The European Parliament rapporteur on Hungary pays a visit to Budapest

The Hungarian right-wing press is buzzing with indignation. Judith Sargentini, a Greens/EFA member of the European Parliament from the Netherlands, arrived in Hungary yesterday as part of her work as rapporteur for the parliament’s investigation into whether Hungary is in breach of the values of the European Union. Her report will recommend what steps should be taken against Hungary for curbing freedom of the press, failing to uphold the rights of refugees and minorities, and taking steps against universities and NGOs.

After her appointment on July 11, 2017, Sargentini expressed her strong disapproval of the current Hungarian government. She believes that “time and time again, Orbán has gone against the norms and values of the European Union. When a country is no longer prepared to uphold our common values, it’s a logical step to take away its voting rights.” Indeed, at the end of the road, if Parliament approves her report, it may recommend that the European Commission invoke Article 7 of the EU Treaty, which can deprive the country in question of its voting rights.

After Judith Sargentini met Levente Magyar, political undersecretary and deputy minister of foreign affairs, MTI published a short statement in which Magyar, instead of addressing the issues of Hungary’s disregard of “the norms and values of the European Union,” dwelt on the “sharp conflict between certain Brussels institutions and politicians and Hungary with regard to immigration. The Hungarian people want to decide for themselves who they live with and have stated this on several occasions. This is what irritates certain Brussels politicians.” He added that the talks with the rapporteur were amicable but that the MEP had no knowledge of certain basic facts, in view of which her Hungarian negotiating partners offered Ms. Sargentini their assistance. What else is new? The Orbán government’s answer to criticism from the European Union is invariably a two-pronged charge of ignorance and bias. Magyar failed to inform the public about the specifics of Sargentini’s incompetence.

The right-wing media was on high alert and ready to discredit Sargentini ahead of her arrival. Pesti Srácok and several other news outlets portrayed her as “Soros’s man” who has been associated with Soros-financed NGOs for ten years. Recently, she had several meetings with the Hungarian Helsinki Committee and TASZ, the Hungarian equivalent of the American Civil Liberties Union. She is “one of the trusted allies of George Soros.” Fidesz also released a statement upon Sargentini’s arrival in Hungary, according to which “the real goal [of Sargentini’s report] is to force Hungary to carry out the Soros Plan.” Ahead of Sargentini’s arrival, Péter Szijjártó gave an interview to Kossuth Rádió’s morning program, 180 Minutes, in which he described LIBE, the committee which entrusted Sargentini to be the rapporteur on Hungary, as “nothing more than a theater” where the condemnatory report has already been written.

While Sargentini was in Budapest, in Brussels there was a book launch for a new work by NGOs from Hungary, Croatia, Poland, and Serbia on the “sick democracies” of Europe. At the gathering several MEPs spoke critically of the Orbán government’s hate campaigns and its disregard of the basic values of the European Union. Sophie in ‘t Veld, a Dutch Liberal member of parliament, brought up Orbán’s claim from an interview in Das Bild a few days ago that the Syrian refugees are part of a Muslim invasion of Europe. She suggested that the Hungarian prime minister refresh his memory on the basic values of the European Union, which he will find in Article II of the EU Constitution.

The reference to Article II was especially apt since in Budapest one of the “legal experts” of the Center for Basic Laws (Alapjogokért Központ), a government subsidized organization, announced today that it is unlikely that Judith Sargentini will get anywhere with her report on the absence of the rule of law in Hungary since there is no definition of the concept anywhere in the Union’s constitution. So, he continued, any assertion of a lack of constitutional order is arbitrary. In this particular case, the LIBE investigation is a purely political exercise. According to one of the many spokesmen of Fidesz, the conversation between Magyar and Sargentini is just part of the “compulsory rounds,” which in no way will influence the message of the report. It is one of those things diplomats in the ministry have to do now and again.

A couple of journalists from the state television’s M1 channel and from Pesti Srácok were on hand after Sargentini left the building of the Foreign Ministry, trying to have an interview with her. I don’t know what she thought of Hungarian journalists after this encounter, but I fear it couldn’t have been complimentary. M1’s reporter didn’t seem to understand that the MEP was in Budapest to ask questions and learn about the country and its government. She was not ready to give interviews. The fellow from Pesti Srácok entertained Sargentini with questions like “If it depended on you, what kind of a future would you wish for Hungary?” And when he got no answer, he wanted to know what she thought of Viktor Orbán as a person. The video of the encounter can be seen here. Pesti Srácok’s headline for the article describing the scene was “Soros’s man came to call Budapest to account and she left post-haste.”

The Hungarian government is not backing down in the face of more intense EU scrutiny. It looks as if the decision was already made to launch a new “action plan” to thwart the execution of the Soros Plan.

István Hollik (KDNP), who has become the fiercest and most extreme spokesman for the government, called Sargentini “one of the most important allies of George Soros.” The report she is working on is actually a “Soros Report.” While the Soros NGOs speak of “sick democracies,” what is really sick is the European Union’s attacks on Hungary.

So, the mood is belligerent and unyielding, though this may change as a consequence of the new Polish prime minister’s housecleaning that resulted in the departure of eight ministers from the far right and their replacement by centrists. The move is most likely in preparation for a reset of Polish-EU relations. In that case, Viktor Orbán would remain virtually alone with his “action plan,” something I don’t believe he would relish.

January 10, 2018
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In my opinion the EU is focusing too much on Hungary’s policies and views on immigration, and it’s a mistake. Unfortunately such views are becoming more and more common and are not much distant from those of France’s Le Pen, Italy’s Northern League, Poland’s, the Czech Republic’s, a good chink of the German electorate, the new Austrian right wing government and well, let’s not even mention the current White House’s occupant.. What should be of EU’s concern, and it’s REALLY against “Western” values (not only EU), is in fact the progressive throttling of democracy itself in the country. Anti government media muffled or eliminated altogether, the psychological threats to opposition parties and their representative (especially in the provinces, and the less famous ones), the government’s influence on the three powers, legislative, executive, judicial, the syphoning of public resources and a lot more. The EU should realise Hungary is sliding dangerously towards a dictatorship, and this is not because of what Fidesz thinks of Syrian immigrants. This MEP should remain in the country for a t least six months, and gather as much evidence as possible of all the above. Said that chances of triggering article 7 to its full extent… Read more »
I am afraid that whatever the EU will decide and hopefully will do with regard to the Orban regime’s policies will be too late and too little… ‘Talk is cheap’ and only real actions may help solving the problem of the Hungarian fascist regime. And in spite that many apologists would object calling the Orban-Fidesz-regime a Fascist one, I must insist on this label, as the Orban-regime in all its deeds is copying the methods used by Nazi Germany, the Stalinist regimes, etc… The EU should have been aware (and I am sure they were…) of the intentions of the Orban regime as early as at the end of 2010. Since then the seemingly endless series of infringements and anti-democratic measures committed by the regime did not result in any effective actions by the EU leadership or its various committees and regulatory bodies. The central problem of the media ownership and media-manipulation by the regime should have been vigorously targeted by the EU and made it a condition of EU subsidies and even EU membership. Even a semi-literate person knows that whoever rules the media can and will rule the country. And this is exactly what Orban and the Fidesz… Read more »

‘We promise according to our hopes, and perform according to our fears’……La Rochefoucauld 1664

I would venture to say the stimulant of constant and pervasive fear has brought the country into a sort of pathological fervor. First they lose the will to act and then goes the thinking mind itself.

Like Russia, Magyarorszag looks now to be on autopilot implementing a Pavlovian type of ‘conditioning’ of the population from birth to death. This regime seems to rule with invisible electrodes. Incredible but true of what a ‘buzz’ can do when it comes to tyranny. Once again the population is led to only mindlessly push ‘levers and bars’.

Roderick S. Beck

You have to make a stand on principles. Opposition to immigration is fundamentally based on the same distrust of others that caused two world wars. Racism and prejudice must be combated. I understand that Hungarian autocracy is a political cancer, but it is a political cancer whose main weapon is prejudice and national exaltation.

Jean P

“You have to make a stand on principles.”
It is impossible to make a stand on all principles. You have to choose. I agree with Daniel that the primary choice should be “…the progressive throttling of democracy itself in the country”. This is the root. Anti-migration is a twig.


Daniel, the EU is NOT only focusing (nor too much) on Hungary & migration, all elements of a real ‘rule of law’ democracy are considered, e.g.the media and law situation. In the EU hearings of last year specialists in those fields (TASZ and MERTEK) were invited to give their views, while OV&Co called in their GONGO ‘Alapjogokért Központ’ twice.
Actually it’s the HU government itself, who makes migration the spearhead of their whole game. Have you heard, read or seen serious things about any other policy in Hungary in the last 1.5year??
Furthermore approval by the Parliament will be the easiest to achieve for the Art.7 report (see Wikstrom report), the next two necessary steps, i.e.the Commission’s and especially the Council’s approval will be pretty hard*.
Also to avoid misunderstandings best use the official abbreviation EPP (instead of only PP) for the political group in European politics, of which OV&Co are a member (till now…)

*hopefully the hardest for OV&Co…


Ferenc: “Have you heard, read or seen serious things about any other policy in Hungary in the last 1.5year??”
Ferenc, time passed fast. It’s almost 3 years.
Exactly three years ago during the mourning after the terror attack on Charlie Hebdo, Orbàn started his anti refugee hate propaganda and in the summer of 2015 it was already on a high level.


Personally I can refer only to the last 1.5 year, as that’s the time I’m following Hungarian matters (again*…)

*I’ve worked and lived earlier in Hungary, political wise especially the 2002 ‘kokarda’ elections made a lasting impression…


Ferenc, agree with you,
And the hittings get closer. Now defending around parliament with “journalists” and inside the bunker with personal attacks on the EU rapporteur. Mrs Sargentini will stand her man.


Having watched the PS video, I want to refute the claim by the HU government that the EU-LIBE report wants to influence HU elections.
From reliable sources I know that the voting in the EP about the report is decided to be held NOT before the elections in April, but in 2018.Sep. This decision was mainly forced by the EPP (of which OV&Co are a member).

PS: yesterday I was searching info about progress in the Art.7 report, and I didn’t notice any info about Sargentini’s visit (so was fully surprised about this post); a google search (Sargentini, after Jan.08) gives first 3 pages of OV&Co media about her visit, before a mention of HirTV and 444. So maximum discrediting with all means available to the HU gov.

I wonder whether Judith Sargentini was sent to Hungary because she’s a woman as a kind of trolling. What is absolutely certain is that Fidesz completely dismisses women as irrelevant, they don’t deal with women. Orban doesn’t work with women. There are a few token women here and there around the government but the situation is one of the worst in the world, African parliaments have more women (not that the Hungarian parliament is any more democratic than any random African one). In any case I hope she’s up to the task. But her hands are tied eventually and that’s the problem. The Germans love Orban and so the PP caucus will protect him. Orban can do whatever he wants. In fact since Sargentini is a leftist, the PP members probably hate her and dismiss her just as another annoying comrade. I also agree with Daniel’s comment above – if there are distinct arguments, debates about this policy or that policy, Orban can always defend himself and tell why what he does already exists in Germany, France, the Uk etc. It’s a very useful tactic: go to the level of details and there’s answer for everything. But Orban cannot possibly… Read more »

Marty: “The Germans love Orban”

I do not! so you are wrong!


Sorry, it is indeed a generalization. That said, Orban is definitely being enabled by his CDU/CSU chums, Merkel and assorted German lobbyists like Gunther Oettinger. For Orban to be so successful in entrenching itself and operating his corrupt system within the EU without the slightest repercussions the active and tacit support of the German political leadership is necessary.

Hungary is entirely dependent on EU’s money and Germany as an export market and Germans as an investor base – with enough political will Germans could easily tame Orban. But Germany actively wants to be seen as castrated and powerless – when in fact it is so powerful that Orban would retreat just as he does when Putin calls.

But of course I don’t want to equate German individuals with their political leaders.


Imho it’s the other way round:
Many, especially the conservative German politicians and business leaders give a f*ck about democracy, human rights etc – they’re only interested in doing business!
German companies are doing good business with China and Vietnam, a lot of production is done in Bangladesh etc – human rights the ecology and workers’ conditions are irrelevant for them!
And the same goes for the USA of course – Walmart is the biggest taker of goods from Asia.


@ Marty

This is troll-like stuff: Merkel does not like Orban…or have you totally missed her last visit to Budapest when she dismissed Orban as being unnecessary to her visit to the Dohany synagogue?


The “Christian” right wingers like Seehofer and Söder in the CSU like Orbán – those guys who have illegitimate children but always talk about a child needing a father and a mother and therefore same sex marriage being un-Christian …
If there’s any group of lunatics I detest it’s those hypocrites!


Petofi, now you’re being very naïve. Merkel may not love him but she sure allows him to do whatever he wants to and many CSU people actually really like Orban.

Visiting a synagogue without Orban is irrelevant, Orban is laughing his ass off.

The money keeps pouring into Orban’s pockets and Germany – without whom major issues don’t get decided in the EU (that’s rule no. 1 in Brussels) – isn’t doing anything.
Note that the Article 7 procedure (which is a joke, nobody takes it seriously) is contemplated against Poland only – when in fact Orban is probably more entrenched and more anti-democratic.

It’s just that Germany doesn’t want to complicate the legal procedures and hopes that Orban will “get the message” from the Polish procedure. Of course he won’t – so he is effectively being let off the hook.


We’ll have to wait and see … (said the blind man)
OT but interesting:
Austria’s right wing (dare I say fascist?) FPÖ minister of the interior Herbert Kickl just said that it might be a good idea to ” concentrate the refugees in camps” – and now he’s astonished that Vienna’s Green Vice Mayor Maria Vassilakou is angry …


Marty, Orban was NOT laughing his ass off.
He asked if he could accompany Merkel and she said No. It was a humiliation.

Merkel needs Russian gas and oil, and knows that she must tolerate Orban (being Putin’s doppelganger).

Merkel is practicing a wait-and-see policy to both Putin and Orban. They’ll be gone within 10 years or so anyway. The key is not to have a serious rupture with either country until then.


Neither Putin nor Orban is going away anytime soon. Orban is only 54, Putin is 65.

They will remain in power as long as they live. Orban’s father is still going strong though he’s well over 70. Orban has decades in power.

There is now way either of them will expose themselves to potential legal complications and there is only one way to handle such risks: remain in power. Voluntary leave is out of the question.

Plus you have to understand that they simply cannot live without power, the entire last 20 something years of their lives was about wielding ultimate, sovereign power (in Orban’s case even when his was formally out of power between 2002 and 2010). They cannot suddenly just be average (albeit rich) citizens. Nope, they are here to stay.

The Germans don’t care, it doesn’t matter to them who rules Hungary or Russia. But at least you should understand. Look at Angola or Zimbabwe and see how power was transferred in such places. These are the examples for Hungary to follow.


5:11am: “The Germans love Orban”
6:36am: I do not! so you are wrong!
6:54am: “Sorry, it is indeed a generalization.”
11:09am: “Germany doesn’t want to…”
12:59pm: “The Germans don’t care…”
hm, hm, hm…


Ferenc, try to say something substantial and argue, and try to deny what I’m saying. I stand by what I said and you can misinterpret my message anyway you want to it’s up to you, but I rather suggest you face reality.


It’s not only Winston and me who don’t love O …
You’ll read regularly scathing aricles on Fidesz politics not only in the “left wing press” (Spiegel e g) but also in conservative media (Frankfurter Allgmeine, Süddeutsche), only the right wing populist Springer media (Welt and the horror of horrors: Bild) are fans of Orbán.
The same goes for the parties – only some right wingers in the CDU, the extremely conservative CSU and of course the fascist AfD are on Orbán’s side.
It’s just the same situation that we had with Haider in Austria and Berlusconi in Italy – and in the long run …

The current crop of conservatives in Britain aren’t much better than Fidesz – and don’t even think about their “coalition partner” DUP from Northern Ireland. Compared to them Fidesz is almost liberal …

You just can’t expect too much from a democratic institution like the EU – the howling you could hear from Fidesz if the EU really put the screws on would be unimagineable!


“was sent to Hungary because she’s a woman as a kind of trolling”
Your view of the EU, as interested in and/or applying “trolling”, clarifies more about yourself than anything else…


O in Berlin, or rather in his fantasy world:
The four Visegrád countries – Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic – are growing very dynamically, and will catch up with Western industrialized countries by 2030 and become net contributors to the EU budget, the prime minister asserted.

“In 2030, by and large Germany and the Visegrád countries will finance the European Union,” Orbán claimed.


And pigs will not only rule the animal farm, but fly too.

Seriously, is there any literate or city dweller who buys such crap?

Eva I want to commend you for including in your essay on Judith Sargentini’s trip to Hungary as rapporteur for the European parliament’s investigation into whether Hungary is in breach of Article II the Center for Basic Laws (Alapjogokért Központ), a Fidesz government subsidized organization commentary. The Fidesz argument unfortunately has merit because the EU Constitution in relationship to Article II is indeed a mess. Article II is an amazingly contradictory aspect of the EU, it is far more detailed than the bill of rights contained in the US constitution. But it is difficult to enforce because in typical EU fashion the totality of Article II is subject to the following enforcement provisions of Title VII: General provisions governing the interpretation and application of the charter: In Article II-112: Scope and interpretation of rights and principles subsections 4 and 6 we read “Insofar as this Charter recognizes fundamental rights as they result from the constitutional traditions common to the Member States, those rights shall be interpreted in harmony with those traditions.” and “Full account shall be taken of national laws and practices as specified in this Charter.” Needless to say the more contemporary constitutional traditions of Hungary are long and… Read more »

The mentioned launch in Brussels was about the book “Resisting Ill Democracies in Europe”, it can be downloaded (in several languages) from following page:

just a quote (relevant to this post):
“The inability of the European People’s Party (EPP) to address developments in Hungary over the years, because the ruling majority is formed by an EPP member, must trigger all parties to set a strategy to monitor developments in countries in which they hold majorities, and ensure human rights do not become the losing end of a partisan game.”


Also from the book:
“With Gratitude to our Donors
-Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
-Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs”


Some people think OV really changed (at heart) through the years, I don’t agree, an example:
Late 1980s OV “playing football was a way of releasing his aggression. One time he took the ball out of play. When everyone else stopped, Orbán said, ‘It’s not out’, and carried on, and scored.”
(unfortunately the story doesn’t clarify if the other players accepted the goal…)
source: long read at

PS: I have played football in my younger years, and have experienced a mirror-wise thing as described above.
The linesman of the other team signalled with his flag, that the ball had been out (i.e.over the sideline), while it hadn’t even touched the sideline. I got so angry, only verbally, at the guy with the flag, that the referee send me off. My coach, who had seen it from close by, said come sit down, it’s just a few minutes, till we win this match with ten players.
Never will forget the one and only red card I got during my football days… still we overwon the cheaters…


It is a great article, I think Orban’s ego got the better of himself- Nolan is an objective observer of Central European affairs (or, at least, certainly no Fidesz Nick, like the BBC’s man here) and David Goldblatt’s greatest work has been the uncovering of corruption at football’s world controlling body, FIFA. So certainly not the kind of folk the paraszt thug would normally deign to grant any kind of time to.

But he gives them a personally guided tour of the Pancho “Arena” and a host of choice quotes. They in turn have written a pretty scathing piece on his “reckless” obsession. There will be one mightily unhappy fat dictator today writing that article.


Strange that the otherwise very good aGuardian article doesn’t mention that Puskás was born Franz Purczeld – into a German family. His father changed his name in 1937, guess why?


Good coach ferenc! He understands ‘man’ and ‘game’ management… both the individual and the group. Say why don’t you call him up and ask if he would like to leave sports for politics?

There’s certainly a dying need for that kind of acumen he showed. And if he can take the competition maybe he could even make some sense out of all that slapdash concrete put up to satisfy ego driven sports dreams.


number of people eligible to vote
with vs without Hungarian address

2014.04.05: 8019566 vs 195338 (2.38%)

2017.08.10: 7960767 vs 291409 (3.53%)
2017.12.23: 7947870 vs 314071 (3.80%)
2018.01.11: 7946127 vs 319152 (3.86%)


Address of the voters with no Hungarian address, as of 2018.01.11:

Romania: 43.75%
e-Landia: 34.20%
Serbia: 12.14%
Ukraine + Slovakia + Austria: 5.84%

Germany: 0.96%
Hungary: 0.58% (!)
USA: 0.38%
Canada: 0.29%
Switzerland: 0.24%
Australia: 0.20%
UK: 0.20%
Sweden: 0.17%


Registered voters with no Hungarian address

2013.11.01: 48034
2013.12.05: 76592
2014.01.07: 100000
2014.01.27: 130000
2014.02.06: 140000
2014.02.20: 164344
2014.03.22: 194658
2014.03.28: 194903
2014.04.03: 195338

This list has NOT been purged (adjusted for deaths etc.)
since the April 2014 election.

2017.08.10: 291409
2017.12.23: 314071
2018.01.11: 319152


(live births – deaths) in Hungary

from 2014.04.01 through 2017.07.31 : -123930

eligible voters with Hungarian addresses

from 2014.04.05 through 2017.08.10: -58799


Tappanch, am I interpreting these numbers correctly:
Hungary loses around 35 000 inhabitants every year/ population shrinks by this number – but the number of voters shrinks much less?
OK, some people die, but also some turn 18 i e reach the voting age.
That would mean that many more children were born 18 or 20 years ago?

On the other hand that growing number of MüMagyars as I call them – no representation without taxation!


Say I live in the Ukraine. I register to vote in Hungary. My name cannot be purged from the list for 10 years by law. Later, I also obtain a fake Hungarian address and get Hungarian retirement (per Soviet – Hungarian social security agreement of 1963).

I will have three votes. My name increases the counter on both the Hungarian and the non-Hungarian voting lists.


She should go to Germany where now even social media is being thoroughly cleansed of any anti-migrant colonization opinions. As far as I know, Hungary never ordered Facebook to erase all pro-migrant posts in Hungary.


Play the video, Zoli, only a few secs, it’s worth it.


Politics is but advancing own interest. The EU is neither stupid nor slow despite of its image. Whereas there are differences between its member countries, the leading „realpolitik” does calculate the cost/benefit of dealing with Hungary. Orban is a jerk who makes noise to increase his price (much unsuccessfully). The bottom line is: how much the political damage he makes plus the cost of development subsidy versus all the advantages the EU benefits for Hungary. These latter are, cheap labor for production, market for products and services, military support, qualified students and workers for the core-Europe, border defense, etc. I am convinced that no other reason exist why the EU has been tolerating Orban for so long. However dynamic, the balance is positive so far for the EU.


Interesting. But tell me, if Hungary was turfed out of the EU, then “cheap labor for production, market for products and services, military support, qualified students and workers for the core-Europe, border defense” as supplied by Hungary would suddenly evaporate? Really? Why? Your cost-benefit calculation does not seem to make any sense.


Ironic that she is visiting Hungary while in Romania the Prime Minister was talking about hanging ethnic Hungarians. I await eagerly the EU’s reaction to such comments and incitement coming straight from the top of the Romanian government. Something tells me there will be none which speaks volumes about the EU and its true objectives when it attacks Hungary and others in the region.


Zoli, what goes around, comes around. Hungarians started this little game by attempting to reclaim Transylvania by other means (what with the annual Tusnádfürdő jamborees, voting rights and passports for any Romanian citizen claiming to be ethnic Hungarian, heavy subsidies to ethnic Hungarian causes from Hungarian tax revenues, etc, etc.). If the boot was on the other foot, how long would the Hungarians be prepared to put up with this sort of interference in their internal affairs by a neighbouring country? The Romanians had a gutful of Hungarian interference in their internal affairs, and that is all. And perfectly justifiably too, except perhaps in so far as Hungarian irredentists are concerned.


More details (incl.quotes) about Sargentini’s visit at

Article also includes summary of reactions from OV&Co and others, like Seehofer: “Viktor Orbán clearly respects the rule of law”.
I would agree with him, if corrected to:
“Viktor Orbán clearly respects VO’s rule of law”…