February 6th, 2012

American Hungarian Federation slams “unmerited criticism directed at Hungary”

The American Hungarian Federation issued a statement on Saturday “occasioned by the recent avalanche of unmerited criticism directed at Hungary that appears to be motivated and inspired by politics.”

The Federation wrote that it is “an independent, non-partisan entity representing a broad cross-section of the Hungarian American community. From its founding, the Federation has supported constitutional democracy, human and minority rights and the rule of law …”

The Federation said opposition forces were waging “a political campaign to negate the voting public’s clear and overwhelming choice of [the centre-right]government in the 2010 internationally recognized free and fair elections.”

“The Federation’s concern is not with the legitimate political debate surrounding any changes to the constitution but rather with the insinuations that the process itself was somehow not democratic,” its statement said.

“[H]ungarians of whatever political persuasion should feel some unease over the damaging image of the nation as a whole being projected to the world by its irresponsible detractors,” it added. “That is why the Federation urges and calls for objectivity and evenhandedness bereft of partisan politics when judgments are made about the state of democracy in Hungary and the region,” the statement said.

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  • American in Budapest

    Hogwash.

  • Anonymous

    “[H]ungarians of whatever political persuasion should feel some unease over the damaging image of the nation as a whole being projected to the world by its irresponsible detractors,”

    The damaging image is certainly real…and caused by this irresponsible Government.
    Also VO does not clearly speak out against Jobbik recent insane (Hungary’s far-right: Jews not welcome here) statements…he let others to do that part (Foreign Ministrry??)and does not clearly communicate the wish to play a constructive role in the EU. These are the reasons for the very negative publicity Hungary gets nowadays.Nothing else. “Don’t shoot the messenger”

  • Dutchman/Hungarian in Budapest

    I second that. Hogwash.

  • Paul

    Qoute: Monday 6 februari..The Telegraph:
    Hungary faces ruin as EU loses patience

    The European Commission has launched legal action against Hungary’s Fidesz government for violations of European Union treaty law and erosion of democracy, marking a dramatic escalation in the war of words with the EU’s enfant terrible.
    Hungary’s defiant premier Viktor Orbán has no hope of securing vital funding from the EU and the International Monetary Fund until the dispute is resolved, leaving him a stark choice of either bowing to EU demands or letting his country slide into bankruptcy.

    Yep…all this is unmerited criticism, let’s not blame this Government…let’s shoot the messenger.
    By the way….in any other nation within

    • Paul

      the EU…the prime minister would right away react on statements like these (Hungary’s far-right: Jews not welcome here) not the foreign ministry.

  • MagyarViking

    The Federation wrote that it is “an independent, non-partisan entity representing a broad cross-section of the Hungarian American community

    The Federation said opposition forces were waging “a political campaign to negate the voting public’s clear and overwhelming choice of [the centre-right]government in the 2010 internationally recognized free and fair elections.”

    So, are we an “an independent, non-partisan entity“ or not?

    Did they ever protest what Fidesz did after the 2006 year elections, when massing a lot of people on the streets on Budapest, trying to negate the outcome of the 2006 year “internationally recognized free and fair elections”?

  • Yep

    It’s hogwash OK.

  • Stevan Harnad

    MAGYAR MANICHEANISM

    Yes, the current government of Hungary was democratically elected with a two-thirds majority. It then used that two-thirds majority to steadily and systematically erode democracy in Hungary and entrench its power with a new Constitution and autocratic measures that only a two-thirds majority in the other direction will ever be able to undo.

    And, yes, the partisan politics in Hungary is appallingly polarized and vicious, but the current government is capitalizing on and stoking it shamelessly, by seeking revenge instead of reform, playing opportunistically on primitive populist and irredentist sentiments and slogans instead of acting honestly and constructively to solve Hungary’s mounting economic and social problems.

    The concerted effort by the Hungarian government, in Hungary and abroad, to put a defensive spin on its transparently offensive policies and practices has found a familiar echo in this shamefully biased cry of “bias” echoed by the American Hungarian Federation (AHF).

    The mounting worldwide criticism of Hungary’s government is not only far from being unfair and unmerited, but the strategy of portraying it as the result of Hungary’s being yet again victimized by villains, internal and external, will resonate only with the broad (but exclusively Hungarian) Manichean mentality of vendetta and vengeance (hinted at in the dark allusions to the former government’s prime minister in this AHF article) that the present Hungarian government is systematically cultivating at home and abroad, at the cost of Hungary’s present and future in the democratic world.

    • George Dunn

      Steven. It would be great to see a few real examples. I read lots of commentary that simply gets copied from one media outlet to the other. The EU is “charging” Hungary for something as simple as judge retirement age while the Slovaks pass discriminatory language laws, pass anti-Hungarian citizenship laws, Rumanians refuse to return confiscated synagogues and churches (the list goes on), yet no outrage. Is this the type of objectiveness you condone?

      I visited Hungary in 2011 with my family and we were appalled to see the filth on network television in front of my little girl. The old regime spent 50 years trying to build the socialist brotherhood of nations. This required a meek Hungary who had no memory or care for Hungarians across the borders, no care for its history, no pride, etc. They were WILDLY successful. They successfully blurred the lines between patriotism and nationalism and the left in Hungary still brands those that care for their past as nationalists, where these same people are patriots in the UK or US. Hungary has a LONG way to go to re-learn civil discourse, but that must start with individuals who also must demand accuracy and objectivity in the media.

      Any of us who believe in democracy know how important free press is. If there is any real harm being done in Hungary, we need to know. Simply saying democracy is at risk with no facts is demagoguery.

  • Géza

    it is amazing how blind you guys are!! If I read all this stuff, then it is clear all of you belong to the brainwashed majority!
    USA and EU are in service of democracy? Don’t make me laugh! Open your eyes people!

    • Andy

      Yeah, see, two wrongs don’t make a right. Some of us are able to discern the hypocrisy of both the US and that of smaller countries like Hungary.

  • wolfi

    Géza, what do you (and Fidesz) want ?

    Get money from the EU ? or

    Change the rules of the EU ? or

    Leave the EU (and NATO and …) ?

    Who’s going to decide this ?

  • Geza Cseri

    Those of you who say Hogwash and that violations of European Union treaty law and systemmatic erosion of democracy has occured are making broad brush statements.Give specific examples, chapter and verse. And because you cannot, you make irresponsible accusations and thus damaging the nation.
    To my knowledge, not one person’s civil rights have been violated, no one person was arrested for praticing his or her faith, not one media organ was threatened or shut down, not one columnist was refrained from publishing his/her writings.So what are you talking about?

    As to judges retirement age, that is parliament’s business. EU has no business to meddle in it.

  • Geza Cseri

    Cont.
    Or specified in the constitution

  • Free Hungarian Voice

    Geza, most of those judges are now in their 60’s. They are mostly communist era appointees that must go. We would now tolerate Nazi-era judges in post-war Germany would we?

    • MagyarViking

      But we tolerate that a “communist era” appointed Judge to be the only one who appoints new Judges and we let “communist era” politicians to appoint her…

  • Phil Hiems

    If you thought Jobbik and Miep were far-right nationalists, spend some time with Hungarian-American or Hungarian-Canadian organizations and read their newspapers! They make Gabor Vona look like Janos Kadar.

  • Geza Cseri

    How come Andy,Stevan,Yep, MagyarViking,Paul,Dutchman are you silent. Where are the examples of erosion of democracy? “Gentlemen” the facts only. Nothing but the facts and if you do not have any proof then SHUT UP.

    • MagyarViking

      Geza Cseri says:
      February 7, 2012 at 5:01 pm

      Where are the examples of erosion of democracy?

      I suggest you study the 2 of the points of infringement procedures that the EU-Commission started against Hungary. The 2 that are not related to financial and the Central Bank
      Those 2 are related to “erosion of democracy”
      That you do not agree does not count, because you are a cunt

  • George The Curious One

    From the AHF website:
    “AHF was established as an association of Hungarian societies, institutions and churches to “defend the interest of Americans of Hungarian origin in the United States. ……
    “AHF’s President ex-Officio, Stephen Varga, who doesn’t speak Hungarian states, “I dare anyone to find someone that feels more Hungarian than I do.” ”

    AHF is a disappointment, perpetuating the ever divisive BS ‘I am more Hungarian than you’. From what I have read here, their website & their occasional commentators, they are totally useless & irrelevant to Hungary’s development in a modern society.

    • George Dunn

      George took the Varga quote WAY out of context. Perhaps English isn’t his native tongue, but I found that section on the AHF website out of curiosity and see that they were making a point that the use of the Hungarian language is not the only barometer of ones Hungarian nationality. I guess they get attacked by right-wingers for speaking English. This has nothing to do with who is “more Hungarian”

      Again, if not a language issue, a good example of an agenda and lack of objectivity.

    • George The Curious One

      @George Dunn – I said they were propagating the “I am more Hungarian than you” mentality that already exists within Hungarian society.
      For all their bluster, they have been unable to identify a single problem within Hungary, or arising from Hungarian actions & decisions. Every single one of their posts here has always been about finding fault with others. If they can’t identify or understand the problem correctly, they aren’t likely to contribute to any solution.

      I’m beginning to think your claims of being an amateur historian of the region, are more amateurish than care to admit. Or perhaps, English isn’t your native language.

      • George Dunn

        How are they asserting that mentality??? I read it again. This so off topic, as usual, but the comment had to do with identity – they are going against what I have heard many times from Hungarians that insist that Hungarian identity is inseperable from the Hungarian language.

        As far as finding fault, again, I do not understand. An objective observer always waits to see outcomes, anticipates potential harm, and does not rely on “bluster” as fact. I too have seen little fact-based reporting. It hurts journalistic credibility.

        Rather, I see most of the criticism as purely political where, for example, some simply do not like the references to God and Christianity in the new Hungarian constitution which replaced an amended consitution from 1949 when Hungary was occupied.

        There are some in the US who protest the use of the word God in their pledge of allegiance or references to the “creator” in their founding documents.

        These are not “threats to democracy” in and of themselves since Americans are free not to recite any pledge. It is a mere acknowledement of a certain value system. Some would argue the communist era worked very hard to eliminate patriotism which, in Hungary, was closely related to a strong religious tradition. So, I understand the vehemance of some.

        As far as my amateurishness in the history of the region, one does not need expertise to see what is going on. I have asked on these forums on similar topics many times for a few concrete example of threats to democracy, yet no one can provide.

        I also recall a statement in 2006, I think by the AHF ironically, calling for independent investigation of the police beatings in Budapest of marchers. Those videos are quite disturbing, yet many Hungarians have seemed to become so accustomed to bludgeoning, that there was hardly an outcry – and especially none from the Western powers. Americans were in a tizzy over the police beating a known criminal after he tried to evade them putting others at risk. Quite a different reaction. Mr. Gyurcsany played his cards very well in sending troops to please Mr. Bush.

        • MagyarViking

          George Dunn says:
          February 10, 2012 at 8:28 pm

          I also recall a statement in 2006, I think by the AHF ironically, calling for independent investigation of the police beatings in Budapest of marchers

          But is not that type of outside criticism, that shows a disrespect for Hungarian Democracy and its institutions, harming the image of Hungary abroad, as a Democratic Country, ruled by people who were elected in free and fair elections?

          Where is the *principle* in this?

          • George Dunn

            MagyarViking – are you REALLY comparing the horrific police brutality of 2006 with lawmaking and political actions which are going thorugh a peaceful democratic process? REALLY? So, help me understand your point: Police beatings using illegal vipera weapons and rubber-bullet shootings of old people is OK, but referring to God in a Constitution or changing retirement age for judges is an attack of democracy… Then calling for investigation of violations of human rights is wrong. Fascinating.

            It is amazing what some people are willing to accept as normal in a post-communist country. More sobering is how well the communists tore down basic values in Hungary. Hungary is upside down… sad, truly sad, to see such a great nation filled a valueless citizenry lacking pride in who they are and a vision for where they are going.

          • MagyarViking

            George Dunn says:
            February 16, 2012 at 4:35 am

            are you REALLY comparing the horrific police brutality of 2006 with lawmaking and political actions which are going thorugh a peaceful democratic process?

            No, but many people are comparing these events, by stating that one event warrants external criticism and another does not and is by some people an example on ‘treason’
            And exactly that was my point

      • George The Curious One

        I didn’t comment on the issue of democracy or religion in my post.
        From your comments, I’m beginning to think that you either:
        a. don’t understand what you read.
        b. are ignorant of some of the underlying characteristics Hungarian society.
        c. or, are posting with a particular political agenda.

        The AHF appears to contribute little and are irrelevant to making a real difference within Hungary. Rather than listening to their political statements, usually directing blame on one specific political party or on Hungary’s neighbors, I’d like to see them mobilize their resources to proactively address & facilitate solutions to reduce corruption, anti-semitism, exclusion of Roma from Hungarian society, falling education standards, and a move away from fatalism (& towards a greater acceptance of personal responsibility).

        • George Dunn

          Interesting commentary. I read more of the AHF site and see they are trying to do much of what you say. They are all volunteer, but managed to raise over $200,000 USD to help flood and toxic sludge victims, buy seeds for Hungarian farmers to help rebuild, help re-establish farm cooperatives, and encourage volunteerism in Hungary. They raised issues of anti-semitism, raise minority rights issues, and support scholarships. Sure, any one organization has limited impact… it takes more than one. What are you doing?

  • olga

    @ Phil Hiems

    George is not the only curious one on this website – I am pressed for time but wanted to read what a Canadian_Hungarian Newspaper (Kanadai Magyar Hirlap) re Vona

    It will take me ages to actually read the article but here is one sentence that makes things rather clear – you don’t have to speak Hungarian to figure out :))

    “Zazrivecz-Vona Gábor a neonáci Jobbik Magyarországért Mozgalom” – :))

    • Phil Hiems

      I typed in the wrong place. See my response below.

  • Phil Hiems

    @olga: I stand corrected. I’ve had some particularly unpleasant interactions with incredibly antisemitic and anti-gypsy Hungarians in North America. I also remember seeing an newspaper issue once when Morvai Krisztina was being brought in to speak, and didn’t read much further. Thanks for pointing out my error. I’m glad to know I was wrong.

  • George Dunn

    As a independent bystander, I must say I agree with Geza. “Where is the beef” as they say in America. There has been a lot negative and what I see as irresponsible coverage with little to no concrete evidence of the wild charges. I really would like to see some evidence of actual harm.

    I interpret the AHF statement a little differently and tend to agree with it. It is focused on Hungary’s image and not on political party and calls for some REAL analysis. I have not seen any. While I disagree with the Fidesz governmment’s approach, some of the criticism seems exaggerated and politically motivated like FOX news. We see that in some of these comments.

    I also don’t see how the lack of concrete details and objective discussion helps democracy.

    I see some of this lack of ability to discuss objectively in these comments. How is AHF’s statement biased? They are calling for an objective analysis. Is a call for objective analysis the equivalent of bias??? Really?

    Some seem upset that Fidesz is sweeping with a “new broom.” We should all keep in mind that after WWII, while there was (and still is) extensive de-Nazification (rightfully so), there was no de-Communization in Central and Eastern Europe.

    MagyarViking refers to the European Commission’s “charges” – these are the great “infringment of democracy”? Really? If Hungary’s DEMOCRATICALLY elected government wants to lower the retirement age of judges (whether former communists or not) isn’t that its right? If the US wants to have term limits for Congress, shouldn’t the elected representatives of the people have the right to do so? If Great Britain wants to close pubs at lunch time, isn’t that its right? It did it, and I didn’t like it, but Thatcher is now gone.

    Why can’t we wait for the findings or Hungary’s reaction before making wild accusations?

    • MagyarViking

      George Dunn says:
      February 9, 2012 at 11:04 pm

      MagyarViking refers to the European Commission’s “charges” – these are the great “infringment of democracy”?

      Fidesz has agreed to modify these laws after this criticism. Now everyone is waiting to see if the changes will be enough, or not

      Next step, maybe a year later, will be to criticise Fidesz dismal performance in implementing these new laws, exactly what is happening with the Fidesz Media Law now
      First we speak about the letter of the Law, then we speak about the implementation/performance of the Law

      And now the implementation of the Fidesz Media Law is heating up, so that will drag on for the rest of this year, with no letting Fidesz off the hook

      • George Dunn

        We have the same issues in my country. But see, while dictatorship is intransigent, democracy is flexible, it allows for change as you are seeing. THIS is why such baseless attacks and claims of “democracy at risk” do nothing but hurt Hungary. Constructive criticisms, based on facts, brings positive change.

        • MagyarViking

          George Dunn says:
          February 10, 2012 at 8:41 pm

          Constructive criticisms, based on facts, brings positive change

          Can you give an example of that happening in Hungary the last years?
          How has Fidesz been interested in a dialogue with anyone, given that Fidesz has its own majority and no reason to compromise?

          And please explain how criticism against Fidesz shutting down Klubradio, by changing the terms for their license, is “baseless attacks”?

          Yes, Fidesz is hurting Hungary’s image worldwide, by their actions gives reason for the criticism that happens

          • George Dunn

            It’s NOT happening – that is my point. Read some of these posts!

          • MagyarViking

            George Dunn says:
            February 10, 2012 at 11:04 pm

            It’s NOT happening

            SO if this did not even happening when Fidesz was in opposition, why should it happen when Fidesz is in Government?

  • Geza Cseri

    George D. finally a descent comment.What right does EU have relative to the judges. I guess after WWII all German judges should have remained in their post until time of retirement.

    • MagyarViking

      Geza Cseri says:
      February 10, 2012 at 2:02 am

      I guess after WWII all German judges should have remained in their post until time of retirement

      And most of them did that also
      16 top Judges were taken to Nürnberg for trials and were convicted. Many thousand remained
      These 16 Judges got at least their day in Court, something Fidesz is denying nearly 300 senior judges, who are between 62 and 70 years old

      And Fidesz has not publicly stated that this is due to getting rid of ‘Communist Judges’. They just want to lower the mandatory retirement age this year to 62 and then a year later or so, rise it to 65…

      • justasking

        @Viking,

        “They just want to lower the mandatory retirement age this year to 62 and then a year later or so, rise it to 65…”

        You’re whining about Orbi creating jobs? What’s wrong with you?

        • MagyarViking

          justasking says:
          February 11, 2012 at 12:58 am

          You’re whining about Orbi creating jobs?

          That is what you Canadians call “Job Creation”?
          Force retirement and put in younger people in their place?

          So, we replaced young people on the dole, with old people on State Pension, makes wonders to the Hungarian State Budget, the the Hungarian State supplies 100% of the Pension (which is higher than ‘on the dole money’)

          I think you may be on something here how Dear Orban can create 3 million new jobs in Hungary – just retire the 3 millions that have a job today and it will all be fixed in a snap!
          Given how fast private companies are disappearing from Hungary, there will only be the Hungarian State and its local arms that employ people here anyway in the future, so no problem for the Hungarian State Budget:
          * Welfare, Dole-money, Salary, Pension

  • Lord Walsingham’s Cat

    @ Steven Harnad. “MAGYAR MANICHEANISM”. Everything you have written in a most articulate way is absolutely true.
    Orban Viktor is washed up, washed out, and most people want rid of him including many of those in his inner circle and would be only too ready to put the boot/knife in if the opportunity arose.
    The situation is compounded by the fact that there are no tangible alternatives apart from possibly a technocratic admin that could function in a similar way to Bajnai after GF went? Bajnai basically did what the EU told him and the results were reasonable compared to today’s meltdown.
    The game is up for Orban Viktor and, if Fidesz don’t want to join him they better find a new leader and better policies PDQ!

    • Leto

      “most people want get rid of him”

      Wishful thinking won’t help your cause.

      Polls for party support:
      -http://www.politics.hu/poll-tracker/

      Poll for politicans’ popularity and their being known:

      -http://median.hu/object.4b8ae06d-1587-421d-9caa-d85d4e66d7dc.ivy

  • George Dunn

    Dear Hungarians – you are obessing over Orban and politics and losing site of how these attacks are hurting your country’s image and not acknowledging its proud history of democracy and willingness to fight for freedom and independence. THAT is what this conversation should be about. Democracy is not easy, but empty attacks and slinging expletives at each other will not help you rebuild what was once a great nation. I am deeply perplexed how so many of you can hate so publicly, snipe at each other, and offer no evidence… but be so sure of it.

    • Leto

      Very good comment. FYI, orbanophobic “MagyarViking” is not Hungarian, he’s a Swede living in Hungary.

      • MagyarViking

        FYI, ‘leto’ just arrived back to Hungary after spending several years living in the UK

        Your pick who you think knows most what the situation on the ground is

        • justasking

          @Viking,

          “Your pick who you think knows most what the situation on the ground is”

          Your version? Most definitely you. Leto’s version? Him…

          I figure, somewhere in between is what’s really happening.

          • Leto

            This Swedish idiot doesn’t even speak proper Hungarian… 😀

          • justasking

            @Leto,

            “This Swedish idiot doesn’t even speak proper Hungarian…”

            Ahhh…but, his wife does.

          • Leto

            @justasking:
            So his wife might know what the situation on the ground is. Possibly. Judging from his posts, she wouldn’t.

          • justasking

            @Leto,

            “So his wife might know what the situation on the ground is. Possibly. Judging from his posts, she wouldn’t”

            Now, now…don’t be catty! I met that boys wife, not only did/do I like her; but, respect her as well…nothing gets past her radar.

  • I love Hungary

    Something tells me Leto doesn’t know much about wives. And even less about respecting them.

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