The following are excerpts from a broadcast seen on a government-friendly television station in Hungary on February 10, 2012. “Korrektúra” (Editing Proof) provides political commentary during its regularly scheduled 30-minute slot on Echo TV. Last week, the show’s three panelists discussed the hearing held by the European Parliament on the state of civil rights and democratic values in Hungary.
ZsB: I would say that there is no need to take the whole thing seriously, but naturally one has to take it very seriously, because it matters quite a lot, and because a lot depends on it. On the other hand, the clip we just saw did not reveal the nuances: how many things were said and in what tone, by the way, about Hungary during this day of debate yesterday.
Just to mention, by way of creating good mood, a trifle: some green party, otherwise Austrian, Ulrike Lunacek for example thought it appropriate to say that at the Peace March there were very strong anti-semitic slogans and these were carried on the placards.
Now, there was no such thing. Period. And we could stop right there, but…
BLB: Because if there were any, we would have seen pictures of it, and the international press would be all over them.
ZsB: Naturally. But along comes a deranged, impetiginous, lying idiot, Ulrike Lunacek, and she tells…
BLB: and you put that quite mildly.
ZsB: I am putting it very mildly, and she tells this to the European Parliament, and it swells on, like a woman, like a cumulus cloud, and next the papers are going to write about it, and it will become a fact. While the whole thing is one rotten filthy lie, from the mouth of a rotten piece of dirt. But all the rest of them were like that … but what one can do about it?
LP: Well I always ask if its possible to sue, because…
LP: After all, there is such a thing as the law. We always make avowals to the rule of law. And in the European Parliament, at the European Commission, and during hearings like this, they always make references to lawfulness and the rule of law. Then I ask this: there are principles of the law going back several hundred years, according to which if somebody lies, and does so moreover before the greater public, then that’s called libel, or defamation of character, and then the courts usually act on it. Here is this Lunacek-named, Austrian-green lady, to put it in very gentle terms…
ZsB: (laughing) You put that in such forceful terms, compared to me!
LP: I am trying to stay restrained.
BLB: Was “green” the problem?
ZsB: Yes, “green” was the problem.
LP: So this woman-person. This persona. Who lies. Let’s sue her.
ZsB: There’s something to it. This woman could be sued. No, let her show us one damn photo, of a placard with an anti-semitic slogan. Just one. [...]
On the Interactions between Tibor Navracsics and Neelie Kroes
BLB: Tibor Navracsics stated that the modifications [of the laws critiqued by the EC] will get neatly written up, they will be sent to the European Council, then they [the Hungarian government] will wait for the opinion of the European Council and only afterwards will they put it before [parliament] or only afterwards will they enact the modifications. Now this, even if it will go like that, and let’s suppose that they will try to comply with the various recommendations and opinions of the European Council, then here is what we have discussed before, whether this decreases or limit’s Hungary’s sovereignty or not. This means that the European Council makes Hungary write certain laws. And from this point on, Hungarian independence, Hungarian sovereignty and decision-making is no longer independent, but depends, as the case might be, on the European Council. And this is what they wanted to achieve.
ZsB: But, just to continue with this, about just who they think they are: yesterday there was this bout between Neelie Kroes and Navracsics, because Neelie Kroes desired to force something no other on the deputy prime minister of the otherwise allegedly independent Hungary than that he nod on some resolutions before even knowing what they contain.
LP: Before he could even read them.
ZsB: Of course. Neelie Kroes, in the name of democracy, sits there, this hapless idiot, and she thinks she can do this.
LPP: And she can.
ZsB: And how right you are, she can! [...]
ZsB: … yesterday again x number of people watched the live broadcast [of the hearing], and everybody who is an independent or who is a voter of Fidesz [the governing party in Hungary] was throwing up blood, raving with frenzy and pulling their hair out. And yet again they were confirmed in that abroad some entirely idiotic and deranged, lying and impetiginous company is harming this country. If this is what they want, they should go ahead!
LP: Yes, and what is terrible is that this only plays into the hands of the euro-skeptics. So they are saying, the euro-skeptics, that we told you so before joining that this was going to lead to trouble, that we are going to lose our sovereignty, that we are going to lose our independence, that Europe will bluster into everything. And unfortunately me, who is not an euro-skeptic not even to this day, slowly, very slowly, I do come to see that there was a lot of truth to the predictions augured by the euro-skeptics before our joining [the EU].
ZsB: And by the way more and more people voice this view more and more frequently and more and more harshly. By the way. Over there, in the West.
BLB: But then there is basis for it, so feel free to be a euro-skeptic in my opinion, Laci [LP], because now there is reason to be, now we can all see it … What is stunning for me in this debate is that no longer are the Daniel Cohn-Bendit types the only ones to be frenetic. A Commissioner stood there and spoke stupid things – in quite general terms, let’s add, I would say about 70% to 30% was the proportion of generalities as opposed to her concrete stuff. This is… this is not the EP, so we can’t say that the beastly left-liberals, instigated by those who happen to be carping right now in Hungary [are doing this]. No, one of the members of the European Union’s Commission spoke out against Hungary, or in relation to Hungary, and this is really the EU, because up until now we were able to say that it is only the EP.
ZsB: However, we should always point out, at least for ourselves, that Europe and the European Union is not one and the same thing. Europe has, after all, or at least I hope it has, some kind of an ethos. The Union has nothing, the Union has a Daniel Cohn-Bendit, and a Neelie Kroes and what’s the name of this little green? One can’t even remember this name forever. An Ulrike Lumacek [Lunacek] is what it has, this is the European Union. [...]
Western Conspiracy against Orbán
BLB: Regarding the final outcome, let’s suppose we fulfill all their needs … if we make true everybody’s wishes, we modify the laws the way they would like, even after that, this will never end. For long years afterwards they are going to keep looking. There, there’s that ugly evil Viktor Orbán, that little dictator in Hungary, and what did he do again?
ZsB: I will tell when it will, when it would, end. If, just like in Greece and Italy, the IMF and Goldman Sachs could appoint a new prime minister.
ZsB: That’s when it would end. But they can’t make that happen, because there is a two-third [majority behind the Hungarian government] here. That’s why they are raving mad, that’s why they are having a nervous breakdown. And from here on, by the way, let’s really put this whole thing in parentheses.
The television show was broadcast on Echo TV, a Hungarian television station operated in close alliance with Magyar Hírlap, one of the main propaganda outlets of the Hungarian government. The three discussants of the show are Zsolt Bayer, a publicist of Magyar Hírlap, documentary film-maker László Pesty, and Bánk Levente Boros, a professor of political science at Corvinus University in Budapest.
Zsolt Bayer is also known as one of the main organizers of the January 21 pro-government “Peace March” (another organizer of the event was the owner of Echo TV, the station on which the program was broadcast). Bayer is a personal friend of prime minister Viktor Orbán; as one of the founding members of the party, he in fact maintains close friendships with the entire political elite of the governing party. He is also a protagonist of many scandals involving highly offensive anti-semitic and racist claims.
László Pesty is best known for his documentary about the violent clashes between Hungarian rioters and the police in 2006. Political scientist Bánk Levente Boros is one of very few public intellectuals in Hungary who, thanks to his openly racist remarks, is equally popular with the Hungarian government’s supporters and its extreme right opposition.
Hungarian-speakers can view the television show in its original at this link.
Links for fact-checking the claims made by the panelists - English-language summaries of what took place on February 9 at the European Parliament’s hearing on the Hungarian situation:
The following link has the full recording of the hearing: http://news.bbc.co.uk/democracylive/hi/europe/newsid_9693000/9693944.stm
The AP’s report: “EU Commissioner Kroes criticizes Hungarian laws as affecting democracy, media independence” - http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/eu-commissioner-kroes-criticizes-hungarian-media-laws-saying-they-promote-self-censorship/2012/02/09/gIQAgomD1Q_story.html
On the dispute that ensued between deputy prime minister Navracsics and Neelie Kroes during the hearing (which regarded not blind and immediate agreement to “some resolutions,” but whether Mr. Navracsics was telling the same thing to the committee that it told Ms. Kroes during their meeting): http://euobserver.com/9/115209
On the substance of Ms. Kroes’ concerns: her prepared remarks about why the EU Commissioner is concerned about media freedoms and civil rights in Hungary: http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=SPEECH%2F12%2F80&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en
Details of the mandates the European Union requires of the Hungarian government: http://www.egovmonitor.com/node/46571
Special thanks to Puszta Ranger for bringing this week’s discussions on Zsolt Bayer’s television show to the attention of the international community on his excellent blog.
Bayer’s television show became the subject of discussion in the European Parliament. Ulrike Lunacek demanded an apology, news report of which can be found here. Her letter to Echo TV can be read – in Hungarian and German – on Puszta Ranger’s blog at this link. She quoted the Contrarian Hungarian blog in her memo to her fellow MEPs:
György Schöpflin, member of the European Parliament representing Hungary’s governing party Fidesz came to Bayer’s defense:
The comments about you made by the participants can certainly be categorised as impertinent and discourteous, but that is nothing more than the cut-and-thrust of debate that those in the public sphere have to live with. You are perfectly entitled to describe them as “outrageous”, but the definition of outrageous will always be subjective.
There was only one point where you might have a claim for defamation, where the participants accused you of falsehood, viz. that you claimed that there had been anti-Semitic posters held up during the pro-government demonstration on the 21 January. If you can prove that such placards were, in fact, present, then the accusation made against you was untrue. Given your extensive sources in Hungary, I am sure that you will be able to produce this evidence in short order.
(for full text of the letter, see above link on Puszta Ranger)
To this day, we have been able to locate pictures documenting three placards with anti-semitic messages.
Bayer began his next show by an apology. “For the ugly adjectives, I make amends to representative Ulrike Lunacek, while I do maintain my opinion and statement that to bring the participants of the January 21 Peace March in any way in connection with anti-semitism was an unacceptable and vile lie.”