Mátyás Eörsi declines the government nomination

At the beginning of August I devoted two posts to a “candid interview” of Péter Szijjártó, minister of foreign affairs and trade, by András Dezső and Szabolcs Panyi of Index. I prefaced my articles by saying that members of the Orbán government rarely give interviews to publications critical of its policies. It is possible that the relatively relaxed manner in which the interview was conducted was Szijjártó’s attempt to show the readers of Index that the government he serves is actually the paragon of cooperation. At one point he dwelt at length on all the assistance the Orbán government extends to opposition politicians in their travels abroad, for example to Ferenc Gyurcsány in China. He added that “it was the most natural thing for me to ask the Department of Chinese Affairs to put together some preparatory material for the former prime minister.”

Seeing the journalists’ astonishment, he decided to surprise them even more. “But I can also tell you some breaking news! Recently I had a visit from Mátyás Eörsi, who lives in Warsaw and works as deputy-secretary general of an international organization called Community of Democracies. This organization has 18 members, among them Hungary, and Eörsi would like to run for the post of secretary-general, but he needs the nomination of his government. He asked me whether such a nomination would be possible, and I said: of course. I visited the prime minister and told him that this was a good idea. He said that [Eörsi’s] merits at the time of the regime change deserve respect even if we have since disagreed on many things.”

In the second part of my two articles I gave a brief introduction to the Community of Democracies. As far as Mátyás Eörsi’s distinguished political career is concerned, a short biography can be found in the English-language Wikipedia. Below you can see the interview with Mátyás Eörsi on ATV’s Egyenes beszéd (Straight Talk) in August, after the Orbán government’s endorsement of him for the post.

Prior to the interview Eörsi published an announcement of his nomination by the government, which was followed by a fairly acrimonious debate in liberal circles, which I described in the second part of my post on the Szijjártó interview.

Since then Mátyás Eörsi had a change of heart. Below you will find his letter to Foreign Minister Szijjártó informing him of his decision to decline the nomination of the Hungarian government for the post of Secretary General of the Community of Democracies. The translation is mine.

♦ ♦ ♦

Péter Szijjártó
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Warsaw, October 11, 2016

Dear Mr. Szijjártó:

First of all, let me thank you once more for the support of the Hungarian government in nominating me for the position of Secretary General of the Community of Democracies.

I have to inform you with heartfelt and profound regret that as a result of the incidents that have taken place in Hungary over the past days and weeks I cannot accept your endorsement. I have already informed the president of the Community of Democracies and the State Department of the United States of America of my decision.

When I speak of the reasons for declining your support I have to be, above all, self-critical. Although I have been aware of the Hungarian government’s actions during the past six years by which it has systematically destroyed the democratic institutional structure that functioned more or less well before, I still hoped that as the head of an international organization I could effectively assist the consolidation and development of democratic norms in the participating countries. I thank you specifically for mentioning my accomplishments at the time of the transition to democracy. Over and above my role at that time I hoped that through my past work as caucus leader in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and in the Liberal International—then still in alliance with Fidesz—I had gained sufficient international credibility to enable me to perform this task.

But we must be clear that past merits can provide only a foundation for credibility. A person nominated by a government that has become infamous for destroying democratic institutions cannot credibly lead the Permanent Secretariat of the Community. While my aspiration is still to serve the cause of democracy, it seems ever more impossible with the support of the present Hungarian government.

The hate campaign full of untrue allegations that cost more than the aggregate campaign for and against Brexit in the United Kingdom was unacceptable for a democrat. Claiming victory over a clearly lost referendum and the politically motivated shuttering of the largest Hungarian daily, Népszabadság, marking a crucial landmark in the liquidation of free print media, are diametrically opposed to the Warsaw Declaration of the Community of Democracies signed by Hungary.

While once more I want to thank you for the nomination, please permit me to seize this opportunity to caution you, the Hungarian government and the government party, Fidesz, whose original members were once my friends. Historical experience shows that a government without checks and balances restricts democracy. Its aim is to annihilate those it considers “enemies” of the nation, believing that once the “enemy” is destroyed it will restore democracy.

This was the original idea of the communists who wanted to get rid of Nazism, of Colonel Qaddafi who wanted to get rid of the dictatorship of King Idris, and of Fidel Castro who brought the oppression of Batista to an end, and many others who originally with good intentions began the destruction of their opposition. Slowly, without realizing it, they themselves became the oppressors. By that time there was no way back if for no other reason but fear. Please, don’t misunderstand me: Fidesz and the current government, even if it made attempts at the incarceration of its political opponents, haven’t gotten to this point yet. But you have to be aware of the consequences of the destruction of institutions and the liquidation of critical media and civil society. Once this is done there will be no one to prevent fatal mistakes, the consequences of which can be a catastrophe for the nation, including its leaders. As the saying goes, those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Although I have no reason to think so, I would still like to believe that the government will come to its senses and will restore democratic norms in order to prevent a tragedy.


Mátyás Eörsi

October 18, 2016


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London Calling!


“This was the original idea of the communists who wanted to get rid of Nazism, of Colonel Qaddafi who wanted to get rid of the dictatorship of King Idris, and of Fidel Castro who brought the oppression of Batista to an end, and many others who originally with good intentions began the destruction of their opposition.”

Hitler, Qaddafi, Idris,Castro, Batista, Goebbels, Vlad the Impaler, Genghis Khan and Joseph Stalin – all in the same sentence! (OK a slight exaggeration.)

And not quite there yet – Oh no! Only nearly!


Having taken the Orban shilling – and not to minimise the magnitude of recent events – when previous events are of an even bigger magnitude – it’s a strange resignation.

A sort of sudden conversion on the road to Damascus – when he needn’t have started the journey in the first place.


@Charlie, 2:25 am

Dear Churly,

Get over your irresistible urge to whinge, even if you know you are always right:

“A sort of sudden conversion on the road to Damascus”

If you can’t think of something positive or more pertinent, then don’t write. You are starting to read like a Fidesz troll.

Reality Check

No he does not. Perfectly valid criticism.


Thank you Reality Check.

Someone’s forgetting whose blog this is – and who doesn’t understand metaphor or allegory.


@Reality, 12:41 pm

No, it isn’t. The response in question focusses on the petty and not on the positive. Eörsi has wrestled with his decision and now declares incisively and directly how recent government actions have affected his view of the regime. That declaration in its clarity should be the focus of comment.

Muddle-headed references to “the road to Damascus” add nothing but shallowness to our discussion. You think Fidesz is going to be impressed by “the road to Damascus”? The only way they would be interested is if its construction were being put out for tenders!


They may take revenge on Eörsi for this. He asked them for backing for the position, then backed out by sending them this letter. So, he created the situation through which he was able to humiliate them.

András B. Göllner

Better late than never. Eörsi’s second decision is much wiser than his first. He did the right thing. Now if only people like Madame Bogyay, Hungary’s UN representative would also follow suit. While more than 100 of Hungary’s highly respected artists and cultural figures have returned their awards to the Orban government, because that government openly coddles hate-mongers, she’s happily and uncritically ensconced in the lap of luxury in her rent free Manhattan luxury apartment. She has an unlimited expense account, to wine and dine America’s major opinion leaders, to entertain New York’s Jewish aristocracy,, and enthrall the UN diplomatic core, with soothing messages about what a fine man her maffia-boss is. back home. It is good, that Eörsi had the wisdom to look into the mirror, and to realize, that by making this deal with Orbán,, he would lose not only his backbone and integrity but his soul.


Unfortunately this is how it works. Some of the billions embezzled are put to party work. Simicska thought the party hacks that much.


I couldn’t agree more.


Reading Mr. Eorsi’s piece shows a thoughtful, measured , forthright and direct communication to Mr. Szijjarto. No shilly-shallying around the ‘democracy’ problem. I’d be curious in the minister’s reply and thoughts on that.

Mr. Eorsi appears to be one who considers real ‘contribution’ in his work. He links representation with integrity. And he also appears to be pensive in his communication as he is wary in getting caught up in truly an illusory and ever-melting democracy and the problems it entails in all who engage in ‘representation’.


Yes, I agree, it is better late than never. The trouble is that flip-flopping in politics can be deadly, it doesn’t build trust and confidence. I have a feeling that Mr. Eörsi will not get away with this one. His letter does not seem to address the main issue, the fact that just a couple of weeks ago he was begging the Orbán Gov for the nomination. He also forgot to apologize for his error of judgement…


I think his letter is more than sufficient. He says directly and openly that the Hungarian government has been dismantling democracy in Hungary.
Hats off to Eörsi. It took him time to get there, but he got there and that is all that matters.

Jean P.

Is it possible that Mr. Eőrsi met some internal criticism and was forced to resign? In that case he might as well do it with a splash.


More likely his friends gave him a good talking to, and he realized that they were right.


No, no! None of you have it right…Eorsi demurred at the request of Soros who spread out a few million pieces of gold before him! (Isn’t that the explanation-to-come…? )


(Every time I see or hear Szijjarto, I think of a country lad, shoeless, with a stick, herding geese on a country road–)


Not nice to the country lad. He is a much more decent human being than Szijjártó. And he has a better haircut, too.

I, personally, think of male escorts when I see Szijjártó (look at him closely) – and that, too, may be unfair to the escorts.


You know not everybody at his age has the opportunity to put ‘minister’ and as a nice ‘big cherry on top ‘ adding ‘foreign affairs’ to his portfolio. Talk about having a buildup of ‘perspective’ when it comes to the fashioning of the US, Europe and the world in all its intricacies. He may be smart but as for breadth of experience…..no.

Now we have the ‘State Department’ which helps to guide the foreign policies of the United States. But over there it looks like the ‘ Vik and Pete Chair’ of Foreign Relations that leads the charge. The ‘dynamic duo’ at work.

I am sure Mr. Szijjarto would like to continue his rise. Perhaps he could start by sending his CV here. He’d probably get an interview. He’d have to prepare for some tough questions though considering events going on in the country. Initial pay and position won’t be so hot but he’d be where it’s at in foreign relations. And he wouldn’t have to worry about getting questions on the US commitment to democracy…And who knows he just might like the place and what it stands for..;-)…


OT –
In an interview published yesterday Lázár said the lack of lustration – that is that they did not open the secret police files and reveal which powerful people were informers – was the price paid for the peaceful transition from communism, and that it was a “terrible price.”

I remember very well that several years ago Lázár promised Fidesz would open the files, AFTER Fidesz members had – almost to a man – voted against a lustration bill introduced by LMP.

If Lázár really feels that way, and if he is really speaking for Fidesz, there is nothing to stop them from passing such a law now. Jobbik would support that (they’ve said so, repeatedly) – just in case Fidesz needs a 2/3 majority. They would have it.

But Fidesz has blocked lustration every single time it came to Parliament, and Lázár knows it. This is more smoke from Fidesz. It’s another case of a Fidesznik accusing others of what in point of fact Fidesz is doing.

Lustration now!


Unfortunately this administration has proved itself to be very good at rewriting history – and destroying incriminating documentation.

Remember Simicska in the Tax Office shredding all those documents for Orban?

Surely the files have been ‘cleaned up’ to protect the present incumbents?

And surely a judgement would be made as to whether the files would embarrass the opposition more than the government – and that’s why they have not been released?

‘Data-protection’ – and yes, in a decent democracy it encompasses paper records too – is a joke in Hungary.


allegedly, Charlie, there are electronic and magnetic files in a very old format that cannot be destroyed in part, only in whole, and those files are complete, untouched, and perfect, according to several people who should know.


The German Stasi also destroyed a lot of files and tried to destroy even more – the people went in there and kept them from doing it compeletely!
Now why didn’t the people in Hungary react in a similar way?

And also some US service found “deleted” tapes which they could reconstruct with their advanced tools.

I remember discussing the lack of lustration several times (either here or on politics.hu) and it’s always the same:
Some important people in Hungary were and still are against it – and that means Fidesz people.

Btw Lázár’s nickname is laser Johnny – he had an anti-speed-laser device in his Audi sports car (price higher than 100 000 €) – financed by Hungarian tax payers of course …

That says enough about this creature!

Deleted tapes and other media information: Computers normally only deleted the VTOC (volume table of contents) which left the written data intact – you only had to recreate the VTOC to retrieve the data. Tapes had a similar structure except their index was written at the end or at the beginning – or sometimes as a separate file. It didn’t really take ‘advanced’ tools. The only way to bulk erase tapes was on a de-gauzing machine on which you placed a (large!) 6250 bpi tape and let it spin over the very powerful magnet for about 10 mins. If your watch came near it then that would be de-gauzed too – however expensive it was! This was routinely done when scrapping tapes and disks Nowadays it is easy to obtain software that overwrites media with ones and zeros to make retrieval difficult. However……. IBM had a special fluid that could show up the data in the iron oxide showing the 8bits + 1 parity bit on the 9 tracks. They could also read the data in the different ‘layers’ at different write iterations – but this was laboratory function that could not be used for even small data recreations, given… Read more »

Re: ‘data protection …data destruction’

A thought on all that does show how it contributes to the dismal state Magyarorszag finds itself in tiday. If you can’t get a chance to ‘remember’ you can’t think. And when you can’t think well things come to a standstill because of the grave lack of ‘processing’. Whatever memories are left after all that then get played with by the Fideszian thought-police who push on with informational maneuvers designed to obfuscate and blur those memories. All in all they play an insidious game when it comes to ‘remembrance’. The convolutions are incredible.

Hopefully Mr. Eorsi’s act will be ‘remembered’ and not be eroded by time. Time also will let all know if proverbial ‘line in the sand’s’ have been drawn. It would appear others have followed suit namely those in the MTA.


P.S. The argument that “a lot has been destroyed so there’s no point” is a stupid one, in my view.


Well I don’t use that argument. Often files have been unofficially duplicated and old equipment found – often with the media intact – that later emerges to bite.

I started work in IT in 1970 – when paper tape input to an IBM 360/30 was the pride and joy of a Bank’s head office.

The ’30’ in the name meant 30k (many plastic cards have more memory) and the system took up an office space of 15mts x 15mts to house the CPU, Winchester disks and tape units.

The memory, btw, was graphite rings knitted together by Nigerian women – in Nigeria – and significant enough to be displayed in the mainframe behind a glass window!

We have seen storage media go from paper tape to magnetic tape, to floppy disks to hard drives to solid state.

However – given access to the media – which was less dense during the Kadar era – it’s easy to filter data – change it, then write it back to the old media – all the while preserving the metadata.

If the will is there.

And Simicska running amok in the tax office is testament that it is – especially if, for example, Orban’s daddy is implicated.


Totally OT:

Charlie, your memories are a bit “random” – I started on an IBM /360 system as a student in 1965 …

The memory at that time was magnetic/ferrite …

Even more OT:
For example, the Space Shuttle flight computers initially used core memory, which preserved the contents of memory even through the Challenger’s disintegration and subsequent plunge into the sea in 1986.


Yes! IBM described them as graphite rings – or ‘doughnuts’!


And it states that they were created by hand – for reliability.

Thanks btw for the link – a lost history!

Lufi Pifu
Lázár is always trying to appeal to liberals. He loves to act like as though he would understand their positions on some selected matters, as though he was a bit more critical about his corrupt colleagues like Rogán etc. That’s his image, a bit of a maverick in the world of yes men. But don’t be fooled that’s his image only. The lustration issue is only the manifestation of a political infighting which by the way Orban loves to encourage among his subordinates. Lazar and his people lost influence over the secret services to Sandor Pintér so now Lazar is effectively criticizing Pintér’s circles which is still full of old school commie agents Pintér included. But rest assured that if Lazar had any influence he would still keep those incriminating secrets for himself. I mean if Lazar could blackmail many people and control them why would he give up that power? Which politician would not want that influence and give it away freely? The answers is no living politicians would do so and has done so since 1990 and only Gyurcsany tried to do something about the secret service establishment (called by Janos Széky as the Brancs) which duly hit… Read more »

Mr. Eörsi has written a crystal clear, point-by-point condemnation of what the Orbán/Fidesz government has done to democracy in Hungary; a most timely statement as the pace of this corruption seems now to be increasing with Orbán’s trumpeting of the Failed Referendum result followed by the contrived demise of Népszabadság.

No, it is not too late. It is courageous and honourable and reflects the political honesty at its finest. Mr. Eörsi should not stand alone.


I agree and I will quote from this letter to anybody who tries to tell me that Hungary is still a democracy!

Thank you very much, Mr Eörsi!

Not too much OT.

We just saw new texts on the government propaganda billboards:
the number 98% features very prominently …
Of course no mention of the more than 50% who abstained from voting and the resulting invalidity of the crazy referendum.

Btw I was in Germany for some time and told everybody about the latest machinations of the Fidesz government – the reactions ranged from hysterical laughter to incredulous questions: Are they still in the EU?


Hi Wolfi, let us meet in front of the Rathaus at the Neptunbrunnen next month around 20th Nov. 2016.


Sorry, but I’ll be in Hungary until the beginning of December. But you can visit my favourite kocsma “Boulanger” just around the corner – if you tell them you’re Hungarian and not an Orbán fan they’ll be nice to you …


Mr. Eörsi’s letter is a clear and well aimed attack on the Orban/Fidesz government. The problem is that he must have known more than enough about the democratic deficit of that government when he appealed to them to support his career in the democracy business. Better late than never but not nearly as good as doing it at the right time.


@JeanP, 7:06 am

C’mon folks, politics is not and cannot be about perfection. Maybe that is what is holding the Hungarian “opposition” from any effort at unity (unless it is ‘too many Chiefs, too few Indians”), but if someone has the courage to tell it like it is straight to the government’s face, then let them be praised, let them be honoured and let us all say “Thank you”. Face it, folks, there are too few ready to take that stance and we need every single one (and then some).

Enough Orban theft. Enough Rogan lies. Enough Fidesz Kontroll. Out with them!


Ah yes: “…courage to tell it like it is…” Noble words from those living in the bosomy security of the western world.
But in Hungary, Eorsi can expect dire consequences for his act of bravery; and, no doubt, a sit-down meeting with the Angel of Death…


Very true – Eörsi really showed a lot of courage!

If I were him I wouldn’t travel to Hungary in the near future …


You overstate the significance of the action – when it’s clear that it was a mistake in the first place – so hardly altruistic.

And maybe you are overlooking the resignation of the Academy ’30’ and maybe the 110 who have returned their Knight’s Cross medals?

And other related initiatives.

Too few?

Hardly. Orban has a thick skin.

And, as you state above bambi, you know I’m right.


@Charlie. 10:26 am

Dear Churl,

You state, “as you state above bambi, you know I’m right”, but Churl, that is not what I wrote, which was, “You know you are always right” (not quite the same thing…)

In my comments on Eörsi’s courage and clarity, I lament your pettiness, your “me first” eagerness and your readiness to slag off anyone who draws attention to your uncontrolled superficiality. And by the way, go easy with the Hitler, Stalin… references. Most of us have heard about them.


Oops! Missed again!

As a favour to you I’ve made you PNR.

I think you have a reading and comprehension problem – possibly because English is a second language?

Just one last time , bambi.

The point was that Hitler, et al, were in the same sentence – not that everyone might not know who they are.

To help you:

Et al = and others.
PNR = ‘persona non reada’
Comprehension = understanding (in this context)
bambi = a naïve, gullible person with limited life experience.

Now run along bambi and save your predictable advice for yourself.

You know I’m right, as you say.


Oh I forgot – and from an obvious latent Fidesz troll.

(Eh? Are you on the same planet? I’ll wear the Fidesz troll badge for a while just to see how it feels.

But your logic – and mis-reading – and your stupidity show you can’t have been reading me properly over the years.

But no surprise there, bambi.)

I am not a supporter of former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright who in my opinion created the Community of Democracies. If one looks at numerous nations that participate in CD one can see many that have taken a path that is divergent from democracy, not just Hungary. The fact that CD’s Permanent Secretariat operates out of Warsaw demonstrates the limited influence of that organization given the political evolution of Poland or for that matter anywhere else. One of CD’s projects was the transformation of El Salvador towards “democracy” following the government and guerrillas of the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) signing a peace agreement formally ending a twelve-year civil war. It has been a failure. The US Joint Southern Command played a critical role in supporting El Salvador’s military in the civil war and I played a role in this to be honest as did numerous other logistical specialists located at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. We had one primary objective defeating a Cuban inspired armed uprising in El Salvador and we achieved that mission. Effectively we defeated the Marxist FMLN, but in the process allowed for the creation of murdering anti communist death squads that transformed into… Read more »

Thanks, Istvan, for that honest description of the US activities!

This reminds me of the old proverb:

The road to hell is paved with good intentions!

And as usual, the ancients knew about this already:
An earlier saying occurs in Virgil’s Aeneid: “facilis descensus Averno (the descent to hell is easy)”

In my mind many political activities also in Europe could be described by this.


(Istvan, why thesse massive paragraphs? Could you please take a breath–now and then–when writing…)

Janos Mandarin

Mr. Szijjarto, would you please drop dead.


No, he is still needed as a perfect deterrent example!