The Rome Declaration: “A Ray of Hope” according to Magyar Idők

On March 3 the prime ministers of the four Visegrád countries–the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia–held a summit in Warsaw. There they agreed on a common platform to present at the forthcoming meeting in Rome celebrating the sixtieth anniversary of the birth of the European Union. Magyar Nemzet got hold of the draft document, which showed that these four former socialist countries are against any further political integration and are supporters of a “Europe of nation states.” Yet they agreed that the European Union is their best guarantee in the face of current world problems. The leaders of the four countries hoped that their ideas would be incorporated into the declaration to be issued in Rome.

The Rome Declaration is an upbeat document in which emphasis is placed on “unity” because “standing together is our best chance to influence [global dynamics] and to defend our common interests and values.” As far as the V-4’s proposals were concerned, the Declaration did mention the necessity for secure external borders, but it also included a reference to “responsible and sustainable migration policy, respecting international norms,” which doesn’t exactly correspond to the ideas of the V-4 leaders. There was a passage about the preservation of “our cultural heritage and [the promotion] of cultural diversity.” Cultural diversity is not something the more nationalistic Central Europeans are willing to embrace. The declaration also talked about “a more competitive and integrated defense industry” and “the strengthening of [the European Union’s] common security, also in cooperation and complementarity with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.” Finally, as a nod to the V-4 nations’ concerns, the document included the following sentence: “We will allow for the necessary room for maneuver at the various levels to strengthen Europe’s innovation and growth potential.”

Poland was not satisfied with the text, and until the last minute it looked as if Prime Minister Beata Szydło might not sign the document if “the declaration does not include the issues which are priorities for Poland,” as she announced a few days before the opening of the summit. These are: “The unity of the European Union, defence of a tight NATO cooperation, strengthening the role of national governments and the rules of the common market which cannot divide but unite – these are the four priorities which have to be included in the declaration.” Even though not all four of her demands were incorporated in the document, by the end Poland’s ruling PiS party thought the better of it. All 27 heads of state who were present signed the document. Szydło was smart to follow Orbán’s strategy: play to the domestic crowd yet be quite malleable at EU summits. Apparently on March 20, when the final text was being hammered out, the two Polish participants were “very constructive.”

So were the Hungarians, although Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó, on the very day that his prime minister was signing the Rome Declaration, argued for the Hungarian position on the refugee question and indicated that “the struggle with Brussels will continue.” He reminded his audience that the Hungarian government “will not forget that the vice president of the European Commission wanted to have a debate with Hungary and Poland about European values.” Brussels is making a mistake when “it wants to conquer the member states and allow illegal migrants to settle.” Finally, he proudly announced that “Hungary has always contributed its share to the success of Christian Europe.”

In Rome Orbán was not as bellicose as his youthful foreign minister, but his statements were still antithetical to the key provisions of the Rome Declaration. He made two points pertaining to the Declaration: (1) we can count only on ourselves if we want a country free from danger and (2) Europe’s problems can be fixed only if each nation provides for the safety and well-being of itself. Although he obviously did not subscribe to the basic philosophy of the Declaration, he had to justify his support of it somehow. And so he said that the final document was a far cry from earlier drafts and that “many of the Hungarian suggestions are now reflected in the text.” This is his normal reaction when, despite his blustering, he signs all the documents put in front of him.

Although on the surface the Orbán government’s view of the European Union seems not to have changed at all, I see signs of a possible shift in Hungarian foreign policy. I base my opinion on an editorial that appeared in Magyar Idők. From an editorial in an American, British, German, or French paper we certainly couldn’t draw any conclusions about their governments’ policies, but we can safely say that nothing appears in Magyar Idők that is not cleared ahead of time with the appropriate government official. We learned that from the current head of HírTV, who recalled that regular instructions had come from above on topics to be covered when the station was an instrument of the government.

So the editorial by Zoltán Kottász that appeared in today’s issue of Magyar Idők, titled “A Ray of Hope from Rome,” may well be significant in trying to figure out the government’s foreign policy. For weeks we could read nothing in this paper but praise of Russia, condemnation of Angela Merkel and her migrant policy, and antagonistic attacks on the European Union. And now “a ray of hope.” According to the author, the European Union is the best of all possible structures for keeping peace in Europe.

And he continued. The European Union in the last 60 years has proved that it is an effective instrument and, as a result of cooperation, the standard of living in Europe has been steadily improving. There were occasional difficulties, but “despite the various problems, disagreements, and divisions, common sense prevailed.” Europe needs closer cooperation than at any time before. There are problems in the Balkans, “Turkey is moving away from us, and China and Russia have gained power and strength that put an end to the unipolar world order with consequences no one can predict. Therefore, Europe must be self-sufficient in all respects to be able stand on its own feet.”

I could scarcely believe my eyes. Is this the beginning of a new era in the foreign policy of Viktor Orbán or just an aberration? Did the Orbán government realize that the Eastern Opening was a bust and the friendship with Putin’s Russia might not be beneficial to Hungary under the present circumstances? Perhaps it has dawned on Viktor Orbán that Trump’s presidency might actually be a threat to the European Union of which, after all, Hungary is still a part.

One could of course argue that one shouldn’t put a lot of faith in an editorial, even if it appeared in Magyar Idők. But there are other signs of possible change in the offing. At a conference over the weekend the director of the pro-government think tank Nézőpont opined that, despite the unanimous approval of the Declaration of Rome, there is no reason to celebrate because of the crisis engulfing the European Union. Szabolcs Takács, undersecretary in charge of European affairs in the Prime Minister’s Office, disagreed. There is every reason for celebration because the joint declaration allows for the reformulation of the values of European integration.

Thus, there are signs of a possible shift in Hungarian foreign policy, but we will have to wait to see whether there is any follow-through. We can, however, be pretty sure of one thing. From here on, the Merkel bashing will stop because the Hungarian government is fearful of a new German government with Martin Schulz as chancellor. In fact, Zoltán Kottász in his editorial sees such an event as the first step toward the disintegration of the European Union.

March 27, 2017
Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
bimbi
Guest

A correction to the first sentence:

On March 3 the prime ministers of four countries – the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia – held a meeting in Warsaw…

Big deal. Why all the puffery about Visegrad this or that? (I mean look at the geography. Since when was Poland or Czechia close to Visegrad?) It is all inside Viktor’s head as he throws out his chest and draws himself up to his full height of 1,55 m. As to a “summit” – that will be the summit out on the puszta, right? Why on earth does the press – or this blog – play along with Orban’s game of self-aggrandizement and ‘pretend’?

Then, “I could scarcely believe my eyes. Is this the beginning of a new era in the foreign policy of Viktor Orbán or just an aberration?”

Why bother even to ask? It is the same old Orban doing his same old agree-with-them-in-Rome, speak-hate-at-home” trick. The regime will find enough leeway in the Rome declaration to continue on as before – which Szijjarto makes very clear anyway. Why tell the truth when three lies will do? Nothing new here folks, move on, move on…

Guest

I have to agree with Bimbi – Fidesz is unable to change, that “two face behaviour” is in their blood – the only thing constant in their varying political ideas (besides the idea of making as much money as possible out of Hungarians, businesses, the EU, whatever …)!

Ferenc
Guest

Regarding Czech: south of the center of Prague is a historic fort called “Vyšehrad” (Czech for “upper castle”). It was built, probably in the 10th century, on a hill over the Vltava River.
Wiki details see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vy%C5%A1ehrad
So clearly the Hungarian name Visegrad is of Slav origin and meaning the same. Don’t know if there are any further (historical) connections between the two castles and/or locations.

webber
Guest

Of course the name is Slavic! Any speaker of any Slavic language can tell you that Vise+grad or hrad means (depending on the dialect) Upper/Higher Castle/Town. Both words are in every Slavic language I know of.

Ferenc
Guest

I wonder how many Hungarians are aware of that and know it’s meaning.

Ferenc
Guest

Wondering what from the Rome Declaration will come in future schoolbooks……

Related: three rights violations in 8-grade history schoolbook
http://inforadio.hu/belfold/2017/03/27/orban_es_gyurcsany_a_torikonyvben_itt_az_ombudsmani_jelentes/
1.speech by OV in 2015 in EU parliament about colonial heritage of West European countries
2.text about key aspects of political right and left
3.caption under a picture of Gyurcsány Ferenc that he was one of the winners of privatization

The ombudsman consulted various organisations and institutions (a.o.OFI publisher of the book, Oktatási Hivatal, MTA, TANOSZ). And guess what: the closer they are to the government, the less problems they have with these texts……… (i.e.political indoctrination at primary schools)

PS: I get uncomfortable by the many word abbreviations used in everday Hungarian texts: történelem (history) => töri / földrajz (geography) => föci
If in English this method would be applied: history would become histi (which from a Hungarian point of view would again be close to the truth…….)

Guest

“I get uncomfortable by the many word abbreviations used in everday Hungarian texts: történelem (history) => töri / földrajz (geography) => föci..”

Like it or not this is a major trend in the ongoing development of the Hungarian language. When I came to Hungary first time fifty years ago the ice cream shops wrote fagylalt on their signs. Now they write fagi, and there is no way back to fagylalt. Thousands of Hungarian words are now being abbreviated according to the same rule, that shares the i-ending with diminutive but isn’t really diminutive. In diminutive abbrevating the word and putting an i in the end makes what the word means smaller and more attaractive (Sara/Sari, Jozsef/Jozsi). However, an ubi is not smaller and nicer than an uborka. It is the word itself that is smaller and nicer. Abbreviative would be a better name than diminutive for this phenomenon.

The Hungarian language is full of long words that can be abbreviated without loss of understanding, and they are being abbreviated without mercy by the young generation.

wrfree
Guest

Re: ‘…abbreviated without mercy…’

And the language marches on. Possibly due to the ‘Twitter’ effect?

Twitter is all-brevity. Knock out what you want to say in a few characters. Question is what goes on with substance? Further what’s going on with thinking, writing and speaking effectively under the circumstances? I leave it to all on the scene in Central Europe who can better opine on the issue.
Seems to me public discourse in the land of Visegrad is a bit ‘abbreviated’ since thinking arguably is one-way or take the highway.

webber
Guest

These abbreviations aren’t new.

Guest

Their victory is new.

Istvan
Guest
Probably more important for the V4 nations than their discussions over the EU is the impact this video has had in Russia https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=qrwlk7_GF9g Its Alexei Navalny and his Fund for Combatting Corruption (FBK) video version of its report on its investigation accusing the country’s prime minister Dmitry Medvedev of amassing property portfolio worth possibly billions of dollars. It’s been viewed 11 million times and sparked protests on Sunday across Russia in 80 different cities with hundreds of arrests. Central Europe with its institutional corruption, not just in Hungary as we know, has created a powder keg that blows periodically in Russia, Romania, and elsewhere. Eva’s never ending posts on Fidesz corruption reflect just part of what is going on as most of us on this blog are aware. Orban and his fellow crooks no doubt seek some refuge in their membership in the democratic EU in case the Russian protest flu spreads and the suppression efforts by Putin fail. Juncker and the EU have totally tolerated vast levels of corruption of EU cohesion funds to V4 nations with only occasional complaints supposedly for the greater good. I for the moment would put my money on Putin to suppress this revolt… Read more »
Ferenc
Guest

OT – compare V4
Found this site http://www.theglobaleconomy.com/compare-countries/
Very easy in use and for comparing countries on a lot of data, so selected the V4 countries and made following comparisons:
*Insurance, non-banks and pensions => Pension fund assets to GDP comment image
*Health => Health spending per capitacomment image
*Education => Education spending, percent of GDPcomment image
Don’t know if the links are permanent or only temporary, will see after posting.

The one about pensions caught my special attention as it showed a similarity between Hungary and Poland, only difference that the major change in Poland happened 3 years later (PL=2013 to HU=2010). But as far as I know the Fidesz copy government in Poland started in later (2015?), so even the previous government used already policies similar to OV&Co. Very suspivious….
Anybody knows or has indications, if to Fidesz connected Hungarian or foreign advisors are working behind the political scenes in Poland?

petofi
Guest

The only ‘ray of hope’ Hungarians are entitled to is what comes through the toilet window as our heroic Hungarico–full of promise but nary an accomplishment–ponders the ‘slings and arrows’ of his outrageous fortune…Ahem.

HAJRA MAGYAROK!!

webber
Guest

The end of CEU’s time in Hungary? http://www.parlament.hu/irom40/14686/14686.pdf

Member

The “Origo” has already been mobilized: the “Soros university” is possibly breaking the law and operating without accreditation. http://www.origo.hu/itthon/20170328-sulyos-szabalytalansagokkal-mukodik-a-soros-egyetem.html .

Guest
A friend just posted this letter from CEU’s President and Rector: This is the moment to prove that friends in need are friends indeed. Dear Faculty, Staff, Students, Alumni, and Friends, CEU is demanding an immediate correction to falsehoods about our institution published this afternoon by origo.hu. The claim that we do not have program accreditation is entirely false. The claim that we have failed to meet our obligations regarding data to official public registry is also false. Our master’s and doctoral programs are accredited with the Hungarian authorities as well as by the State of New York and the University’s accreditation is overseen by the Middle States Commission, which certifies American institutions like Princeton and UPenn. More importantly than these false accusations, legislation has been proposed to the Hungarian Parliament that, after careful legal examination, would make it impossible for CEU to continue its operations as an institution of higher education in Hungary authorized to grant degrees accredited in both Hungary and the United States. As we see it, this is legislation targeted at one institution and one institution only. It is discriminatory. It strikes at the heart of what we have been doing at CEU for over two… Read more »
petofi
Guest

Whooopeeee!
Won’t all those Hungarians now working at CEU be happy: now they can find work at CBA at 500 forints per hour!…And curse that bloody jew, Soros, for removing their employment.

Ferenc
Guest

Start of a new OV&Fidesz method, hindering and/or blocking individual companies/organisations with tailor-made laws?
*Csiki – Heineken – ‘lex Heineken’ (against the devil’s Red Star)
*Soros – CEU – ‘lex ……’ (name open to suggestions)
To be expected soon:
*Refugees – NGO’s – ‘lex YOUR NGO’ (Helsinki / Amnesty / etc…..)
The last one which could be closing this method:
*Brussels – EU – ‘lex Brussels’ (symbol Mr.P pissing on OV’s head OR may be the other way around……)

Ferenc
Guest

PS: could they ever come up with a ‘lex Hungarian Spectrum’?

Observer
Guest

There is nothing new about Fidesz harassing, pressuring businesses by various means, including ad hoc and tailored legislation. It started in 1999 and has been used typically for several purposes:
– To harm, destroy businesses with non friendly political affiliations.
– To reduce/eliminate competition for client businesses in single tenders, local areas or even nationally.
– To discourage financial support for non friendly media/organizations.
– To force unwilling owners to sell their businesses on unfavorable terms (the mafia way).
– General purpose – affirming the dominance of the regime even over private business.

Witness the zero new investment balance, foreign and domestic, under the Orban regime.

Ferenc
Guest

The Rome Declaration as “A Ray of Hope”, really?
Slogan of the new 2017 National Consultation seems to be:
Let’s Stop Brussels!
Must have been known to OV before signing, but officially presented on HU government’s facebook just afterwards…….comment image

PS: wasn’t aware that the city of Brussels is moving around………..

Guest

Why not change this into:

Let’s stop the Brussels money going into illiberal Hungary?

This might appeal to Europeans everywhere:
How can the EU finance an authoritarian, antidemocartic, corrupt, racist, antisemitic (add your definitions here …) quasifascist regime that is friendly with Putin but hates the idea of democracy, the EU and the USA?

Ferenc
Guest

comment image

Ferenc
Guest

The Two-Tailed-Dog Party started simultaneous with the government their “National Masturbation 2017”
5 beer please – cold and fast
https://www.facebook.com/justanotherwordpresspage/photos/a.107067403292.95234.14792493292/10155196145348293/
give a high-five
https://www.facebook.com/justanotherwordpresspage/photos/a.107067403292.95234.14792493292/10155194642653293/

Observer
Guest

Páva tanc (peacock dance)

it is difficult to guess what will be brought to or come to Orban’s mind next month, but after several 180 deg turns one usually finds himself trampling on the same spot.
Unabashed lying apart (gypsy horse trader level), I’m afraid Orban himself doesn’t have any plans, but jumps from one opportunity to the next greedy for the fastest and biggest gains of the moment.

The rest is just waffle (maszlag) for the useful fools: national, polgári, big, strong, historic, struggle, victories.

Ferenc
Guest

Just always missing: public debate

you’re afraid Viki?

wpDiscuz