That is hardly a refute to Orban’s policy, nor was his presentation an endorsement of Fidesz policy. Any political erosion for Orban is minimal and like in the Slovak Republic where a decline in support for Robert Fico’s Smer-Social Democratic Party led to a greater vote for the far right, the same possibility looms in Hungary. Slovak Governor Kotleba’ far right group got 8.2% of the vote about three times what was predicted, and a new anti-imigration party led by businessman Boris Kollar got 5%. Fico’s drop based on polling was about 6.3% and all of that change went to the far right. Similarly any decline in support for Fidesz would likely lead to an increase in the vote for the Jobbik or a future splinter group of disaffected fascists who can’t stomach the new friendly face… Read more »
Member
OT: Today, Laszlo Kover approved the law that would allow Fidesz and their pals to classify all the spending of the Hungarian National Bank. This will lift any legal restrictions to stay accountable to the taxpayers. The mad man of Hungary already spending the taxes I pay too on building more stadiums, on decorations for Orban’s new office, to lend expensive art works to Orban’s friends. Ader has 5 days to sign or not to sign. If they forge ahead, I will still wait until the end of March but if there will be no changes and action from the Hungarian public, I will sell my apartment in Budapest, and I would close my business there. I will transfer my money out of Hungary. I will not indirectly subsidize the raping of the country any further. If the Hungarian public will allow this to happen to them (while flooded the streets because of their Internet “restriction”), I will have to assume this is what they want, this is what they deserve, and that is that. Just a reminder that only a couple of days ago, over still maintained that MNB money is public money and as such it cannot be… Read more »
Guest

@Some1
March 6, 2016 10:20 am

Gee Some1, it sure is taking a while to make up your mind about Hungary and Hungarians. Well, as the old saying goes, you can take the girl out of Hungary, but can’t take Hungary out of the girl . . . .

Me, I was fourteen when I came to the same conclusion as you are slowly coming to, and hadn’t had occasion to change my mind about that at any point in time since.

:-))

Member

OT: Orban, the anti-communist hero of many, the staunch anti-communist who even calls opposition members who were not alive under Kadarex-coomunist, paid his due respect to one of the greatest communists of all the time. In the name of Hungary, Orban and his wife laid a wreath at the ex-KGB leader of Azerbaijan, Heydar Aliyev. Aliyev was great friend of Brezhnev. You should read his biography that is a certain way mirrors Orban’s rise and life.

Orban is such a hypocrite, of course together with his whole government and his fan club members who pop up on this blog ever so often.

http://hvg.hu/velemeny.nyuzsog/20160306_antikommunista_kommunista_szelkakas_Orban_Alijev_Baku_szegyen
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heydar_Aliyev

Guest

@Some1
March 6, 2016 1:59 pm

Consistency is a hobgoblin of small minds, wrote Emerson. And as is well known, Orbán’s is a great, great, great BIG mind . . . . .

Hungarians are so, so very lucky with their beloved Führer . . . . :-)))

Guest
We travelled to Germany today – after hearing on the Austrian radio about the waiting times (more than an hour on the motorway Salzburg – München) because of border controls I decided to show my wife Hitler’s Alpenfestung (just kidding …) instead. So we left the Austrian motorway in Hallein and drove some smaller road (which might have taken us to the Nazi headquarter) to Berchtesgaden. Our car was the only one travelling that road so at (actually after) the border we were stopped by German police who joked with us: I asked: Can’t we use this road to get into Germany? Answer: You’re already there and have you got your passports and your dog’s with you? So I asked my wife to open her handbag, but the policeman laughed: No, no, I believe you, have a good day, move on! All in all this detour through the snowy Alps cost us less time than we would have spent on the motorway at the border – and my wife enjoyed the wonderful scenery! Re Seehofer: He really is a very conservative Catholic, against marriage and adoption rights for homosexual couples etc … I wrote a very bad joke about him:… Read more »
Guest

wolfi7777
March 6, 2016 3:22 pm

I visited Berchtesgaden back in 1985. Breathtaking countryside, absolutely glorious. To my mind just about the most beautiful place on earth.

Go4444
Guest

Orban has no foreign policy of his own. He is just Putin’s point man in the EU, whatever Orban does has any meaning only if one sees that he works for Putin and Russia. The only question is why? Of course the Russians are orders of magnitude better handlers of their assets than any Western nation.

Orban will love the migrants, though: he might be on the losing side (his solution didn’t work), but at least he can always blame the EU and Germany.

Hungary oppressed again, like at Trianon, we work hard but obviously against the EU and the powers that be (you know who) we cannot win. Poor Hungary. Same old story, whenever Hungary would rise, we are crushed like a bug. At least Orban tried. Whatever. Orban owns most of the media and that’s enough for him.

Guest

@Go4444
March 6, 2016 3:25 pm

Gee, you sure got the mentality of the sainted, ever-suffering Hungarians down to a tee!!

:-)))

wpDiscuz