Viktor Orbán: “The French president is a new boy” who should learn a thing or two

It is no secret that Emmanuel Macron, France’s newly elected president, is no friend of “illiberal democracies.” In an interview at the beginning of May he was pretty blunt when he said: “You know the friends and allies of Mrs. Le Pen. These are the regimes of Orbán, Kaczynski, and Putin. They are not open and free democracies. Every day, freedoms and rules are violated there along with our principles.” Poland’s Foreign Ministry didn’t wait long to react. The Poles were especially outraged at the suggestion that the current Polish regime shows any similarity to Putin’s Russia. The Hungarian government didn’t officially respond to Macron’s charge at that time, although a week earlier Macron had said that if he becomes president he will press the European Union to impose sanctions on those Central European nations that disregard fundamental European values.

As Macron’s chance of electoral victory solidified, the Hungarian government media took an increasingly antagonistic attitude toward him. Now that Macron is installed as president of France and is ready to promote his “European project,” his views on the “rogue states” of the EU have gained in significance to the countries involved, especially Poland and Hungary. Yesterday Macron gave an exclusive interview to eight European papers: The Guardian, Le Figaro, El País, Gazeta Wyborcza, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Le Temps, Le Soir, and Corriere della Serra. In this interview he repeated, even elaborated on, the theme he had talked about earlier. In his opinion “national egotisms are slow poisons that bring about the weakening of democracies and a collective inability to rise up to our historic challenge.” Although he stressed that he didn’t believe in “a conflict between east and west in Europe,” he nevertheless warned against certain European leaders “abandoning principles, turning their backs on Europe, having a cynical approach to the European Union that only serves as dispensing credit without respecting its values.” He stated that “Europe isn’t a supermarket. Europe is a common destiny. It is weakened when it accepts its principles being rejected. The countries in Europe that don’t respect the rules should have to face the political consequences. And that’s not just an east-west debate.” Finally, he added,“I will speak to everyone with respect but I won’t compromise on European principles—on solidarity or democratic values. If Europe were to accept that, it would mean it’s weak and had already ceased to exist.” These are strong words.

By now the heads of governments of the European Union have gathered in Brussels. The two-day summit, as far as I can see, may be more important than some earlier summits because such issues as a common defense, foreign policy toward Turkey and the United States, the Russian sanctions, and Brexit and its consequences will be on the table. As for a common defense, there is a strong likelihood that there will be unanimity on that issue. Discussion of the divisive compulsory migrant quotas has been postponed for the time being, and therefore Viktor Orbán’s referendum with its “record number of signatures” cannot be submitted this time as a prop for Hungary’s position on the issue. The prime minister must wait for the next opportunity to launch his “biggest fight” with Brussels. Independent Hungarian sources think that, with the election of Macron, Orbán will face his greatest challenge, especially if strong French-German cooperation achieves a deeper integration of Europe. Perhaps it is just wishful thinking, but some Hungarian observers think that Orbán is in a tight spot and that his peacock dance will encounter more difficulties from here on.

Upon his arrival in Brussels, Viktor Orbán gave an impromptu press conference to a small group of Hungarian journalists. On the photo one can see the microphones of M1, ATV, and RTL Klub. Naturally, the non-state television networks wanted to cover Orbán’s reaction to Macron’s interview the day before, in which he made no secret of his opinion of the leaders of those illiberal states that violate the common fundamental values of the European Union and that don’t share the common responsibility while they benefit from the largess of fellow member states. Orbán’s answer was typical of the man’s rough edges, which make some Hungarians uneasy and embarrassed. “The French president is a new boy (új fiú) who comes to the summit for the first time. We will take a look at him; we will come to know him. He surely must have some ideas,” Orbán began. And then he continued: “His entrance is not too promising because yesterday he thought that the best form of friendship is a kick into the Central-European nations. This is not customary around here, but I believe he will find his way around.” Orbán is getting too big for his britches. After all, this “new boy” is the president of France, a  country with a population of more than 65 million.

At the same time, in Warsaw, Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski also had a few words to say on the subject but he, unlike the Hungarian prime minister, remained within the realm of diplomatic decorum. According to Polska Agencja Prasowa, the Polish news agency, he expressed his hope that Macron, who will meet Prime Minister Beatą Szydło at the summit, will explain the meaning of his words about the Poles, Hungarians, and other people of Central Europe. Yes, Macron will have an opportunity to meet Szydło because, as a result of a Polish initiative, Macron will have a separate meeting with the heads of the Visegrád 4 tomorrow morning. I would love to be a fly on the wall at that meeting. I’m certain that Macron will bring up his very serious reservations about the state of democracy, at least in Poland and in Hungary. He has been talking about the very serious problems in these two countries for a long time and has repeated time and again that these illiberal, increasingly autocratic states are a cancer on the body of the European Union which, in his opinion, is just now embarking on a new course that will open the door to a more socially sensitive and economically thriving Europe.

The contrast between Macron’s and Orbán’s world views and ideas on the future of Europe can’t be greater. I am, of course, keeping fingers crossed for Macron and for a thriving, more closely integrated European Union because I agree with him that “national egotisms are slow poisons” that can bring only disaster to the continent.

June 22, 2017
Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
tappanch
Guest

Economist, June 22nd 2017

“What to do when Viktor Orban erodes democracy

Europe has the tools to make an autocrat back down”

“Mr Orban has rewritten the constitution, dismantled checks and balances (“a US invention” unsuited to Europe, he says), muzzled the press and empowered oligarchs.[…] He wants to fashion an “illiberal state” modelled on China, Russia and Turkey.[…] Mr Orban’s creeping authoritarianism is not just a problem for Hungary. It is a direct challenge to the “fundamental values” of the European project […] Where Hungary leads, others may follow; Poland already has.”

the EPP’s leaders “should go further and kick Fidesz out of their club. […] Hungary is a big recipient of the aid dished out to its poorer members, receiving nearly €6bn ($6.7bn) a year. More than 95% of public investment projects in Hungary are co-financed by the EU. […] At the very least, the EU should do more to stop European taxpayers’ money from being stolen. […] Hungary refuses to join the European Public Prosecutor’s Office, a new anti-graft body. Doing so should be a condition for receiving any more EU cash.

tappanch
Guest

“Some fret that if the EU confronts Mr Orban, he will try to turn Hungarians against it. But that would be a perilous strategy for him, and one he has already tried, with little success. […] for many in Hungary, Europe represents freedom. The EU should not let them, or itself, down. ”

http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21723835-europe-has-tools-make-autocrat-back-down-what-do-when-viktor-orban-erodes-democracy

tappanch
Guest

This article is six years late…

palacsinta
Guest

Exactly. Has The Economist been sleeping during the last six years? Basically yes. I remember that The Economist used to be a staunch supporter of Erdogan (defending the “mildly Islamist” politician at every step of the way), it was ardently against Schroder who later won twice and so on. I haven’t been reading the weekly because it’s so predictable and shallow. Now in 2017 those smart journalists suddenly realize that Orban is corrupt and dictatorial and the EU is impotent. But the truth is The Economist is itself similarly impotent and clueless. I wonder how much they get from much more complex Asian or African stories if they get the Hungarian story only in 2017.

wrfree
Guest

Re: the Economist doing the Rip Van Winkle nap

Well then i would imagine they will perhaps make up for it in the next few decades when they look to ‘Eastern’ stories.

The illiberal bent going on certainly seems that it will hang around for awhile. That has no lightswitch with a quick on/off. And there’s no telling with this new political ‘reformulation’ of democracy where it will end up. VO and his Polish counterparts I believe are entering uncharted waters.

Observer
Guest

Exactly.

Romar
Guest

Come on, guys! Why should Orban let himself and his country be insulted by an upstart, be he president of France? Who is Macron to say Hungary et al are scroungers who are happy to spend EU money without marching in gay pride marches and applauding same sex “marriages” – Macron’s idea of European values.

dos929
Guest
The core problem with many of the leading Western democracies and their leaders is the ‘policy of appeasement’. This is what led the world to nuclear North Korea, to Iran, Venezuela, Zimbabwe… etc… and it is the same policy that has been practised with the Orban regime. The only difference, and not an insignificant one either, that whilst the former countries made themselves their own enemies, the Orban regime besides their own citizens, is making the European Union its enemy. One may say that tolerating such policies for a while is the right diplomatic course, but after 7+ years this sounds a bit ‘too tolerant’. If the wise leaders of the European Union and the European democracies didn’t realise this until now and all they can show is no more than ‘talk-fest’, then Hungary’s and the EU’s future is doomed. Better late than never, but even now the EU is dragging its feet and all they do is talk and more talk. It is not true that their or for that matter the hands of the European People’s Party are tied… They could have stopped this avalanche of illiberal policies by Orban a long time ago, but as we know,… Read more »
Guest

So it’s again the EU’s fault if Hungarians voted for Fidesz?
A typical Hungarian reaction …
At the same time complaining “we are not a colony” when European politicians say something they don’t like, taking the EU’s money and whining, whining …
The EU under French and German leadership with core countries like Austria, Benelux and Scandinavia can well survive – let the illiberals rot in Putin’s Eurasian Union if they want to!

bimbi
Guest

dos929 @ 2:25 a.m.

Sorry, but this reads like another oh-so-typical Magyar whine of victimhood. We have been let down by the impotent West who (again) failed us in our hour of need…

Whatever happened to “Talpra Magyar”?

dos929
Guest

I do not wish to get into an argument, but you seem to discard some basic facts such as the regime changed the electoral rules so that together with the now defunct system of checks and balances there is practically zero chance of getting rid of them by democratic means. Furthermore, since Hungary is a EU member country it is a two-way street; as much as Hungary must respect the rules and laws of the EU, the EU must protect the citizens of the member states from tyrannical rules…

Pole
Guest
I agree history shows that mature autocracy can’t be stopped by democratic means but only by “the Street”. And defenitely UE must protect its own citizens against abusive government. The problem with Hungary is that from the beginning I mean constitutional changes Fidesz did everything according to the rule of law and what is very important received democratic mandate from the society in the elections to do it. Hungarians themselves decided to abolish liberal democracy by electing populist autocrats and gave them the 2/3 constitutional majority in the general elections. Here I’m aware that many of you can be tired of my polish-hungarian comparisons but I have to stress something. Polish case is much worse than Hungary. Because polish people haven’t given Law and Order party constitutional majority: this party purposefully make overt violations of the formal rule of law starting from constitution. They even brake their own passed law. During the battle to capture constitutional court they passed unconstitutional law that has given them control over the court. This law should be legally in force in 14 days. President Duda appointed new constitutional judges based on this law just after 12 days from passing not 14 with full overt… Read more »
wrfree
Guest

Re: ‘Poland will become the country where all EU citizens will not receive justice in the independent courts’

Sounds as if Poland is taking after her arch antagonist over in the East. Next if it hasn’t already there will be no ‘independent’ courts. Curious to know what extent Poles question where it all will lead to…dancing in the relationship with the ‘bear’.

Pole
Guest

Bear has to only wait and see. Polish self-destructive behavior will do the rest.

Pole
Guest

Maybe only 30% of polish voters ask themselves the question where it will ultimately lead us. For the most Bread and Circuses if enough for now.

In my opinion we will become part of Russian sphere of influence. Law and Order party will accept it if could retain internal rule.

Observer
Guest

The EU should have taken action and ratchet up the pressure on the Hungarian little fascists as they went wrecking the democratic state, all the way to the point of pushing Hungary out of the Union. The poison poured weakened/weakens the union, budding dictators were encouraged by the lack of repercussions and the rot spread.
Europe was not the cause of the Hungarian malaise, but it didn’t administer the bitter medicine and now perhaps an amputation may be the only cure.

Istvan
Guest
Writing as an American Hungarian retired US Army Officer with a daughter currently serving in the Army reserves I am not unhappy in the least that the Trump administration has talked the game about North Korea, but really done very little. It is not what I expected, I expected some blood by now to be honest. I understand the theory of appeasement and feel very strongly the US should have been more aggressive with the Russians over the Crimean invasion for example. But on the other hand can the USA enforce world order at any cost? How many dead do we need to accumulate, about 64,000 in Vietnam, about 2,400 U.S. military deaths in the War in Afghanistan, and another 4,400 in Iraq. This is a heavy cross to carry decade after decade for questionable outcomes for the sacrifices. To carry out regime change in North Korea will cost a good number of American lives, let alone those of the South Koreans. That has to be taken into consideration when thinking about something like that, I know how the old poem goes -Ours is not to reason why, but to do & die. But honestly its a little different than… Read more »
Bastiat2
Guest

Quite frankly, Macron should think twice before attacking others. France is in a dismal situation bought about by 40 years of statism, aka socialism that has turned a country that should be the most prosperous of Europe into one of the sick men of Europe with a debt close to 100% GDP.
Macron has promised reforms but as often in France, they will be watered down by conservative Marxist unions.
Once he has done his homework, and only then can he have the credibility to talk down other countries.

Guest

But Hungary can “talk down” verybody else?

Bastiat2
Guest

Of course not. Do not misread me. I do think that Orban is a little Eastern potentate that serves only his “clan” at the detriment of the rest of the population.

wrfree
Guest

Re: ‘little Eastern potentate’

You know the description gives a suggestion of let’s say a ‘dimunition’ of his power to seemingly run circles around the EU
acting like a over-wet sponge soaking up their gelt. Another dimunition seemed to have occurred.

Orban’s reference to Macron describing him as the ‘uj fiu’ came over as a bit of humor but underneath it’s almost as if he slyly shows his knowledge of insult as he virtually pats the head of a Euro state as he calls him ‘boy’. Macron ‘kicks’ out with the tough stance. But Viktor makes sure he ‘kicks’ back with condescension. The boxing match begins.

bimbi
Guest

Bastiat2 @ 3:47 a.m.

“Quite frankly, Macron should think twice…”

An odd comment. Are we to conclude from your first two words that you are not always “quite frank”? I do not agree with you. M. Macron is the newly elected President of the French Republic and with that alone he has considerable standing in Europe. His predecessor M. Hollande failed despite some initial strong words on economic reform and putting the French back to work. People will be watching how M. Macron performs. Please do not forget that for the last seven years he has also been watching how Mr. Orban has performed and, quite appropriately, he is critical of the man and his policies of nationalist selfishness and theft at the expense of his countrymen.

The recent hoo-ha in the European Parliament against O’s illiberal state has fizzled out. One can only hope that M. Macron’s strong words can, at this critical time in the EU, lead to a lancing of the eastern boil on the organization’s backside. It would be time.

Finally, O. as impudent as one would expect for his Magyar bootlickers and listeners. The more things change….

Ferenc
Guest

Re: ‘40 years of statism, aka socialism’
From 1974 till now 2017 presidents and governments in France were:
Presidents: 24 yrs centre-right / 19 yrs socialist
Governments: 18 yrs centre-right / 5 years centre-liberal / 19 yrs socialist
PS: anybody can vent his/her opinion about others as long as done with respect and therefore using fair arguments and I consider Macron’s statements as such. OV’s informal response does not contain too much respect…

Winston
Guest

Bastiat2: “Quite frankly, Macron should think twice before attacking others. France is in a dismal situation…”

May I ask, in which situation France must be, before Macron is allowed to say, what has to be said, and whant one thing got to do with the other ?

Since 7 years, the taxes I pay as an EU citizen are used to finance a corrupt autocratic mafia regime, that in return tries to destroy the EU.

I set my hope in Macron and the new spirit of change in the EU and I am looking forward for some changes now.

Observer
Guest

Exactly.

Observer
Guest

Why would the problems of France, or any other for that matter, disallow proper action against the utterly corrupt fascists regime of Hun, or Pl?
One doesn’t have to be a saint or perfect before seeing the rot elsewhere and actring to stem it.

Bravò Messieur Le President!

Guest

Of course Orbán wants to forget (and make others forget …) that he also was a new boy once – and even a Liberal once, a long, long time ago …
At least he claimed to be liberal – but maybe he was a Communist autocrat even then?

Member

“Maybe he was a Communist autocrat even then?”

Yup.

Melanie Zuben
Guest

“Macron had said that if he becomes president he will press the European Union to impose sanctions on those Central European nations that disregard fundamental European values.”

Obviously, the “fundamental European values” are being ignored by the Liberal French government. (forget about the politicians, just ask the French people) Otherwise, why would the Jewish people leave by their thousands? Macron should clean up his own backyard before he threatens Hungary and other Eastern European countries with sanctions.
What are you all proposing in here? Maybe the Hungarians should be starved into submission? Either your way or the highway? And YOU are talking about Liberal Democracy? YOU are talking about “freedom of choice”?
WTF!?

Observer
Guest

Yes, the Hungarian regime should have been/be starved into submission to the rules of the EU. And if the voters still support this criminal gang mascarading as government they should bear the consequences.
Why would a civilized EU taxpayer keep afloat a bunch of fascist thieves with his money just to see them rotting the whole system?

I hope after the German elections more slaps and knocks (kokki ès salèr) will be meted out to this gang.

Guest

Hungarians can do whatever they please …
But they can’t expect the EU to pay them for it!
Just as the Brits left (or are in the process of leaving rather) the Eastern states (Poland, Hungary etc) can also leave if they think life outside the EU without its darn “liberal” rules is better.
Re starving:
You obviously don’t know much (I was tempted to write “nothing at all” …) about life in Hungary – yes, there are very poor people – but “Hungary is doing better”, those profiting from the rampant corruption can vouch for this!

petofi
Guest

Melania-baby, I strongly suspect that the water ain’t hot enough. If you’ve run out of electricity, heat some up and add it to your tub…

One of the mind-boggling realities of today’s (Hungarian) world is that ‘nationalism’ trumps (Trumps?) logic and good sense. Macron spoke the truth, no less than hapless Gyurcsany in 2006. Along comes the twisted mind-think of Orbanistan to twist Gyurcsany, Macron, et.al. I’m astounded that Hungarian adults would abandon independent, clear, thinking for Hungarico, Orbanistic inanities…

tappanch
Guest

Fidesz is pushing through a new bill banning political advertisement it does not like. It cheats to achieve this within 12 hours and without 2/3 majority.

http://hvg.hu/itthon/20170623_parlament_plakattorveny_szavazas

Observer
Guest

This primitive and disgusting farce demonstrates that the rule of law is dead in Hungary. I have no idea how can someone start to separate paragraphs and subs from a statute and amend them under different legislative procedures.

To add insult to injury in the justification the shameless little fascists mention transparency, one thing they have done away with, i.e. the accounts of the Trading House of the Forreign Affairs Ministry have not been released even after a court ruling ordered them to, as the Orban mafia cares little about the courts.

tappanch
Guest

1:30 PM, The Fidesz bill was passed with less than 2/3 majority (for: 123, against: 68, absent or dead : 9) .

I am sure the Fidesz-appointed “Constitutional” court [there is no constitution since Jan 1, 2012] approves this outrage too.

tappanch
Guest

Debate of the newly submitted bill started at 10 AM
Voting took place at 1:30 PM

It took 3 1/2 hours to ban billboards criticizing the government.
(State-financed fake NGOs like CÖF are exempt from putting up pro-government billboards)

tappanch
Guest

From July 15, the government will issue a fine of 150000 forints (500 euros) for each billboard in the streets that does not comply with the new law.

tappanch
Guest

The bill is obviously against VIII (4) of Fidesz’s own “Basic Law”, but the government will forcibly take down the anti-Orban billboards by July 17, 2017 [+fine] and no court can stop them enforcing this bill until the 2018 election.

Ferenc
Guest

democratic options left: fight it at each and every court possible and till the very last verdict civil disobedience!!

Zalavári
Guest

More interesting is why did Zsuzsa Szelényi quit Együtt? Együtt had two MPs and one of the two left the party now.

Szelenyi claims that Együtt’s leadership pressured her to vote for this law.

Even MSZP’s Botka eventually realized that it looks bad if they appear to cooperate with Fidesz but apparently Fidesz offered so much money to Szigetvári and Juhász that Együtt suddenly wanted to sign up to this corrupt fidesznik law. Szelényi refused and quit.

petofi
Guest

Parliament? What Parliament.
It’s Orban’s joke-machine!

Winston
Guest

In the radio yesterday, besides the political subjects of the EU summit, I heard more often than once, that the athmosphere and spirit of the EU and their leaders is very positive and optimistic.

They seem to have the drive for positive progresses and improvements.

The Brexit has become a side issue. Merkel said, that the Brexit negotiations are not so important as the actions to be taken to improve the EU.

The EU has also become more popular among its citizens. In light of peculiar Anti Democtrats as Putin and Trump the people more value the EU.

Macron, as the new young president of France, embodies this new spirit.

Orban, in contrast, appears like an old fat left over dinosaur from almost forgotten fascist ages.

Zalavári
Guest

But don’t forget that if Macron cannot deliver Le Pen will be there to take over. Italy’s economy is a time bomb. The underlying political issues are there. The pendulum may swing back and Orban has all the time in the world. If he stays in his position for long enough (and chances are that he will) he will get to see the rise of the far-right again. Same with Putin. They can afford to be wrong a few times because time is on their side.

Winston
Guest

Zalavári: “blablabla…”

petofi
Guest

The Visegrad Four….a confederacy of dunces, led by the chief joker who’s happily leading them to the precipice, OR, into the arms of mother Russia.

Macron is heaven-sent to chew up and spit out the idiocies that Orban spreads within Europe. God bless him.

Pole
Guest

Comment from polish prime minister “puppet” Beata Szydło before the meeting. She said: “Poland is open to co-operating with France but what this co-operation will look like depends on Mr Macron. On whether he wants to show off his antipathy towards eastern and central European states in the media or talk about facts.

“It’s good to talk about facts, and to avoid making assumptions based on stereotypes.” 

Polish road to autocracy is fact, the same as Mrs Szydlo lack of real power . Real power is in Kaczynski hands this Carl Schmitt fanboy.

Member

“The French president is a new boy (új fiú) who comes to the summit for the first time. We will take a look at him; we will come to know him.”

More arrogant kocsma bluster from the fascist thug will no doubt play well amongst the unthinking savages who are the Fidesz core vote but really, fatboy should never forget that it is France, Germany and one or two other democracies that keep his sick joke of a regime afloat.

For all those fascists who decry the “bullying” of the EU (such as it is) then the solution is simple. If you are not happy to obey the rules then at least have the decency and courage leave and please, please take your begging bowl with you.

Ferenc
Guest

OT
There will be a new subject at schools: pfideszmath
Lesz új tantárgy iskolákban: pfideszmatek

First lesson / Elsö Lecke: 1/2 > 2/3

Guest

Many of you probably heard about the problems with the Russian metro cars in Budapest – it’s unbelievable:
https://bbj.hu/budapest/bkv-suspends-metro-train-refit-until-contractor-remedies-problems_134787

The relevant money is over 200 million € that was spent on these antique “refurbished” cars, wonder what’s the percentage that got into Fidesz’ pockets?

Our young ones are totally frustrated – getting around in Budaapest is getting more and more problematic. Of course it’s not a problem if you’re a Fidesznik with the licence to use a handicapped parking site ….

Ferenc
Guest

… and you could change your 2 years old car for a brand one, like the mayor
https://vastagbor.atlatszo.hu/2017/06/23/tarlos-istvan-uj-szolgalati-autoja/

Jean P.
Guest

To day there was a new episode. The doors of a so-called renovated train didn’t open after the train had arrived at the Nyugati. After a quater of an hour strong men managed to open the doors by manuel force and let the panicing passengers out. (HIR TV)

They are also going to buy a Russian nuclear power plant!. God bless them.

Guest

It must have been really ugly – these cars have no air conditioning …
And we had 35 degrees today like yesterday – until the short rain came. Luckily I had A/C installed in our house some years ago in the bedroom and the living room though I’m not a friend of it, sometimes it’s a necessity!

wrfree
Guest

I’d think unless I’m mistaken that Euro ‘rail’ travel has always been generally praised as being efficient and ‘on time’. Not surprised Vlad the Tank Engine could be messing not only with democracies and ‘elections’ but also to put a little ‘derail’ in the rails. Heck Europe can’t have the good efficient things going on.

wpDiscuz