Fortunately we did not have to wait too long for a thoughtful assessment of Hungary’s EU-presidency from Hungary itself. It came from no other than Viktor Orbán, Hungary’s prime minister. He of course proved himself worthy of the mounting expectations. As usual, his selection of language was absolutely fitting to discussing the diplomatic affairs of his country, and his well-known sense of measure prevented him from any trace of grandiosity. He in fact was modest enough to cast it as a deal no bigger than playground bullying.
No one can sum up how much Hungary has managed to give to Europe over the last half year better than Viktor Orbán:
“We took care of the work. In no case could the weight of the problem, pessimism, lack of confidence or the skepticism of others make us waver. We pushed back against the attacks. We gave the rambunctious hasslers of the European Parliament a few bops, boxed a number of ears, and handed out friendly hits on some napes [Orban makes a hesitant sweep with his hand in front of him, as if demonstrating the hit on the nape – ovation from the crowd] …
Hungary was faced with a multitude of problems of gigantic size – and it did not back off but carried on with her work instead. The government did not offer theoretical prescriptions, rather, with its renewal of its own country, it set a pragmatic, tangible and working example for Europe. With the same conception that led us to renew Hungary, we formulated two simple and sober pieces of advice for Europe. First, let’s dare to be ourselves, and second, let’s not allow others to dictate us what to do.”
Making respectful note of the fact that it was the EU that had the problem of handling Hungary’s infantilism when it comes to understanding both the notion of democracy and the idea of the European Union – and the reference to a “rambunctious” little child is not at all off on this occasion, saying nothing of this child’s stubbornness, especially when it comes to its media law, its new constitution, and its government’s intentional disregard for human rights and for protecting its minorities from abuse – the European Union would nevertheless like to say thank you to Hungary.
Thank you, Hungary. The European Union would have never been able to “dare to be itself” without your hits on the napes, the boxing of the ears, and the bops by which you put an end to the rambunctiousness of our entire community.
We note your productive participation in resolving the gravest problems of the day, because it is without the slightest shadow of doubt that we saw you at the forefront of the EU’s agenda: your conflict with the IMF made you instrumental in the handling of the Greek crisis, your new constitution associates you closer to Kaddhafi than with NATO, and the fact that you stand by idly while neo-nazi thugs roam the streets of your villages with deadly weapons also does not worry us – at all. What we appreciated throughout your six months of EU presidency is your tact. We know that not once did we have to express our sense of disappointment in your political developments, and that every time we did in fact do so, you managed to subvert our sane and well-meant warnings into dreams of a playground brawl in which the Hungarian kids always manage to beat up their European visitors.
So, we are going to skip mention of why we had to disinvite you from our conferences, though we do cherish fond memories of the day on which your prime minister, Viktor Orbán paid a visit to the European Parliament in Strasbourg. Instead of being boxed in the ear, he was given a taste of what it takes to become a political pariah on his own continent.
Incidentally, referring to the international co-operation you were supposed to secure for the EU as “dictating what to do” to the member countries truly underscores your penetrating grasp of the nature of the EU president’s job.
The quote from Mr. Orbán is an excerpt from a speech given on July 2, only 2 days after Hungary’s EU presidency had lapsed, to 1472 delegates of the party convention of Fidesz, Hungary’s governing party.
More on this blog on Hungary’s EU presidency: https://thecontrarianhungarian.wordpress.com/2011/05/30/hogy-volt-obamas-visit-to-warsaw/