Hungary is waiting for an apology from the Netherlands

Gajus Scheltema, who has been the Netherland’s ambassador to Hungary since 2013, is now retiring from the diplomatic service. He has been a diplomat since 1978. Prior to his current post he served in Poland, Slovakia, Austria, Belgium, Romania, Jordan, Pakistan, and the United States. In brief, he is a seasoned diplomat. Therefore, his farewell interview in 168 Óra cannot be viewed as some horrible diplomatic faux pas. In fact, a careful reading of the interview reveals a man who is meticulous in his wording. What did Ambassador Scheltema say that so infuriated Viktor Orbán?

The interview itself is fairly lengthy, but there are only two sentences that set off the government. One came in the middle of his observation that the terrorists, as the losers in globalization, have turned toward extremism and fanatical religiosity because it gives them a feeling of security. “They create enemies along the same principles as the Hungarian government does.” The second sentence was embedded in a discussion about Hungarians’ inability to reach compromise, as opposed to the Dutch practice of constant negotiations. “Here, on the other hand, there can be only pro or con positions. Someone is either with us or against us. This is a classic Marxist viewpoint.”

The fact is that there were several other critical remarks, which most other governments would have found much more insulting than the two the Orbán government focused on. For example, this absolutely straightforward assertion that “We cannot finance corruption. We cannot keep alive a corrupt regime.” I cannot think of a more damning comment than that. Yet the Hungarian government didn’t find any reason to object to it.

Therefore, my suspicion is that this uproar over the Dutch ambassador’s interview is once again, as so often in the past, for domestic consumption. How many people read 168 Óra? Very few, and therefore only a small group of people will ever hear the ambassador’s harsh words about their corrupt government, which is kept alive by money coming from the European Union. And officially complaining about the ambassador’s calling the Orbán government corrupt would have meant disseminating an uncomfortable truth that the majority of the Hungarian public are also aware of. So, instead, the government picked on statements they thought would rile Hungarians against the European Union via the Dutch ambassador. Someone compared us to terrorists? Someone called us Marxists? It is unacceptable and we demand satisfaction.

Ambassador Gajus Scheltema

Péter Szijjártó’s initial reaction on Thursday, right after the interview was published, was quite mild. He simply said: “Let’s hope that the Dutch ambassador will leave soon.” A day later, however, he opted for a much stronger response. I suspect that Viktor Orbán, who had just arrived from his three-week vacation in Croatia, instructed Szijjártó to make a forceful move that would have reverberations internationally. Actually, Szijjártó doesn’t need much prodding when it comes to aggressiveness. In this case he announced that “relations at the level of ambassadors have been suspended indefinitely,” asserting that this move is “one of the most radical steps in diplomacy.” He announced that Hungary “won’t settle for an explanation behind closed doors.” They will be satisfied with nothing less than “a public apology.”

I must say that the Dutch foreign minister, Bert Koenders, didn’t show himself to be a nimble diplomat in this case. Perhaps he is unaccustomed to the Hungarian way of conducting diplomacy, but he crumbled instead of standing by his ambassador. In the course of a conversation with reporters he admitted that he was “embarrassed” because “it’s clear there is no link between terrorism and the actions of the Hungarian government.” At the end, he added that he couldn’t “imagine that this is what the ambassador wanted to say.”

The fact is that Scheltema said nothing of the sort. He wasn’t talking about a direct link between terrorism and Hungary. Rather, he pointed out that creating nonexistent enemies enables people to justify their own actions. The terrorists create enemies who are set on destroying them and who should therefore be punished. Similarly, the Hungarian government creates its own foes in order to justify its constant attacks on the European Union and clandestine international forces. The Orbán government needs these antagonists in order to prove to the populace that the country is in danger and that it is only the current regime that is fighting for their independence and well-being.

The Orbán government might have avoided a reference to the corrupt regime Ambassador Scheltema was talking about, but Egon Rónai of ATV didn’t miss the opportunity to quiz Péter Szijjártó on the subject. Members of the Orbán government are infamous for not wanting talk to the media, and there are certain outlets that are considered to be forbidden territory. One of these is KlubRádió, especially György Bolgár’s program “Let’s Talk It Over.” Another is HírTV, which is boycotted because its owner is Lajos Simicska, Viktor Orbán’s old friend turned enemy. ATV, although it is not considered to be a pro-government outlet, still manages to have some government officials as guests.

Yesterday Péter Szijjártó was being interviewed on “Egyenes beszéd” (Straight Talk). The interview was supposed to have been on Emmanuel Macron’s meeting with the Slavkov Three instead of the Visegrád Four. But then the controversy over the Dutch ambassador emerged. Egon Rónai asked Szijjártó about Scheltema’s labeling the Hungarian government corrupt. Szijjártó’s answer was priceless. He complained that foreign politicians accuse them of corruption, but when he asks these people to give particulars they cannot come up with anything. The accusation is ridiculous because a corrupt country cannot be economically successful. Hungary happens to be very successful, and therefore such allegations are baseless. When Rónai interjected and called attention to the incredible amount of convergence money coming to Hungary, Szijjártó’s reaction was to belittle the significance of these funds. However, as 444.hu pointed out, a new study just showed that without the convergence money the Hungarian economy would be 6% smaller and the level of investment two-thirds of the present level.

As for the unfinished business between the Netherlands and Hungary, the government made sure that no one forgets about it. Gyula Budai, who is currently undersecretary of the ministry of agriculture, gave a press conference at which he said that the Hungarian government is still waiting for the apology. It is a mystery to me what an agricultural undersecretary has to do with this diplomatic quarrel. Maybe no one else was in town this weekend.

Otherwise, the Hungarian foreign ministry is waiting to see whether its demand will be met. On Monday, “a decision will be made about the next step to be taken.” Prior to the final decision, Szijjártó will speak to the returning Hungarian ambassador and the Hungarian chargé will pay a visit to the Dutch foreign ministry.

The general sentiment in the Netherlands is that an apology will not be forthcoming. And then what? Interestingly, when a Russian official called the 1956 Revolution a counterrevolution ignited by the CIA, the Hungarian government said nothing. It also remained quiet when former Romanian president Traian Băsescu said that the real border between Romania and Hungary should be the Tisza River. But when it comes to one of the important countries in the European Union, Viktor Orbán behaves like a lion ready to pounce.

August 26, 2017
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Observer
Guest

” a lion ready to pounce..” ?

Rather like a rat spoiling everything around and when found he’s jumping to bite one’s hand.

Jan
Guest
Hello, I am new on this forum and not very familiar with Hungarian politicians, names and long standing history of their fights and friendships. I always enjoy this blog and the discussions. I live in Hungary since 1 1\2 year now. Originally I am Dutch, but lived for many years in Germany. Now I am trying to make sense of the new country I am living in. During my time here I learned that talking about politics and asking questions about the political situation here is best done in a very small circle of people. If the group is too big, no-one will express a clear opinion, not in favour of or against the government. Well I started this writing to react on the blog and until now somehow am of track. Reading the interview with Scheltema I can only agree with his opinion on the Hungarian government. I would not have used words like terrorism or Marxism. But maybe it was on purpose to wake up the tarantula and then it worked well. Of course I read through different Dutch newspapers to see the story develope. Excuses are not to be expected. The Dutch politician and MP Geert Wilders,… Read more »
Roderick S. Beck
Guest

Of course, the Hungarian people are responsible!!! They put them in power repeatedly.

mustafa
Guest

the only question is why have they allowed this website to continue?

Jan
Guest

Ask family They to get an answer.

Observer
Guest

They don’t allow it, you genius, they can’t shut it.

Observer
Guest

Jan

I suppose u know by now that Orban’s village neighbor L. Mészaros starting from zero (after Orbán rift with his “treasurer” Simicska) became one of the 10 richestv Hungarians in six years, exclusively on gov contracts.
This should tell u what kind of regime this is.
NL is big net contributed to the EU budget and I think the Dutch gov should ask about where their taxpayers money’s going. Scheltema knew and rang a small bell.

If u want to fully enjoy Hungary, close your eyes to politics, democracy, civic norms and like. And don’t read this blog.

Jan
Guest

Thank you for your replies.
I have heard many examples of the misbehaviour of the “regime” by now. Have experienced two so called referendums and the propaganda around them. I must say it is not easy to miss these issues.
What really makes me speechless is the opinion I hear that there is no real political opposition existing in parliament, meaning no political party with a real future plan for the country. For me they seem to be very devided because of historical facts (and enmity amongst each other?). And all of them are “only” against OV. New parties are established with only short time success because they lack political experience.
I understand that criticising the corruption of the government is already a 24/7 job, but I only hear the critique not the alternatives. It may be of course that I read the wrong articles.
I very often ask myself and others what would really bring the “Magyar women and men” on the street. When are they angry enough.
In the meanwhile I will continue to read this blog and enjoy this country and the discussions with very nice people.

Member

“For Dutch people it is difficult to understand that the Hungarian people are mislead and betrayed by their government and politicians and are not themselves responsible for the mess.”

A clear majority of Hungarians handed Viktor Orban a two-thirds majority in Parliament in 2010. They fully knew what kind of leader he was, since he was prime minister from 1998-2002. They watched as he pushed through a new constitution along with cardinal laws that guaranteed Orban a long stay in power. In 2014, a large plurality of voters rewarded him with a second two-thirds majority. Opinion polls indicate that they are ready to do the same thing again in 2018.

How are the Hungarians not responsible for this mess?

Jan
Guest
Alex, thanks for your question. I admit that regarding responsibility for the government a people choose is of course with the people. My understanding of the “big picture” is as follows (correct me if I am wrong): In 2010 Fidesz achieved the majority also because of scandals of the previous government. They started to change the Constitution of Hungary with amazing speed in the favour of the reigning party. To make the laws complying with international rules (e.g.EU , Council of Europe, Venice Comission for Democracy through Law) the government had to imply around 2000 amendments to satisfy the world around Hungary. I did not live in Hungary at that time, but can imagine the propaganda from the government. Downplaying the forced changes and enforcing the nationalist atmosphere in the country. This was followed by the next victory in the 2014 election, at least loosing the 2/3 majority. During my time here, I saw some of the strategy to adhere the people to the regime. Groceries worth HUF 3000 if you take part in the referendum with the “right” vote as an example. This may be laughable if you have enough money, but may be a significant contribution to your… Read more »
Member

“This was followed by the next victory in the 2014 election, at least loosing the 2/3 majority.”

Actually, Fidesz won a second 2/3 majority in 2014. They lost it thanks to two by-elections in 2015 – the first won by a free-market independent and the second won by Jobbik.

“There may be circumstances where they have some excuse for their bad choise. Being misinformed is one of them.”

Nobody was stupid enough to believe the communist-controlled media before 1990. If Hungarians believe Fidesz’s propaganda, it is because they want to.

“And I am certain that the majority of the Hungarian people do not agree with insttutional corruption no matter from what side.”

I used to think that as well. As I spent more and more time here, I realized that most people don’t disagree with institutionalized corruption. They just get angry when they are not included in it.

Jan
Guest

Thanks for your reply and factual corrections.
About not agreeing with institutional corruption when you are no part in it but changing your mind when being part I agree with your opinion.
Nonetheless, I have this strong feeling that the majority is not having its part of the cake and will never have it.
So it would still be a majority against this kind of corruption.
I have never lived “under” a comparable corrupt regime.where corruption is coming from the “top” and l am trying to make sense of it. Your opinion I am familiar with, as many people expressed this to me already. If we all accept this as a fact, we don’t have a way out of this situation. I know this sounds simplistic.
So if we are not able to recruit serious resistance with this “majority” nothing will change. It can only get worse.
Of course we can hope for some help from the EU, but the initiative lies with the Hungarian people to go on the street and show the rest of Europe that not all Hungarian people are corrupt, and Hungary is worth fighting for.

wrfree
Guest

Re: ‘I have never lived “under” a comparable corrupt regime.where corruption is coming from the “top” and l am trying to make sense of it’

I hope it works out but it will be tough. I had my taste of it ‘visiting’ in another sedate time where things depending in who you were talking too weren’t great and weren’t that bad. The holding pattern though apparently ‘satisfied’ the society. But I think when it comes to corruption the modern day country takes the cake. The commies robbed then but now the illiberalists rob even more.

Observer
Guest

Brief points:
– In 2014, 2015 the Orbán mafia embezzled record 2 – 2.2% GDP, which buys a lot of votes.
– Public funds are used for party propaganda renamed information.
– There is no independent media in the countryside, very limited in Bud after frequencies are redistributed, outlets are purchased or starved into extinction.
– State media has been turned in Fid mouthpiece and state advertising is channeled to supporting media.
– In 2014 43% of votes secured 67% of seats under the new Fid rules.
Etc etc

The majority in the countryside doesn’t know of any corruption or problems, they are told tgat Hun is very successful and everything is fine until Orban protects them against all these enemies bent on destroying the Magyar.
As a Gun PM once said: you can plow the Hungarian’s back as long as the plough is “national”.
Huns are pretty different from the Such, or w.Europeans for that matter.

Does the picture start to come together.

Jan
Guest

Yes thank you.
That is already a big part in my explanation for the victories of Fidesz to my friends and relatives in Holland and Germany.
In the meantime I already experienced that if you give an opinion about the actual situation in Hungary, you always have to deal with arguments like Hungarian history is so special no-one else can understand it, or there are no alternatives to vote for, not everyone of course, but you get the feeling that you never are able to look for a solution because history determines the future, so we can not create a better future.
Hey, I am not saying I understand Hungary better than any of you, not wanting or intending to be a schoolteacher with “wise” lessons from Holland, just wondering about the different approaches we all have.

petofi
Guest

No mystery at all: the government men are perfect representatives of the citizens…

petofi
Guest

@ Kulli

It’s called “representative government”….in other words, the politicians are exactly like the people they represent.
No more need be said.

Proof?
In 1944, the good people of Hungary were fully behind their government sending 500,000 jews to Auschwitz. The ‘good people’ couldn’t wait to ransack the homes and businesses of the departing jews…

dos929
Guest

The only regret about this ‘affair’ that Scheltema is a lonely voice in the world of diplomacy criticizing the Orban regime. Those ‘noble statesmen’ of the EU should have spoken up loud and clear years ago and act instead of having a behind the doors ‘talk fest’ condemning the Hungarian government…

Jan
Guest

Agree

Observer
Guest

Hear, hear!

tappanch
Guest

Ironically, as you can see below, the Orban government is the biggest or second biggest financial beneficiary of the European Union, while Netherlands is the biggest contributor!

If I were a Dutch taxpayer, I would not want to prop up the corrupt dictatorship of Hungary with my money.

Net operating balance of a country from EU budget as % of GNI:

2015 [2014] {2013}
Bulgaria: 5.33% [4.45%] {3.80%}

Hungary: 4.38% [5.64%] {5.08%}
Slovakia 4.07% [1.37%] {1.78%}

Czechia: 3.77% [2.08%] {2.33%}
Romania: 3.27% [3.09%] {2.94%}
Latvia: 3.12% [3.35%] {3.46%}

Greece: 2.80% [2.89%] {2.93%}
Poland: 2.31% [3.47%] {3.22%}

Lithuania: 1.51% [4.38%] {4.45%}
Slovenia 1.51% [2.17%] {1.20%}
Estonia: 1.21% [2.49%] {4.22%}

Portugal 0.56% [1.88%] {2.63%}
Croatia 0.52% [0.42%] {0.12%}

Spain 0.42% [0.10%] {0.29%}
Malta 0.37% [2.35%] {1.21%}

Ireland 0.19% [0.02%] {0.19%}

tappanch
Guest

Cyprus -0.13% [+0.69%] {+0.23%}
Italy: -0.16% [-0.28%] {-0.24%}

Finland: -0.23% [-0.40%] {-0.30%}
France: -0.25% [-0.33%] {-0.39%}
Austria: -0.25% [-0.38%] {-0.39%}
Luxembourg: -0.27% [+0.27%] {-0.24%}
Denmark: -0.29% [-0.32%] {-0.49%}
Belgium: -0.33% [-0.37%] {-0.39%}

UK: –0.46% [-0.23%] {-0.43%}
Germany: -0.46% [-0.52%] {-0.48%}
Sweden: -0.48% [-0.52%] {-0.49%}

Netherlands: -0.54% [-0.71%] {-0.42%}

tappanch
Guest

“Did you know…

…With 6.3 % of its wealth (gross national income) generated by EU investment, Hungary is one of the countries that benefits most from EU funding.
…Currently over 95 % of all public investments in Hungary are co-financed by the EU. ”

http://ec.europa.eu/budget/mycountry/HU/index_en.cfm

Guest

Rather OT re the Netherlands:

At least Hungarians can be proud that they’re better in one respect:
Hungarian vegetables are more “natural” than Dutch – especially when we’re in Germany my wife looks at the packages. Is it from NL, no way she’ll buy it!

Concerning the idiotic reaction of the Hungarian government – don’t forget:
It’s uborka szezon …

I’m sure Mr Scheltema will enjoy his well earned retirement and laugh about those silly Huns …
The real reason Fidesz is angry at him is probably the fact that he used his bicycle to get to work – can you imagine any of the Fidesz honchos doing this?

There was a funny comment on the whole “affair” in a German paper:

Hungary is threatening to no longer take the EU money if the Dutch government doesn’t say sorry … 🙂

Jan
Guest

So if you know it is off topic why bother the rest of the world with your and your wifes prejudices?

Ferenc
Guest

“Hungary is threatening to no longer take the EU money if the Dutch government doesn’t say sorry”
That joke can be made reality, if a majority of EU ambassadors will state that, though some of the wording is a little unfortunate, they basically agree with the view of the current situation in HU, as told in the interview by the NL ambassador.
Little chance this will happen as ambassadors are mostly real diplomats, i.e.politely covering up what they really think.

Member

@Wolfi: Concerning the natural vegetables in Hungary, me and my wife are currently experiencing, that the Hungarian tomatos are almost as tasteless as the spanish ones, and that in August!
This was not the case a few years before.
I love white bread with kolbasz and tomato and red wine. Leckerschmecker.

Martin
Guest
Orban knows that you don’t mess with Putin or even with Romania. They can inflict real political damage on Orban. The Dutch however are the quintessential Eloi who are clueless and fundamentally weakened. They are like the rich class nerd weakling with the glasses who just by their existence provokes his beating up by bullies like Orban. The bullies, like the wolfs, always choose somebody who seems weakened. They never go against a healthy individual who exudes power. The wolfs just like the bullies always respect the pecking order and hierarchy. (Orban knows for example that he is a nobody compared to his handler Puin, he is just a lowly vassal. But in his fiefdom of Hungary he is omnipotent.) Conversely, if Orban’s people decide to hit a country then they figure that country is much too weakened (divided, clueless, irrelevant) politically to inflict pain on them. Orban and his people derive enormous satisfaction from such games, they feed on them. They also love to rub their wins against the noses of Hungarian liberals (see Tamas Deutch’s twits). For there’s no greater enjoyment to be had than when the liberals themselves are forced to realize that they are all alone,… Read more »
Jan
Guest

Reading your comment confuses me a bit.
In what sense is Orban beating up the Dutch? And why is a functioning democracy weak?
About the consequences of Srebrenica.
2002 the then sitting government resigned over the massacre of 1995, taking responsibility for the mistakes.
2017 the court of justice declared the Dutch state guilty and partly responsible for the massacre. Holland has to pay compensation to the bereaved.
This doesn’t bring back the victims of course, but shows that on the long run justice can be done, and in a functioning democracy it will.
And of course the Dutch give a shit about what they are responsible for.

Martin
Guest
I am no troll. Far from it. If anything yours and the the reply of others show me that many didn’t get the story well. This is how Orban wins — usually foreigners don’t even get the game in which they’re playing a part. In my take the following happened. The Dutch ambassador said things which were true. Then Szíjjartó barked at the Dutch foreign minister claiming some statements were lies, that he offended the nation and wanted an apology (and called back the Hungarian ambassador who is coincidentally his high school class mate). The Dutch foreign minister – instead of backing the ambassador who said true things – called up Szíjjarto and said those statements of the ambassador (which implied the corruption of the Hungarian government) were not official statements and do not represent official opinion. The Dutch minister basically retreated, he decided to appease Szíjjarto. In an ideal word the Dutch minister would’ve said: look, you ARE corrupt, you get rich from our money, don’t throw me a hissy fit you punk ass nobody. (This is what a Putin would’ve done and Szíjjarto would’ve shut up immediately and the story would be over.) The story appeared in the… Read more »
Ferenc
Guest

“The story appeared in the media in Hungary: …….”
I hope (and know) there is (almost) nowhere a country where all “the media” have “one opinion”.
So first of all: can you clarify to which media in Hungary you are referring?

Jan
Guest

Thanks for clearing the situation, Dutch are a bit slow to understand sometimes, but simple clear sentences help a lot.
The Dutch foreign minister Koenders only backed down if Scheltema was equalising Hungary with a terror organisation.
He didn’t read the interview and didn’t talk to Scheltema making this statement.
For the rest of the interview he supported Scheltema’s right to give his opinion on topics like NGO, Foreign universities, EU money etc.
Not having read the interview he also expressed the sorrows of the Dutch government about these topics and their situation in Hungary.
I was not there during the telephone talk, and don’t know what was really said. So it is up to us to interpreted the different points of view.

Observer
Guest

This’s better !

petofi
Guest

Putin would’ve popped him some plutonium…

Observer
Guest

Jan,

You have note the standard panels and code words which help identify the Fidesz trolls (sometimes Jobbik) pushing their propaganda, trying to chage uncomfortable subject or posing as anti orban but … concluding the he is still the better or only option. Note: often or denigrating use of “berals”, who are “clueless”, Orbán won/wins always, he is strong the west is weak, etc.

The above M boy is typical

Jan
Guest

Observer.
Thanks for your information.
Still I can react and correct some alternative facts 😂.
Not very impressed by bullying.
Today I have time and fun being part of this thread.
Maybe never again, am not used to react to blogs or articles.

Martin
Guest
Observer, Stevan: I am actually one of the very few here who has been actively trying to prevent Orban’s return to power in 2018. So stop calling me a troll. Jan: The thing with the Dutch and other western Europeans is that they don’t get that Hungary or Russia are not societies based on trust. Trust, cooperation, generosity are so embedded in Western European societies that imagining that the very opposite is actually the reality in Eastern Europe, is impossible. First, whatever Orban (Szíjjarto) or Putin says it could very well be a lie and they don’t care if you can find out the truth in 5 minutes. Actually they do lie, its normal for them. The other is that Orban and Putin don’t understand the concept of a compromise or cooperation. A friendly, gentlemanly talk. A compromise in their eyes is a shameful betrayal of your principals and it must represent a victory of the other party over you (otherwise you wouldn’t have agreed to give up some of your interests). Orban and Putin won, they got there where they are and are still there because they were ruthless. This is what worked for them and this is how… Read more »
Jan
Guest

Martin, glad you are not a troll and that I asked for explanation.
There were a many points in your post that helped me to understand things better, and I am convinced my posts must seem very naive to most of you.
I heard about these conspiracy theories against Hungary a lot.
From administration level to normal citizens.
Must be very tiring.
I agree that we “westerners” have little understanding on how things function in the “east”. That’s why I ask.
We will see what the final reactions from the Dutch government will be. If they give way you would be absolutely right. I hope not.

Observer
Guest

Nice comment Martin. Points taken. No trolling here. Tnx.
It would be more clear if you avoid using Fid buzzwords.

Member

I, for one, am not convinced by “Martin”‘s response:

I am actually one of the very few here who has been actively trying to prevent Orban’s return to power in 2018. So stop calling me a troll.

One can claim anything anonymously.
I will definitely apologize if and when “Martin” shows a pattern of making substantive positive postings. In this Forum trolls risk nothing by repeating the familiar list of Orbanian odia that are regularly bemoaned in this blog. And it is an effective means of camouflaging subtler mischief.

There is something in “Martin”‘s tone and language that sounds anomalous. My opinion is of no consequence, but I am ready to change it, and admit it, in the face of evidence.

I was not so sure about “Jan.” It may be a coincidence that he sounds like a convenient sock-puppet for “Martin”…

(“The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.”)

Jan
Guest

To be honest, my understanding of Martin’s posts are an effort to explain the Hungarian reality to a “westerner” in a drastic but clear language. Nothing more behind it.
No hidden propaganda discovered.
First post I was not able to read between the lines I think.

Martin
Guest
Stevan, Since I’m a Hungarian living in Hungary I prefer to remain anonymous. You have to trust me I’m not a troll. Sometimes you just can’t get certainty. I’m quite critical of the left-wing opposition that’s actually true (and from my experience from ‘the field’ that is rural Hungary average people are also very critical). But that doesn’t mean I’m automatically a Fidesznik or a Jobbik supporter or a troll. I may be provocative at times but only to make a point. Hungary is not a democracy that’s what people, especially people like Jan or the Dutch foreign minister and his underlings need to understand. Hungary is an electoral autocracy. Elections are held everywhere – democracy is much more that that. Electoral autocracy in Hungary means that the government controls the media for all practical purposes, and voters are extremely reluctant to come out publicly as an opposition-supporter. Sure they aren’t terrified of the black car arriving at 3AM to take them to Ljubjanka but they are very afraid of and very aware of the consequences which befall on a person treated as “enemy” or even just “problematic” in a small community (ie. everywhere outside Budapest). As somebody smartly said… Read more »
Jan
Guest

Martin, I get your frustration
And if the Dutch government backs off you may be right they don’t give a shit.
The people in western Europe really are not well-informed about the situation here. When I tell some anecdotes from my personal observations or give examples about the corruption here they tend not to believe it, and seriously ask how the people can accept this.
I showed the English translation of the second last referendum to many people. And only with the raw material some were starting to understand. And that are public papers. You can’t imagine what happens behind closed doors if this is so bad already.
Same I did with the EU reaction on the second last referendum, showed and discussed it with some Hungarian people. Most of them share the same feeling of frustration as you express.
To be honest, I don’t have a clear idea how to change this lack at knowledge in the “west” What I think is that information is a key factor in change.
BTW, never thought this would be a so long discussion with so many opinions.

petofi
Guest

Is this the Martin & Jan show?

Ferenc
Guest

Nice and (partly) true words Martin, but I very much miss one very important thing!
What DO you, being a Hungarian, DO?
Recommend other Hungarians, who want a change in a real democratic direction, to DO?
And suggest to (very) concerned people out of Hungary with what they can HELP?

A real democracy in Hungary can come only from the Hungarian people themselves, blaming others I consider the too easy way out, at most one can complain about limited support from abroad.
PS: I’m not a Hungarian, but have lived in the past for some years in Hungary. During a short visit to your country last August, I couldn’t believe my eyes when reading the texts on those big blue billboards!! Unbelievable that a government of a country, which is a member of the EU, is able to produce such things.

Martin
Guest
Ferenc, at this blog it is irrelevant what I and others have been doing exactly, the point is we did actually sacrifice a lot of energy, time and money. People are unbelievably afraid and don’t want to participate in public affairs, don’t want to take – what they rightly or wrongly consider – risks. That’s the basic problem. I can’t change that because this is not something that is amenable to persuasion. If people feel that their careers or status (especially in small locations) may be in danger (and the feeling is very wide spread and deep, much more so than in the late 1980’s when people were more and more optimistic about the future) they will absolutely refuse to come out and act for the community in any way. They may go and vote, but that’s it. But a party is about the masses, national network, local chapters and suchlike. There isn’t one thing foreigners as such could do. Foreign individuals with individual skills, connections, wealth can do various things depending on what they have to offer. You may choose NGOs or parties and give them some money at least. In the US donating is very common, in Hungary… Read more »
Member

“Martin” for sure (and possibly also “Jan”) is a subtle troll.

Remember the troll signature: “I’m with you: Orban/Fidesz, bad!, bad!, bad! — but: he’s winning, libs are weak, EU is weak, opposition needs to toughen up, be more like the Orban/Fidesz…”

This praising with faint damns, while subtext is promoting divisiveness and the party line.

Don’t you recognize it?

Hypothesis: this new breed of troll is meant to slip under Prof. Balogh’s defense screen.

Jan
Guest

Give me examples where I trolled

Jan
Guest

Hypothesis: conspiracy.
Question: why not apologize?
We are no trolls.
I am just new, foreign and seriously interested.
Shouldn’t be a problem.

petofi
Guest

I agree.
Martin & Jan give themselves away, not by substance, but simply by the plurality of their submissions. Proof positive of Trolldom is that the commenters kidnap the blog with a multitude of submissions…

old 1956
Guest

Martin’s comments are truly holding all the necessary revelations on Hungary.

My compliments to Martin.

Every future blog entry could rework some observations of Martin in a regular fashion.

Hungary is carrying out an insurgency against Western Europe in the disguise of an EU member.

Michael Kaplan
Guest

Sadly, the Dutch ambassador was on point;however, a diplomat “must” avoid playing into the regime’s hands. So some words might best have been left out, such as the reference to terrorism. On the other hand, given what is going on in my country, the USA, perhaps the ambassador was correct e.g.commenting on what is going on in terms of thecreation of manufactured enemies such as Mr. Soros, the vast corruption etc. in Hungary. By analogy, I hope ambassadors in USA are stronger in their criticism of Trump, but as in Hungary it may be best to avoid certain words so as to avoid playing into our regime’s hands.

wrfree
Guest

Re: ‘By analogy, I hope ambassadors in USA are stronger in their criticism of Trump’

To my knowledge all seem to be on board. One of these days they may have to choose if this administration veers more off course. Maybe they will have to be like the Dutch ambassador telling it like it is. He in a sense laid it ‘ on the line’.

tappanch
Guest

Poll taken between August 10 and 12, sample size = 1003

Fidesz: 24%
Democratic parties (six of them): 23%
Jobbik: 10%

uncertain: 38%

http://www.publicus.hu/blog/partok_tamogatottsaga_es_politikusok_nepszersege_2017_augusztus/

tappanch
Guest

Here is another poll from mid-August, this one is by Závecz Research.

Fidesz: 26%
Democratic parties (8 of them): 22%
Jobbik: 13%

http://www.zaveczresearch.hu/35-millioan-kormanyvaltast-akarnak/

Member

Sadly enough, the story of the Hungarian ambassador’s faux-pas has made it into international media in a distorted form. People don’t read the original Hungarian interview but take Szíjjártó’s words at face value, editors work on the basis of shortened translations of translations, and everybody seems to believe that “Scheltema compared the Hungarian government and their operations with ISIS terrorists”.

Ferenc
Guest

That’s why I hope that tomorrow (on monday) the magazine ‘168ora’ together with the NL ambassy will come with a full transcript (incl.original recording) of the interview (which most likely was done in English).

Wondercat
Guest

Bert Koenders (Foreign Minister, The Netherlands) fails to back Scheltema — The Dutch have form when it comes to abandoning positions under attack; https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jun/28/dutch-soldiers-let-300-muslims-die-in-bosnian-war-court-rules.

Jan
Guest

What positions are abandoned?

Wondercat
Guest

1) That of protecting the men and boys whom the Dutch betrayed and allowed to be slaughtered; 2) that of criticism of the Orbàn Viktor régime as articulated by the departing ambassador, whom his superior, Koenders, betrayed.

Jan
Guest

Took me some time, but now I think I understand the point you are trying to make.
Nice try.

Wondercat
Guest

“Nice try” — I think that the parallel holds up. When confronted in international relations, in war, the Dutch recede. What has happened to the spirit of van Tromp? No more masts, no more brooms?

Jan
Guest

To be honest, my first thought was to take your posting serious as a critique on the common Dutch person describing them as cowards.
Then I though the parallel you are drawing has a bit of a sarcastic noise in it, and that you are comparing apples with pears. A bit with disrespect to the victims of Srebrenica where bad decisions on the Dutch side were token.
I don’t know how close you are following the Dutch policies, but in the recent history they were not so much afraid.
Pressing Russia over the true happenings in the shooting down of the airplane over the Ukrainian is still going on and seems to get successful. In a conflict with Erdogan and his referendum one of his ministers was stopped and brought back to the border, no backing down not even afterwards.
Dutch military is active on missions under the command of EU, NATO, UN. Hopefully.not making disastrous mistakes as in Srebrenica.
Further the Dutch national football team is still fighting for qualification for the next world championship. Almost a lost fight already, but still fighting.
Not saying the Dutch are the bravest people on earth, but taking responsibility they do.

Observer
Guest

Jan
BTW What are u doing in Hun? Business? What industry?

Jan
Guest

Came here because of love.
On the moment teaching courses for physiotherapists and medical doctors.
Trying to build a centre for physiotherapy with two Hungarian colleagues.
Struggling with burocracy (main part of the job)

Member

Jan, I would really have to be a conspiracy theorist to continue to suspect you of trollery after all these mild and ingenuous responses. My apologies.

And we should all refrain from invidious ethnic or national generalizations.

Jan
Guest

Accepted with great delight.

Member

Martin is probably ok too. But there’s a lesson to be learnt from the striking similarity between the siren song of the triumphalist turul trolls (“leftlibdems are weak and incompetent, Orbanians are strong and always win”) and the lament of the fatalist leftlibdems (idem). The text is the same; just one is sung in a major key and the other in a minor one. But we all already know all that: what’s needed is substantive positive proposals, not just more ejnye-ejnye (and certainly not that “we should be more like them”).

Jan
Guest

Reading my first contribution I can understand that Martin reacted the way he did. Just explaining his take of the story and making clear how the OV brain functions.
I took part in one of the CEU demonstrations, and remember the EU flags well. Now more help seems to come from the USA than from the European side,
Today I took some effort and reviewed the answers of minister Koenders on questions asked in the Dutch parliament about the treatment of refugees in Hungary, the CEU situation, the anti-Semitic tendency of the Hungarian government.
All answers were kind of the same and standard.
We are concerned and refer to the EU to deal with it.
Very disappointing.
In the actual case with Scheltema having nothing to do with any EU policy, Koenders could have bullied back.
Would have been more interesting at least.
And make the Hungarian people feel better.

Zoli
Guest

Dutch FM declared the comments made by Dutch ambassador to be an embarrassment. Any Hungarian who disagrees with that, in my view is showing his/her true colors.

Observer
Guest

Let me fly the colors:

I agree with the ambassador, who said aloud what everyone whispers:
– there is huge corruption in the orban regime
– the regime manufactures enemies like the Communists or the Islamists, e.g. brainless slogans against the weak, decadent West or western elites, permanent struggle, all attacking our homeland, all bent on destroying us and of course the already grotesque anti Soros line.

Very much from the Communist agit prop book circa 1960s .

petofi
Guest

If Orban was in New York, the mafia would’ve made him the head
of the 6th mafia family!

Ferenc
Guest

Really? Haven’t heard or seen anywhere your word “embarrassment” from the Dutch FM.
Furthermore not any official news about the whole HU ‘fake-up’ on the website of the NL government – https://www.government.nl/latest
Nevertheless from today you can ‘show your true colors’ by voting for 2017 Human Rights Tulip:
https://www.government.nl/latest/news/2017/08/28/voting-opens-today-for-2017-human-rights-tulip
There’s even a foundation from Hungary on the shortlist – https://www.humanrightstulip.nl/candidates-and-voting comment image
The Cordelia Foundation for the Rehabilitation of Torture Victims, it has been providing comprehensive psycho-social support to asylum-seekers and refugees in Hungary since 1996.
More about that foundtation at http://www.cordelia.hu/index.php/hu/http://www.cordelia.hu/index.php/en/

Ferenc
Guest

‘my true colors’comment image

Zoli
Guest

“Speaking to reporters later on Friday, Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders admitted that he was “embarrassed” by the ambassador’s comments and that “that comparisons should not be made.”

http://www.dw.com/en/hungary-suspends-diplomatic-ties-with-the-netherlands/a-40245653

Ferenc
Guest

Sorry, but than you believe a wrong English wording/translation from a German medium.
Dutch friends confirmed to me that on friday the word “embarrassed” was not said to reporters by the Dutch PM!!
Better trust this English source for what was said really: http://www.politico.eu/article/hungary-withdraws-ambassador-to-the-hague-after-orban-critique/

Guest

Very nice article – but not very friendly on Orbán Fidesz etc!
In an interview published Thursday in the Hungarian opposition magazine 168 Ora, Scheltema lambasted Hungary’s unwillingness to take part in the EU’s plan to relocate asylum seekers, expressed concerns over corruption and press freedom in the country, and decried the Orban government’s campaign against billionaire financier and philanthropist George Soros.

Read more: Hungary’s Orban: ‘Ethnic homogeneity’ vital for economic success

However, what most enraged Budapest was when he drew parallels between the Hungarian government and the so-called “Islamic State” jihadist group.
So what’s wrong with these sentences, little fascist zoli?

Guest

Yes, an embarassment for the Hun government …
@ all:
Don’t react to zoli, the troll!

Ferenc
Guest

Short interview (in Hungarian) with NL member of EU parliament, Kati Piri with Hungarian roots, main messages:
1.ambassadors words are not addressed to the Hungarian people, BUT to the HU government
2.HU government can wait till infinity for an apology by NL government!!
http://hirtv.hu/egyenesen/feszult-viszony-1402377

Further news: OV will (hope to?) close this case at EU meeting at end of September, he’ll meet there with Dutch PM!!
Yes, yes, one month from now!! Do they need so much time to prepare new billboards with ‘government info’…??
http://hirtv.hu/ahirtvhirei/orban-szeptemberben-dont-a-holland-ugyrol-1402395

petofi
Guest

re: “The Hungarian government didn’t find any reason to object to it…”

100% WRONG.

The wiley Orban, of course, does object but is sneaky-smart enough not to bring attention to the sentence!

petofi
Guest

The political world’s biggest embarrassment is Trump, followed closely by Viktor the Diktator, Orban.

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