In Viktor Orbán’s world is foreign policy the handmaiden of propaganda?

The storm created by János Lázár’s comments about American designs on Europe and George Soros’s vital role in shaping U.S. foreign policy hasn’t subsided. One commentator after another is trying to figure out what this frontal attack against the United States. and particularly against the Democratic Party, is all about. Viktor Orbán’s radio interview this morning further stoked the fire because, echoing earlier remarks by his foreign minister and chief-of-staff, Orbán accused George Soros of masterminding the anti-Hungarian policies of the current U.S. government. In a way, the Orbán government is injecting itself into the presidential campaign, indicating that Hungary’s interests are aligned with the opponent of Hillary Clinton who, we can by now be all but certain, will be Donald Trump.

Viktor Orbán didn’t say anything new over and above what Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó and János Lázár, head of the prime minister’s office, said on Wednesday and Thursday. The difference was that Viktor Orbán himself repeated all the nonsense we heard earlier from his underlings. He made no effort to backpedal. Although the complete transcript of his interview is still not available, the few sentences most newspapers quote are indicative of the prime minister’s thoughts on the subject of “the American plans inspired by [George] Soros.” We learn from Orbán that “George Soros is behind the leaders of the Democratic party and although the mouth is that of Clinton, the idea belongs to George Soros.” Soros’s “clandestine power” (háttérhatalom or, in German, Hintergrundmacht) is far greater than Hungary’s domestic opposition

Of course, one’s first reaction is that the man is mad or, as the foreign policy expert of Gábor Fodor’s Magyar Liberális Party, István Szent-Iványi, suggested, the members of the Orbán government demonstrate signs of paranoia or suffer persecutory delusions. Surely, these utterances cannot be taken at face value. It is ridiculous even to spend time and energy pointing out their absurdity. And yet, whatever we think of Szijjártó, Lázár, and Orbán, we can be sure that they are not that mad. Therefore, Szent-Iványi’s final verdict–that “they lost their critical faculties, which poses a great danger to the country”–is off target.

I myself am guilty of lamenting the negative reaction of foreign leaders to Hungary as a result of these incredible statements by politicians in important governmental positions. It is hard to fathom that the prime minister of a middle-sized European country would spin these bizarre, utterly unbelievable tales. I often ask my friends: “Are they not ashamed of themselves?” A very pragmatic American friend usually answers after such outbursts: “No, try to understand. They don’t care.”

A friend from Hungary goes further. Not only do they not care, but all this is nothing but propaganda for domestic consumption. Right now they have only one goal: a valid referendum that would prove that the Hungarian electorate overwhelmingly rejects the resettlement of any refugees on the territory of Hungary. So, to further the cause, time to dredge up Orbán’s bogeyman again. The brain or brains behind Fidesz propaganda, perhaps Árpád Habony, may have come up with the idea of personalizing this attack against Hungary. George Soros represents the antithesis of Hungarian Christian/national values. He’s a financial speculator who moves money around instead of doing honest work that produces tangible products. He is a Jew with Hungarian ties who funds enemies of the Hungarian government. He is a liberal with an international reach. His Open Society Foundations “work to build vibrant and tolerant democracies whose governments are accountable to their citizens.”


All in all, linking Soros’s name with some wild theory of a hidden, antagonistic power might ring true with a large segment of the Hungarian electorate. According to a poll conducted by Political Capital, a think tank, 42% of Hungarians believe that it is not the Hungarian government that in effect conducts the affairs of state but that “somebody in the background is pulling the strings.” As long as the Soros story resonates, Viktor Orbán could care less whether the world thinks he is mad or whether Hungarian-U.S. relations suffer as a consequence. He doesn’t care whether, if Hillary Clinton becomes the next U.S. president, she and her husband might remember his comments. Someone suggested to me that in fact Orbán turns up the volume in order to create even greater noise, calling attention to himself.

György Balavány, who before 2010 worked for the then pro-Fidesz opposition paper, Magyar Nemzet, wrote an editorial in which he said, “I don’t know whether the prime minister believes what he says. If he does it is really worrisome, but it is an even bigger worry if the people believe all the nonsense he spreads around.” It seems that Orbán’s advisers are convinced that Hungarians will believe him, that this strategy will achieve the desired result. And that is the only thing that matters at the moment.

May 20, 2016
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Gyula Bognar Jr
May 20, 2016 8:11 pm

There are no two Words, (domestic and foreign) as the viktor arranged his life in politics. There isn’t just domestic consumption and another World outside of Hungary, that does not care, does not matter . Today information travels at light speed everywhere in this ONE WORLD.
The more idiocy the viktor spreads to his domestic consumers, the more detached Hungary and the Hungarians become from the WORLD.
As a result of the viktor’s evil reputation, Hungarian travelers, when recognized abroad (especially who don’t speak foreign languages) will be looked at, as if they came from another planet. They will be called perhaps Orbanians, of Fidelians.
In some countries, the locals will surround them, poking and observing one or two, to find out if they are built similarly to humans.
I know how it feels. Not long ago, I was treated like that in a remote village in China, when I got lost and got in the very, very poor section of the village, where the locals rarely or never seen foreigners. And they did not even know, that I was born in Hungary. Thank God!

May 20, 2016 8:30 pm

What’s the big surprise?

Pyutin has ordered Orban, and his ilk, to attack the Democrats because he wants the hapless (not to mention, hopeless) Trumpet to succeed. His confreres in the basement boilers rooms of the KGB have informed him that there’s a major disconnect between the military services and Trump.

(Oh, the fun we will have if Trump should win!)

May 20, 2016 9:08 pm

On a daily basis, I see the enormous disconnect between empathy and apothy in Budapest. The stark contrast between the have’s and have not’s here is equalled only in countries like India. It’s brutal.

Seriously poor people digging into rubbish bins for bottles and cans, whilst a new Audi parks next to them; the 20 year old driver then puts a disabled badge on the windshield so he doesn’t have to pay for parking. _today.

The Soros connection is just another weak deflection from Fidesz, putting up a screen against their direct accountability. It means nothing to the majority here.

Every move they make is based upon self enrichment, at the expense of any other factor. All their external posturing, on an EU or world level is only a blocking tactic, to achieve their wealth, at the expense of any normal human and countries values.

May 21, 2016 1:10 am

“Orbán turns up the volume in order to create even greater noise, calling attention to himself.”

I often call our PM “Ordibáló Orbán” and believe that much of what he does is like the actions of a school child who is desperate for attention. As I said before, much of his behaviour is to do with his turbulent childhood at the hands of his nasty and violent father.

May 21, 2016 1:47 am

Slight correction (I’m sure Eva knows this already): Orban is not and never has echoing his underlings: They are always echoing (sometimes even channeling) him. They were picked for that. And no doubt incessantly briefed and drilled on it (in advance).

So Szijarto (as always) said exactly what he was bidden to say. (He is intellectually incapable of anything else anyway. Without Orban’s patronage he’d be — and always have been — a clerk somewhere…)

And, yes, increasingly, a close third for Orban — and hence his minions — after plunder and propaganda is paranoia; and as the situation becomes ruinous, it may well overtake the other two. That’s if his co-conspirators don’t turn on him first, before he sinks the leaking Hungarian ship of state…

May 21, 2016 1:53 am

Orban kills two birds with one stone. On the one hand he can express his support for Trump and carry on with his crusade against Soros (who by the way helped him with his political career back in the late 1980-ies) . On the other hand it serves as perfect distraction from the Questor scandal,where there have already been two rather suspicious deaths, and next week the case is likely to be dropped by the court due to the shady and insufficient activities of the prosecutors. So Tarsoly is going to be let off without any consquences concerning the tens of billions of HUF they stole from the citizens who just wanted to invest their money with government guarantee.

May 21, 2016 2:47 am

They (foreign leaders) don’t care because Hungary is irrelevant.
Hungary is irrelevant in part because it no longer plays a constructive role.
Orban can say whatever he wants about the American presidential candidates, and it will have zero effect on the outcome of the American presidential election.
Hungary is completely irrelevant to American politics – and why? The per capita GDP of Hungary is less than half of the per capita GDP of Mississippi. If Hungary were to stop trading with the US next year, it would mean nothing to the US. The stock market might even go up.
It would mean something to Hungary – the Hungarian economy would doubtless suffer -, because Hungary enjoys a rather large surplus in trade with the US. But for the US? Who cares.

May 21, 2016 7:15 am
Webber you are generally correct about the limited economic relevance of Hungary to the United States. But in relationship to the United States and our global conflict with the Russian Federation Hungary has some relevance. Hungary has also been useful in relationship to Kurdistan and the fight against ISIS. NATO and US forces are now having almost daily intercepts of Russian fighters and war ships around the world, the Untied States military is preparing for conflict with the Federation as it should be. We are strategically increasing both military and economic pressure on Russia following it invasion of Ukraine. The United States has moved NATO to implement the Readiness Action Plan which can be read about here The Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, which is sandwiched between Poland and Lithuania, has become increasingly militarized. Russia’s use of Kaliningrad is clearly intended to intimidate the Baltic states. On April 15, Mikhail Aleksandrov, the leading expert at Moscow State University’s Center for Military-Political Studies (supported by the arms-industry concern Almaz-Antey), boasted that the Russian Armed Forces can establish effective control over Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia within 2–3 days, and the North Atlantic Alliance would be unable to react in time (, April… Read more »
May 21, 2016 2:49 am

As we know, the Orban regime is set up as a military hierarchy. The FIDESZ believers are just like soldiers carrying out everything that was commanded from above from the Great leader himself. Sorry, I am wrong here, it is not a military chain of command, it is a Mafia… Those who do not remember, should dig up the historical facts of the past 15 or so years about what has happened to the opponents of the regime, and look at the series of suspicious deaths that interestingly enough always occurred to the antagonists that tried to shed light on the corrupt practices of Orban & Co… Now, if the western leaders of the day were OK with everything that was and is going on in this sick autocratic regime, then we cannot expect the average Hungarian people, most of whom are cut of from the real sources of information about their rulers, to rise against this despot and its regime…

May 21, 2016 3:07 am

In Soros’s “pay”

Viktor Orban: April 1988 to (?) 1990
József Szájer: 1986 – 1987
Tamas Deutsch: 1989
Zsolt Nemeth: 1988 – 1989
Maria Schmidt: 1985-1988
Zoltan Kovacs: 1994-1995

May 21, 2016 3:33 am

Biting the hand that fed them. As they are biting the EU hand that is currently feeding them. Typically Hungarian.

May 21, 2016 3:12 am

The Orban government wants to nationalize the independent “foundation” (private) schools too:

May 21, 2016 3:22 am

Two photos from a soccer game on May 20.

Two buddies – Orban and Chief non-Prosecutor Polt

Jobbik leader Vona is not very far from Israeli ambassador Mor.

May 21, 2016 3:28 am

A photo taken on May 17:

Two buddies – Matolcsy and Chief non-Prosecutor Polt:

May 21, 2016 4:33 am

Polt is not willing to investigate Matolcsy for giving away public money to friends, family and Polt’s wife

Matolcsy is not willing to investigate his own cousin, the banker Szemerey for giving public money to himself

Matolcsy is not willing to investigate Maria Schmidt and the Orban government for insider trading or worse.

May 21, 2016 4:39 am
May 21, 2016 8:21 am

Can we keep up spelling standards, please?

Tappanch – your spelling is usually excellent.

But M8tolcsy is spelt M8tolcsy.


May 21, 2016 3:27 am
I think, in this case, Orban believes what he says. People in the past said about the leaders of certain extremist regimes that they were just spouting nonsense for the public, or for their supporters, and that they didn’t really believe what they were saying, that they were “obviously more intelligent than that: after all they got to power, didn’t they?” This, too, is form of festishization of those in power – an assumption that those in power must be sane. Why assume a person is mentally stable just because s/he was able to get to power? I can think of several extremist leaders from the past who actually did believe what they were saying. Why not take Orban at his word, for a change? I find it makes him a lot more comprehensible. It is a lot less difficult to understand him if I assume that he means every word he says. Those who try to find his tactics hidden in his words always fall short. They are always surprised. He is as mad as he seems. He really believes in the Bilderberg conspiracy, that Freemasons are trying to control the world, that the inhabitant of the White House… Read more »
May 21, 2016 3:38 am

Completely agree. Orban believes this. He has been of this opinion for years now.

It’s more like people cannot come to terms with the fact that Orban, whom most educated types in Hungary at one point (perhaps 25 years ago, but once) used to like or respect, became this deranged corrupt monster.

Also people have hard time facing their own failure and naiveness in having believed all the bullshit this tyrant told them.

But yes, Orban absolutely believes this shit. A few years ago I had the opportunity to dine just the next table from him in Aranyszarvas, at that time a regular spot for Fideszniks (especially when Schmitt was the president whose office was located not far) and he was talking like a madman to, I think, Ferenc Miszlivetz all evenening long about such Bogar Laszlo-type global conspiracies.

Madness does not imply inability to move around in everyday life with relative easeness. The bigger problem is that most people around him (including people in the security branches) also fully subscribe to these theories.

May 21, 2016 8:34 am

“…….most people around him (including people in the security branches) also fully subscribe to these theories.”

Most of Hungary actually.

At least all the viewers of Echo TV; the readership of Majgar Idrok (you know who I mean!)

And most ‘consumers’ of Orban’s media.

And the husband of a woman we helped move to England – who believed Isreal had nuclear weapons in bunkers in Hungary; that the Jews were repossessing all the housing stock in Hungary – the reason that he lost his house (don’t suppose it was because you stopped paying the mortgage was it?); and that the repossessed houses were for the Jews to move in to Hungary.

I’m still waiting for the ‘Jews’ to arrive in our village after 2 years – and still waiting. No sign of them.

(Can somebody help me how you can discern a person’s religion from their a appearance?)

Conspiracy Theories everywhere.

Sadly this has impacted how Hungarians treat refugees.

Albrecht Neumerker
May 21, 2016 11:13 am

Jews everywhere but you can’t see them.

May 21, 2016 7:59 am

Today 3:27 am

I also agree. Completely.

I also think that this is a large part of his appeal for Hungarians, most of whom also believe in nefarious Jewish plots to destroy Hungary.

I also have no doubt that Orbán had actually always believed these things, which he no doubt first got exposed to as a teenager and young man within the family circle.

Publicly, he concealed these beliefs for a while, but then he decided to just go with the flow, especially since outing himself on these matters may well increase his popularity with his support base.

May 21, 2016 7:46 am

Re: the ‘madness’

Just entertaining the thought that the situation we see could be the result of Orban being disconnected from daily life and pretty much removed from some realities ‘out there’ in the great big wide world…if we assume Magyarorszag is a backwater off the Donau. Autocrats are solipsistic by nature and the ego no doubt rides high. Perhaps we are seeing the effects.

May 21, 2016 8:46 am

London Calling!

One of the considerations that you seemed to have missed – or not overtly expressed, is that Orban and his thugs really believe that flea Hungary can really influence World Politics and events.

Orban (and M8tolcsy at least) really do believe that the World is watching their every move.

Orban really does believe he is saving Europe and Zoltan Kovács believes that surreptitiously, everyone is admiring Hungary. (ZK has to out-lying-toad all his other rival thugs to prove his position in the lying-toad pack.)

Given this delusion, I believe that Orban really does think he can influence the elections in the US.

He is dissing the Democrats to ensure a Trump victory.

And all his thugs really do believe the conspiracy theories of Echo TV – and probably David Icke.


But true.

May 21, 2016 8:56 am

I forgot to add – They have seen the reports that the R’s are only 3% behind the D’s and they just need to nudge the snowball over the cliff.

I must say I’m getting a bit nervous!

May 21, 2016 9:17 am

Do you think all the ‘Soros’ stuff is a preamble for doing something terminal to the CEU?

And revenge for Colleen Bell’s speeches – at least the last one she gave in the CEU?

She quoted Obama – but was using other miscreants as an allegory for Hungary:

“…….that rule of law was one of the three pillars of “real democracy” in the transatlantic community, just as much as fair elections and free press.”

She said specifically about Hungary:

“Corruption in Hungary is a concern, quite clearly a serious concern of average Hungarians, as public polls consistently show. Corruption knows no borders. It is a global problem.”

However this was after a long diatribe about ‘corruption’ that really could only be about Hungary .

Watch out CEU – the sword of Damocles us hanging over you.

I think Orban is expecting you to come into the tent……

May 21, 2016 9:53 am

Well, apart from the obligatory two-minutes’s hate (see also George Orwell), it seems to be that Orban, Lazar, etc. are gearing the Hungarian public to have someone to blame for what might be the imminent economic collapse of the country. Soros (and his immigrant hordes) will do nicely. Gyurcsany is not quite powerful enough to continue being the Emmanuel Goldstein figure.

May 21, 2016 11:24 am

CEU has some Orbanites among the teaching staff, and regularly hosts others (someone mentioned Miszlivetz, above). All part of an open society. All, also, very prudent.

May 21, 2016 10:44 am

O/T but with a common thread…..

Watch out, the largest retailer in Hungary.

Orban’s on record as wanting to nationalise the Banks – that’s why he reduced the bank tax so M8tolcsy’s banks don’t have to pay it (or be seen to pay it for EU scrutiny).

He wants to nationalise the retail industry too.

That Tesco’s is oblivious of any behind-the-scene moves it’s probably true then.

We have seen how Putin works – if he wants your business you have to sell it to him cheap.

Some of Orban’s oligarchs have used the technique too.

It’s worrying – and probably true then – that Tesco’s knows nothing::

….”The paper reminded that János Lázár, the minister at the helmp of the Prime Minister’s Office, remarked last Thursday that besides the energy and banking sector the cabinet aims to obtain majority Hungarian ownership also in the retail sector. We have already pointed out that obtaining state ownership of over 50% would be reached in one fell swoop by acquiring Tesco, but Magyar Idők said Lázár’s comment…..”

Tesco’s have made a loss in the last two years – which is near the special-for-Tesco threshold for continuing in business.

May 21, 2016 11:22 am

On the other hand:

If the Tesco shops were to be taken over by some Hungarian owner then the prices would surely rise an enormous amount and the competition (Auchan, Spar, Aldi, Lidl, Penny …) would be happy because of the additional customers – Hungarians may be stupid, but not that much!

Our neighbours (just like us …) will never be seen at a CBA – only the poor old ladies walk there for a chat and a little bit of shopping …

May 21, 2016 12:11 pm

A really “nice” example of Hungarian racism that’s going around on facebook:


Wonder if our new troll will comment on this?
If it doesn’t show – here’s the story:
The picture of a pregnant woman with the text:
Cigányok Indiaban
Zsidok Izraelben
Magyarok Magyarországon!
Really pretty, n’est ce pas?

May 21, 2016 12:40 pm

Sorry Wolfi, that link didn’t work (and the Google explanation was in Spanish!)

May 21, 2016 1:00 pm

Yeah, some thing’s fishy there …
Try this.
https://scontent-fra3 and add

May 21, 2016 12:27 pm

New survey published. The surveyors asked 1050 Hungarian voters regarding their opinion on current events. Hungarian only. Sorry.

May 21, 2016 3:24 pm

The building of servilism factories goes ahead at full speed:

The liberal European Union gave 6 billion forints to develop new, experimental history textbooks for high schools.

The new book speaks about liberalism as “rejected” , and a “mistaken idea”.
Thirty out of 32 figures and 44 out of 57 maps have some error in them.

May 21, 2016 3:41 pm

BBJ just published the latest official KSH numbers for average wages – unbelievable!
The average gross nominal earnings of full-time employees, according to national concept reached HUF 253,800 in the period of January to March at corporations employing at least five persons, budgetary and designated non-profit institutions, KSH added. Average gross earnings were the highest in financial and insurance fields at HUF 511,100, and the lowest in human health and social services fields, at HUF 150,700, KSH noted.
Are more relevant numbers like median, quartiles etc available somewhere?

Does that number of 150 700 include doctors? Even “just for nurses” it looks ridiculously low …

May 21, 2016 5:25 pm

The data was published yesterday.
Highlights, March 2016 [March 2015]:

Average gross earnings of employees:
264,318 HUF around 839 euros
This includes 242,994 regular monthly and 21,324 HUF irregular income.

Average net earnings:
175,772 HUF or 558 euros.

No quartiles, deciles or medians are published.

Number of people working abroad, who are counted in the Hungarian statistics below:
undisclosed this time. [a free variable to come up with any number they like]

Number of fostered workers: 170.9 [150.9],
their gross earnings 78,847 HUF = 250 euros a month for full time work.

Number of people working for

for-profit enterprises: 1962.9 [1897.9] thousand
government: 695.7 [697.8]
not-for-profit companies: 108.4 [96.7]

May 22, 2016 3:23 am

Thanks, tappanch!

Shouldn’t more detailed numbers, including the distribution of the values, be published?
This is really ridiculous – obviously the government wants to hide a lot of “bad info”!
Just separating the values for the people in DACH which make at least four times as much money as in Hungary would be an eye opener.
But of course many/most people must know that – everybody we meet dreams of getting a job abroad …

May 22, 2016 6:56 am
Not too much OT: Just heard from a family member whose company is a subcontractor that it’s getting almost impossible to get qualified workers! All the good people in his profession have left – the rest are either lazy, stupid or alcoholics, some times all of the above … Or they are totally frustrated because (maybe for family reasons or because of language problems) they can’t/won’t go abroad – and he can’t pay them half of what they would earn in Austria etc … Just a few days ago there was a safety check and one of the workers was caught with 2 promille alcohol – which cost his boss a large fine. This reminds me of the time around 15 years ago when my house got a new roof. One of the workers (an elderly man) was occupied for sentimental reasons but had to let go when he was caught the second time without a helmet working the little elevator that transported the shingles to the roof. The builder told me it would mean his company’s ruin if something fell down and hurt the guy without the helmet … I still remember this guy walking over regularly to our… Read more »
May 22, 2016 6:19 pm

Tnx Tappanch. The link, if you please, to save me time.
I am slow sifting through the multitude of KSZH tables.