Hypocrisy: USA Meddling In Hungarian Elections

The USA has been behaving like an “overlord”, reminiscent of the Soviet Union, towards Hungary for a good while.   Earlier I posted about several examples for this attitude, the latest blog post was titled “An exercise in deep hypocrisy and imperial arrogance”,

Apparently this trend hasn’t changed in the US Embassy in Budapest or in the State Department in Washington DC at all since Donald Trump took office this January.   Libertarian former US Congressman Ron Paul and his Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity , directed by Daniel McAdams, are doing an absolutely great job to counteract the anti-American sentiments that such an attitude inevitably creates in Hungary.  Their latest Liberty Report discusses the latest encroachment on Hungary’s sovereignty, committed  by the “Deep State”.  Please do watch it because it’s really well worth your time.

At at time when many in the US are obsessed with the idea that Russia might have meddled in our elections last year, the US State Department has announced a new program to overtly meddle in the election of Hungary — a fellow NATO member country. Is this another case of “do as we say, not as we do”? Tune in to today’s Liberty Report:

 

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Orbán quotes from today’s speech

Prime Minister held his regular, annual “State of the Nation” speech  this afternoon.

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The scene of the speech, “Várkert”, was shamefully derelict until Orbán’s government had it renovated it last year

The transcript is not available in English yet but no doubt you may read it soon on Mr. Orbán’s site here.

As usual, the speech took a broad, historic view and it was spiced up with great metaphors and jokes.  First he gave a broad historic overview of Hungary’s last 150 years, the various eras and its struggles to develop the country. After a few remarks on the political and economic situation,  the second half of the speech was about the migrant crisis and its historic context.  Let’s see some memorable quotes from this part in no particular order:

We should never be dragged into anti-Russian,anti-German or anti-Turkish international political manoeuvres.  Politics based on moral superiority, which is often cultivated in the West, doesn’t fit Hungarian interests.

In Western Europe, now  boundaries are blurred between good and bad, women and men, reality and dreams.

There’s no freedom, community or individual success in the face of reality. There’s only political drug addiction, failures, cynicism and self-destruction if you fight  reality. Maybe this is why there are so many high-minded unhappy liberals in Brussels.

If we don’t act now, the tension between Europe and the Muslim world will be out of control, here on our territory.

It’s not migrants who we should be angry at. They are also victims, they do only what their interest is- but Europe does not do that!

Europe has the capacity to protect itself.  Brussels can’t organise this defence and doesn’t even want to.

How is it even possible to let in masses of people without any control? We just don’t get that here in the Visegrád countries.

Europe is Hellas, it’s not Persia; Europe is Rome, it’s not Carthage. Europe is Christianity, it’s not caliphates.

Some of the Western political elites are cosmopolitan but  people are patriots – these elites don’t understand their own people.

Uncontrolled masses are being transferred into Europe – we don’t know who is a terrorist, who is a criminal, an economic migrant or a refugee: this is CRAZY.

Spring is coming. We must help the countries of the Balkans because they are protecting Europe’s borders.

Hungary is a sovereign country, only those may enter our territory who respect our rules and abide our armed forces.

We cannot let Brussels to place itself above the law. They can’t force us to import their mistakes.There won’t be no-go zones, there won’t be riots in Hungary, there won’t be attacks on refugee centres and gangs are not going to harass our wives and daughters.

We don’t believe that Europe will give up its legacy.  Rest assured Hungary won’t make a single step on that road.

UPDATE:  Watch the speech with English subtitles here.
He speaks about the existential danger Hungary and European civilization face  in the second half.

Hungary’s GDP growth highest in the EU

Hungary has embarked on a period of economic growth which could put the country among the fastest-growing European Union member states

Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on the 25th of August,  addressing the annual meeting of Hungarian mission leaders.

 

Today’s news is that the Central Statistical Office (KSH) has confirmed their preliminary GDP growth figure: Hungary’s gross domestic product increased by 3.9% in the second quarter of 2014 compared to the corresponding period of the previous year.  That’s 0.8% on a quarterly basis.

Now this is the highest growth in the European Union.

KSH  has also revised the first quarter GDP growth data  today and they have upped  it to 3.7% year-on-year from 3.5% y/y.

Here’s the break-down of the growth data by sectors (on a quarterly basis):

 

 

Analysts warn that the growth will slow in the second half of the year because of the economic impact of the EU-Russia conflict. However the expected yearly growth of the Hungarian economy in 2014 is still 3.1%.

Principles first, choosing persons second

Today PM Orbán flew to the EU summit in Brussels and he gave a press conference.  He stressed that the questions of principles must come first before choosing persons for the various positions . (German Chancellor Angela Merkel said before the summit that the latter type of decisions may not be brought today at all.)

Orbán insisted that taxation has to remain on the national level. Moreover he’d want to clarify  if EU is willing to let member states to regulate energy prices on the national level.  He added that it become a practice in the last five years that EU institutions, openly or covertly, reduced national powers and this has to be put to an end.

The member states are protecting their rights and if an imperial centre, like what Brussels is, want to breach them then that’ll generate conflicts.  New European politics doesn’t need more conflicts, it needs more consensus.

Answering a question,  he said the Hungarian government would nominate its EU commissioner when elected president Jean-Claude Juncker would officially request that. He added he had a discussion with Juncker prior to the summit. Commenting on the situation in Ukraine, Orbán said the sanctions against Russia must not proceed to the next (third) stage because that would not be in the interests of either Europe or Hungary.

The summit is mainly about haggling top jobs and that’s rarely a simple matter…  However the deepening crisis in Ukraine makes the choice of a successor to British EU Commissioner Catherine Ashton, as head of the European External Action Service,  an even more sensitive issue  than usual since the USA  has been pressing the  EU recently to toughen sanctions against Moscow.   The United States indicated yesterday they could go alone with increasing the severity of the sanctions against Russia.  Poland and  Baltic countries want a tough stance against Russia but Italy and Germany, which have major economic ties with Russia, are reluctant.  So is Hungary.

 

Anyway, it sounds like Orbán is in combative mood… 🙂  Go, Viki, go!

 

Update:

Eastern EU countries were the main reason for the blockage. They argued that no decision could be taken on the two senior positions before they knew what portfolios would be assigned to “their” national commissioners.

Only the anti-Russia sanctions were extended somewhat  Another extraordinary summit will be held on the 30th of August.

 

 

25 years ago

I’ve taken part on quite a few political rallies in my life and at least one of these will surely be in future history textbooks. That’s the reburial of Imre Nagy, the  Communist Prime Minister executed by his comrades after  the ’56 revolution and, of other martyrs, on the 16th of June, 1989.  We’ve just had the 25th anniversary of this major Hungarian political event.

I must be somewhere in this picture

I still remember the feeling of somehow being part of history in the middle of a more than 100,000 strong crowd on Heroes’ Square.   I remember the long queue of speakers who didn’t really make much of an impression. And I remember that finally a young unshaven lad came and he delivered a speech everybody remembers. He demanded that the occupying Soviet troops should leave Hungary. I remember the astonishment in the crowd, the disbelief that somebody dared to say that then. I remember it crossed my mind that his microphone would be switched off immediately and he would be arrested by undercover policemen on the spot.

MSZMP, the state party of the Communist dictatorship shed the letter M (for “munkás”, that is “worker”) a few months after this event and it became MSZP (Hungarian Socialist Party). They were already busy at converting their political power into media and economic power. Then they returned into government in 1994.  That young stubbly lad who delivered that speech beat them first in 1998 against the odds and he became prime minister first in 1998.  Viktor Orbán did a pretty good job: Hungary had a five percent GDP growth in 2000 and Hungary’s already big public debt was decreased to 54 percents of the GDP.   Unfortunately the postcommies, that is MSZP and their ‘left-liberal’ sidekick SZDSZ, won the 2002 elections with the slogan “more money to people!”.  They did so indeed … by taking out foreign loans again. And, of course, their own people got the real money.  Soon these postcommies completely ruined the Hungarian economy but they still managed to win the 2006 elections by “lying day and night“, with the active help of the European Commision.  The West preferred the ex-Communists, who served the Soviet Union and switched to serving the Western interests, to those troublesome Hungarian nationalists, populists, anti-Semites, what-have-you.   Then Orbán won the elections again in 2010, Hungary’s debt ratio was already 80+ percents at this time,  and Hungary was overtaken in GDP per capita by many countries (Slovakia, Poland, Estonia, etc.) we were much ahead of ten years earlier.  Hungarians gave Orbán a huge political mandate so that he should put things right … like how the economy performed at the turn of the millennium when he was prime minister. Well, it seems his government is delivering  results … but it’s a very long way to get back to that relative position Hungary’s economy enjoyed  in the region then.

Orbán delivering his famous speech in 1989 which burst him into Hungarian politics

 

MSZP started fragmenting after their crushing defeat in 2010 and one of these splinters is ex-Socialist prime minister Gordon Bajnai‘s party called ‘Együtt 2014’.   Hungary has a Soviet-built nuclear power station in Paks, which supplies 40% of all electricity,  and two of these blocks will have to be decommissioned in 2025,  two new nuclear power station blocks will have to be built by then.  The postcommies wanted to award the building contract to the USA or to France.  It was no coincidence that  Socialist prime minister Péter Medgyessy was awarded the French Legion of Honour for his activities… and the French nuclear company Areva caused a serious nuclear  accident in 2003. The problem  had to solved by the Russian Rosatom.  Orbán’s government decided in 2013 that Russia should build Hungary’s two new power station blocks because they’ve got the technological advantage here and Russia gave us a long term, low interest rate loan with a high percentage of Hungarian economic participation.   For comparison, just check out what the French company Areva has been doing in Finland…

And now comes the punchline: the successors of the Communist state party, those faithful servants of the Soviet occupiers, who had the reburied ones executed in the first place,   managed to say, on the 25th anniversary of the historic reburial of their victims, to the very man who first demanded the withdrawal of the Soviet troops that

Orbán sold Hungary’s independence out to Russia and he called in the ones whose driving away Imre Nagy and other martyrs gave their life for.

This is so unthinkably absurd…  If  somebody from Finland  reads this then  let me ask  them: Did the Finnish Communist party, or some successor party,  say that the Finnish government stained the memory of those Finnish heroes who fought against the Soviets in the Winter War when the Finnish government granted  Rosatom to build a nuclear power station in Finland?

 

 

 

Orbán and Horthy

Orban is a rare political leader in Europe. He is quite popular, but he is in a balancing act. To his left are the Europeanists, who see all his actions as a repudiation of liberal democracy. On the right is a fascist party that won 20 percent in the last election. Between these two forces, Hungary could tear itself apart. It is in precisely this situation that Weimar Germany failed. Caught between left and right, the center was too weak to hold. Orban is trying to do what Horthy did: strengthen his power over the state and the state’s power over society. He is attacked from the left for violating the principles of liberal democracy and Europe. He is attacked from the right for remaining a tool of the European Union and the Jews. The left believes he is secretly of the right and his protestations are simply a cover. The right believes he is secretly a Europeanist and that his protestations are simply a cover.

Now we add to this the fact that Hungary must make decisions concerning Ukraine. Orban knows that Hungary is not in a position to make decisions by itself. He has therefore made a range of statements, including condemning Russia, opposing sanctions and proposing that the Ukrainian region directly east of Hungary, and once Hungarian, be granted more autonomy. In the end, these statements are unimportant. They do not affect the international system but allow him to balance a bit.

Orban knows what Horthy did as well. Hungary, going up against both Germany and Russia, needs to be very subtle. Hungary is already facing Germany’s policy toward liberal integration within the European Union, which fundamentally contradicts Hungary’s concept of an independent state economy. Hungary is already facing Germany’s policies that undermine Hungary’s economic and social well-being. Orban’s strategy is to create an economy with maximum distance from Europe without breaking with it, and one in which the state exerts its power. This is not what the Germans want to see.

Now, Hungary is also facing a Germany that is not in a position to support Hungary against Russia. He is potentially facing a Russia that will return to Hungary’s eastern border. He is also faced with a growing domestic right wing and a declining but vocal left. It is much like Horthy’s problem. Domestically, he has strong support and powerful institutions. He can exercise power domestically. But Hungary has only 9 million people, and external forces can easily overwhelm it. His room for maneuvering is limited.

I think Orban anticipated this as he saw the European Union flounder earlier in the decade. He saw the fragmentation and the rise of bitterness on all sides. He constructed a regime that appalled the left, which thought that without Orban, it would all return to the way it was before, rather than realizing that it might open the door to the further right. He constructed a regime that would limit the right’s sense of exclusion without giving it real power.

Russia’s re-emergence followed from this. Here, Orban has no neat solution. Even if Hungary were to join a Polish-Romanian alliance, he would have no confidence that this could block Russian power. For that to happen, a major power must lend its support. With Germany out of the game, that leaves the United States. But if the United States enters the fray, it will not happen soon, and it will be even later before its role is decisive. Therefore he must be flexible. And the more international flexibility he must show, the more internal pressures there will be.

For Horthy, the international pressure finally overwhelmed him, and the German occupation led to a catastrophe that unleashed the right, devastated the Jews and led to a Russian invasion and occupation that lasted half a century. But how many lives did Horthy save by collaborating with Germany? He bought time, if nothing else.

Hungarian history is marked by heroic disasters. The liberal revolutions that failed across Europe in 1848 and failed in Hungary in 1956 were glorious and pointless. Horthy was unwilling to make pointless gestures. The international situation at the moment is far from defined, and the threat to Hungary is unclear, but Orban clearly has no desire to make heroic gestures. Internally he is increasing his power constantly, and that gives him freedom to act internationally. But the one thing he will not grant is clarity. Clarity ties you down, and Hungary has learned to keep its options open.

Orban isn’t Horthy by any means, but their situations are similar. Hungary is a country of enormous cultivation and fury. It is surrounded by disappointments that can become dangers. Europe is not what it promised it would be. Russia is not what Europeans expected it to be. Within and without the country, the best Orban can do is balance, and those who balance survive but are frequently reviled. What Hungary could be in 2005 is not the Hungary it can be today. Any Hungarian leader who wished to avoid disaster would have to face this. Indeed, Europeans across the continent are facing the fact that the world they expected to live in is gone and what has replaced it, inside and outside of their countries, is different and dangerous.

by George Friedman, the Chairman of Stratfor.  The full article can be read here.

 

I don’t agree with everything Friedman writes but certainly it’s a very interesting analysis on Hungary’s situation.

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No congratulation from a non-democracy

The so-called leftist (postcommunist), left-liberal media has been discussing (well the best word is really “voluptuously”) that President Obama did not congratulate Prime Minister Orbán for his recent re-election in  the second landslide electoral victory of Fidesz.  Obama joined the leaders of the five-party postcommunist coalition “Kormányváltók” (Government Changers) in their political indecency  who defiantly refused to offer the basic political courtesy of congratulating Mr. Orbán for his re-election (and acknowledging the will of the Hungarian people this way).   That’s something unprecedented even in the history of Hungary’s political cold war which has been going on since 1990.  (Well,  to tell the truth,  Vice President Joe Biden finally called Orbán on Saturday, and besides discussing the Ukrainian situation, he allegedly also congratulated PM Orbán).

Last week the US Embassy in Budapest issued a statement and  intervened in Hungary’s internal affairs this way:

As a fellow democracy, we continue to urge the government to seek an honest, open, and factual assessment of the Holocaust in Hungary

They made this statement because a few  dozens of  left-liberal/Jewish demonstrators had been dismantling the scaffolds, on a daily basis, for a monument which is meant to commemorate all the victims of Hungary’s military occupation by Nazi Germany in 1944.  (And the only thing the police did was recording the events!)

 

 

Hysterical demonstrators repeatedly dismantling the scaffolds for a monument which aims to commemorate all the victims of Hungary’s military occupation by Nazi Germany

 

All right,I think the explanation for the statement can be  found quite easily on this page which describes the biography of  the  US EmbassyChargé d’Affaires, a.i”:

Mr. Goodfriend was born in California and raised in Arizona.  After receiving Bachelor’s degrees in Philosophy, Classical Greek, French and Radio-Television from the University of Arizona, he completed Master’s studies in Communication at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, followed by doctoral research in London on governmental use of new media.
Mr. Goodfriend has studied Hungarian, Hebrew, French, Russian, Greek (classical and modern), Spanish, Hindi, Arabic and Yiddish.

However let’s focus only on the phrase “fellow democracy” in the statement Mr. Goodfriend produced.

Let me ask the question if the USA is a “fellow democracy” indeed?  I think, at least together with the 45% of active voters who voted Fidesz, that Hungary is a democracy.   It’s evident that Obama did not congratulate Orbán because the global media attacks labelling Hungary “the EU’s only dictatorship” have been successful enough so he might disagree with us.   We can live with that.

So let’s put the question of Hungary’s being a democracy or dictatorship, or the question of the US being our fellow or not, aside for now and let’s pose the question if the US itself is a democracy.  Well, it’s an old triteness that “the US is dominated by a rich and powerful elite.”    It’s really more interesting when this statement  is actually proven by top US university  professors:

Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organised groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on US government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence.

What this means in plain English is that “the wealthy few move policy, while the average American has little power.”  Is that called a democracy?  Nope, not really.  That’s called an oligarchy.   FYI Ukraine and Russia are also oligarchies.

 

 

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Europe, freedom and Russia

Europe has been unable to swallow the fact that Russia is not organized and run as European democracies are. The prime European value is freedom  but the question in Russia how to keep such a huge country together is one that will always supersede European values. This has to be taken into consideration and  we should try to manage our relations well, in the spirit of international law, rather than trying  to  lecture them constantly and then losing the opportunity to cooperate with them.

said prime minister Viktor Orbán about Russia in an interview given to the right-wing weekly Demokrata.

Clash of Civilizations

I would add that really the same goes for China, too.   I thought it would be an interesting debate to discuss if “freedom”, as it is meant in the Western civilization, is applicable everywhere or if this approach should be considered “pragmatics” or “opportunism”…   Then I realized  this would be essentially a “The end of history and the last man”  vs.  “Clash of civilizations”  debate.  (In a nutshell, Francis Fukuyama proclaimed that “Western liberal democracies mean the end of history” and eventually the whole Earth will live in such political systems. On the other hand Samuel Huttington predicted a perpetual conflict  fought by  the “incompatible” civilizations shown on the map)

Let me note then when the Western phrase “massive human rights abuses in Russia”  often means  “Russia has passed laws and policies to repress  LGBT citizens”  then I’m not particularly convinced who is on the “right side of history”.  Ah, yes,  that refers to the “US State Department’s 2013 report on human rights” you can read about here.

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Orbán on Hungary’s interests

Applying economic sanctions against Russia is not in Europe’s interests and especially not in the interests of Hungary.

said Prime Minister Orbán in an interview given to a Hungarian business newspaper.

One of the gas storage facilities Hungary bought back from EON

Answering a question about the possible role of US shale gas in supplying Europe, he also added

It’s in the best interests of Hungary to be able to buy natural gas whoever she wants to buy from. We have been able to buy only Russian gas so far even if that gas came from Austria.  As of this Thursday, we have access to Northern European gas, too, since Hungary has been connected to  Slovakia’s gas pipelines.  This is the very first time in history that if we don’t want to buy Russian gas for economic or other reasons then we can do so. This is an important step in the direction of achieving energy independence.  Our goal is clear: we have bought  the gas storage facilities to this end, too.  (Note: These facilities were sold in 2006 by the “left liberal” Gyurcsány government to the Germany multinational company EON.)

 

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New borders in Europe?

Nobody should seek to draw new borders on the map of Europe in the 21st century.

NATO General Secretary and Chief Hypocrite Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in an interview given to a German newspaper.  (“Auf der Karte Europas im 21. Jahrhundert sollte niemand versuchen, neue Grenzen zu ziehen.”)

Apparently if  that nobody is NATO (USA) then you may still create a new country (Kosovo) from an existing one (Serbia), even with bombs.

Let me translate from Rasmussenian into Latin instead of “plain English”: Quod licet Iovi non licet bovi.

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