European solidarity and Orbán’s Hungary

It would be far juicier to write about György Matolcsy’s fascination with Buddhist ten-million multiplier days, which seem to direct the work of the Hungarian National Bank, and his new girlfriend’s fabulous pay of 1.7 million forints a month that she receives from four different foundations of the bank and as a researcher of Indian culture and philosophy. But I think I should return, even if briefly, to the affairs of the European Union, especially since Jean-Claude Juncker delivered his State of the Union Message to the European Parliament today.

Juncker’s speech was almost an hour long, and its primary aim was to pour oil on troubled waters, caused mostly by Viktor Orbán’s assiduous efforts to turn the countries of the Visegrád 4 against the European Union. In fact, Orbán spent the day in Bulgaria, working hard to convince Prime Minister Boyko Borissov to support his cause. I would be surprised if Borissov would oblige since he has been working closely with the European Commission on the defense of the Bulgarian-Turkish border, as we learned from Juncker’s speech.

juncker

In comparison to some of Juncker’s past speeches, this one was beseeching rather than strident. He tried to convince those countries that throw seeds of discord into the soil of the Union to be more constructive. He appealed to them, saying: “Europe can only work if speeches supporting our common project are not only delivered in this honorable House, but also in the parliaments of all our member states.” In plain language, don’t foment ill feelings against the common cause at home, as European politicians often do.

Juncker pretty much admitted that the European Union is broken at the moment. As he put it, “I believe the next twelve months are decisive if we want to reunite our Union. If we want to overcome the tragic divisions between east and west which have opened up in recent months.” He went on to say that he has never seen “so little common ground between our member states…. Never before have I heard so many leaders speak only of their domestic problems, with Europe mentioned only in passing, if at all…. Never before have I seen national governments so weakened by the forces of populism and paralyzed by the risk of defeat in the next elections. Never before have I seen so much fragmentation, and so little commonality in our Union.”

Juncker also announced that since Great Britain is on its way out of the European Union, a common European army can finally be established, as he had proposed at least a year ago. This announcement should please Viktor Orbán who, to everybody’s surprise, announced his desire to set up a common army in his speech at Tusnádfürdő/Băile Tușnad, Romania, on July 23. It was strange to hear Orbán’s insistence on an EU army when he is so keen on national sovereignty. I suspect that this announcement was designed to give Orbán a way out of the corner into which he painted himself with his constant opposition to everything coming from Brussels–with the exception of EU funds. He knew full well about the plan for a common army and decided to throw his weight behind it, acting as if it was his own idea. That way, when Juncker announces the decision to go ahead with the plan, he can proclaim victory, which his domestic supporters will believe and applaud. After all, “Brussels” had to accept his demand for a strong border defense. This way, after the Bratislava meeting he can justify his adherence to other common decisions by pointing out that, after all, his main demand, a common army and border defense, was satisfied. Very cagey fellow. As for the future, let’s not be at all optimistic about Orbán’s behavior. No matter how European politicians emphasize the need for cooperation, he will continue his fight against Brussels, the West, and liberal democracy.

But let’s return briefly to the part of Juncker’s speech that addressed the refugee crisis. He asked for more solidarity, “but I also know that solidarity must be given voluntarily. It must come from the heart. It cannot be forced.” Well, let’s peek into some Hungarian hearts.

Orbán sent out all Fidesz politicians, from the highest to the lowest, on a three-week campaign for the referendum. One Fidesz MP who was campaigning with László Kövér, president of the Hungarian parliament, cracked a joke about refugees at a town meeting in Jászberény. The “joke” went something like this. Three beggars are hard at work in Budapest. After the day is over they compare notes. The first one says that he got 2,000 forints because he wrote on a piece of paper that he was hungry. The second announced that he got 3,000 forints because he wrote on a poster that he had three hungry children. Finally, the third told them he did very well. He got 10,000 forints because he told the people that he needs the money to go home. Apparently they thought “the joke” was hilarious.

Kövér was no better. He accused the bureaucrats in Brussels of wanting to change the cultural, religious, and ethnic composition of Europe. The migrants are only the instruments of their evil plans. “This is a war in which they don’t use weapons.” The mayor of the town urged the Gypsies who were present to vote “no” in the referendum because otherwise they might lose their government assistance since the Hungarian state’s resources are finite. Kövér also accused the refugees of being rich. In his opinion, ten people in the audience don’t have as much money in the bank together as these “migrants” have alone. And it went on and on for two and a half hours.

But I left the “best” to last. A Hungarian Reformed minister, László Károly Bikádi of Hajmáskér, a small town about 14 km from Lake Balaton, delivered a sermon last Sunday, offered to the soldiers and policemen defending Hungary’s borders against the refugees. The text for his sermon was Luke 10:25-37, the parable of the Good Samaritan. In his exegesis he said: “You just have to take a look at the story of the Samaritan. Jesus asks who the brethren of this man are. Everybody? Are we all brethren of each other? It is true that we are all children of God. But who are the brethren? Those who are merciful to us.” Then the merciful reverend launched into a muddled story about “us as white men who didn’t treat the colored people, be they Arabs, Negroes, Africans, Asians, as our brethren and therefore we shouldn’t be surprised if they don’t look upon us as their brethren. And they are coming like locusts, coming because we chased them away from their lands. … Allow me to say that they are like ants, like the feral of the wilderness” and because the white men pushed them out from their natural habitat “they come like ants. They move into our houses. What happens with mice, voles, and other creatures of the field? They come and beset us.” He finished his sermon by asserting that although it might be our fault that these people are on the run, “we shouldn’t make the mistake of throwing out our values just because people arrived among us who don’t consider us their brethren.”

As far as I know, the Hungarian Reformed Church has issued no statement, despite the appearance of at least two articles on the disgraceful performance of one of their own.

On a positive note, I should report that two Catholic parish priests recently stood up against the Hungarian Catholic Church’s indifference toward the refugees. Alas, their leaders, the bishops, are either quiet or outright antagonistic. One of the worst is Gyula Márfi, archbishop of Veszprém, who believes that what Europeans are facing is “the yoke of Mohamed.” Today, in an interview, he went so far as to claim that what “we consider sin [the Muslims] consider virtue.” Even Miklós Beér, bishop of Vác, who occasionally says a few nice words about the downtrodden, announced the other day that he will vote “no” at the government-inspired referendum. As he put it at a recent international conference on “Reconquering Europe” held in Vác, every time Europe has abandoned its Judaeo-Christian moral heritage, Europeans were led astray. Thus, any dilution of that Christian heritage is dangerous and must be avoided.

September 14, 2016
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Guest

London Calling!

This is warped interpretation of the Good Samaritan!

Only yesterday I was pontificating on here, how Hungarians must know that some policies are wrong because they are alleged ‘Christians’.

I didn’t realise that – like their changeable constitution – all they have to do is change the biblical text!

When you posted this before I couldn’t understand the significance – thank you for clarifying.

The video was interesting for me for the opulence of the church surroundings – and the smartness of the congregation – and the brass band!

These ‘comfortable’ Hungarians must know of this perversion of their ‘good book’?

Unfortunately they only have to answer to their God – each church is autonomous in its operation if it’s similar to the English equivalents.

Evil. Truly evil.

webber
Guest

In the parable of the Good Samaritan a priest also walks by the injured man and does nothing. That Calvinist pastor in Hungary did even worse – he actively encouraged his flock to reject refugees. How did the man pass his theology exams?

That pastor turned the parable inside out – the Samaritan was the foreigner. All those who walked by the man and did not help him were his compatriots. The Samaritan, the foreigner, stopped to help the injured man, and paid for his treatment. HE, the foreigner, acted in the way God wishes us to. That is explicitly admitted by the priest to whom Jesus tells the tale.

ambator
Member

All is lost then, nothing is left standing of the once respectable moral edifice of the catholic church of Hungary. There was only one man, a single bishop, that of Vác, Miklós Beér, who occasionally said a few human and reasonable words here and there. But if he is gone under then there nothing more is left of this so called church then a pile of debauched, reeking, quivering mess of excreta. The day I get my druthers I am going to banish the catholic and the calvinist church and sprinkle salt into their palaces and into their wounds. And if anyone will notice their absence, they will be relieved.

webber
Guest

Well, not all…
The Pope has been very good on this, as on other issues. So good, that Zsolt Bayer has denounced him in print.
It’s just the Hungarian priests who have been ignoring, and indeed violating the Pope’s messages of love.
So please don’t dump on the Catholic Church as a whole (Just FYI: I am not a Catholic)
As to the Calvinists – pastors in that church are elected by their flocks. There is no real central authority there, just a synod that can collectively criticize. So, by all means set it on fire, root and branch! That pastor should be fired by his flock. If he is not, damn them!

webber
Guest

This is the Great Church – this is Christ’s teaching:
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-pope-palmsunday-idUSKCN0WM0FU

Same on Hungarian priests!

Guest

The Protestant church – as in Hungarian Reformed – is not the Roman Catholic Church.

It is second in size to the Roman Catholic Church – so a sizeable community.

Guest
Re: the Reformed and Catholic Churches After viewing the Magyar Reformed video, I have come to a conclusion based on the two religious groupings in the country. It is truly a bleak atmosphere where two alleged lights of moral probity have completely rejected their vocations and charge to project rectitude, decency and last but not least virtue in their communities. It is frankly a moral disaster that has been abetted by ironically those who profess their faiths. If there was once a vibrant fire in the calling it has flared and ignominously blown itself out. A most singular effect of that silence is the apparent fact that the Churches, the guardians of virtue and the ‘good’, have given away their opposing initiative in the face of state power. In times of political stress particulary in Eastern Europe the Churches set themselves in opposition to the moral failures of governments. Today the ‘call’ now has been infiltrated with the destructive elements of the secular. It’s almost as if Lucifer has made his home in the altars and apses and pulpits of those houses of God. The ancient codger looks to be fed well these days. That guy is always going for… Read more »
pappp
Guest

Hack Péter (of SZDSZ fame) says in Magyar Idők, the government mouthpiece daily, that he will vote for NO, just as Fidesz wants. Day after day there’s some former SZDSZ/MSZP guy who signs up for Orban. These people are cheap, very cheap.

pappp
Guest

This is now a comedy. I mean there are scarcely words for this.

Or it is a kind of clever Russian-inspired media strategy whereby there are so many contradicting messages that people simply give up and don’t deal with the issue.

Most likely this is just the continuing MSZP idiocy.

MSZP is now scaring people by charging Fidesz with a secret plot of planning to settle migrants into various rural municipalities! Yes, migrants are coming and it’s dangerous for you folks! So go an vote with a NO at the referendum, we suppose.

http://index.hu/belfold/2016/09/15/nem_eliras_az_mszp_migransok_betelepitesevel_vadolja_a_fideszt/

Istvan
Guest
As it relates to Hungary JC Juncker’s speech represents an admission of defeat after the EU tried last year to coerce countries to accept refugee quotas or pay penalties with a majority vote that deeply angered the eastern EU countries. I agreed with Mr Soros that the idea of pushing the quotas on Central European countries would not work but the advanced EU nations had the capacity to accept the refugees. It hard to imagine that even the chronic drunk Juncker would have made the statement he did if German Chancellor Angela Merkel was not willing to concede the proposal could not work. Effectively the entire referendum issue has become moot by Juncker’s pronouncement and it has to be recognized that this was a tremendous political victory for PM Orban and his supporters. Moreover, it’s highly possible that Merkel could move to oust Juncker. Eva seemed to believe that with Juncker’s rise in the EU there would be a crackdown on Hungary, in fact the post https://hungarianspectrum.wordpress.com/2014/06/27/viktor-orbans-defeat-jean-claude-junckers-victory/ virtually said as much. Juncker’s attempt at federalism has failed and he now is in a state of collapse giving interviews to the French media where he denies he suffers from alcoholism while… Read more »
tappanch
Guest

Orban’s war against the trees of Budapest:

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Bowen
Guest

What on earth is the justification for cutting down 1500 trees at Romai-part?

Guest

Sell them for wood?

(‘Monetise Anything and Everything’)

Jean P.
Guest
There is no justification for cutting trees at Romai-part but there is an irresistible incentive for the mafia. The Romai-part is a stretch of the Danube shore in Obuda. It can be reached by public boat service (D11) or by local railway (REV). It is one of the most important destinations for Sunday excursions for Budapest people on a low budget. Along the shore there are about 40 outlets for beer, icecream, deepfried fish (Hekk), pizza, burgers and so on. Everything is somehow ramshackle and only open in the summer. All in all the kind of place that appeals to ordinary unsophisticated people – that is the majority. I was there in the spring and enjoyed a fish with pommes frites. The owner of the place told that it was his last season because the area was going to be developed. At present it was forbidden to build anything but boat houses in the area. That meant that people who wanted to build a home there called it a boat house. Of course such small private transgressions were not enough for the mafia. They decided that the whole area should be protected against floods and the building ban lifted. So… Read more »
tappanch
Guest

There are 12 television channels that can be received without cable subscription in Hungary.

Ten channels are controlled by the government !!

Six state television channels (M1, M2, Duna, M4 sport, M5, Duna World).
Four channels that were purchased by state funds last year (Tv2, Fem, Izaura, Zenebutik)

Only RTLKlub and c8 (AMC old movies) do not depend on the government.

The only radio channel that voices opposition views is not allowed to broadcast outside Budapest.

In short, a voter who does not have cable or internet subscription and lives outside Budapest is NOT ABLE to receive news that is not government-fed.

http://mindigtv.hu/mindigtv/mindig-tv/a-szolgaltatasrol

http://nol.hu/belfold/az-olaf-is-eszrevette-mit-muvelnek-vajna-teveivel-1631903

pappp
Guest

tappanch, the situation is much worse of course.

Because even if you are theoretically able to consume independent media, people don’t do it.

You may be able to use internet as a physical option, but it’s “high-tech gadgetry” for “educated folks” which does not fit well into the lives of many elderly or uneducated or poor people. TV and radio do.

According to a recent interview with journalists of 444.hu the site has 160-170,000 daily unique visitors and the number has been stagnating. Basically this is the only truly independent news site in Hungary and if it has some hot article maybe 2% of the voters will know about it.

Origo.hu (very government-leaning by now) or index.hu (often government leaning and toned down the criticism of the government and oligarchs) have 6-7 times as many unique visitors.

Traditional media is king and Fidesz knows this. TV and radio are key and will be for decades to come.

webber
Guest

How much of Hungarian media was controlled by the MSZMP (communist party) before 1989? 99.9%?
And what happened in the first free elections in Hungary?

Guest
Re: ‘You may be able to use internet as a physical option, but it’s “high-tech gadgetry” for “educated folks” which does not fit well into the lives of many elderly or uneducated or poor people. TV and radio do’ That is true. But the fact that the Internet exists suggests that some Magyars can get news that is not government fed. Social media obviously is an alternative source in the tight media landscape. One thing that would certainly put the stake in the dissemination of news and information is the possible total control of the Internet within the country. A fate that cannot occur. I think VO indeed tried to interfere with Internet issues (that tax!) and it got a kick in the a**. Journalists, reporters, writers, broadcasters, all who are involved in providing a free-flow of news and information to the population have to be aware that the government grip on the government pipelines is inimical to themselves in the function of their mandate and the country’s interest. They will have to make sure they have ‘eyes’ in the back of their heads since that could be the direction where more media hijacking will undoubtedly occur. The Internet has… Read more »
Guest

Re: Juncker’s ‘common European army’

Have always been surprised at this military concoction. Europe can barely hold itself together with ‘cooperation’ among its states. And now on a matter of ‘security?’ Jaysus. Curious if those Euro ‘chief of staffs’ have things figured out. I’d suggest they ‘war game’ that whole idea before they buy new uniforms for the future commander or commanders.

Don’t know anything about future command and control structures.
Wonder if it would be along the likes of , ‘If it’s Tuesday it must be VO and Magyarorszag ‘commanding’. But HQ might get a note from VO where really the country would like that day off. Maybe Denmark would like to fill in? …;-)….

tappanch
Guest

‘common European army’ = more money to steal

Guest

Yeah and in my opinion a very shaky thing to think about on the Continent. We have to be thankful that the Allies dealt with their conflicts while fighting Hitler’s war machine. But they were ALLIES in the face of threats. The EU I’m afraid only looks it on paper.

tappanch
Guest

I can see the future ….

Iran introduced its “halal” internet on August 27. All pieces of information go through a censorship filter. In addition, every user is identifiable to the government. Hundreds have already been arrested.

https://rsf.org/en/news/iran-creates-halal-internet-control-online-information

Re: Juncker, and other eurocrats.

The first acute phase of the refugee crisis lasted for only 6 months, so I cannot exonerate their lack of defending freedom inside Europe.

Under their weak leadership, the European Union either falls apart, or becomes a Confederation of more or less dictatorial regimes.

Democracy in Europe lasted for 20 (Hungary) or 100 years (Western Europe) . R.I.P.

webber
Guest

Slow down. I wouldn’t make predictions about many EU member states, but I would be willing to bet that democracy will last quite a lot longer than 100 years more in France, Finland, Sweden and The Netherlands. Whether there will be an EU is a different question. I’m pretty sure Germany will be okay, too – but not as positive as about those other countries. Democracy has great lasting power in countries with democratic cultures – it outlasts dictatorships (just look at the histories of the US and UK).

Guest

The greatest strength of liberal democracy is its built-in capacity for self-correction and renewal, and this is what primarily distinguishes it from other, non-liberal forms of democracy and from outright tyranny. This built-in capacity for self-correction and renewal is literally the jugular of liberal democracy, and this is what Orbán had “succeeded” in cutting and destroying in Hungary.

As long as this jugular is not cut and destroyed in countries of Western Europe (or of North America and Australiasia) by some Orbán-style constitutional putsch, liberal democracy with its attendant constitutional checks and balances , independent judiciary and respect for minority rights will continue to robustly thrive and flourish, notwithstanding any hiccups that might crop up along the way from time to time.

Guest

Re: ‘This built-in capacity for self-correction and renewal is literally the jugular of liberal democracy, and this is what Orbán had “succeeded” in cutting and destroying in Hungary’

Yes too too well. Orban’s ‘collectivization’ of adherents works only to aggrandize and further the cause of those in power and NOT oriented to the development of the public good. ‘Individuals’ then are not looked upon as thinking and active entities having the freedom to be individuals responsible for choosing and adjusting their choices in living fulfilling lives within themselves and for their communities and institutions. The movement against individuals is to herd them into some kind of mass where they exist to simply rubber stamp government ‘preferences’. In Eastern illiberalism there’s power in the ‘collective’ once again. In Magyarorszag it would look impossible that new tigers can change their stripes.

Guest

Re “weak leadership”:

That’s the rule in a democracy – every “leader” runs the risk of no being re-elected.

Or do you want “strong leadership” – like Stalin, Kadar, Putin, Erdogan?

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