Love affair: Ambassador Bell on U.S.-Hungarian relations

U.S. Ambassador Colleen Bell delivered a speech before the members of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Hungarian Parliament on May 5. It was given behind closed doors, a decision, it would seem, of the Fidesz-KDNP majority urged on them by Zsolt Németh, Fidesz chairman of the committee. Ordering a closed session for such an occasion is unusual, and the Hungarian media–or more specifically Népszava, the only major newspaper to pay attention to the event–began speculating about the source of the decision. Some who were familiar with preparations for the event claimed that it was the ambassador herself who had insisted on secrecy, which seems unlikely since her remarks were promptly published on the U.S. Embassy’s website. The lack of coverage of the speech by leading pro-government publications also supports my suspicion that Zsolt Németh was not eager to make the content of the speech public.

Of course, we don’t know what kind of bad news or unpleasant messages Németh expected from the ambassador. In reality, her remarks were far too complimentary to the Orbán government. My recurring complaint about U.S. policy toward Hungary is that American diplomats fail to understand Viktor Orbán’s way of thinking. The Americans coat their criticisms with so many layers of sugary compliments that the casual reader has a hard time finding even the few mild criticisms. This is not the way to talk to Orbán’s entourage. Orbán and his minions consider such overly polite speech a sign of weakness, which only encourages further verbal aggression on the part of the Hungarian government.

Unlike some others, I am not surprised that Bell didn’t level any criticism of the Orbán government’s domestic policies in this speech. After all, it was delivered before members of the foreign affairs committee, and therefore it was focused almost exclusively on international
fishiesrelations. But refraining from criticism of domestic policy is one thing, sending unnecessary and most likely counterproductive love messages to the Orbán government is something else.

At the beginning of her speech she recalled that she arrived in Hungary in the dead of winter. Since then, she has worked with government and opposition politicians “so that together, out of that winter, we would force the spring. Our collective effort has succeeded.”

To demonstrate the excellence of U.S.-Hungarian relations, Bell reached back, probably to David Foster Wallace’s famous commencement address at Kenyon College in 2005, for her guiding image: “you may know the old joke about the fish who was asked one day, ‘So, how’s the water?’ And the fish replied, ‘Water? What the heck is water?’ This is how our alliance feels to us both, like the water we swim in, scarcely felt but all around us, our life support, our milieu.” Isn’t that a tad more than polite diplomatic language? This and similar undeserved praise throughout her speech blunted the few messages she delivered to the Hungarian government on Russia, Ukraine, and the handling of the refugee crisis.

As I said, one has to look hard to find substantive U.S. messages, but she was pretty clear on the American commitment to maintain sanctions against Russia. You may recall that Viktor Orbán, during his visit to Moscow, indicated to Vladimir Putin that Hungary would not support the automatic renewal of the sanctions. So let’s see what Bell had to say on this topic.

As many Hungarians reminded me, you need no introduction to the nature of Russian aggression. Your response has always been to show resolve. Our best weapons, in fact, are resolve and solidarity. They speak to our unity and our common purpose. Europe and the United States are going to continue to stand united, sustaining sanctions for as long as they are necessary, and providing assistance to Ukraine until full implementation of the Minsk agreement…. Hungary has made economic sacrifices to support Russian sanctions, and you have done so with the full awareness of their greater purpose. We in the international community know that sanctions are having a direct impact on Russia. As the United States and Hungary have both stated many times, Russia has a simple choice: fully implement Minsk or continue to face sanctions.

I read this passage with astonishment because this is not how I remember the recent course of Russian-Hungarian relations. Resolve to stick with sanctions? Just remember all the negotiations with Russia over handling Hungarian agricultural exports differently from those of the rest of the EU countries because, after all, Hungary is such a good friend of Putin’s Russia. Or, what about Viktor Orbán’s pronouncement that by voting for sanctions the EU shot itself in the foot? I assume from the words of the ambassador that the duplicitous Hungarian prime minister has already reversed himself. But do these “concessions” on Orbán’s part warrant all this lavish praise from the United States? I believe that such a reaction only encourages Viktor Orbán’s double games.

And the panegyric doesn’t end here. We learn that

Hungary has all the imagination, vision, and understanding to contribute substantially to collective security, to endow the global economy with its resources and its enterprise, and to broker solutions to conflicts that defy other statesmen. Whether it is the moral resolve that drives European unity on sanctions or the material sacrifice of investing more in your country’s defense to meet the pledge of the Wales Summit, Hungary is striving to meet some of the most critical challenges of the day. More than this, Hungary is equal to the great challenges of our times and the United States is counting on you.

The only conceivably critical sentence in the entire lengthy speech was the following: “Every sovereign nation has the right and an obligation to protect its borders. But every nation, as a part of the international community, also has a fundamental obligation to help refugee populations seeking safety. We commend the humanitarian spirit of Hungarian leaders, law enforcement and military personnel, and ordinary citizens who are responding to this crisis with generosity and compassion.” Even here, however, what started off as potential criticism ended up as praise.

We also learned from this speech that “Hungary and the United States share the view that our alliance is the cornerstone of our security, and that together, we secure a Europe that is whole, free, and at peace,” a rather surprising observation in light of Viktor Orbán’s relentless efforts to divide Europe, thus making it a potential target of Russian diplomatic machinations.

All in all, this speech, which bordered on the servile, didn’t show the United States in the best light. No wonder, therefore, that both Chairman Zsolt Németh and Deputy Chairman Gábor Vona (Jobbik) expressed their utmost satisfaction after the session was over. Németh noted that “a perceptible change” for the better has occurred in U.S.-Hungarian relations, while Vona specifically mentioned the attitude of the ambassador, who is “more open, more ready for consensus” than her predecessors.

Pro-government papers decided not to spend any time on the speech itself. I suspect the reason for their silence is what they would consider a shameful capitulation of their favorite government on several issues that are important to the United States: Russian sanctions, defense of Ukraine’s sovereignty, and a positive attitude toward Europe which should remain “whole.”

Instead, G. Gábor Fodor’s internet rag, 888.hu, picked up an English-language article by Daniel McAdams, the director of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity, described by James Kirchick, a freelance journalist writing for The Daily Beast, as “a bevy of conspiracy theorists, cranks, and apologists for some of the worst regimes on the planet.” McAdams is no stranger to Hungary, having spent six years there as a journalist. During this time he was the editorial page editor of the Budapest Sun. McAdams also worked closely with John Laughland, who was described in Kirchick’s article as someone “who has never met a Central or Eastern European autocrat he didn’t like.” Laughland’s organization, the British Helsinki Human Rights Group, for whom McAdams was a rapporteur, has been fiercely defending Viktor Yanukovych, Alexander Lukashenko, and other similar shady characters. This group believes that “Washington is promoting a system of political and military control not unlike that once practiced by the Soviet Union.” The article by McAdams titled “US Ambassador to Hungary: Overthrow Assad, Let in Refugees, and Fight Russia … or Else!” is written in this vein. Obviously, members of the Fidesz media empire don’t like the chummy relationship between the evil United States and Hungary that they might extrapolate from the extravagant tribute the U.S. ambassador delivered.

If, however, the diplomats in Washington think that the attitude of the Orbán government toward the United States has changed dramatically in the last year or so because of the more accommodating new ambassador, they are wrong. I do hope that the staff of the U.S. Embassy in Budapest diligently follows Magyar Idők and Magyar Hírlap because these two publications are timely barometers of the thinking of the Hungarian government.

In today’s Magyar Hírlap, for example, Zsolt Bayer wrote an open letter to the citizens of the United States. He said that by now he’s keeping fingers crossed for Russia and that he thinks of the United States the way he used to think of the Soviet Union. The U.S. government is responsible for “the dreadful situation that exists in the world,” and all that “syrupy propaganda about democracy, world peace, and the greatness of the United States is truly unbearable.” There is, however, hope on the way: a man appeared out of nowhere “who wants to create a new America.” And this new America will give up its imperial ambitions and will be satisfied with a strong American national state. In brief, the United States will return to its former splendid isolation and will leave Hungary alone. This new great statesman who has discovered the key to saving the United States from itself is, of course, Donald Trump, for whom the Hungarian right, including the Fidesz top brass, will root in the next few months.

So, let’s not kid ourselves, please!

May 8, 2016
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Minusio
Guest

As the ambassador hasn’t written her speech herself, it reinforces my conviction that under Obama (who is a nice guy) the US has lost interest in, and the knack of, foreign policy. It’s still bullying the world (see TTIP), but knows less and less about it.

Roderick Beck
Guest

TTIP is necessary to expand trade and commerce. It doesn’t involve bullying.

tappanch
Guest

A tiny bit of light on the dark horizon:

In the village of Lakitelek or Lezsakland, there were local elections today.

The independent mayor won again. In addition, she will enjoy the support of an independent local council this time.

Support of the Fidesz-Lezsak candidate:
October 2014: 47.2% (turnout 45.2%)
May 2016: 35.6% (turnout 61.3%)

Local council:
October 2014: Fidesz-Lezsak 4, independent 2
May 2016: Fidesz-Lezsak 0, independent 6

http://nol.hu/belfold/tonkrevertek-a-fideszt-lakitelken-1614795

tappanch
Guest

In other words,

Support of the Fidesz mayoral candidate among the eligible voters —-> council

2014: 21.3% —-> 2/3
2016: 21.8% —-> 0

webber
Guest

Again, in what Fidesz itself considered one of the most important by-elections, we see that Fidesz has lost support in the countryside.
Public opinion poll data doesn’t show this, because people, especially in the countryside, are afraid to tell pollsters that they will be voting against Fidesz. All poll data now is suspect – a certain percentage of those who claim they are supporting Fidesz are clearly lying. A large percentage of those who refuse to answer or say they have not yet decided are voting against Fidesz.

Guest

DA (Democrats Abroad), has over 150 members in Hungary who are US ctizens living/working here, and by being members they can continue to vote in US presidential elections.

They are American democrats, so it is obvious who they would vote for. What is surprising and dismaying is that when it comes to Hungarian politics, some of the DA members who wept with joy when Obama became president, support and endorse Orbán and Fidesz here in Hungary.

To me this is evidence of a continuing American isolationist mentality, with a lack of understanding of anything outside the USA.

Many DA members, despite having lived here for years, have no idea what goes on in poitics here, despite being enthusiastically involved in those of the US.

This to me indicates that a lot of politicising in the USA is based not on principles and ethics, but simply on naive notions of what is cool and hip, and voting democrat is almost a fashion statement.

Otherwise how can someone vote for democracy in one country, and then support a mafia, self-serving regime in another?

John3
Guest

it can be even worse. obama and orban maybe the favorite ot russian rulers.

Roderick Beck
Guest

Well, I am American and I have never met an Orbán supporting American here in Budapest. What is the basis of your assertion?

Member

Sorry Éva but I really feel that your interpretation missed the mark here.

First off, let’s accept that Western criticism of the Orbán regime does nothing. Fidesz has never changed its policies because of criticism coming from the West. In fact, they thrive on it; I think the US is now shrewd enough to see that whenever it criticizes Hungary the government press is all too happy to turn America into a villain, but when it refrains from open criticism, then it refuses to play that part.

The US Embassy is not a human rights NGO. The latter can (and should) “tell it like it is,” but the former has foreign policy objectives it has to achieve, and it has to ask itself, will open criticism help achieve our objectives? In Hungary’s case, openly criticizing has obviously not worked, and in fact been counterproductive to achieving US interests.

And incidentally, has any Western country criticized Hungary more than the US in the 6 years? If so, I would be happy to know which one.

I have to stop now but I will continue later, thanks.

webber
Guest

Excellent points.
However, even when the US refrains from open criticism, it is treated by the Hungarian government press as a villain (witness Bayer’s piece), day in and day out.

Member

True, but refusing to play the part of the villain gives them less ammunition to work with.

Roderick Beck
Guest

I think you give the Hungarian government too much credit. And the most important foreign policy objective is to keep Hungary from becoming a European political cancer. I recently met American embassy personnel at a social function. They made no attempt to hide their loathing for Orbán’s government.

Guest

shoopy
I agree. The US embassy knows that Orban is allergic to criticism.

tappanch
Guest

The Merkel & Obama tandem does not care too much about the lack of democracy in other countries either.

Regard Turkey as another example.

tappanch
Guest

The more dictatorial Erdogan becomes, the more of the 80 million Turks will decide to stay in Western Europe after their newly granted visa-free entry.

logg
Guest

You misunderstand, most Turkish people actually like Erdogan, he is genuinely popular.

Just as Putin is extremely popular and just as Orban is (at least compared to his “challengers”).

The liberal Turks, which is a very tiny minority, may come to Europe, but average, religious Turks – whom you are afraid of – will only come if the economic situation deteriorates. But that has nothing to with Erdogan’s dictatorial behavior.

Guest

Erdoğan’s dictatorial powers have everything to do with the economic climate.

As Turkey slides into an Islamic theocracy and Erdoğan and his son cream off embezzled funds – and as he tightens his hold on the media – and issues ultimatums to the German media because he doesn’t like their truth; international companies are deserting Turkey.

Foreign Direct Investment is already stalling in Turkey and will continue to do so as Orban influences Erdoğan – and Erdoğan influences Orban.

Mercedes have just announced a new engine plant in Poland – where Hungary already supplies engines for them.

I wonder why?

tappanch
Guest

Erdogan’s party AKP received 40.87% [49.50%] of the popular vote in the June [November] 2015 election.

So a “tiny” MAJORITY voted for other parties.

Abroad:
AKP carried the Austria, Germany and France & Benelux, Australia,
the Kurdish party HDP Sweden, Switzerland , UK, Canada while the secular CHP received the plurality of votes in Russia and US.

As you can see, Islamist Turks also move to Europe.

artus
Guest

I would say they (Turks living in Austria, Germany etc.) are Nationalist Turks – just like most emigrant people are conservative and right-wing.

Most Russians I know who live in the West adore Putin because now “Russia is respected and back from its knees”. This is how they feel, don’t say that the average Russian is poor etc., these Russians just don’t care, they feel better with Putin and this is what counts.

The Western Turks are relatively poor, second class people where they live and they also want to feel powerful and important and feared and respected. They think Erdogan can provide those. I’m not sure Islam is a huge part of the equation.

spectator
Guest

Correct me, please, if I’m wrong, but why should be anybody “feared” in order to be “respected”?
Aren’t we talking here about two mutually exclusive terms?
In my way of life I’m either fear someone (I have to yet experience this) or respect the person, but if there is well deserved respect, there is never fear.
If I’d ever fear of someone I’d probably hate both the situation and the person, whoever could that be.
Am I wrong in this, or the whole Orbán/Erdogan way of governing the people of a country elementary faulty and domed from day one?

the famous pogi
Guest

spectator, you a are an educated middle-class person (I would also assume white and male). You don’t know what it is to be a second class brown-skinned immigrant from a culture that is anything but democratic.

Respect and fear go hand in hand as fear is based on power and people respect power (they have no other choice you see, for if the power is real than such people can be overpowered which is not desirable).

It’s a great feeling for an average Russian that “they” (their community, Mother Russia) are taken seriously. You can criticize Russia but you cannot mock Russia any more. Those days are over and this feeling is worth everything for Russians.

Or Turks are taken now seriously because Erdogan plays hardball and if you don’t respect him (them) he will unleash a million immigrants on Europe. Previously you were a lowly immigrant but now you belong to the new Ottoman Empire lead by a feared strongman.

Hungarians love Orban because he plays (seems to play) hardball. They felt powerless, the leftists gave in to Brussels and the US but now vicariously they can feel powerful (if they believe Orban’s narrative, but most unfortunately do).

spectator
Guest

Thanks for the enlightenment!
I’m afraid the ‘flock instinct’ totally missing from my character, that’s the problem here.

Never was a fanatic follower of anybody or/and anything – like soccer or a party, etc., – hence I have no positive feelings, whatsoever, toward the chance of belonging to an ever so powerful group, even nation.

Never wanted to ‘rule’ anybody’s life, and never let anybody ‘rule’ mine.
However, I like to cooperate, but only on equal terms.
Yeah, hopelessly outdated!
Bad habits die hard, you know.

Roderick Beck
Guest

We Americans do mock Russia. It is a poor country with a one dimensional economy and bleak future. The economic statistics don’t lie.

Observer
Guest

@artus @pogi

You are right, I’m afraid. The issue is psychological, economic well being takes the backseat here (still important thought).

Take note all those democrats focusing on the issue of “authentic programs” (hiteles programok). Wrong way.

Guest

The essential point is:

Hungary is still at least 50 Years (maybe 100) behind and it still is a class society, just like under Horthy (or Kadar even, where Nomenklatura = upper class).
And since it is a really unimportant shitty Balkan country (unlike Russia, which btw is also going down the drain however …) nothing will change – unless Hungarians do something!

tappanch
Guest

“Fidesz has never changed its policies because of criticism coming from the West.”

Because any criticism was weak, half-hearted and short-lived.

Member

Wait a minute. Are you saying that if the US had stronger and more sustained criticism of Orbán’s government, he would say, “You know, you’re right. I really shouldn’t have done these things. I’ll change my policies right away.”

I think that is highly unlikely and naive!

Member

Probably not; and the US is probably even more concerned about NATO unity and Russian sanctions than about magyar manners. But the EU could certainly put a lot more pecuniary punch behind its equally faint plaints. It too seems to have more pressing priorities, but it remains a mystery why it doesn’t make the money talk, because for all his allergy to criticism, Orban certainly loves the dosh.
comment image

nwo
Guest

I think this is the main point. This Administration really only cares about about Hungary in context of larger regional issues. I suspect behind the scenes the point is being made loud & clear that Hu will “toe the line” on Russia sanctions. Also, I suspect the Americans have expressed their strong preference that Hungary’s migrant policy not further destabilize Europe.

Roderick Beck
Guest

Combined US and EU actions could isolate the country. Hungary depends on the US for its defense and actually gets a good deal of military hardware from us. It is also important to be on the right side of history and populist regimes have short life spans.

Member

I don’t think your comment is naive, Tappanch. You’re spot on, as far as I’m concerned. The US’ limpwristed policy gives Orban a pass on whatever he wants.
The Obama administration’s recent treatment of Hungary is similar to the way that Reagan and George HW Bush sidled up to Ceasescu for the sake of short-term strategic goals in the Cold War. Or Mobutu. Or Samoza.
Criticism is not going to change Orban’s government. Sanctions, suspension of voting rights in the EU, expulsion from NATO, the EU and the alphabet soup of other clubs won’t change Orban’s behavor either. But these actions might show that the West is playing hardball, and put pressure on Hungarians to oust him.
There will be no end to Orbanism without a Maidan-style showdown.

Member

Yes, I know it’s spelled “Somoza.” Sue me.

Roderick Beck
Guest

Banning 6 Hungarians on suspicion is not wimpy. Nor is Magyar Maidan likely. What is most likely is another financial crisis which forces Hungary to accept more IMF reforms. The IMF Sunk the Socialists. In any case, the key player is Germany, not the US.

zuteuer
Guest
Some of us have told here that after Mr. Goodfriend, there was gonna be a total reset in the US-Hungarian relationship. And Mr. Goodfriend’s future career in the US is actually consistent with the assumption that he was sent home at the behest of the Orban government and that most likely there wasn’t a private matter in the background (in which case Mr. Goodfriend would’ve gotten a job, even as a cover, more befitting a respected, experienced diplomat). Nope, he was recalled as a direct result of the machinations of the Hungarian deep state. And no matter how “experienced and knowledgeable” the old mandarins at State supposedly were (as some here claimed), Orban was again gonna dazzle the clueless Ms. Bell. (Remember that the political appointees are directly wired into the ass of the Party in power and that is a fact that is certainly not lost on any – more experienced or wiser – bureaucrat who would like to have a long and successful career). So why the big surprise? My conclusion is that many regular commenters here, perhaps including Prof. Balogh, who otherwise are very critical cannot easily come to terms with the fact that their own government… Read more »
Member
“Nope, he was recalled as a direct result of the machinations of the Hungarian deep state. ” Completely untrue, of course. By now I thought it was common knowledge why Goodfriend was recalled, but you obviously were not informed. Let’s just say it had something to do with his personal behavior while here and nothing to do with “the machinations of the Hungarian deep state” (unless they set him up, which is possible). “Smart tyrants will always be able to dazzle and dupe and fool supposedly sophisticated Westerners.” Well, Bell made her criticism of specific aspects of the Orbán regime quite clear in her speech at Corvinus University, so she is certainly not duped and fooled as you would like others to believe. What if anything in this speech contradicts that speech? I didn’t hear Bell complimenting the state of NGOS in Hungary, or freedom of the press, etc, but rather the state of the relationship between the two countries. I think Bell’s complimentary tone of the relationship between the US and Hungary as evidence that America is achieving its objectives here and that Hungary is giving the US pretty much whatever it wants, albeit in a non-public way. Finally,… Read more »
Guest

Fidesz troll under a different name again?

You’re too transparent!

zuteuer
Guest

No trolling here, this is the sad truth.

Guest

Nonsense!

Let’s take an example …
Just read and try to understand this:
Europe and the United States are going to continue to stand united, sustaining sanctions for as long as they are necessary, and providing assistance to Ukraine until full implementation of the Minsk agreement…. Hungary has made economic sacrifices to support Russian sanctions, and you have done so with the full awareness of their greater purpose.

zutetuer
Guest

Since when do you believe every word politicians utter in inane diplomatic speeches?

zutetuer
Guest

Sorry, diplomats. Same shit though.

Member

If you don’t believe Colleen Bell’s words, then what makes you think she’s been “dazzled and duped”? You really seem to be contradicting yourself!

Guest

Our troll doesn’t ( want to …) understand that the seemingly innocuous words I quoted are really very strong – read them again!
They are a kind of reminder of what the USA (and the EU) expect from Hungary!

Member

Goodfriend’s recall had nothing to do with the “machinations” of the Hungarian government. Trust me, it is quite well-known why he had to leave his post and it had nothing to do with Orbán and the Hungarian government (unless perhaps he was set up).

tappanch
Guest
Guest
London Calling! Just as in her last speech – which too was a panegyric (too much so) – Colleen failed to tell Hungary that it had spinach stuck in its teeth – even though claiming to be a friend. The USA has been rendered impotent by Russia’s actions in Syria in the face of international critical criticism that is obvious for all to see – that Putin is a war criminal supporting a fellow war criminal. The USA even in her speech still advocates regime change. And who still supports Russia – fully? Orban and Hungary. She ‘recognises’ that Hungary has suffered from sanctions against Russia! Export-wise who hasn’t? Hungary only supports EU sanctions against Russia because, quite rightly, it would lose the funds it so willingly embezzles. It’s a cynical balancing act that has nothing to do with statesmanship. Colleen says: “By the same token, Hungarians still have work to do as well. As Assistant Secretary Nuland made clear, our ability to support Hungary depends upon the commitment of its leaders to put their people and country first. All those who call themselves reformers must clean up corruption, restore justice, and liberalize their economy. 2016 can and should be… Read more »
Guest

“That is why our two militaries conduct joint exercises so often and so flawlessly, why the International Law Enforcement Academy in Budapest is such a success story, and why our security, defense, and law enforcement cooperation works so well. ….”

This is the ‘Acadamy’ where Armenian serviceman Gurgen Margaryan was murdered!!

And where Hungary and Azerbaijan concluded a deal to extradite and free the Azerbaijani army officer, Ramil Safarov,

As relations continue to deteriorate between Azerbaijan and Armenia – war is on the brink – what planet is Colleen on?

Some success!

Member

Colleen Bell sharply criticized the Orbán administration during her speech at Corvinus University.

Tell me – when has the British Ambassador to Hungary ever criticized Orbán? I would like to know this.

Also, Cameron has met with Orbán at least twice. Don’t you think this has legitimized the latter’s rule? (Obama has never had a private meeting with Orbán.)

See Matthew 7:3

Guest

Better to say nothing than engage in doublespeak?

I understand you enlisting British Ambassadors for your argument and am flattered that you imply that Britain has the same clout as the USA.

However this is Hungarian Spectrum.

Member

Well, Colleen Bell sharply criticized the Orbán administration during her speech at Corvinus University.

Tell me – when has the British Ambassador to Hungary ever criticized Orbán? I would like to know this.

Also, Cameron has met with Orbán at least twice. Don’t you think this has legitimized the latter’s rule? (Obama has never had a private meeting with Orbán.)

Guest

So many points to discuss …

Just a few remarks.
Re Turkey:
You shouldn’t generalise about the positions of the emigrants – it’s true that many poor people came to Germany eg and these are or were rather conservative but the next generation is more complicated. The boss of our German Greens is a young Turk …

Re Mercedes and other investments by German companies – it’s just diversification, don’t put all your eggs in one basket! So if one factory has problems, just close it or move it – and this has been done by many companies already! I remember several clothing companies which used to manufacture stuff in Hungary – they all left for Romania or Asia, no worry for them …

Re the importance of the small Balkan countries like Hungary in general:

My standard example is the product description on stuff we buy in the Hungarian Aldi or Lidl- it often is in around 20 languages …
So if you lose one of those countries as a customer, who really cares?
Hungary is just another fly speck …

Guest

Yes – you should always split your suppliers so they can’t hold you to ransom.

Mercedes already manufactures engines in many countries, besides Hungary.

Even in India!

Apart from the enormous number it efficiently manufactures in Germany.

It also uses Renault engines because German engineers have little experience in making small engines.

Mercedes is one of the widest diversified manufacturing companies and opening in Poland is a surprise – when you already have a large investment in Hungary.

Guest

I think there’s some misunderstanding there – Audi’s Hungarian factory makes mainly Diesel engines for all of Volkswagen – Mercedes makes small cars. Btw many Germans would say that these small cars are not “real Mercedes” …

A bit OT:
Some time ago a family member visited us here with his RV based on the Mecedes Vito small lorry and had technical problems, a fuse had blown. He didn’t know where to look so I helped him and then was reminded by the instruction book that this was a car made in Spain in the factory that Mercedes had built together with Mitsubishi. So the car he was driving was essentially a Mitsubishi – just the Diesel engine was real Mercedes …

The amount of cooperation between the big car companies is almost unbelievable!

Istvan
Guest
As Eva has effectively pointed out in the past Ambassador Ball is a figure head political appointee as have been many other US Ambassador’s to Hungary. In her case this is extremely the case given the fact that her professional background was in day time TV though a franchise that was inherited. There is little doubt her speech was written by State Department professionals. I see the generally positive tone in her speech as being heavily based on two things in my opinion. One, the corrupt Hungarian government has largely ended attempts at illegally extorting money from US owned companies in Hungary following Mr. Goodfriend’s public exposing those extortion attempts. This factor was left unsaid in the Ambassador’s speech. Two, a factor, a very critical factor that is not reported in the Hungarian media much, that Hungarian troops in Erbil now play a very critical security role in defending Kurdistan’s oil fields and MOL plays a critical and profitable role in the extraction of that oil. The Ambassador discussed this role in passing in her speech. Because of the largely Kurdish assault now more heavily supported by US combat troops in a supposed advisory role to retake Mosul and attacks… Read more »
tappanch
Guest

MOL has a 20% stake in the Shaikan oil field [Gulf Keystone, incorporated in Bermuda and shares traded in London has 75%, Texas Keystone 5%]. It produces about 40 thousand barrels of oil that is trucked to Turkey. The site is close the chief Yazidi shrine in Lalish and about 25 kms from the Da’esh frontline.

http://www.energy-pedia.com/news/iraq/new-164987
http://www.energy-pedia.com/news/iraq/new-165185

p. 52
https://molgroup.info/images/molgroup/pdf/investor_relations/MOL_IR_Presentation-May_2016.pdf

Member

Mme Bell and alike need to comprehend one day that speeches like these are an embarrassment to all of the “other” Hungary that tries to do something about this regime. By saying that, I do not disagree at all with the valid points made by Shoopy@, or Istvan@. Never mind what is the deal behind it, this speech is still a spit in the face. I refuse to contemplate the strategic importance of Hungary in Iraqi Kurdistan when it comes to the same appearance when the same hook has been swallowed again by the same DoD. Do you remember Afghanistan where Hungary’s “strategic” role was used repeatedly as long-term silencer?
Therefore, I am 100% with Eva@ on this.

Istvan
Guest

After I was out of the military, but still working as a contractor for the Department of Defense I once was watching former Secretary of the Defense, Donald Rumsfeld at a press conference. He was being questioned by a reporter about some let us say unsavory friends of the USA.

Normally these questions are just sort of talked around or something positive is noted about the country, the classic is that its a developing democracy. But for what ever reason Rumsfeld lost it with the reporter and says something like this: In this world we can’t always pick our friends, we have to take them as we find them. I said to myself that was an incredibly honest answer. The United States can be let us say incredibly Machiavellian in certain situations. All great powers can be for that matter.

But one happy speech about Hungary doesn’t necessarily mean the next speech will be equally happy. Neither Obama nor Merkel can save Hungary from totalitarianism, the people of Hungary are the only ones that can do that.

Guest
Re:’Neither Obama nor Merkel can save Hungary from totalitarianism, the people of Hungary are the only ones that can do that’. Absolutely true. It will be interesting to see if in the next few years US efforts which focus solely on a philosophy of diplomatic language communication will be able to forestall that occurrence within the country. To read the tea leaves one must pay rigorous attention to the things unsaid rather than said when Magyarorszag and Hungary ‘chat’. But when you have representatives like Bayer mouthing off that the US is responsible for the ‘dreadful situation in the world’ one has to question his polarized judgment if he only puts the US into that very very special category. Poor guy he must be getting no sleep with Magyarorszag and Russia then picking up the resulting detritus. Sorry Zsolt! We’ll see if ‘diplomacy’ for the present and future can deal with that. All in all the US would seem to make sure it worries less about engaging in hubris and more about making sure it isn’t getting played with an Orban card hand when Magyarorszag talks. Multilateralism would seem to be a fine diplomatic style but its effect can be… Read more »
Member

Istvan@, we are on the same wave, but … you talk tactics and honesty and I mean strategy and interests… A spit to the face is still a spit. What I am saying is that DoD and minor concessions from the great leader should not be the main driver of bilateral relations. Not with Hungary. The lead should be taken back by the DoS. This is the same pit like Afghanistan and the years of apologetic silence, that came thereafter in a very critical period (for Hungary’s times). If your assessment is correct than the Hungarian side made fool of you and us again.
The case of Turkey is explicable to some degree, but this US behavior under the same administration is contradictory towards Hungary, the least to say. Moreover, it proved to be wrong and had been corrected already twice.
That is why I am with Eva@ on this, 100%.

Roderick Beck
Guest

I doubt the Hungarian military is worth a rat’s ass to my country (USA). In Afghanistan Hungarians troops refused night patrol on the grounds it was too dangerous. Hungary does not have a distinguished military or tradition.

botond
Guest
Guest

Here are Scott Adams’ original words:
http://blog.dilbert.com/post/143944074406/a-few-observations-on-clinton-trump-persuasion
If Trump really becomes POTUS then we can be sure of either a new Dark Age or some kind of revolution …

Aliens watching us from afar might take this a a proof that evolution on Earth is a blind alley – good bye, humankind!

Roderick Beck
Guest

Highly stupid. Trump has alienated as many people as he possibly can. He is God’s Gift to the Democratic Party. He will lose big time.

Ákos
Guest

Just to give you an idea about Fidesz’ prowess: it won 86% of the votes in Abádszalók (Jobbik 16%) at the mayoral election.

The left was completely absent as in other rural towns.

People can write whatever they want but Fidesz and Jobbik are kings outside Budapest. Rural voters want nothing to with out of touch liberals (see also Austria).

There is now way urban leftists can stop this with their present performance.

http://444.hu/2016/05/08/a-fideszes-balogh-gyulat-elsopro-tobbseggel-valasztottak-polgarmesternek-abadszalokon

Guest

Troll!

spectator
Guest

So what, darling?
Would it make your Lord and Sire — the name “Orbán”, in case you wonder — less corrupt, more civilised, less megalomaniac and more ‘European”?

I won’t, whatever you do.

Conclusively, you must continue to give all your love and everything you own to the same crook, and lick his ass ad infinitum.

This is all what you going to gain in the foreseeable future!
I hope that you’re really happy with the option, because this is the only one you’ll ever have!

Have a good day, nevertheless!

Observer
Guest

Forget the Star of Bethlehem, follow the star of Abádszalók !!

Ndy - elephant vs. mouse
Guest
Ndy - elephant vs. mouse

The see-saw of American Diplomacy is disturbing.
Orban hasn’t changed the essential approach to his dictatorial style. So apparently the US is leaving the dictators (such as Assad) without really clamping down on them. ditto for the Orban method.

Orban still governs without the essential ‘checks and balances’ while ibeing right in the middle of Europe!

If the US does not retain a consistent policy it will be very difficult to keep Hungary in line as a trustworthy and steady “western” ally.

If the military contribution of Hungary is important in the Syrian issue then the Ambassador could praisae Hungary on that contribution but to completely disregard the general direction of hierarchical politics in Hungary is like an elephant bowing to a mouse !

spectator
Guest

And why would it be the US concern, if it doesn’t have any effect on the EU and the Hungarians just miserable cowards to act upon all the disgrace what this unholy bunch of illiterate thieves let fall over the country?

It first and foremost Hungarian problem with the Hungarian people in the leading roll to solve it. And the Hungarian people cowering in their retreat, and as they best they trying to organise some or other protest rallies once in a while.

Oh, didn’t worked..? Sorry, maybe next time, when hopefully all the people who promised will participate…

Or after that, but then it really…

Just give me a break, will you?

Nobody really cares, neither inside, nor outside of Hungary.

“The same procedure as last year, Miss Sophie?”
“The same procedure as every year, James!”

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