By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife
BUDAPEST, HUNGARY (BosNewsLife Columns)– We knew Viktor Orbán’s government was arrogant. Hungary’s autocratic prime minister doesn’t like criticism. He is in a war-of-words with virtually all Europe-minded organizations on the planet. But his arrogance has reached a new high, or low.
His servants compare Western criticism on Hungary’s government to attacking brave Hungarians who fought for freedom during the 1956 Revolution against Soviet domination. Their battle was not even remotely the same as Orbán’s undemocratic actions.
Many of the often young fighters were killed, or later hanged, by forces of the Soviet Union: Russian President Vladimir Putin, Orbán’s friend and business partner, served that regime as a KGB secret service spy.
The latest Orbán official to fire a salvo at the West is Levente Magyar, Hungary’s outspoken foreign ministry state secretary. He told Hungarian news agency MTI that another Western official doesn’t understand what’s happening in Hungary. This time Michael Roth, Germany’s deputy foreign secretary, was the target. Roth noted an “erosion of democracy” in Hungary. Perhaps no surprise.
In July, Orbán said he wanted to replace “liberal democracy” with an “illiberal state,” citing Russia, run by ally Putin, as an example.
Orbán’s measures already included replacing heads of independent institutions such as courts with allies, tightening control over media and changing election rules to help his Fidesz party retain a huge parliamentary majority. Even churches are under pressure. Certainly not policies for which men, women and even teenagers gave their lives in the 1956 Revolution, commemorated last week.
Roth could be forgiven that Germany, Hungary’s biggest trading partner with a quarter share in both exports and imports last year, is “concerned”. He even said EU values were “under strain” in Hungary.
Roth is against sanctions. He just told an audience at the Central European University in Budapest that it’s time to create a “political mechanism” that’s “non-discriminatory” and sets out “objective standards” for all members.
That was a far cry from the U.S. which already banned entry of six Hungarians including government officials. Washington suspects corruption and is angry over police raids on several rights groups. And on Sunday tens of thousands of Hungarians demonstrated against the government’s plans to introduce the world’s first Internet tax, seen as part of a larger crackdown on media and rights organizations.
But Budapest was quick to respond to Roth’s remarks. Magyar said Roth should realize that Hungarians made huge sacrifices in 1956. And that 25 years ago “the Hungarian people” managed to regain their independence without bloodshed. Hungarians changed the Eastern European Communist order, “significantly contributing to the reunification of Germany”, he added.
Doubts remain whether they were only Orbán fans and Fidesz supporters.
In 1989, thousands of Hungarians with different political and religious backgrounds, attended the reburial of Imre Nagy, the Revolution-era prime minister executed for his truly brave activities along with several other ministers.
During the reburial one young man demanded that Soviet-soldiers leave Hungary. It was the same person now happily shaking hands with Vladimir Putin in Moscow: Viktor Orbán.
“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” noted Lord Acton, the 19th century English Catholic historian, politician, and writer. “Great men are almost always bad men.”
A history lesson wouldn’t hurt ‘Viktor The Great’. And his clan.
(Stefan J. Bos is the founder and chief international correspondent of BosNewsLife. BosNewsLife Columns are presenting opinionated columns and commentaries on key issues impacting the Church and/or compassionate professionals. They do not necessarily reflect the views of online news agency BosNewsLife or its parent company).