Hungary PM Orbán’s scandalous statements at a Forum of Hungarian business leaders

After getting harsh critcism from the leadership of VOSZ (Vállalkozók és Munkáltatók Országos Szövetsége = National Association of Entrepreneurs and Employers) on the “unorthodox” economic policies, prime minister Viktor Orbán made a spech, which became the headline of the week. In Central Europe a new economic system must be built “and let us hope that God will help us and we will not have to invent a new type of political system instead of democracy that would need to be introduced for the sake of economic survival.” Quite a clear admission that Orbán has been thinking of the possibility of governing by decree. As his political opponents said, this is one of the few honest words he has spoken of late. He again repeated what we can hear constantly: that Western Europe is in decline while Central and Eastern Europe is on the rise. He did admit that 90% of the current investments come from European Union subsidies: “There is no Hungarian money for development.” As for the negotiations with the IMF-EU delegation, “one needs cold logic, patience and calmness.” He is glad that “the IMF was not here in the last two years because then the government couldn’t have introduced certain elements of its economic policy.” According to him, if there had been an agreement with the IMF in 2010 the country would have saved 100 billion forints on its sovereign debt but the government couldn’t have received 200 billion forints yearly from extra levies on certain sectors of the economy. Moreover, they couldn’t have taken away the savings of the private pension funds. That’s why critics of the Orbán government claim that it is the IMF and the European Union that will safeguard the interests of the Hungarian people against their own government. Orbán repeated that foreign banks that do business in Hungary are reluctant to extend credit because they remain in dire financial straits. The truth is not so simple. The “mother banks” had to allocate extra capital to their affiliates in Hungary because of the enormous taxes the Orbán government levied on them. The Hungarian affiliates are not profitable.  “Cooperation is a question of force, not of intention. Perhaps there are countries where things don’t work that way, for example in the Scandinavian countries, but such a half-Asiatic rag-tag people as we are can unite only if there is force.”

In Mandiner, a right-of-centre site whose young authors are becoming increasingly critical of the government, editor Gellért Rajcsányi warns that Hungarians have never had an Asian-type hierarchical society and the history of Hungarian statehood is a history of checks and balances and national liberation movements. 2010 could have been the year of the compromise between central power and self-organizing civil society, he remarks bitterly. Instead, he asks whether the poet György Faludy’s adage about Communist party Chief János Kádár might apply to Orbán: Kádár pushed Hungary over into Asia, Faludy said. Will Orbán do the same? – asks the blogger.
The pro-government press has omitted the controversial passages from the Prime Minister’s speech, which is interpreted as a sign that they did not express official government policy. In Népszabadság, Péter Pető notes that even the editors of, the Fidesz homepage, omitted the sentence with the reference to semi-Asians, and concludes that even the „orange media pack” find it wise to remain silent about the Prime Minister’s “berserk rhetoric”. He assumes that Orbán’s prepared text did not include such references, so it was an “honest-to-boot” Orbán who voiced these opinions concerning democracy. He interprets parts of the speech, touching on the public employment scheme, as a vision of Hungary being turned into a large “labour camp.”  It is hard to decide whether to laugh at or fear Orbán’s words, but they are signs of his increasingly messianic streak, which might turn him into another curiosity of the political amusement park – he concludes.

The best answer to this unspeakable statement came from Gergely Karácsony of LMP: “The prime minister should know very well that Hungary in the last one thousand years, ever since the reign of Saint Stephen, has been part of Europe.” Admittedly, like every other nation, Hungarians also made mistakes. For example, when “they gave political power to an Asiatic-style despot.”


Last Updated on Friday, 30 August 2013 09:11