Emmanuel Macron meets the leaders of the Visegrád 4 countries

Viktor Orbán usually leaves these summits full of complaints about the Brussels bureaucrats’ total incompetence, which will lead to the ruin of Europe. Normally, he comes out of these meetings either condemning the results altogether or, if there is anything to praise, bragging about his key role in the negotiations. For reasons that are still unclear, Orbán’s reaction to this particular summit was surprisingly upbeat. He was especially satisfied with the unanimous support for the creation of a European army. “If one day there is a European army, then future history books will consider this summit the point of departure.”

There is nothing surprising about Orbán’s enthusiasm for a common army because he has talked about it often enough in the last year or so. On the other hand, it was unexpected that, although he admitted that there is no agreement on questions related to migration, “the emphasis was on cooperation” instead of “divergence,” which he considered to be a positive development. Orbán was remarkably congenial, although he was still unmovable on the issue of refugee quotas.

For the leaders of the Visegrád 4 countries, especially those of Poland and Hungary, the scheduled meeting with Emmanuel Macron this morning was of paramount importance. If all goes well, with the election of Macron as president of France there is a good possibility of a gradual transformation of the European Union or at least of the Eurozone into some kind of a federation-like construction. In addition, Macron has never hidden his objections to the kind of political system Jarosław Kaczyński is building in Poland and Viktor Orbán has pretty well already built in Hungary. Moreover, Macron believes, and it seems that he has Chancellor Angela Merkel’s backing, that the lack of solidarity the Visegrád countries display in the refugee crisis cannot be left unpunished. In addition, Macron has had some harsh words to say about the blatant disregard for European values in the Polish and Hungarian political systems. None of that boded well for the first person-to-person meeting of the five heads of states.

Having gone through several Hungarian, Polish, and English-language summaries of the meeting, I came to the conclusion that the prime ministers of the Visegrád 4 didn’t change Macron’s view that all member countries must respect the values and joint decisions of the EU and that, if they don’t, they must face political consequences. Nonetheless, the reports insisted that the meeting was friendly and successful. As Hungary’s Híradó, the official news distributed to all media organs, put it, “although the positions didn’t converge, the leaders called the meeting successful because they could share their own points of view with the president.” Well, that’s not much, especially if, as the Polish Gazeta Wyborcza noted, during the meeting “Emmanuel Macron … reiterated the claim that some countries regard the EU as a supermarket.”

All the Hungarian articles quoted Orbán’s somewhat cryptic description of their meeting with the new French president as a “friendship with a manly beginning,” which in English doesn’t make much sense. However, the meaning of the word “férfias ~ férfiasan” (“masculine ~ in a masculine manner”) in Hungarian also means “firm, resolute, uncompromising.” That’s why one of the internet sites continued by saying that “yet by the end of the meeting they came to the conclusion that the basis of cooperation is the mutual respect they will accord each other.” To put all this into more easily understandable language, I suspect that the Visegrád 4, most likely led by Orbán, started off on a high horse but decided after a while to tone down their “uncompromising” attitude as long as Macron shows them respect.

From other sources it is clear that Macron was unyielding on certain topics. When someone from the French president’s entourage was asked about possible sanctions against those countries that refuse to play according to the rules, he asserted that “no subject was avoided, ignored” during the talks with the Central European leaders. Moreover, Angela Merkel, who usually avoids openly criticizing the countries of the East, said yesterday that “Germany and France are totally on the same page” on the issue.

Magyar Idők most likely doesn’t know yet what the official line will be on this particular issue, and therefore it decided to rely on the official Hungarian news agency’s brief report from Brussels. However, the paper’s anti-Macron rhetoric continues. Just today two antagonistic articles appeared about him, including one which gleefully announces that the raid of Havas’ headquarters by the French anti-corruption police might also involve a visit by Macron, at the time economy minister, to Las Vegas. To an article that didn’t have any more information than what MTI released, Pesti Srácok gave the following headline: “The Visegrád Four put Macron in his place.”

The day before the Macron-Visegrád 4 meeting Ivan Krastev, chairman of the Center for Liberal Strategies, published an opinion piece in The New York Times: “Central Europe’s Tough Choice: Macron or Orban?” He explains that many countries in Eastern Europe built their economic competitiveness on low wages and low taxes and therefore fear the policies Macron campaigned on, like harmonizing taxes across the union and penalizing countries for exporting cheap labor. If these plans materialize, they “could destroy Central Europe’s business model.” So, these countries now, says Krastev, must choose “between deeper integration on terms set by Germany and France or political marginalization—and the fears of a two-tiered European Union could become self-fulfilling prophecies.” The choice is given, but “the jury is out on which choice governments will make: Macron or Orbán, “Hungary’s hard-line nationalist minister.” Orbán told us several times that a two-tiered Europe is unacceptable to him. I expect that in the next years—unless he loses the election, which is unlikely—Orbán will work to somehow wiggle himself out of this hard if not impossible choice.

June 23, 2017
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old 1956
Guest

Facing a Le Pen in Hungarian colors.
Macron could destroy one Le Pen, a Moscow ally, handily.
The male Le Pen will fall just like the first, despite Moscow’s support.

Member

“Férfias” is perhaps better translated as “manly” rather than “masculine,” but the notion is no prettier. The only thing to aspire to be is humane (and that’s gender-neutral). And that’s what Orbán and his co-perpetrators are anything but… No doubt Orbán started out with his hunnish hepciáskodás (swaggering), but Macron’s gallic sangfroid took the swell out of his wings. Good job Orby didn’t try to arm-wrestle him, the way his DC role model did…

The reality
Guest

According to all academic historians, Hungarians (Magyars) has not any relationship with ancient Huns.

Guest

And they don’t have any relationship with Europeans either, ne’est ce pas?
Wait – I am in a relationship with a very nice real Hungarian woman and one of your fascist friends called this “Rassenschande” – ain’t you boys cute?

The reality
Guest

Learn population genetics instead of fairly tales.

exTor
Guest

While the uppercase ‘Hun’ represents a member of a Central Asian tribe (unrelated to Magyars) that swept through Europe in the 4th century, the lowercase ‘hunnish’ means “recklessly or uncivilizedly destructive”, per my Apple Dictionary app. I believe that that is what Stevan Harnad meant to mean by his use of ‘hunnish’, placed next to the Magyar ‘hepciáskodás’.

MAGYARKOZÓ

wrfree
Guest

You know VO perhaps has some ‘hunnish’ characteristics. And I’d suggest a bit of the real ones who were a pain in the neck to Rome and Europe for many decades in the early centuries A.D.
@A constant thorn in the side of the EU wondering where he will strike next.
@They to some early chroniclers they were simply looked upon as ‘bandits’. We all can figure what’s taken now.
@And finally a player in what is known as the ‘Great Migrations’ as Hun advances pressed on peoples to move move and get out of the way. The Empire felt the ‘barbarian’ pressure’. Looks ‘Attila’ is alive and well in the 21st. And just modernized..;-)…

exTor
Guest

Mit jelent az a szó, hogy hepciáskodik? Mik a rokon értelmű szavai?

Rather than ‘swagger[ing]’ as a meaning for ‘hepciáskodás’, which I could not find in my hard-copy dictionary, I found (online) ‘argumentative’ and ‘fight-picking’ as perhaps more appropriate meanings. One site suggested ‘kötözködik’, ‘pattog’ and ‘kötekedik’ as synonyms for ‘hepciáskodik’.

MAGYARKOZÓ

exTor
Guest

IVAN KRASTEV [NYT] … https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/22/opinion/macron-merkel-orban-european-union.html

First off, Éva, can you exercise executive control and uncommunicate Rivarol and vomart huli, both of whom are low-function pests communicating nothing but annoyance to this forum?

The Bulgarian writer Ivan Krastev, in his New York Times piece linked above, sympathizes with Viktor Orbán on the question of refugee quotas, saying “Eastern Europeans, on the other hand, RIGHTLY INSIST [emphasis mine] that the solidarity imperative must not trump a democratic mandate, and who belongs to a community is an existential question to be decided solely by democratically elected governments.”

The logical extension of this POV is that the Four Recalcitrants [Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia] can pick and choose whatever they like from the EU supermarket, against which is the fight Macron is waging.

MAGYARKOZÓ

Guest

If you democratically asked the people in the paying EU states – the majority probably would say:
We don’t want to give any money to those lazy East European aka Balkan bastards! Throw them out of the EU if they don’t behave!

PS:
If you don’t pay in a supermarket you get to know the security personnel …

Member

Friendship with a manly beginning.

Beata Szylo must have been thrilled.

bimbi
Guest

No way Orban in the Gang of Four were going to score many points in the meeting with President Macron, so he puts a good face on things, OK. Since the dawning of the New Illiberal Age in Hungary the public has been repeatedly told that “Hungary is Doing Better”. However, a couple of weeks ago the economic cat was let out of the bag when someone in the government revealed that no, the minimum wage in Hungary should not be increased because that would tend to turn off investors. The “Doing Better” bit (even if it is in some sense true) is achieved through a deliberate government policy of retaining a large pool of cheap labour. Unsurprisingly, government economic policy is based on the accumulation of wealth for the rich (Lorinc Pénztaros and most other Fidszniks as well as chosen “strategic partners” of the government) who are all very obviously “Doing Better”.

When are voters going to ask, “For whom does the government stand? Does it stand for me?”? The answer is clearly, “NO!”, but no one seems to mind much. For the mafiosi in power it is all as easy as “taking pennies from a blind man”. Shameless.

Bastiat2
Guest

Orbán should bide his time. Macron is at the moment all pure and fresh, having done nothing for the moment. If indeed, he manages to implement the reforms he was elected for, then his stature will be more imposing in the coming months and years. If not he will turn to be another Hollande albeit in a younger face and better cut suits.
Since most of the structural reforms that France has been waiting for for the last 40 years should be decided before the end of the year (if not actually implemented), we shall soon know.
Given that the cowardliness of all previous French governments has been to borrow instead of reforming, there are vast number of people whose livelihood resides in illegitimate rents. They will not abandon them without a serious fight. hence my doubts about Macron’ future successes.

Istvan
Guest
To show how far away Hungary is from the politically correct world emerging among some people today in their early 20s is the idea of announcing your preferred gender pronoun at the onset of formal meetings. The Canadian Federal Bill C-16, would add legal protection for “gender identity” and “gender expression” to the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal code. In the City of New York there is apparently an enforceable local law on legal protections for gender identity. The fact that we just witnessed on this blog a discussion of a journalistic description of a government to government meeting as manly is so far away from that politically correct discussion as to be incomprehensible in some quarters. The issue of transgender rights has even now appeared in the US military. Transgender people currently serve in all five branches of the U.S. military. But the military still recognizes them by their gender at birth, and requires members to adhere to uniform standards of that gender. Under current rules, transgender people are considered physically and psychologically unfit to serve. Rules still existing prohibited those with a “current or history of psychosexual conditions, including but not limited to transsexualism, exhibitionism, transvestism,… Read more »
petofi
Guest

Yup, a European Army is the ticket! Cut adrift the US and reinforce its isolationist tendency. Perfect for the Russkies.
With time, the big bear will come and gobble up the European remains…

wrfree
Guest

Re: The Euro Army

If that comes to fruition it would appear to mean then that Europe thinks it can undoubtedly protect itself from the Russkies. Could be a game changer. As noted , the bears will bring on the forks and stick it to the EU on a time and day of their own choosing. They know then they’re ‘done’.

Guest

Rathe OT:

Our young ones visites us yesterday from Budapest. The fast train was sold out so they took a regulat train to Fonyod – which needed 3 hours exactly for those 150 km, without air condition!
33 degrees outside and maybe 35 inside …
We fetched them from Fonyod because of the heat – luckily the roads were empty but the beach today was full …
Tomorrow I’ll travel to Germany to tell everybody about the glorious adventures of the Hungarian government – won’t be online maybe for some time, but don’t worry – I’ll be back! 🙂

petofi
Guest

My wife and I, now in Budapest, have just finished watching the film “2012” (Roland Emmerich)–a fest of disasters.
And then it came to me: this is what it means to live in Hungary!

wrfree
Guest

I will have to see it. I just finished a film of his .. ‘Anonymous’….One of those ‘what if’ films which looked at who ‘really’ wrote Shakespeare’s plays. From what I heard it did not do well at the box office. In any case I think it’s a find and a gem in my collection. The cinematography is fabulous!

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