The unique style of political debate in Hungary was already given ample space on this blog in last week’s post about pro-government journalist Zsolt Bayer’s television show. Continuing what might end up an entire series, this post introduces another talk show, which, just like Bayer’s show, is also a regularly scheduled program on Echo Television.
The owner of Echo Television, Gábor Széles, was one of the main organizers of the January 21 pro-government Békemenet (Peace March). He teamed up in organizing the event with Bayer and another journalist, András Bencsik, who leads Demokrata Kör (Democratic Circle, or A Circle of Democrats), the show to be introduced below.
Within days after the airing of Bayer’s show on the same topic, Bencsik and his discussion partners also weighed in on the European Parliament’s February 9 hearing on Hungary. Though the following excerpt is curiously short on actual details – notice that not once does the content of the hearing in the European Parliament become part of the discussion – it makes up for it by being informative in another respect. The Peace March featured 400,000 marching behind a banner with the words “We Will Not Be a Colony.” The discussants on Bencsik’s show take up this theme again, providing further clarification not only on what such a demand might entail, but also on the kind of political culture in which this statement is widely popular.
Besides Bencsik, the 30-minute television show featured Imre Kerényi (the Hungarian government’s commissioner for government art, see e.g. here), Ádám Pozsonyi and Zsuzsa Hernádi. The show can be found at this link:
http://www.echotv.hu/videotar.html?mm_id=148&v_id=12156 (segment starts at 6:40).
For those not familiar with what took place during the hearing: reports of what happened at the hearing could be found for example here, here, or here. The transcript of the show was prepared in collaboration with Puszta Ranger.
AB: We do have friends, thank god, though not everyone, because this – we were debating among ourselves [how to pronounce it] – this lady by the name of Nellie Krőz, Kroz or Kruz, she did not appear to be our friend in the Brussels commission.
IK: Let’s just call her Auntie Nellie, no? Auntie Nellie, or Nellie.
AB: Auntie Nellie is not our friend.
IK: But she was likeable.
AB: Really? You liked her?
IK: My feeling was that from one utterance to another there was more and more hatred dripping out of her. And I don’t get this. How can such a well-prepared politician woman afford this? Because she is Dutch? Is that a superior race? Or because she is the European Commissioner? Well, the day after tomorrow Navracsics [Hungary's deputy prime minister] could be European Commissioner. Or Szájer [Hungarian member of the European Parliament] could be European Commissioner. They could switch places, [so] how could she afford it?
ZsP: Perhaps she can do it because she’s on the left and a liberal. Is that a higher form of life?
IK: It is likely that that’s what’s going on.
AB: Or she thinks that.
IK: But what is really interesting is that her face, because the camera is a clever thing, the camera shows this, there were such emotions displayed on her face – this is not meant as reading anything into it – from one minute to another it got tighter and uglier. This poor Nellie just got uglier and uglier.
ZsP: Did she become an Ágnes Heller [philosopher, who also testified before the EP on previous occasions]?
IK: Yes, she went Ágnes Heller, that’s precisely it. And she started giving orders, and I’m very happy that Mr. Deputy Prime Minister Navracsics said that we will agree with everything, what my oath, what is not against my oath, and what isn’t against the spirit of the Hungarian constitution, If, on this point, Mr. Navracsics acquiesces, then that would have done wrong to Hungarian dignity, as well as to the state of my psyche.
AB: It was stunning. To me, the sentence that was stunning is that when they come out of a face-to-face meeting, and they are saying, of course, what they are saying, and then this is what this woman says, that well Mr. Navracsics, you didn’t say to me the same thing face-to-face that you’re saying now. It is utterly evident that when the two of them sit down, then [there is a] private person and [a] public person. It is possible for one to say over coffee: well, you know, the truth is that, well, I’m not sure whether this is how I would have done it, but oh well, it doesn’t matter, now this is the situation. But when she is before the public, then she must speak with the discipline deriving from her office. And this woman… well, this was some gossiping lacking any standard!
IK: This is colonizing behavior.
AB: Yes. To humiliate.
IK: It is colonizing behavior to humiliate the opponent, colonizers have been doing it since Byzantium. What kind of colonizers have we had? There was Byzantium, the German-Roman Empire, the Turkish world-empire, the Habsburg Empire, Hitler’s Third Reich, the Soviet Union, and now there is the EU. And they all want the same thing. Great powers always want to colonize small people, and the indigenous to be colonized must be humiliated, this is the technology. Now Chancellor Metternich [of the Habsburg Empire in 1848] says: don’t you pass any domestic policies, I’ll help you. And Ambassador Antropov [of the Soviet Union in 1956] says: don’t you pass any domestic policies, I’ll help you. And Auntie Nellie says, in the European Union, don’t you pass laws, we’ll write it. Thank you very much, we don’t want this.
ZsP: I think that the Dutch, and I don’t mean to offend them, just on occasion of [mention of] the lady, they shouldn’t be so high and mighty. Because they humiliate themselves, precisely through their own liberalism. According to my informations, one half of Dutch towns are already Muslim, so in effect they are going to be at the brink of disappearing in ten to twenty years.
IK: What I heard is that a politician was murdered in the Netherlands in broad daylight on the street.
AB: Pym Fortuyn. You heard this correctly.
IK: This did not happen in Hungary, but in the Netherlands, where Nellie Kroes is the ace of trumps.
AB: Auntie Nellie.
IK: Auntie Nellie.