Another peacock dance: Orbán’s reversal on the verdict of the European Court of Justice

Yesterday I dealt with the exchange of letters between Jean-Claude Junker and Viktor Orbán concerning Orbán’s demand for EU reimbursement of half the cost of the fence the Hungarian government erected along the Serbian-Hungarian border. The Hungarian demand raised eyebrows in Europe and elsewhere, so Hungary was again in the international news.

The other reason for the preoccupation of the international media with Hungary was the long-awaited verdict of the European Court of Justice on the legality of the EU decision on the relocation of 120,000 asylum seekers. Slovakia and Hungary claimed that the decision-making process was illegal. Two days ago, on September 6, the Union’s top court dismissed the complaints of the two countries, dealing a blow to Viktor Orbán.

Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico immediately reacted to the verdict, saying that “we fully respect the verdict of the European Court of Justice,” adding, however, that his government’s view on the relocation plan “has not changed at all.” Viktor Orbán, on the other hand, remained silent. In his place, Péter Szijjártó, minister of foreign affairs and trade, and László Trócsányi, minister of justice, gave a joint press conference, where the foreign minister vented. He called the ruling “outrageous and irresponsible.” In his opinion, the verdict endangers the security and future of Europe and is contrary to the interest of the countries of the Union, including Hungary. “Politics raped the European law and European values,” he claimed. He announced that “the real battle begins only now,” and he promised that the Hungarian government “will use all the remedies available at its disposal” to prevent similar central decision-making for Hungary.

Trócsányi was no less belligerent when he announced that the Hungarian government will start a new legal debate. Since he liked the phrase “the real battle begins only now,” he repeated it. He didn’t go so far as to accuse his fellow judges of acting politically, but he charged that they were preoccupied with the case’s formal aspects and neglected its contextual qualities. The case was thrown out in its entirety, but Trócsányi still praised the excellent legal work of his team. The legal arguments presented to the court were outstanding, and therefore he was quite surprised by the outcome. Trócsányi also indicated that Hungary will not have to take the 1,294 migrants because the case was only about the legality of the decision-making process.

Péter Szijjártó and László Trócsányi / MTI-MTVA / Photo Szilárd Koszticsek

In brief, it looked as if the Orbán government was prepared to go against the ruling and suffer the consequences. A day later, on September 7, this impression was reinforced by János Lázár at his regular “government info” press conference where he interpreted the decision of the European Court of Justice as an opportunity for the European Commission to allow “Brussels” to meddle in Hungary’s internal affairs. “We will use every legal instrument to preserve the independence of the country.” Zoltán Balog, minister of human resources, also chimed in and, in an interview with Deutschlandfunk, repeated Szijjártó’s accusation of a politically motivated and irresponsible decision on the part of the European Court of Justice. Everybody suspected, including naturally Viktor Orbán, that Slovakia and Hungary would lose the case, and therefore the word probably came down from above some time ago about what the proper reaction to the verdict should be.

After two days of criticism of the court and its verdict, Viktor Orbán came out with an entirely different approach to the question. In his Friday morning “interview” on Magyar Rádió he said: “Hungary is a member of the European Union. The affairs of the Union, its internal power relations are settled by the Treaty, so contracts have to be respected. Consequently, one must take cognizance of the verdicts of the courts. Hungarian is a sophisticated, refined language and therefore it does matter with what kind of word we react to a verdict, especially when we are functioning in a hostile Europe. I decided to use the word “tudomásul venni” which I took over from Slovak Prime Minister Fico.” Unfortunately, I don’t know what Slovak word Fico used when talking about his reaction to the verdict. English translations of Fico’s press conference use the verb “to respect” which, unfortunately, is not the equivalent of “tudomásul venni,” which might be better translated as “to take cognizance of.” However, I’m sure that some readers of Hungarian Spectrum will provide us with the the Slovak word that Fico used as well as with the best translation of the Slovak equivalent of “tudomásul venni.” Then we will be able to see whether Orbán and Fico are talking about the same thing or not.

Orbán’s interview was long, during the course of which he said many uncomplimentary things about the European Union, but at the end he came up with some startling statements. The interviewer reminded him that the politicians of the European Union consider the Polish refusal to abide by a court verdict as preparation for the country’s exit from the Union. If Orbán keeps talking about his “fight,” this communication may lead to the interpretation that Hungary is also planning to leave the Union behind. Here is Orbán’s answer: “Communication is interesting and in politics is often important, but it does not replace reality…. Hungarian reality is that the Hungarian people decided after a referendum to join the European Union. That decision was a correct one. No political decision can overwrite that decision. A popular referendum was held, and therefore no government action can reverse that determination. It was the Hungarian people’s choice, and that’s right and well.”

Although Szijjártó, who is in Tallin at the moment, expressed his trust in the unity of the Visegrád Four, there are signs that Slovakia and the Czech Republic are not ready to sacrifice themselves for Poland and Hungary. The weak link, I believe, is Slovakia. I heard an interview with Pál Csáky, a Slovak member of the European Parliament, who surprised me to no end with his condemnation of the Orbán government’s attitude toward the European Union. The reason for my surprise was that Csáky was Fidesz’s favorite among Hungarian ethnic politicians in Slovakia back in 2010. Lots of money was poured into Csáky’s party, the Magyar Koalíció Pártja (MKP), against Béla Bugár of Híd/Most. Despite the funding, MKP didn’t even manage to get enough votes to become a parliamentary party. Csáky at this point resigned. Today he made it clear that Slovakia will not follow Orbán’s suicidal strategy. Slovakia is all for the European Union.

There is another reason that Orbán may have changed his mind. The spokesman of the European People’s Party delivered a message to Viktor Orbán: don’t go against the ruling of the court because this verdict gives an opportunity to heal the wounds caused by the recent conflict between the member states. “The unanimous opinion of the party is that Slovakia and Hungary comply with the rules.”

Otherwise, Jean-Claude Juncker is ready to have a chat with Viktor Orbán, but his spokesman reminded his audience as well as Viktor Orbán that the position of the European Commission is explained in Juncker’s letter to Orbán. It is available for everybody to read and, in any case, the Commission is not in habit of verbal ping pong. Given Juncker’s firmness as expressed in his letter, I would not advise Orbán to continue to press his case.

September 8, 2017
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Ferenc
Guest

“Plne rešpektujeme rozsudok Súdneho dvora EÚ. Má iný právny názor ako Slovensko,” uviedol premiér Robert Fico.
google translation:
“We fully respect the judgment of the EU Court. It has a different legal opinion than Slovakia,” said Prime Minister Robert Fico.
source: https://spravy.pravda.sk/domace/clanok/440862-fico-respektujeme-rozhodnutie-sudneho-dvora-eu-o-zamietnuti-zaloby-pre-kvoty/

Marty
Guest

This is a typical win for Orban. Orban lost and he finally took notice of the decision (tudomásul vette). Of course there is nothing else to do as it is a final decision which cannot be appealed. But he can use this as a bargaining chip with the EU. “Look, we were very generous, we accepted the decision so now it’s your turn” he will say to the Commission or to Germany or with whomever the next conflict will be. He moves the baseline of argumentation all the time and it very often works.

By the way I’m not sure Orban really accepted the decision. He only said that he took notice of it (tudomásul vette). It could mean a lot of things and he is a lawyer he knows the difference between these terms. “I accept and will comply” is not the same as “I duly noted it”.

We will see what actually happens when the migrants will come. He loves these games so the peackock dance will almost certainly continue.

Ferenc
Guest

Re: ’OV’s peacock’
As mentioned in the post most of the public statements by FIDs (incl.OV) are worked out way before really made. In this case the opinion and reaction of the EPP was not a surprise at all (remember end of April EPP meeting!). So I don’t believe that OV changed in the last day/hour his ‘Friday interview’ texts.
All was prepared beforehand, OV&Co knew that this week there would be so much negativity towards the EU from their side, that if OV would put another one on top, some supporters could break and they would start losing popularity. So as far as I can see for OV&Co everything still on the by them outlined track, and expect next ‘Friday interview’ to be quite different, so much more negative (again).

PS: one thing which really really irritates me about the current politics in Hungary (all parties and politicians, so not only OV&Co), is that it’s first of all about strategies, instead of really the subjects at hand!!
Others are too much following in this OV&Co methodology, as they were the ones starting such…

Ferenc
Guest

Re: ‘V4 unity’
So far the most odd one out in the V4 to me seems Czech (and not Slovakia). Though this could within 1.5 month, after the Czech elections, pretty fast change. Basically I absolutely don’t trust the currently most popular politician and his party (Babis with ANO), and expect a serious change in the direction for Czech, most likely towards OV-land…
More details about the upcoming elections in Czech, see my previous comment http://hungarianspectrum.org/2017/09/07/viktor-orban-on-solidarity-and-financial-assistance/#comment-138031

Ferenc
Guest

OT – finds of old texts in Monastery in Sinai, Egypt
Having visited St.Catherine’s monastery during a trip through Egypt some 10 years ago, this very much interested me, and hopefully some of you also.comment image

The Invisible Poems Hidden in One of the World’s Oldest Libraries
A new technique is revealing traces of lost languages that have been erased from ancient parchments.
Aug.05, https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2017/08/sinai-peninsula-hidden-texts/536313/

Scientists find languages not used since Dark Ages among ancient manuscripts recovered from monastery
The find includes the first-known copy of the gospels in Arabic and the earliest examples of known works from the Greek physician Hippocrates.
Aug.28, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/lost-languages-found-ancient-manuscript-parchment-saint-catherine-monastery-sinai-peninsula-egypt-a7916346.html

Lost Languages Discovered in One of the World’s Oldest Continuously Run Libraries
The centuries-old texts were erased, and then written over, by monks at Saint Catherine’s Monastery in Egypt
Sep.05, http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/long-lost-languages-found-manuscripts-egyptian-monastery-180964698/

Régen elfelejtett nyelveken írott szövegekre bukkantak a kutatók egy egyiptomi kolostorban
Átvilágították a teleírt pergameneket.
Aug.08, https://444.hu/2017/09/08/regen-elfelejtett-nyelveken-irott-szovegekre-bukkantak-a-kutatok-egy-egyiptomi-kolostorban

wrfree
Guest

Fascinating Ferenc real fascinating. It’s wonderful to discover those ‘lost’ codes of human communication that can insights to a culture and people within their community. It is there where we see who we were and where we came from in human diversity. It is there where we find our humanity and connection to hosts of people and nations in the ancient as well as modern sense.

That is why the current Magyar leadership attitudes to the tumult in ‘migration’ appears to push the country into only acknowledging a past that comports itself to fitting its own preconceived notion of how human communities develop and should be constructed. And that poses significant danger.

In viewing the Magyar current cultural and demographic landscape it would appear that perhaps one day soon perhaps centuries hence Magyars will count themselves as one of the ‘lost’ with their language and culture if ‘closed-door’ attitudes to the ‘strangers’ prevail as they have. It has to be a no- win situation. Magyars simply must not close their eyes to the inevitable.

tappanch
Guest

Here is the Azeri connection again:

About 10,000 descendants of the ancient Caucasian Albanians, the Udi still live in Azerbaijan [villages of Nidzh & Oğuz (former Vartashen)] and adhere to Christianity.

comment image

tappanch
Guest

Re: Steadfast Sabirs, a branch of Hungarians in the territory of the former Caucasian Albania in the 10th century:

Constantine Porphyrogenatus: De Administrando Imperio (Latin title) is online to download!

http://homepage.univie.ac.at/ilja.steffelbauer/DAI.pdf

tappanch
Guest

page 177:
about the Turks [= Hungarians]

tappanch
Guest
The story is actually an old, rehashed piece of news. 1975: ” fire damaged a number of manuscripts in a neglected basement cell in the famous Eastern Orthodox monastery of Saint Catherine’s in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. The heating of the manuscripts helped reveal the fact that some were palimpsests” 1996: ” Georgian scholar Zaza Alexidze determined that the underlying passages were in Albanian. […] What he found was an Albanian Christian lectionary, a church calendar with specific scriptural readings keyed to specific dates. […] Alexidze’s translation was facilitated by the existence of a living tongue strikingly similar to the language used in the lectionary. The literary language of the ancient Albanians, it turns out, lived on among the Udi, a group of eight thousand persons inhabiting two villages in Azerbaijan” http://www.geocurrents.info/historical-geography/historical-clues-and-modern-controversies-in-the-northeastern-caucasus-udi-and-ancient-albania
Ferenc
Guest

OT – HU economy
István Kónya: “Hungarian economy weakened by low productivity”
The productivity of the Hungarian economy is very weak and this will greatly impact catching up with Western economies, says István Kónya, a researcher at the Hungarian Academy of Science.
2017.Sep.08, https://bbj.hu/economy/hungarian-economy-weakened-by-low-productivity_138475

Jean P.
Guest

Orban’s reversal on the verdict…

There is no reversal. Orbán didn’t promise to respect the verdict. He just acknowledged it.

Istvan
Guest
The obvious solution for Orban would be to admit and resettle the refuges in Rakaca or Battonya which already have massive unemployment with limited social welfare services. There are many other options for example Ózd would also do nicely since on the far side of railway tracks, on the outskirts of the city there are numerous buildings that once provided homes for workers from the nearby steelworks with many with windows that have no glass; tiles are missing from the roofs; with some buildings have collapsed altogether. Just a handful of communal toilets and taps serve the whole community mostly now occupied by Roma. Eva wrote a fine essay on Ózd several years ago see http://hungarianspectrum.org/tag/ozd-city-council/ They could be given special identification that would prohibit them from relocating. Eventually most would run for the border. If the EU filed action against Hungary for mistreatment of the refugees and restrictions on their movement Hungary could also fight that for several years legally all the while increasing the misery of the poor refugees that got sent to Hungary when they thought they were going to Germany. JC Juncker could even visit the refugees in Hungary for a photo opportunity between drinks and… Read more »
bimbi
Guest

I loved Péter Szijjártó’s comment on the EU court ruling :“Politics raped the European law and European values,” Ol’ Five-a-Side should know – exactly that has been the stock-in-trade of Fidesz and the Mighty Orbán since they have been in politics and particularly since 2010.

With regard to the “Peacock Dance”, don’t listen to the words. The important thing is the body language. It will keep going yet, undulating and teasing, but one senses that VO is being skewered by this EU decision and so he will probably respond by ordering his “enforcers” to be as hateful as possible to the new arrivals.

No, we don’t yet know the depths which he is ready to plumb.

Guest

Not too much OT- today’s cartoon in our German SPIEGEL:
http://www.spiegel.de/fotostrecke/cartoons-der-woche-von-thomas-plassmann-und-klaus-stuttmann-fotostrecke-152067.html
The text in English:
These refugees are fleeing from Europe to Africa?
answer:
Yes, the EU wanted to settle them in Hungary …

Ferenc
Guest

comment image

And another one about Hungarycomment image
EU, It’s Enough!! Accept Refugees?
But We Are Accepting Already Your Money!!
Lazlo Ö … No Humour in Budapest

Tyrker
Guest

“Tudomásul venni” simply means “to acknowledge.”

Guest

Tyrker, again?
You should check more intensively what is written here – finding only one error in about a hundred comments ain’t much really …
Are your handlers happy with you and your hard work?

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