Snippets from Viktor Orbán’s recent speeches–turning eastward and inward

Viktor Orbán’s stamina is remarkable. He left for China on May 11, where he had a busy schedule of meetings, and returned to Budapest on May 17. Yet the next day he gave a very long speech at the annual meeting of Daimler AG, held in Budapest. On Friday, May 19, he gave a 30-minute interview to Kossuth Rádió in the morning, and by the afternoon he was in Zalaegerszeg, an almost three-hour trip by car, where again he spoke. The following day he attended the congress of the Slovenian Democratic Party in Maribor, another one and a half hours by car from Zalaegerszeg.

I have carefully read all of Orbán’s spoken words since his return from China. Did I learn anything new from them? Yes and no. On the one hand, Orbán, like everybody else, has certain topics, ideas, and notions about the world that keep recurring in all his speeches. Those passages are of no interest to anyone who’s familiar with the main thrust of Orbán’s thinking about the world. On the other hand, here and there new ideas appear, which allow us to look at the Hungarian prime minister in a slightly different light.

My general sense is that the Chinese trip and the Chinese leadership’s vision of the “Belt and Road Initiative” made a great impression on Orbán and that he feels privileged to have an agreement with the Chinese to construct a railroad between Budapest and Belgrade as part of that modern version of the Silk Road, connecting the East and the West. As he put it in his interview on Kossuth Rádió, the Chinese invited only those countries that “will have a role to play in the growth of the world economy in the next two or three decades,” which is an excellent piece of news for Hungary.

Orbán is impressed with the Chinese in general. In his eyes, “the Chinese are serene people with a philosophical bent and a goal of achieving harmony.” In contrast, it is “the pursuit of freedom which is at the core of Western political thought.” One would think that giving freedom center stage would be positive, but for Orbán freedom “leads to conflicts.” Westerners are “constantly alarmed about dangers to freedom.” The Chinese, on the other hand, “are concerned with problem solving, trying to find a balanced result, which they call harmony,” and therefore “it is good to negotiate with them.” For example, the Chinese would never say what the leader of the European People’s Party said: “The ball is in your court, if you react the proper way you are a team player, if not there will be consequences.” In Orbán’s opinion, EPP’s reaction “shows how deformed European politics is.” Of course, many other topics were covered in this interview, but these words struck me as intriguing and perhaps even significant.

Orbán’s lengthy speech at the general meeting of Daimler AG also had a few noteworthy parts. One was a strange sentence at the very beginning of his speech. It reads: “When you chose Budapest [to hold the meeting], you made the right decision. It is a fashionable place in addition to being a place of a certain excitement. When one opens foreign newspapers and reads about Hungary, one is not sure whether they are talking about a black sheep or about an outstanding economic success. That creates a kind of intellectual excitement around Hungary. So, we are happy that you came here to see with your own eyes what’s happening in Hungary.” These sentences lead me to believe that the European Parliament’s resolution is a genuine embarrassment for Orbán. The arrangements for this meeting had to have been made months before, when no one could have foreseen the Orbán government’s being reprimanded by the majority of the European Parliament.

It always amuses me when Viktor Orbán, who knows mighty little about economics, shares his high-flown ideas about the future of the world economy. Again, he couldn’t refrain from offering his golden thoughts. The starting point of his assessment of the economic situation in the European Union began with China. “I just came back from China. If one sees the future and looks at Europe from that vantage point, it is especially urgent to reform Europe so it can regain its competitiveness.” That’s a strong beginning, but it is not entirely new in Orbán’s repertoire of stock thoughts.

It’s possible that I missed it before, but this was the first time I heard him “reinterpreting” the causes of the 2008-2009 world financial crisis in economic terms. He said that

It must be accepted in Europe that the 2008-2009 financial crisis was not cyclical but structural. Some European leaders believe that economic crises are part and parcel of a modern market economy. There had been trouble in the European Union before, economic indicators dropped, the economy corrected itself, and the indicators improved. No structural changes were necessary because the system could repair itself. This was true in the last 40 years, but it is no longer so. What we suffer from now is not a cyclical crisis. The simple truth is that other emerging economies are more competitive than we are, and therefore this is a structural crisis of competitiveness. So, our response should be formulated accordingly. I’m convinced that because this paradigm shift is now taking place in the world economy, we should give a European response to it instead of thinking in terms of a cyclical crisis.

I have no idea what kind of structural corrections Orbán is thinking of or what paradigm shift he has in mind. Traditionally a paradigm shift means a fundamental change in basic concepts, which leads me to believe that Orbán is simply mouthing his “right-hand” György Matolcsy’s unorthodox economic ideas, which most responsible Hungarian and foreign economists reject. The Chinese economy, as is the case with all emerging economies, can produce an incredible rate of growth initially, just as East-Central Europe is at the moment ahead of the West as far as economic growth is concerned, but as time goes by these countries’ growth will inevitably slow. It is a mistake to claim that China’s impressive economic growth is due solely to the different structure of its economy and that if the developed West simply adopted its largely state structure, the EU or the United States would produce a 6-8% yearly economic growth.

I found two more short passages worth noting. The first is from the speech delivered in Zalaegerszeg at the opening of a large complex for testing self-driving cars. This is the only recent major construction project that was financed exclusively by the Hungarian government. Orbán said: “This test ground is living proof that we are not on [economic] crutches; we have our own resources; we have our talents; and we are capable of achieving world-class performance. I would like to remind everyone that under the leadership of [Finance Minister] Mr. Mihály Varga during our first government between 1998 and 2002, when we were not yet a member of the European Union, we achieved an economic growth rate of over 4% due to our sound economic policies. In fact, there was one quarter when it was over 5%.” These words were interpreted by the independent media and commentators who are critical of the government as a reformulation of Orbán’s earlier quip: “There is life outside the European Union.” A bad sign, they said. Perhaps he is thinking of eventually leaving the EU.

The proud crew behind the Zalaegerszeg test ground

And finally, in Maribor at the Slovenian Democratic Party’s conference, Orbán said: “As you have heard from your chairman, there is a lot of talk about European values nowadays. They talk about them as if they were guarded in a safe somewhere in Brussels whose key is in the breast-pockets of a very few privileged people. The truth is, however, that there are indeed safes in which European values are stored. These safes, however, are not in Brussels but in the hearts of European citizens, Slovenians, Hungarians, Poles, Germans, French, Slovaks, because European values are not carved into lifeless stones but are written in living hearts.” These words cannot be interpreted in any other way but as a rejection of the fundamental values of the European Union: “Respect for human dignity and human rights, freedom, democracy, equality and the rule of law. These values unite all the member states—no country that does not recognize these values can belong to the Union.” This is the first paragraph of the description of EU “values and objectives” published by the European Parliament. If these values can be reinterpreted on a national or individual level, we no longer have a union.

Taken together, these last two quotations may be an indication of Viktor Orbán’s thinking about the future. In the short run, it means that the tug-of-war between the European Union and Hungary will continued unabated.

May 22, 2017
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Roderick Beck
Guest

China has no fundamentally new recipe for growth. Their size allowed them to force foreign companies to produce there in order to sell there. That led to technology transfer. Most countries cannot dictate the terms of investment the way China did.

Istvan
Guest
Correct Mr. Beck China is indeed massive which creates strategic weight. Another aspect was China’s significant rural population that was willing to work for low wages, because there were no other options, in regional industrial cities that allowed massive pollution and housed workers in dormitories. The truth is China’s path to development has been a capitalist version of Hungary’s period of so called Stalinist modernization, when industrial cities were built. Sztalinvaros, now Dunaujvaros, was an example of that so called development. A town I have visited several times. China has implemented industrialization based on massive exploitation of industrial workers who largely came from the countryside. The CCP and the Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) military-industrial complex funded and developed many industries, then began to create its own version of oligarchs. So the PLA military-industrial complex is now being sold off to the top Chinese military contractors who now intend to buy at least 20 billion yuan ($3.15 billion) in assets from their state-owned parents in the second half, according to their recent filings with the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges. The largest owners of some of those contracting firms were in some cases former high ranking PLA officers and intelligence officials.… Read more »
Member

Re: terror attack in Manchester tonight.

Ramadan: [May 26 evening, June 25 evening] .

The safer [three of the four “sacred” months] period is between July 24 evening and October 21 evening in 2017.

aida
Guest

Thanks to Eva for her dilligent work of following the great leader’s words. I heard on BBC World Service News, before all news was obliterated by the Manchester bomb, that Hungary has rejected the EU demand for compliance with the three points. Just two points I want to make:
1. Orban is preparing to take Hungary out of the EU.
2. The outrage is followed by the massive outpouring of predictable, repetitive, largely pretend sympathy verbiage. Classic amongst it is the note of defiance that we will not allow our democracy to be defeated or harmed. The first victim is democracy, in reality. It has driven from the news completely the sharp and richly deserved criticism in the press and in the broacast media of Mrs May and her Tories who are campaigning in the election. The description of the horror, the pain the panic and the reaction of the victims and their families, the fully justified moral outrage are always the same. It adds nothing to our knowledge or to our understanding. Why can the media show balance and restraint in how they react?

Guest

A difficult question – I don’t know the answer.

But we should remember that until the middle of the last Century (and in some parts of Europe even after that …) we had regular wars in Europe where many more people died every day.

And I already quoted that Israeli’s book that in the 21st Century more people die from overeating than from all kinds ov violence including terror …

So “the future will be interesting” again!

petofi
Guest

You must be a troll, Aida.

Everyone knows that Orban controls Hungarian media…

Guest

Petofi, please!

Aida’s comment was on the British media’s reaction if I understood it correctly. And yes, the rehashing of the angst and pain serves the perpetrators in a way.
I just read about it in the Guardian.

Rather OT:
I remember my first visit to England – Canterbury (language school) 50 years ago when I was horrified reading the London newspapers because they were so bad and primitive, except for the Times which was just boring …
Then I discovered the “Manchester Guardian” as it was still called – the only liberal/leftist real newspaper in Britain. And I’m still a fan of it. It must hurt them extra hard to have this happening in their hometown …

Member

If Orban indeed wants to steer Hungary out of the EU – and what Orban wants, he usually gets – should Brussels demand repayment of the structural funds? The member states did not pour money into Hungary in order to benefit the Russians.

aida
Guest

Well, Alex, a very good point. Presumably the UK will share in any refund. I suppose Orban will discover, as the Brexiteers will find out that there is no free exit ticket from the EU. There is some chance the UK will pay back an agreed sum, but with a basket case Hungary they may as well forget it.

Hungary has a population problem, it is rapidly vanishing. They may prefer to build fortress Hungary with all the workforce staying there so there is less need for Ukrainian workers to make up the shortfall. But then the fortress may be protected by an iron curtain. Part of it is already in place.

Member

My theory is: If Hungary is no longer in the EU, the eastern political/crime syndicates will lose all interest in it. Kleptocrats from eastern countries will no longer pay top dollar for residency bonds; Putin will no longer have a sleeper cell in the European Commission.

So, if Russia is no longer willing to send roubles this way, and the EU declares sanctions that will only be lifted once Orban pays back every last filler of the structural funds, what will the poor Hungarians do?

The only mitigating factor I see is: Hungary has vast hectares of arable land and plentiful water resources. If the state of the global environment deteriorates apace, there will be huge demand for these resources and Hungary will be in the limelight.

petofi
Guest

“poor Hungarians…” Yeeeah.

But the question remains: How long will it take the average Hungarian to realize that Orban hates the country and the citizenry?

He aims to bankrupt the country before he joins his billions in a leafy suburb of London…

Pole
Guest

We have the same dillema in Poland. Kaczynski like Orban loves only EU money not democracy, human rights, rule of law and so on. He fosters anti-EU feelings among country population from the beginning of his rule. And some political observers (with whom I agree) think that his strategic goal is to leave EU after 2020 when big money transfer will end. Let’s see the reality: Kaczyński or Orban can’t build mature autocracy and be inside European Union In the same time. Sooner or later to conclude the project of building the authoritarian state they will have to leave EU.

Member

TWIN ROGUE STATES

This is a crucial historic challenge for the EU: Can two rogue states keep being subsidized by the EU to indemnify one another from the EU’s values and the rule of law? (HUNGARY-POLAND)

“Hungary won’t backtrack on laws condemned by European Parliament -minister”

The minister also said Budapest was counting on support from its ally, Poland, to veto any sanctions on Hungary. The European Union’s rule of unanimity means the Hungarian government is unlikely to be stripped of its voting rights as Poland could block such a move.

“After the vote we have talked on the phone with my Polish colleague who made it very clear that they would not assist any kind of politically-motivated actions and they do not support the process of threatening any member state with such kind of Chapter 7 issues,” Szijjarto said.

“I have no doubt that Poland would act in a situation (like this) as we would act regarding Poland.”
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-cee-summit-szijjarto-idUSKBN18I1V7
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Pole
Guest

So only think what EU will do – will be cutting funds after 2020. And this is what Kaczyński needs to stenghten anti-EU feelings. And about twin rogue states. Who will be next ? Will Czech republic this year join the ranks ?

wrfree
Guest

If we now put the scope on Poles and Poland who are part of the now rebellious tag team against a ‘dogmatic’ EU with its European ‘values’. A point to ponder..

‘Pervading nationalism imposes its dominion on man today in many defiant forms and with an aggressiveness that spares no one. That challenge that already is with us is the temptation to accept as true freedom what in reality is only a new form of slavery’. John Paul II

Insightful words from one who knew how some ‘isms’ are always shorthand for tyranny to flourish.

Pole
Guest

No need to cite John Paul II. Catholic church in Poland is part of system of power now and is fully supporting Law and Order party.

wrfree
Guest

Perhaps you are correct. He is apparently a forgotten anachronism now who at one time represented a ‘check and balance’ on state operations inherent in malevolent autocracies.

Pole
Guest

Anybody who is interested in comparison of Polish and Hungarian regime please read this scientific article

http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/1538690/1/5.pdf

Guest

And now for the good news:
politics.hu is back!

gremlin
Guest

Orban doesn’t have a clue about China, geography, history and the like. He just likes the power of the party in China.

kremlin gremlin
Guest

And the Fideszniks themselves say given the state the EU is in, it’s better to leave.

“The West is terminal decline, 6 million Muslims are at the gate waiting to overrun tiny Hungary. ”

Orban’s propaganda is very efficient. Know-how comes directly from Russia where it’s been tested.

And remember Fidesz hasn’t given up its efforts to obtain the last remnants of a free media such as index.hu, RTL Klub, 24.hu and hvg.hu. Soon the lock over the Hungarian minds will be total.

http://index.hu/belfold/2017/05/23/kover_laszlo_forum_keszthely/

Richard P. Ray
Guest

I think the perspective is the “all-in” or “all-out” concept. There is no such thing as compromise, shared values, or community conscience. In the Orban perspective, one cannot be part of the EU and part of Hungary; they are mutually exclusive. I find this alarming because people in his and other ministerial positions have the luxury of walking away from EU support. If the EU pulls funding for infrastructure programs, they won’t suffer. If border and trade barriers go up, they don’t care. What I do not understand is why businesses that have profited enormously from EU funding don’t see what is happening and put the squeeze on him. It is not in their selfish interest to opt out of the EU money game. And certainly these companies will not thrive on a “Hungary Alone” economic/commerce policy, or even “Vizsegrad Together” policy. China? China will do what it wants and leave Hungary with its pants down around its ankles.

Guest

Yes, and the EU companies that have invested in Hungary don’t really care. Volkswagen e g now sells more cars in China than in Germany!
As long as their business isn’t hampered too much they are happy – they don’t need their production facilities or their customers to reside in the EU, they’re used to dealing with taxes, duties and bureaucracy all over the world.
But Hungary should be warned:
As soon as production 8including all the relevant costs, taxes, transportation etc) gets cheaper in another country the companies will move!
It happened already to the textile industry which was strong until the 90s in Hungary and then moved to East Asia …
Somehow Fidesz doesn’t seem to get it that Hungary is a really irrelevant small Balkan state nobody else cares for – just like the others in Eastern Europe. Only together in the EU is Europe relevant!

PS:
And for the Chinese Hungary (like all others) is really irrelevant in production as well as a consumer – compared to the big players Hungary is just a fly on the wall. I once read how much Walmart buys from China – must have been much more than Hungary’s GDP!

wrfree
Guest
No doubt the Manchester bombing has further closed the besieged circle of the insular VO government. The wagons of course will get tighter and tighter. Once again the country is reminded how ‘open’ societies seem to be prey and chum to be eaten by their enemies. And there’s the rub. It appears to VO that ‘open’ and democratic societies and their institutions are incapable to now protect themselves on the European ‘battlefield’. His look at the EU is such that they are now viewed as the old Soviets telling countries what to do and how to do it and controlling everything about them. On the other hand this doesn’t disallow him to court and feast the former occupier and laud those ‘dynamic’ Eurasian ways. He calls that ‘freedom to choose’ as he consorts with Putin and the Chinese who put the state as sovereign and have extreme almost visceral reaction towards any who attempt to upturn that assembled order or group view of the world. VO looks as if he’s been proselytized well from both Reds. It just may be that he either will get kicked out from the EU because of his ‘valuations’ or will exercise his right of… Read more »
exTor
Guest

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7YnkCWg3utU

Since we are (for the most part) EU-friendly, I thought that I would send along this link featuring a very young Finn, Saara Aalto, who sings her lyrics in twenty languages, starting with Spanish. Hungarian is the second language that she uses. Her rendition isn’t too bad. Each lyric is identified and is translated into English. This is part of an advertisement for Lidl, a German retailer with stores throughout Europe.

Hope that this is pleasantly offtopic.

MAGYARKOZÓ

Guest

Thanks for this!
It kind of reinforces my reasoning and my favourite example:
When we buy a product from Lidl the description often is in 20 or more languages – so how important is Hungary or Slovakia or … for them?

PS and even more OT (but also nice and positive):
Saara Aalto also sang several songs at the Gay Pride Festival in Maspalomas and she performs my favourite Rock song:
River Deep, Mountain High (Tina Turner 1966 – those were the days!)

wrfree
Guest

Nice…

I see we have some ‘rockers’ here!…

‘Those were the days’… Yep… Music… for the mind body and soul…👍

wrfree
Guest

OT …as we’re on a musical interlude in a few days the 50th anniversary of Sgt Pepper will be celebrated through deluxe box sets containing remastered cd’s and discussion on history, context and musical of the seminal album. Possibly the greatest of all in the rock music canon.

Postscript: Wonder at times of those young Magyars who swarmed around us while we were sitting and sunning ourselves in Margitsziget playing Beatle lps on a warm summer’s day back in the late 60’s. Really the lps started to melt because of the heat…;-)…The crowd started small then got a bit larger. Im not sure if all understood the language but they sure got the beat! A day to remember years on.

Member

May 23, 2017

“The United States again urges the Government of Hungary to suspend implementation of its amended higher education law, which places discriminatory, onerous requirements on U.S.-accredited institutions in Hungary and threatens academic freedom and independence.

The Government of Hungary should engage directly with affected institutions to find a resolution that allows them to continue to function freely and provide greater educational opportunity for the citizens of Hungary and the region.

The U.S. Government has no authority or intention to enter into negotiations on the operation of Central European University or other universities in Hungary.”

https://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2017/05/271040.htm

Istvan
Guest

Will the American Hungarian Federation dare to attack the Trump State Department for interference in the internal affairs of Hungary as it did the Obama State Department? I doubt it, they will remain silent on the CEU issue.

Member

Arrogant reaction from the Hungarian government: “A press statement [from the US Department of State] is far for being an official diplomatic answer”

https://444.hu/2017/05/23/a-magyar-kulugy-szerint-az-amerikai-kormany-a-sajat-alkotmanyat-sem-erti

Ferenc
Guest

Today before noon representatives of the HU government and Fidesz did not mind to use the tragic happenings last evening in Manchester in their campaign against the EU, specifically against migration policies.
DISGUSTING!!
I sincerely hope that British reporters in Hungary will not forget to inform their home audience about this behavior of the Hungarian government and Fidesz representatives.
And that the UK government will let their Hungarian colleagues know, through diplomatic and open channels, how they judge this.

Member

Not to mention that Fidesz messed up their facts, yet again. Brussels has nothing to do with immigration policy in the UK. Rather, a high immigration rate is the partly the result of Britain running the biggest empire in human history.

Ben
Guest

And to mention that the probable perpetrator was a British citizen with a British passport not an immigrant.

aida
Guest

I have missed this item. Please could you send me a link or if no link a summary. Many thanks

Member

Here ya go. Straight from the propaganda horse’s mouth.

http://www.hirado.hu/2017/05/23/reszvetuket-fejeztek-ki-a-partok/#

aida
Guest

Many thanks. The coverage here in the UK, as ever following such savage atrocities, is extensive, predictable, repetitive and drowns out all other news. It is carefully stage managed by the BBC which has extensive experience in dealing with national disasters and emergencies. Clearly the irresponsible or imflamatory contributions are filtered out. Having said that, and apart from the virtually entirely out of control social media that is almost impossible to monitor, I have seen no evidence of immigration being blamed for the dreadful tragedy in Manchester. It is impossible to overstate how dangerous the Fidesz propaganda really is in our fragile world of race relations.

Ferenc
Guest

Fidesz – Kosa Lajos: Manchesteri robbantás – hány ártatlan embernek kell még meghalnia?
2017.May.23, before noon, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=337BcRyKkgo

Ferenc
Guest
Member

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Member

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Member

Most of the residents of the UK, who were born outside the EU already have a British passport, i.e. cannot be kicked out ; while most residents born in other EU countries can be expelled.

Country of birth; % with British passport [2011 census]

Bangladesh; 72.4%
Pakistan; 68.8%
India ; 55%

Poland; 4.9%
Romania; 8.5%

https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/populationandmigration/populationestimates/articles/detailedcountryofbirthandnationalityanalysisfromthe2011censusofenglandandwales/2013-05-13

aida
Guest
If the criticism put forward by Fidesz is that the murderer was an immigrant, that is false. He is British born and a UK citizen of the Muslim faith. Since the UK, for the time being a relatively free country there is no restriction on a cotizen’s choice of religion. Last evening, and before the murder in Manchester drowned out any other news the Prime Minister was interviewed for 30 minutes by Andrew Neil one of the most experienced of the political commentators and interviewers. Many topics were covered including immigration. Remembering that before she became Prime Minister last year she was the Minister of the Interior ( Home Secretary ) from 2010, in charge inter alia of Immigration as well as the London Police. She confirmed that the Tory Election Manifesto (referred to by her as “my manifesto”) set out the aim to reduce net immigration to less than 100,000 a year from the current total which fluctuates between about 235,000 approx and 325,000. This is a promise that goes back 7 years, to the Tory ( Cameron) Manifesto for the 2010 and 2015 elections. The overshoot is spectacular and the attempts at reduction a miserable failure. Accepting that… Read more »
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