Leo Varadkar and Viktor Orbán had “a very direct exchange of views”

The Orbán government’s secretiveness is a well-known fact of life. While in other European countries trips of the prime minister are made public way ahead of time, in Hungary the announcement is usually made only when Viktor Orbán is already on the plane. The same seems to be true of foreign visitors who come to Budapest for an official visit. The Hungarian government usually announces the arrival of a foreign politician days after his own government discloses the impending trip. This was even the case with Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki’s visit. The Polish government released the news on December 26, but the Hungarian government’s announcement came only two days later.

The visit of Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar was not announced until about 9:00 a.m. on January 4, the very same day he was supposed to meet Viktor Orbán. But this time, the Irish government wasn’t too eager to let the world know about the Taoiseach’s visit to Hungary. The media pointed to the unusually late announcement of the trip on January 3, which, as the Irish Examiner noted, “has raised questions.” Labor Party leader Brendan Howlin wanted to know why Varadkar didn’t inform the Dáil, the Irish Parliament, about his impending trip to Hungary and Bulgaria. As Howlin put it, given Viktor Orbán’s undemocratic policies, the visit “will be seen as an implicit endorsement by the Taoiseach and Ireland of the policies that Orbán’s government has pursued including his recent propaganda campaigns against Muslims, the EU, and also on George Soros that has verged on anti-semitism.” Howlin added that he hoped “the Taoiseach will have the courage to defend both the values Ireland and the EU have upheld when he meets with Orbán tomorrow and to criticize the divisive path that Hungary is pursuing within the EU.”

First, a few words about Leo Varadkar. He made international news in June 2017 when he was elected leader of Fine Gael, Ireland’s Christian Democratic Party. He was no ordinary candidate for the job of prime minister. First of all, at the time of his election, at age 38, he was the youngest prime minister in Europe. Second, he is one of the four openly gay heads of government on the Continent. And if that weren’t enough, he is of mixed Indian-Irish heritage. In brief, he is everything Orbán and his friends hate. And now here is a one-on-one talk for a whole hour during which Viktor Orbán will have to explain why he finds the “mixing” of different kinds of people and cultures dangerous for Hungary.

The official government site, which summarized Viktor Orbán’s short speech at the press conference, wasn’t exactly expansive on the issue of refugees, but even the little he said was further reduced to a couple of sentences on the government’s official website. “Regarding migration, [Orbán] said, he made it clear to his negotiating partner that ‘Hungary is not against anyone’ but insists on its own identity, culture, and the results it has achieved. Hungary stands on the foundations of legality.”

In fact, in his statement, which it seems he didn’t want to share with the world in English on the government website, Orbán said more than that. Here is the longer version:

We touched on the question of migration. I tried to make clear to the prime minister why migration is such an important question for Hungary. I tried to clarify the historical and cultural dimensions of the question; I wanted to make clear that Hungary is not against anyone but wants to adhere to its identity, culture, and the results it has achieved. One must look at the question of migration through these lenses.

Obviously, Varadkar wasn’t convinced. He announced at the press conference that
“Ireland doesn’t agree with Hungary on the issue of migration and supports the concept of a common burden-sharing within the European Union,” a statement which was greeted by 24.hu with enthusiasm: “An unheard-of thing happened in Budapest. Leo Varadkar announced that he doesn’t share Orbán’s migration policies.” This is what Hungary has come to.

We learn more about the meeting and its flavor from the Irish prime minister, who gave an interview to The Irish Times after the encounter. Apparently they had “a very direct exchange of views” about Hungary’s refusal to resettle refugees, about the tightening government control over civil society, and about the shuttering of Central European University, which is ‘a bastion of liberal values’ in the region.” He added that he can’t tell whether this very direct exchange had much of an impact because Orbán is someone who is “very firm in his views and world views.”

Viktor Orbán, unlike Leo Varadkar, is not in the best mood

All in all, the meeting couldn’t have been very pleasant, even if the two see eye to eye on several issues. First, Hungary, whose corporate tax of 9% is the lowest in Europe, supports Ireland against the so-called tax harmonization efforts of the European Union. Earlier Ireland had a close partner in its fight against such legislation, but The Irish Times sadly announced in October that after Brexit Ireland “will have to fight its own corner.” Hungary is, however, ready to stand by Ireland, alongside Liechtenstein, which also has a very low corporate tax rate (12.5%).

Another matter the two prime ministers agreed on was the benefit of the current agricultural policies (CAP) of the European Union. Ever since his election as French president, Emmanuel Macron has been talking a lot about both tax harmonization and reform and a reduction in agricultural subsidies. Not surprisingly, neither Ireland nor Hungary is keen on reforms. Ireland is the beneficiary of low taxes, and in Hungary Orbán and his oligarchs have been madly buying up farmland precisely because of the generous EU subsidies.

The third item was Irish concerns related to Brexit. Although Hungary’s support of Irish interests in this context remains quite vague, Orbán promised to stand by Ireland in the Brexit negotiations.

Viktor Orbán didn’t look too happy after the talks were over. He is a firm believer that no other country should “meddle” in Hungary’s affairs, just as he refuses to pass judgment on the dictatorships he courts and thinks so highly of. He is also convinced that he is right and all others are wrong when it comes to the migrant issue.

Those Eastern despots who have visited Budapest in the last few years haven’t argued with him about the correctness of his positions. Orbán cannot really hide his feelings, and it was pretty obvious that, despite all those kind words about the freedom-loving Irish people and their fantastic economic achievement, he was annoyed. Most Western European heads of government simply avoid Budapest. But then one comes calling, and he gives the Hungarian prime minister a lecture — on his own turf. Can you imagine how irritating Orbán must have found that?

January 7, 2018
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Michael Kaplan
Guest

Loved this story. The Irish leader was much taller than Orban in every respect. Must have been hard for the Magyar Prime Minister to shake hands with a gay leader with one parent of Indian heritage.

Guest

Yes, that picture of those two guys is really telling! Just look at their mouths – in smileys: 🙂 and 🙁

wrfree
Guest

There he goes…let’s call him Viktor ‘O’Orban with the green tie. A snazzy Magyar leprechaun for the day. 😎

Mr. Varadker might want to bring him to Ireland for a visit and check out the place. A number of years ago my Irish wife and I visited Arklow in the southeast. This at a time when there was no ‘migrant problem’. We were surprised to see Japanese making the town their home and a place to raise their family. They were no doubt the first of many to come.

So far through the years Ireland has always brought in migrants and the country’s beautiful land hasn’t slipped relentlessly into the ocean.

Marty
Guest
Varadkar – if the exchange was indeed “frank” as claimed and I intend to believe that from this picture – must be thanked. With people like Orban vague, polite, gentlemanly diplomatic talks go absolutely nowhere. Eastern European people culturally do not understand diplomacy and vague words (like British understatements), they misinterpret such communication. Eastern Europeans only understand blunt, clear words, strong adjectives, coupled with clear show of emotions (e.g. anger). There’s no other way to talk to people like Orban and his cronies. At least this way such people will understand the message that is being communicated. Of course they will disregard the message unless there is credible sanction (that is credible, negative consequence) are attached to those words. Orban is a lawyer and knows that unless sanctions are involved the rule is irrelevant in practice. Being generous, kind, cooperative, compromising are characteristics that are absent from the personalities like Orban or Putin. They cannot be convinced. They don’t change their minds after having a nice conversation (Orban of course once abruptly became pro-Russian but obviously Putin has a kompromat over Orban who realized that (a) he has no other option than to serve Russian and (b) that actually he… Read more »
Guest

Orban is a lawyer
Marty, are you sure? Did he ever practice, did he even finish his studies?
This reminds me of “Orbán studied in Oxbridge …” but afaik he didn’t finish even one semester.
He’s smart, yes – compared to the typical Hungarian bunko paraszt at least.
I can’t tell you what my wife calls him and his cronies …

Let me be blunt:
The EU has given Hungary, Poland and the other Balkan countries many chances – if they don’t want progress and democracy, ok!
The EU can continue without them and profit from them – just as the West profited from the Socialist Block before 1989.
And who cares about poor Hungarians?
We have a saying in Germany:
Hilf Dir selbst, dann hilft Dir Gott!
I don’t have to translate that …

Ferenc
Guest

“Eastern Europeans only understand blunt, clear words”
So do you want me to write/say: SHUT UP?

Marty
Guest

Ferenc, what’s your problem? I’m happy to change my mind, I’m open to new arguments, but you just keep attacking me without actually arguing anything.

Michael Casey
Guest
As an Irishman living in Hungary for the past 4 years, saying this pleased me greatly does not even begin to say how I feel! I have been dismayed to watch what Orban and his government can get away with in a so called “democracy” since arriving with my partner and family. Any number of the controversies that have surfaced would have toppled a government back home and it just astounds me that someone from Fidesz declaring black is white seems to be accepted generally! This is not meant as an insult to Hungarians but for the 60% or so that have not been taken to the Fidesz cult, I dearly wish that opposition could be coordinated effectively. Also that for the Fidesz / government supporters that somehow their eyes might be opened but sadly both the former and especially the latter look imposssible 😕 Incidentally when I learned of the visit of Speaker Kövér to Ireland late last year, I did email all those who had received him including the Taoiseach questioning if Ireland should welcome representatives of a government acting in the manner they do. I included quite a few details from the recent past including ” consultations”,… Read more »
Ferenc
Guest

Michael, great to read that more non-Hungarians try to get their homeland informed about the real situation in Hungary.
As an Irishman what can you say/do you think about the background of Varadkar’s short visit?
It doesn’t seem to make much sense to me. Though the two things OV and Varadkar have in common is that both are PM and their parties are members of EPP (Fine Gael currently with 4 seats in the EP).

Michael Casey
Guest
Hi Ferenc, actually the situation here bothers me to the extent that I felt I really had to contact them. I just wish I could vote ths year too! Unfortunately the EU seems completely powerless in the measures that can be taken to punish states that repeatedly disregard the ideals and treaties they have signed so my thinking was if a country within the EU could take a brave stance as a state to distance themselves from the direction Orban has taken Hungary. As regards the purpose of the visit to be honest I am in the dark on it, I do daily keep up with news here and at home but this visit took me by surprise. Perhaps corporation tax could have been an item of importance as both have very low rates and Ireland’s is crucial in attracting such large amounts of FDI from the US along with the fact that English is the first language and it has a young educated population. The dreamer in me would like also to believe that Varadker being the son of an Indian immigrant and leader of a small neutral country on periphery of The EU with no axe to grind… Read more »
Observer
Guest

“I have been dismayed to watch ..”

You’re not alone, I have been in touch with many professional visitors, incl. diplomats here in Budapest, and most of them don’t get it, even after what they have seen. They keep coming with, “but why don’t you … (do whatever is done in a western democracy)”, as if the particular case/person was a bad exception, they can’t register, grasp that it’s a whole, sinister system they are looking at.
This is what I refer to as “naivité”.

petofi
Guest

Michael,

You’re far removed from any understanding of the Hungarico mind.

The only thing that topples a government in Hungary is an attempt–a la Gyurcsany–to reform government and limit
corruption. THAT gets your ass sliced and diced.

Michael Casey
Guest

Hi Petofi, yes perhaps true that I dont think the same way. Again I dont mean it as any slight to Hungarian people but am bewildered by the hugely widespread apathy to the present situation. Moreover I can see this pessimistic / defeatist outlook everywhere in daily life. Also is very apparent too that change will be truly difficult but unless attempted again and again nothing will ever be improved, I suppose I just tend to be idealist when thinking.

petofi
Guest

@ Michael, 2

Hungarians have been repeatedly screwed over (and they agree) but what Hungarians don’t appreciate is this: that it is their own that hangs them out to dry! Thus, Orban can serially rape the country and explain it away as ‘foreigners’ (like Soros) or ‘investors’ (meaning, Jews) are doing the country harm. In the meantime, the Orban clan buys up all the castles and valuable property in the country; not to mention huge tracts of vineyards…

Michael Casey
Guest
Hi Petofi, yes Hungary’ s history is complicated but this is the case for many countries. I fully agree with you regarding many Hungarians not seeing the true culprits as those presently in power who manufacture enemies and causes to disguise their shameful excuse for governing while helping themselves. Unfortunately as you know a lot dont really have access to the truth and are fed propaganda. I realise it is stating the blindingly obvious but the only way anything can change is by Hungarians changing their mindset firstly by losing the apathy and actually voting, becoming involved etc., also cooperating in opposition Furthermore since getting here in 2014 what I have witnessed is there seems a lack of the concept of society here, I mean that many think only within me / their immediate family. In my humble opinion this cant work, I feel this is probably a hangover from communism. I wish I had some answers, the situation is bad but not hopeless! Finally as Farkas has rightly said quite a lot of the problem too is looking to the past. This past is gone forever and while it of course should be remembered and is valuable, it cant… Read more »
Marty
Guest
“This past is gone forever and while it of course should be remembered and is valuable, it cant be changed. People should not dwell or wallow in it. The future is what is truly important! I have a tendency myself to look back too so this is much easier said than done.” Exactly. But when the present is full of anxieties and we are unsure about the future (we may even fear it) the “glorious past” is the only thing which gives us meaning and comfort. Nationalist politics (propaganda) is always there to focus the minds of average joes on the past. In fact with communism now once and for all gone as an internationalist/atheist ideology, it has been thoroughly replaced by nationalism and traditional religion in countries which are failing and lagging behind in capitalism (whether in Arabic countries or in Russia/Hungary etc.). People (the masses) cannot face their own inadequacies. This only exists in individual therapy, in individual cases (people who go to therapy already consciously decided to face their issues). Masses will do anything to avoid facing failures and mistakes. So they will need something which gives them answers to failures/mistakes. This is found in an ideology… Read more »
Farkas
Guest

Hi Michael

The great difference between the Irish and the Hungarians is that the overwhelming majority of Irish people have come to terms with with their tragic history, embrace the future and get on with it. In contrast, the overwhelming majority of Hungarians have never been able to come to terms with their tragic, if also largely delusional history, refuse to embrace the future and completely unable to get on with it. To my mind this single fact explains most of what puzzles you about Hungarians.

Member

Yes, well done Mr Varadkar. As most of the leaders of civiliised Europe see Orban as akin to something that the dog has “deposited” and to be scraped off the bottom of their shoe (and hence refuse to have any official visit) the fact that this is the result when one does happen is highly comical, if nothing else.

It makes the performance of the UK and in particular HMG representative in Hungary, Ian Lindsay OBE all the more shameful. For example, despite the fact that many UK citizens were directly affected by the regime’s war on the CEU, the spiritual heirs of Neville Chamberlain uttered not a public word in criticism.

And let’s have no more nonsense about Orban’s “legal” talent.
He is nothing more a paraszt thug, albeit one with a fair bit of animal cunning. More at home “dispensing justice” in a kocsma brawl than in a courtroom.

Marty
Guest

Look, I’m a lawyer and have been mingling with lawyers for many many years. My firm professional conviction is that Orban has a lawyer’s mindset. His mindset is actually quite common among lawyers – their approach to values, principles, morals etc. is similar to that of Orban’s and at the same time different from that of people from other professions. I haven’t compared him to Lord Denning or Lord Goff or Oliver Holmes – I just said that he has a lawyer’s mind and non-lawyers are at a disadvantage of figuring out his methods and morals. He is also a perverted bully, a thug – obviously.

wrfree
Guest

Re:’talent…just finding loopholes’

And perhaps we can add to that the following..

‘There are two kinds of lawyers: those who know the law and those who know the judge’.

Observer
Guest

Marty
My professional conviction is that Orban is a willy, sneaky cheater who knows about the existence of legal tools.
From what I know, he’s been the one pushing the limits and his lawyers (e.g. Mártonyi of old, etc.) have been trying to provide some legal fig leaves. The 2006 “azt jó napot” expression clearly shows that he knows the (real) lawyers can paper over a lot of things.
Orban is a bully and a thug, with the gypsy streak here too – he’s brave only if he’s guaranteed to win, or to be out of danger, otherwise Orban can flip 180 deg in an instant.

Ferenc
Guest

One line in OV’s speech keeps hunting me (as pretty nonsensical), he closed/tried to close the item of migration with: “At the same time, however, Hungary stands on the foundations of legality.” (from the official full speech at kormany.hu).
In Hungarian OV said: “Ugyanakkor Magyarország a jogszerűség talaján áll.” (again from kormany.hu, and making even less sense)
First “talaj” is NOT “foundation” but “ground/soil”, and second what is/could be meant by it?

Guest

Another meeting of the dwarf and a giant:
http://hungarytoday.hu/news/pm-orban-meets-horst-seehofer-bavaria-18166
Took them three days to put something together – haven’t tried to analyze it yet, stuff like
Orbán said he had learnt a lot from Seehofer, including “the important rule that you cannot build any legislation on unlawfulness, and the law must always be minutely observed”.
What’s that supposed to mean?

A bit OT re lawyers:
I’ve known a few lawyers in Germany and it seemed to me that a surprisingly high proportion of them was corrupt – and these are only the cases where they were found out!

Ferenc
Guest

OT – other legal matters
Today was the start of the re-trial of Ahmed H., what happened today can be followed at https://twitter.com/eda_seyhan/status/950282299391795200
Final judgement expected (?) friday Jan.12.
May be some legal experts can shine their light in this case…

Guest

Not too much OT:
It’s worthwhile imho to have a look at https://twitter.com/politicshu (the forum itself has closed down as you all probably know)- not only because they link to hungarian spectrum 🙂
The site has those “nice pictures” …
And on Orbán’s visit in Seeon with Seehofer:
http://www.spiegel.de/politik/deutschland/manfred-weber-fordert-die-finale-loesung-der-fluechtlingsfrage-a-1186493.html
Manfred Weber is speaker of the EPP in the European parliament and obviously caught between Scylla and Charybdis re Orbán and the EU refugee policy.
Also Orbán gave an interview to BILD – but I’d be crazy to pay to read that!

Guest

A bit OT but funny in a way – haven’t we discussed this person before? 🙂
Sebastian Gorka is a Nazi buffoon with sham credentials, but this is … interesting. In his attempt to take down Michael Wolff’s controversial book Fire and Fury, Gorka writes that:

So, when I met Michael Wolff in Reince Priebus’ office, where he was waiting to talk to Steve Bannon, and after I had been told to also speak to him for his book, my attitude was polite but firm: “Thanks but no thanks.” Our brief encounter reinforced my gut feeling that this oleaginous scribe had no interest in being fair and unbiased.
https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2018/1/8/1730831/-Nazi-former-Trump-aide-confirms-controversial-book-author-had-access-to-top-White-House-staff
PS:
The comments on Gorka are hilarious!

petofi
Guest

Gorka the Uborka.

He’ll never make is as a ‘doppelganger’…(with thanks to Henry).

Ferenc
Guest

OT – breaking Press Release (seems from today Jan.08)
“The scientific conference planned by the Public Foundation for the Research of Central European History and Society under the title “The Future of Europe” as well as the topics on its agenda and the speakers invited have become part of the partisan political struggles underway in view of the forthcoming parliamentary elections. That makes it impossible for a free debate of differing opinions and outlooks to take place undisturbedly. The Public Foundation has therefore decided to put off the conference to the month of May, that is after the parliamentary elections. The speakers have been notified of the new date.
The Public Foundation will continue to hold its events in a spirit of mutual respect, free speech and the basic human values.”

Public Foundation for Research of Central European History and Society
Közép- és Kelet-európai Történelem és Társadalom Kutatásáért Közalapítvány

new date: 2018.May 2018 – The Future of Europe an international conference – Castle Garden Bazaar

Ferenc
Guest

another thing I found when checking the original (Dec.29) version through “waybackmachine”
https://web.archive.org/web/20171229040142/http://europajovojev4.eu/en/

full list of names hidden in original page (through “view page source”):
Sándor Csányi / Frank Füredi / Colonel Avraham COHEN / RNDr. Alexandr Vondra / Tomasz Szatkowski / Dr. Tomáš Strážay / Tobias Josef Zech / Stephen Kevin Bannon / Ryszard CZARNECKI / Hon. Prof. Dr. Dr. Rocco Buttiglione / Pascal Bruckner / Milo Đukanović / Mario David / Marek Ondroušek / Marcin Piasecki / Konrad Szymański / Jerzy Kwieciński / Janis Sarts / Jan Macháček / Ján Figeľ / Jacek Czaputowicz / Götz Kubitschek / David Engels / Daniel J. Mitchell / Daniel Herman / Artur Bobovnický / Péter Szijjártó / Levente Magyar / Krisztina Varju / Roman Joch / Milo Yiannopoulos / Jerzy Snopek / Douglas Murray
note: on the current page all (hidden) names disappeared…

Observer
Guest

Ferenc
Do I see Steve Bannon’s name there? It will be a very interesting contortionist trick to explain SB invitation in view of the current “sloppy Steve … who cried for his job.” etc tweets from the Twit in Chief. La comedia e stupenda!

How come Soros wasn’t blamed for the discord in the court?

Ferenc
Guest

You spotted it good!!
Total 33 persons: 7 Polish (PiS), 5 Czech (Babis), 4 Hungarian (OV&Co), 3 Slovak, 10 from other EU, 4 from non-EU.
Also note that (except the Hungarians) 4 are (current/former) EPP members.
Could be a nice game to figure out who doesn’t want to be with who on the same list (of speakers, or for whatever they were ‘hidden’ listed…)