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Tamás Deutsch: There are areas where Europe could learn from us

Tamás Deutsch: There are areas where Europe could learn from us

2011. 03. 10.

Reporter: István Lovas


If it was November 2010 again and you knew what attacks the Hungarian media law had to face since the start of the Hungarian Presidency, would you proceed as you did?

As it is well-known, I am a Member of the European and not the Hungarian Parliament therefore I could not take part in the decisions. Thus, it is very possible that everything that I say seems to be an outsider's intervention from the point of view of my former colleagues and friends. I am convinced that a perfect media law does not exist and consequently the Hungarian media law written last year is also not without flaws. I consider the new media law to be of a very high standard and great value. Clearly, it will be practice itself that shows how the law serves the interests of people – the media public, the consumers. Nevertheless, I am of the view that two things should have been done differently. Firstly, we should have finally learned the lesson that we were unable to learn neither in 2001 nor in 2010: not everyone is with their family and enjoys the atmosphere of the holidays between Christmas and New Year's Eve. In 2001, the Socialists attempted to scare the public through all media outlets day and night with the looming influx of 23 million Romanians. And we finally started responding at the beginning of January. The same thing almost happened now with the media law. As a consequence, we have to learn to be ready at all times. Secondly, we always have to carefully think through what is the worst imaginable reaction that our political adversaries – and I hope I am sufficiently politically correct with this wording – are capable of and we have to prepare ourselves for such a scenario. Just like in places where earthquakes are commonplace. Skyscrapers are built in Los Angeles to resist even the most serious earthquakes…

Even at the San Andreas Fault one knows that earthquakes do not measure more than 10 on the Richter scale but the border is less clearly defined with the Socialists, isn’t it?

Staying with the Richter scale of 10 grades, it can be said that no stab in the back of a magnitude of 9.5-9.8 comes as a surprise from Socialists no matter what the issue in question is. It is regrettable but the words of Viktor Orbán were very apt when he said a few years ago at Tusnád that the Hungarian Left attacks its own nation from time to time.

Joseph Daul, the leader of the EPP Group in the European Parliament, said in an interview given to our newspaper recently that what the Hungarian Socialists are doing to the Hungarian Government during the Hungarian EU Presidency is unheard of in the history of the Union. But what is the reason for the Hungarian Left being so different from its foreign counterparts?

Professor Mihály Bihari described the essence of Bolshevism thinking in one of his excellent works at the end of the 70s, beginning of the 80s: omnipotence and omnicompetence – the belief that 'I am the best at everything' and 'I know everything best' – and the moral and power-related superiority that stem from it. Bolshevism, Marxism and Communism as systems of power are things of the past in Central Europe.


Perhaps we should not evade describing succinctly the essential difference…

I have no intention of evading the question. I would only like to say that the specialty noticed by the Chairman of our Group is peculiar to the history of our change of regime. The representatives of the former dictatorial system crept in to the new system of freedom and they did not remain silent in their new positions bought by 'Judas’s money' as would have been appropriate, but from 1990 they started giving lessons in democracy, market economy and human rights incessantly to those who they suppressed for four decades during their Communist system.

The special Hungarian feature of transition created the type you described?

Exactly.

One 'product' of this would be Kinga Göncz whose father was persecuted and who now demands sanctions against Hungary.

An emblematic figure of this political conduct is László Kovács. Through his insignificant work in the party apparatus he was almost able to reach the highest level of the Communist political elite which continually served the Kádár regime in everything and without conditions. And then, after 1990, he started giving lessons on democracy, integrity and European commitment to those who openly defended the Hungarian and European values during the Rákosi and Kádár regimes at the price of risking their very own lives.

Were you present at the 'open' hearing of Ágnes Heller in Brussels where the press could not ask questions as "there was no time left"? A hearing in the course of which Heller claimed that the police were totally innocent in the autumn of 2006.

I was not present but I know what she said. I heard that we are servile.

Yes, Hungarians are servile. Except for her.

Is that not racism? And concerning the negation of shootings and torture: masses of innocent people were shot, beaten up and humiliated. It has been proven. Including my friend and colleague in the Hungarian Parliament, Máriusz Révész, who, according to Heller, beat himself to a pulp.

Do you believe that the attack against the Hungarian Government will last during the remaining part of the Hungarian Presidency?

Yes. There is no doubt about it, as Kinga Göncz, a Socialist Member of the European Parliament from Hungary, gave it away when she said that "according to corridor rumours in Brussels" the new Hungarian Government is deemed incapable of fulfilling its tasks during the EU Presidency. And the succession of stabs in the back have been uninterrupted since then. The government, in a very diplomatic manner, kept quiet about it but I can say that the new cabinet started the preparation for the EU Presidency in an almost hopeless financial and professional situation. I refer to the chaos and muck-heap we found during the takeover of the new government last year. Despite this, the Hungarian Government developed an excellent programme and cleaned up the ruins at the same time. And it is indeed rare that all political families of the European Parliament so clearly support the Presidency programme, as has happened here.

A music teacher form Vorarlberg asked me recently if fascism is indeed raging in Hungary.

It is unimaginable and almost incomprehensible what damage the Hungarian Socialists cause Hungary. How many hundreds of thousands of Finnish couples, Spanish grocers, Italian football fans or Irish farmers hear the lies every single day about democracy being in serious danger in Hungary, the government persecutes free-thinking philosophers and certain world-famous musicians do not even come to their own country, Hungary because of raging anti-Semitism and so on.

I brought you a present. It is the text of a report which was broadcast on 25 February on Deutschland Radio, a radio financed by German public money. To sum it up: Viktor Orbán forces the ideology of Hitler on Hungary. Tell me, in such a case why does the Hungarian Foreign Minister not summon Germany's Ambassador in Hungary to tell him his views and ask in no uncertain terms that such lies are not broadcast again by a channel whose country’s companies Hungary supports with considerable sums?

To cite my friend László Kövér: "let's stand at last on our rear legs", that is, I believe we should certainly stand up in such cases but in my view the solution you just proposed is a bit exaggerated in this concrete situation.

Not in my view.

The problem is that we leave such cases without proper reaction. In such a situation, the leader of the foreign programmes of Hungarian public radio should approach his foreign counterpart because it is at his level, and ask him what they would have thought if our radio broadcast a programme concerning the book of Thilo Sarrazin, the Board of Directors of the Bundesbank, and stated in it that fascism is raging in Germany and that the Sarrazin-book means the resurface of ideas that led to terrible conflicts and wars 70 years ago.


I believe you are wrong. Around 1985, the leader of the most successful country in the world, Li Kuan Ju, drastically restricted the distribution of numerous global newspapers in Singapore because they had no intention of publishing in its entirety the refutation given to the perfidious charges brought against his country. He won. Little Singapore always wins against everyone. Should we not adopt its recipe of success? It is for free.

Yes, Li stood on his rear legs. But there is a Hungarian Embassy in Berlin and it has a leader.


The very same day, the very same Radio claimed in another programme that you sent away 17,000 people and replaced them with persons who carry out your orders without question. Tell me, when will you grasp the false accusations that are repeated regardless of their truth content instead of employing the son of Kinga Göncz as a diplomat in Brussels? And all this when Mr Márton Benedek has received enormous financial advantages from the Gyurcsány government. Why is Róbert Alföldi the Director of our National Theatre? Why does György Gábor, a beneficiary of the philosophers' money, supervise the transfer of enormous sums at the National Cultural Fund led by the weak Marcell Jankovics? Why does István Tarlós allow Iván Fischer, Director of the Festival Orchestra, who called the Hungarian people racist, live on taxpayers' money? Shall I continue? Don't you think that voters of the right are dead bored with all this and stand in incomprehension in front of this phenomenon?

I totally agree with you. I myself would be curious to know the answers. No one should misunderstand me, I do not have the slightest intention of packaging what I have mentioned before into politically correct phrases. But everyone should be judged on their own and not on their parents' performance. And I am not only talking about concrete persons. I believe that just because someone's family name starts in the same way as his fathers'….

Let me use a very exaggerated example: Following your merciful way of thinking, if the son of Dr Mengele, often called the 'angel of death', had applied to be the Chairman of the Association of Paediatricians in the Federal Republic of Germany in the 60s, the Germans should have said "welcome dear Dr Mengele as your degree is the best recommendation for this post."

László Kövér said once in the Parliament about Reform Communists: if the Nazi Party had had a reformist wing in 1942-1943, it is not very likely that it could have participated in the elections in the Federal Republic after the war. But I would like to add a third issue. Exactly because of what has been mentioned, I expect Kinga Göncz to say the following sentence in front of the national and international public: there is no witch-hunting in Hungary, democracy is not in danger in Hungary. She can of course add that she has many problems with what the government does but she cannot talk about a fascist government if her son works in the Hungarian public service as his family would clearly not serve such a government.


How seriously can the EU's deep concerns regarding the Hungarian media law be taken when such reservations were not expressed concerning the Slovakian language law?

Three matters should be mentioned here. First: the EU's Charter of Fundamental Rights is a document of great importance and value. Second: double standards is not a Hungarian specialty. When the Slovak Government, which belongs to the Socialist International, adopted a language law or a media law, which raises a lot more questions than ours, Martin Schulz, the leader of the Socialist Group in the European Parliament remained silent. If a government of the European People's Party, rightist and Eastern European – these two attributes mean automatically 'fascist' in their eyes – adopts a new media law then they believe it is the end of democracy. The third: the ideas concerning human rights vary incredibly in the EU. When we say these two words 'human rights', at first it seems everyone has the same understanding of them but it soon turns out that the three large parties, the European People's Party, the Socialists and the Liberals have totally different views on values, ideas and goals. In my opinion, we should talk more and in a more detailed manner about this in Hungary. The divide among the Right, the Socialists and the Liberals concerning human rights is less great in Hungary than what we witness in the European Parliament. There are areas where Europe could learn from us.