Another European summit, with special attention to the Visegrád 4

The official word sent by the Hungarian government to foreign news agencies about the meeting of the Visegrád 4 prime ministers with President Jean-Claude Juncker over a lavish dinner, which included Jerusalem artichokes and foie gras, was that the meeting was a “success.” Viktor Orbán claimed that the V4 leaders presented a united front on every issue and succeeded in demonstrating to the EC president that the V4 is “a tight, effective, and successful alliance.” It is almost certain that, over and above the migrant issue, the “accelerating drift … toward authoritarianism” in some of the East European countries which most diplomats in Brussels consider “a more serious threat for the EU than Brexit” was also discussed. According to Bloomberg, the dinner “yielded a promise that the commission will seek to build an environment of consensus” between the Visegrád 4 countries and the rest of the European Union.

Source: Népszava / Photo: AFP/Dario Pignatelli

Viktor Orbán, who is capable of staging a fight even with a nonexistent foe, couldn’t go home empty-handed and simply say that the meeting was useful and that he, together with all the others, signed the closing document of the summit. Therefore, the Hungarian government media focused attention on a report by the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee (LIBE) of the European Parliament, which would impose mandatory migrant quotas and strip non-complying member states of EU funding in an effort to revamp the present asylum law. The rapporteur of the report is Cecilia Wikström, a Swedish liberal member of parliament.

What is this new plan all about? It does demand a “permanent and automatic relocation mechanism without thresholds,” calculated on GDP and population size. Refugees with relatives in countries will be able to join them; others will be offered four countries on a rotating basis, from which they can choose one where their case will be decided. As Wikström explained, “it means if the person enters Greece, chooses to go to Hungary, God forbid, then that person is allocated to Hungary.” I’m sure that the committee members spent a great deal of time and effort on this report, but anyone who has been following the ups and downs of the refugee crisis in Europe knows that this plan is dead in the water, especially since the day after it passed Donald Tusk made clear that any and all distribution of the refugees must be voluntary.

The Hungarian government papers are full of stories about the limitless compulsory distribution of migrants, without explaining the status of a parliamentary committee report, which may or may not be approved by the European Parliament. And even if it sails through the plenary session, it must be approved by the European Council, that is, all the heads of governments of the member states, including Viktor Orbán. It was only HVG that pointed out that a committee report means little in the legislative process. Looking upon it as a weighty final decision is just a political ploy. So, Viktor Orbán’s talk about “the bullet already in the barrel,” which will force all countries to accept migrants without limit, merely serves his political agenda. He knows as well as anyone that the general drift of thinking in Europe has been moving away from compulsory quotas and toward effective border control and limited acceptance of bona fide refugees. The European Commission would still like all member countries to participate in the processing of the refugees and their distribution, but only on a voluntary basis.

The closing statement which Orbán signed urges the implementation of Turkey’s acceptance of ineligible migrants; it presses for the strengthening of the EU borders; it doubles efforts at the curbing of human trafficking; it supports easier transfer of information between member states; and, finally, it advocates financial assistance to Libya and other African countries. According to news reports, Viktor Orbán suggested setting up a common fund to assist Italy in the defense of its borders.

The domestic propaganda effort is concentrating on the Wikström report. Zoltán Kovács, government spokesman, was dispatched to the state radio where he assured listeners that “the Hungarian government intends to oppose [the suggestions of the report] by all means possible.” What “LIBE is doing is nothing other than what we call the Soros plan.”

Kinga Gál (Fidesz), one of the deputy chairpersons of LIBE, gave an interview to Magyar Idők in which she called the report a “European invitation to all the migrants of the world.” She added that she hopes that “the European Council will have a sense of responsibility and common sense” and will, if it ever comes to that, refuse to endorse this plan. The Hungarian government still has to struggle “to save a small slice of the country’s national sovereignty.” Orbán described the Wikström report as “the strongest attack against the sovereignty of the country” to date.” National unity would be needed, but “the opposition parties support the migrant policy of Brussels that is based on compulsory quotas,” a false claim, by the way.

What did Viktor Orbán have to say about the Visegrád 4-Juncker dinner? He came to the conclusion that the difference between East and West is “worrisome, almost hopeless” and that “these differences are not so much political in nature but are rooted in cultural differences.” Nonetheless, the meeting was useful because “we could tell Mr. Juncker that we would like to receive more respect for the citizens of the Central European states, including the Hungarians.” Mina Andreeva, spokeswoman of EC President Juncker, called the meeting “friendly and constructive.” As Népszava’s correspondent in Brussels put it, “the president of the European Commission offered compromise and consensus as the main course to the four guests.” Since they agreed to repeat the meetings in the future, I assume the offers were accepted.

Viktor Orbán gave no press conference to the four or five Hungarian reporters who were waiting for him both after the dinner and a day later, at the end of the summit. With his refusal to talk to the reporters, he broke with his past practice of showering reporters with a litany of complaints about the decisions reached or trying to convince them of his own importance during the negotiations. Perhaps his silence indicates a less belligerent stance as far as the European Union is concerned. In any case, his attacks at home this time were directed only against the European Parliament and not against the “Brussels” bureaucrats.

October 20, 2017
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Istvan
Guest

No stories about President Jean-Claude Juncker drinking five glasses of champagne with his dinner? Really a great disappointment and an injury to the well earned reputation of Mr. Juncker.

I suspect very few refugees want to go to Hungary at this point since the Not Welcome sign has been hung for all to see. Really no plan could be better for Hungary than the Wikström plan, if you were a refugee would you like to end up in beautiful Ózd and compete with the oppressed Roma for the few social benefits available?

Ferenc
Guest

Found a very good infographic on the EP’website (when digging around the ‘Wikström report’) – “migration crisis in numbers – A Welcoming Europe?” – http://www.europarl.europa.eu/external/html/welcomingeurope/default_en.htm
very informative data 2010-2016: population, refugees and asylum seekers for all EU countries
for HUNGARY:
*population down from 10.0 to 9,83 million
*refugees staying in the country down from 5,414 to 4,748 individuals
*asylum applications: 2010-2012 stable ca.2,000; 2013-2015 strong increase (peak 177,135); 2016 strong decrease to 29,430 (overall HU trend shows less changes than EU trend, except 2016 when decline was much stronger)
Note: unfortunately no clear results given from asylum applications (i.e.granted refugees, rejected applications, etc)

Guest

I tend to agree:
the difference between East and West is “worrisome, almost hopeless” and that “these differences are not so much political in nature but are rooted in cultural differences.”
The V4 aka Eastern Europe aka Balkan states are (almost) hopeless – lost in their illiberalism and not yet ready for humanity, democracy and freedom!
They prefer a class society, corruption and serving an emperor …
Life is much easier (at least for the ruling class) if everyone follows orders instead of thinking by himself.
Maybe in 50 years – or never at all?

Ferenc
Guest

re.V4 and Balkan, on the EU summit OV proposed a speed-up intergration of Serbia and Montenegro in the EU, as part of a ‘better handling’ of the migration crisis…
Now sure that help the EU… come on, this guy only looks for increasing his own power by whatever means he sees at hand!!

wrfree
Guest

VO for a awhile has acting as the pilot of what could be described as a V-oyager 4 taking flying always just about and around the margins of the Euro orbit hut bever whizzing away. It’s apparent continued communications will depend on which transponder goes out first his or Europe’s.

But I’d bet no matter whichever controller goes out first there will always be that beaconing signal chirping from that Red giant star in the East. And the rest of the ‘Voyagers’ should cast a critical eye as to which world they would want to wind up in as it will take on a different meaning when Capt Orban says he wants to take some illiberal explorers on to another ‘new world’.

Ferenc
Guest
Checking the ‘Wikström report’ and searching around it: 1.draft report is dated 2017.Feb.24 and presented Mar.08 by Wikström to ‘Civil Liberty’s, etc’ EP Committee (LIBE) 2.from March till now, all members of EU Parliament could bring in amendments and negotiating compromises (to prepare for voting) 3.Oct.19 voting in LIBE, total members 60, voting: +43 / -16; note pro-groups (incl.EPP) have 45 members, while no-groups 15 => at least 2 pro-groups members voted differently (couldn’t find voting details, but 101% sure Gál from F&K) 4.report is by Hungarian F&K media called ‘betelepítési terv’; well well well many ‘terv’s are now circulating in Hungary; i.e. the whole current consultation circus is set-up against the ‘Wikström report’ (see the dates and sequence, this clarifies it all!!) 5.in Oct.19/20 M1 news a lot of BS around, but one peculiar thing sprung out for me: on Oct.20 Niedermuller (for DK in EP) is singled out as voting for and also helping in the preparation of the ‘resettlement plan’; note here the (please pass the bucket) sequence in the news: OV about ‘Soros-plan’ (incl.showing ‘the fence’!?) / explanation of plan / anti-Niedermuller item / cut off-in by several Fid and government persons speaking about dangers etc.,… Read more »
Ferenc
Guest

PS: the EP’s Civil Liberties Committee (LIBE) has two Hungarian members:
1.Kinga GÁL – vice-chair (one of four) – EPP / F&K
2.Péter NIEDERMÜLLER – member – S&D / DK
Most likely nr.1 kept OV&Co up to date about the progress with the ‘Wikstrom Report’, so that in Hungary the BS ‘consultation’ could be started in time aka.some weeks before voting in LIBE.
And nr.2 should have been prepared that he and his party would be singled out and attacked by OV’s propaganda team (see M1 news Oct.20, and likely more to follow…)

Ferenc
Guest

Re-migration
Yesterday watched ATV interview with Szel Bernadett, to me it seemed that she was talking to much around the migration issue, not giving her own opinion really.
Most likely being afraid for getting attacked by OV’s propaganda-vassals, which could cause danger to her rising popularity.
Am not convinced if avoid telling one’s own opinion is, on the long run, good for any politician!

Guest

Rather OT but funny in a way:
Steve Bannon is on the warpath against ex president Bush after Bush gave a talk asking the Reps to get more oriented to the political center, seems Bannon now wants to destroy the Republican “establishment”?
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/oct/21/steve-bannon-blasts-george-bush-and-calls-for-republican-revolt
Bush denounced bigotry in Trump-era American politics and warned that the rise of “nativism”, isolationism and conspiracy theories have clouded the nation’s true identity.

Istvan
Guest

Actually Wolfi Brannon’s attack on President Bush the younger was deadly serious and he is preparing the way for a split in the Republicam party if necessary. His goal is to take the far right elements of the Republican Party out if necessary or force out centrist Republicams if possible fully capturing the party for his nationalist and as President Bush correctly said “nativist” agenda. President Bush’s speech was actually excellent, but he should have called out Trump by name rather than dancing around him with abstraction.

At the head of this powerful nativist Republican movement would be babbling Trump in Bannon’s cynical vision. But Trump may actually be much more like the Roman Emperor Caligula, exhibiting cruelty, sadism, extravagance, and sexual perversion, all the traits of an insane tyrant that can’t be controlled even by Bannon and his movement.

For an old Republican like myself this is like a nightmare, and it’s also happening at the local level here in Illinois with the far right picking fights with centrist conservative Republicans in Illinois. All the people of the world should be somewhat frightened at what is happening here in the USA.

Guest

Thanks, Istvan, for giving me the creeps!
I appreciate your answer – but it also makes me really worried. I just hope that it will somehow be possible to “contain” Trump, Bannon and the whole gang.
In a way this reminds me again of the Marx saying: History repeats itself …
Though obviously Trump and Bannon’s ideology is different, it’s still scary!

Ferenc
Guest

Wolfi, certain things may remind you of a Marx saying, but imho Marx was simply wrong, as history can never really be repeated!
I would rather state: the present looks like a distorted mirror image of the past
(so over a longer time, after the 2nd distorted mirror image, the present might look like a past, but, because of the double distortion, it is never a real repeat…)
PS1: fully agree and feel the same creeps!!
PS2: the current situation is scary indeed, but I remain convinced that on the long run the truth will be on top, though before that is reached some very ‘untruthful things’ might have happened…

Guest

Ference, I thought you knew the complete saying:
History repeats itself – the first time as a tragedy, the second time around as a farce …
Like Orbán is a farce of Horthy.
And now I’m off – soon back to glorious Hungary!

Ferenc
Guest

Thanks, you’re right!

… now got me thinking what the third time might be and if that could be OV’s …

Guest

Well, Ferenc, all good things come in threes – and I made it back to Hungary in the pouring rain, but without any problems …
Just had to laugh again at the idiotic Fidesz billboards – still wondering whether Hungarians are stupid enough to take these for real.
As research shows right wingers in deed believe (or want to believe all this kind of fake news, constipation theories etc – they need a scapegoat or as we say in German a “Popanz”).
Sometimes I can’t believe that hungary has arrived in the 21st century yet – and these people complain about the primitive refugees from Africa ..

Guest

PS:
I never thought I would have to feel some compassion with George W Bush – we live in strange times!

petofi
Guest

@ Istvan,

You’re a johny-come-lately, ain’t ya? Where were you when the tea party began with its anti-Obama, anti-government program?

Past Republicans have sowed the seeds that have allowed a Trump to be selected, and elected. This man should never have been allowed to run in the primaries let alone a presidential election.

Yes, the American advertising geniuses can sell anything and they’ve sold Trump to the American people. And the mad men billionaires like the Koch brothers have now got what they want–the domination of the political system. Democracy be damned!

Istvan
Guest
Petofi I never supported the Tea Party, I did not even like the fact that Senator McCain ran Sarah Palin as his VP, but I did not vote for Obama and did vote for McCain. Some Republicans did indeed sow the seeds for Trump, in particular Senator Cruz in my opinion. The key for Trump was how much Hillary was disliked by even many registered Democrats who did not vote at all, I voted for Clinton out of fear of Trump, the first Democrat I have voted for in a very long time. All my fears about Trump have been realized except I expected him to launch tactical nuclear missiles at Raqqa, instead it was mass traditional bombing. Just over 6,000 bombs, shells and missiles targeting IS fighters were fired into Raqqa in August 2017 alone. There is not a building not heavily damaged in that city. By the way the Koch brothers did not support Trump for President. Charles Koch said that the choice between Trumpand Hillary Clinton was like choosing between a heart attack or cancer. Frankly that was similar to my own thinking Petofi. Both brothers have condemned Trump’s travel ban, and in April, Charles wrote an… Read more »
Ferenc
Guest

“Some Republicans did indeed sow the seeds for Trump”
First let me make clear that I’m from a distant only following US politics, but I have very strong doubts about your statement.
As far as I understand it, during Obama’s 2nd period his policies were severely hindered by many (or almost all?) Republicans only interested in blocking everything Obama came up with, instead achieving anything for the US people. They did not want to negotiate nor make compromises, just plain blocking without coming themselves with serious negotiable alternatives. I consider that to be very irresponsible and undemocratic behavior, which imho are the real seeds to have brought djT into position.

Aida
Guest

We know there are very nasty and dangerous forces at work. It may be evidence of conspiracy. But I rather think it is a result of the coincidence of aims. Those are not our aims. We are losing the battle to this rable. But we must not. We have to find people who inspire our cause. Not the tossers who undermine it like Hilary and Cameron. Bernie and Jeremy may do better. If we let them. Unfortunately Marxist crap frightens the voters. Change the rhetoric.

Marty
Guest

““the president of the European Commission offered compromise and consensus as the main course to the four guests.” Since they agreed to repeat the meetings in the future, I assume the offers were accepted.”

In other words the EU and the Western politicians again did the only thing they know how to do: appeasement.

Marty
Guest

Orban is a good poker player. If he doesn’t talk after the meeting that indicates to me that he is likely winning on every front and just doesn’t want to do or say anything which might upset the probable outcome. He’s way too smart to boast about his good fortune.

My take is that basically Orban realized that Brussels itself realized (Orban always knew that) that it has no power whatsoever to do anything about him or any autocratic member states. Hence the desperate effort by Brussels to have these inane dinners when everybody knows that in Eastern Europe people only respect power and hate the idea of “compromises” (ie, only losers ever compromise, the winners by definition achieve what they set out to do).

The system will thus continue: Orban at al will siphon off all the money and meanwhile bash the EU domestically but be a bit less radical while in Brussels. So the deal is that if you are not too loud in Brussels (you can be loud at home) you can do whatever the f**k you want and you also get to keep the dough.

Ferenc
Guest

again nice PR talk for OV, but what are possible solutions?
1.the EU should send in it’s army to restore democracy in Hungary
2.the Hungarian people should relocate OV&Co to the barbed-wired cages on Hungary’s south border
… be invited to add your suggestion…

Guest

The EU is not responsible for the idiocies of Hungarians – it’s their own fault, the EU gave them a chance!
I could say more but what would be the use?
“Every country gets the kind of government it earns …”

Guest

This might be relevant on Trump, Orbán and the like:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bJ_aTX7HAxk
This an audio recording of Professor Stephen Reicher’s lecture on the psychology of authoritarian populism that an English liberal friend of mine attended last month.
Professor Reicher’s argument is that if we are to understand the appeal of Donald Trump (and of other authoritarian populists) we have to get away from the idea that the people who voted for him are merely wicked or stupid.

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