Are these guy that ignorant or even crazy? Orbán held talks with Vladimir Orlic, the president of Serbia’s National Assembly,…
Orbán’s “Think” Tank fighting OSCE
Our dear Éva has written something nice about the Alapjogokért Központ, the Centre of Fundamental Rights ►EN. A funny name regarding the fact that the regime hates the rights of the individual. Rights belong to the state and the state to the party. This FIDESZ sponsored institute has now being used as tool against the observation of the elections by OSCE. The mission bears the abbreviation ODIHR EOM, which means OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights Election Observation Mission. This year a full mission is sent to Hungary, what happens to countries that are expected having a democratic system in bad shape – or being completely undemocratic. Since full mission means an observation of the campaign as well the start was in February. After half the time an interim report was published, the full official report is found on the website of the OSCE ►EN.
What the OSCE had to report was not exactly what the regime wanted to read, the OSCE has found some of the points why these elections are far from being democratic. Alapjogokért Központ was sent to attack the OSCE. To begin with Alapjogokért Központ made fun of the OSCE to discredit the seriousness of the organisation. On facebook Alapjogokért Központ wrote: ►HU “The OSCE report is unfounded, and they were unable to find out who the president of the republic is …. perhaps the most blatant is that János Áder is called former President of the Republic, while his term expires only on May 10th.” The report mentions Áder in a single sentence with a connected footnote. The sentence reads “On 11 January 2022, President János Áder called parliamentary elections for 3 April,” the footnote “On 10 March 2022, in anticipation of the end of Mr. Áder’s second five-year term in May 2022, parliament elected Katalin Novák nominated by Fidesz as the next president.” I don’t know whether Alapjogokért Központ is unable to understand what these words mean or whether they expect that in Hungary people are so stupid that they can claim everything, since the report is in English. These are formal acts and what the OSCE wrote about is perfectly what happened. One could explain more about, but there wouldn’t be additional value for understanding the general elections.
Alapjogokért Központ invented a political basis of the mission. 20 NGOs and 62 “leftliberal” politicians were found guilty that Hungary has to bear such a mission. They are very dutiful and claim that most observers are depending to George Soros’ network. At the end they declare that the report has just a single reason: “to question the democratic nature of the Hungarian electoral system in advance, so that the defeat of the left can be reasoned afterwards.” Let’s have a look to the facts now. There was a letter from NGOs asking for a full mission, yes members of the European parliament did the same. No, not just from one political group, but except from the extreme right from the entire spectrum. Alapjogokért Központ calling conservatives to be “leftliberal” shows clearly that they only want to serve the government’s propaganda instead of analysing facts. That an NGO is doing something triggers their Soros reflex. Could someone tell them that in Hungary this story of the bad, bad, bad wannabe ruler of the world is so overused that we are terrible bored? That the OSCE is a multinational organisation of practically all states in Europe, North America and the former Soviet Union take place, including Orbán’s friends in Moscow and Azerbaijan and many of the other Eastern dictators Orbán prefers above our partners and allies in the West. Erdogan as “leftliberal” man of Soros? These claims of Alapjogokért Központ are far from a coherent argument. Further they are confusing cause with effect. A full mission is not started in countries with a well working democracy “to question the democratic nature of the …. electoral system in advance,” but the opposite is true, if there are reasons to be afraid of a non-democratic nature a closer look will be taken. In the decision to apply a full scale mission there was given a wide range of reasons why this mission was needed, what I covered before, I called the OSCE document “a long and sober description of Hungary today” ►EN. Observing bears the chance that the observed will act according to the rules, the interim report has shown that this effect did not take place. And in the end we mustn’t forget that the mission only can take place because the foreign minister formally invited them. This is not just a friendly attitude and the observers will do what they want anyway, the example of Belarus where no mission took place through lack of invitation, shows clearly that invitation is a conditio sine qua non. Is Szijjártó an agent of Soros?
While Alapjogokért Központ has been very far from facts in their pretty much invented reason for the mission they call the OSCE report being vague. This is an interim report, no judgement. Observers have to talk with NGOs and opposition party members, especially in a country which is expected to have no functioning democracy this is way more important than talks to government officials and members of the party that rules already since 12 years, nearly all the time with a 2/3 majority in parliament. That those are happy with the rules they shaped themselves should be expected. To name everybody by name is not needed in such a document, it would go way beyond the objective. Footnotes often give further information for proving claims.
The Alapjogokért Központ has problems with the following statements about the electoral commissions (the national NEC and the district REC, local CoEC, and polling station commissions PSCs) in the report: “The NEC is a permanent independent body headed by a president and six members who are elected by parliament for a nine-year term upon the proposal of the president of Hungary. In addition, political parties with a parliamentary group can each appoint one member with full voting rights” and “RECs, CoECs and PSCs consist of three members elected by the corresponding county or local government, based on proposals by the respective election offices. Eligible contestants can delegate additional members to the various levels of the election administration, including two PSC members per polling station, who must be nominated by 25 March.” This is the proof that the commissions, where so many “left” members are sitting in, would be attacked for being unfair…? Might it be that Alapjogokért Központ acknowledges the unfairness, which is only formally correct and where only the legal circumstances are stated by OSCE?
OSCE is attacked for mentioning participation of women and statements in favour for women-friendly policies, which are found in the program of United for Hungary. That OSCE can’t quote the FIDESZ program is pretty easy: It doesn’t exist. Not now, not in 2018, 2014, or 2010. Mentioning numbers and proposals are an attack, since FIDESZ has hardly any women. But they whine bitterly that the election of Katalin Novák as female president hasn’t been mentioned. Wrong in 2 ways: She has been mentioned under the political context (Alapjogokért Központ falsely attacked the OSCE for that as we have seen above) and as president she mustn’t take seat in parliament, so she doesn’t run again in the observed elections, which makes it impossible to count her as participating candidate. Mentioning that for Unity for Hungary Roma candidates are running, but not for FIDESZ has been attacked as well. In fact the sentences about Roma running are: “Due to internal divisions, the Roma minority did not submit a list. The United for Hungary opposition bloc has included three Roma candidates in high positions on its joint list. Their electoral program addresses a range of issues concerning Roma.” FIDESZ isn’t even mentioned in this context, so Alapjogokért Központ regards obviously the minority list as state party lists, while the Roma list was effectively contested at court for “wrong” candidates. Alapjogokért Központ bitterly complaints about the OSCE has remarks on the regime press and is praising the “leftliberals” and NGOs.
The interim report has a small chapter called Background and Political Context. 1st paragraph is about the legal set-up of the Hungarian state, who is president (sic!) and under which circumstances the elections were called, including mentioning the state of emergency. The 2nd calls attention to the 3 cycles FIDESZ was in charge, where the general elections always resulted in a 2/3 majority in parliament (only the death of a FIDESZ MPs and once a by-election won by an independent candidate reduced this super majority) and that “They have used this majority to assertively pursue their political and legislative agenda. In recent years, a series of legislative changes led to infringement procedures against Hungary by the European Commission (EC). On 16 February 2022, the European Court of Justice rejected a challenge by Hungary to a European Union rule conditioning funding on respect for the rule of law. After the adoption of the so-called ‘child protection ’law, the EC initiated a legal action against Hungary for violations of the fundamental rights of LGBTI people, following which Prime Minister Viktor Orbán announced his intention to call a referendum.” The 3rd paragraph describes how Unity for Hungary was formed and that they in primaries have determined their candidates. Alapjogokért Központ found this “heavily burdened with material errors …. And, of course, they skip omitting sub-information that would be part of an objective understanding of the big picture. The report does not mention, for example, that in times of emergency, the government has extraordinary powers to legislate only to the extent necessary to deal with the epidemic, but on matters of no legal relevance to elections – the possibility of suspending EU funds or the Stop, Soros! law package – they write in detail. The mistakes could be listed at length, from the fact that the authors of the document, taking the position of a Hungarian Soros organisation, confuse the legal categories of political advertising and social advertising to forgetting that while the independence of the judiciary was criticised that it was the Kúria that prevented the authentication of one of the referendum questions.” To be clear: The name Soros is used only once in a footnote in context of the criminalisation of NGOs in the bundle of laws the regime used this name for and being declared invalid by the European court. Further I am not really convinced a decree under emergency law that teachers that have to teach during their strike is factually connected to the pandemic, just to name the most recent example.
And yes, the legal difference between “social” and “political” advertisement is huge. It is a huge difference whether it may be done during “campaign time” only or all year long, whether one has to pay it from party or candidate funds, or whether the state pays for the message. OSCE found exactly the difference in applicable law and the identical messages concerning! Not the legal borders were confused by OSCE, what is of social relevance and what political message has been confused by the regime – by purpose! The interim report knows “The ODIHR EOM has observed instances where government information mirrors messages from the ruling party.” Connected footnote: “For example, a ruling party slogan, “let’s go forwards, not backwards”, closely mirrors a government information slogan used before the campaign period. A government information poster featuring the picture of the prime minister with the words “Let’s keep Hungary’s peace and security” mirrors Fidesz messaging about the conflict in Ukraine. Letters sent by the government to citizens about increased pensions and about support for families with children contain criticism of the previous government of Mr. Gyurcsány.” A clear observation and exact understanding of facts!
After a bit more pushing the message that the OSCE mission is just a political set of “leftliberals” and NGOs and that the OSCE mission is made up according the structures George Soros uses. Again: OSCE is an organisation of states, represented by their governments, definitely not non-governmental! But Alapjogokért Központ has found a “conspiracy” uncovered by propaganda outlet Mandiner, so they declare it being a fact that Soros and the OSCE mission are the same. Alapjogokért Központ declares: “Based on all this, it is reasonable to assume that the mission and the reports it produced are politically motivated. And this motivation is to undermine the legitimacy and democracy of the elections in advance, and to raise doubts about the credibility of the electoral system, so that the left-wing opposition can then show off in the event of defeat.” Wrong! The mission and the interim report are motivated by the rules of OSCE, where Hungary is member of since June 25th, 1973! Hungary has thereafter signed both the Helsinki Final Act and the Charter of Paris for a New Europe, the latter introduced the ODIHR and the framework for also this observation. It is unbelievable how an interim report, which only scratches at the surface of our problems, is not taken as guideline to improve democracy, but declared being a partisan, just because there is an international organisation telling the truth.
The regime press has quoted the stupidities uttered by Alapjogokért Központ dutifully, while the independent press mentioned the findings of OSCE central. Alapjogokért Központ is writing primitive statements under the self-declared role as “think” tank, they are no more professional as the UFO expert explaining that Russia is defending against Ukraine’s attack on M1.
I have quoted some parts of the interim report already, but I want to add other points I found important to describe the factual situation:
Some quotes concerning the legal framework:
The legal framework underwent a series of amendments following the last parliamentary elections; the most recent substantive changes were adopted in 2020, in one package of amendments to seven laws. A lack of genuine public consultations on the changes drew criticism from the opposition and civil society, with certain provisions perceived by some stakeholders as politically motivated.
Previous ODIHR recommendations remain largely unaddressed, including on the misuse of administrative resources and preventing the blurring of state and political party roles, campaign finance transparency, and guarantees for domestic non-partisan election observation.
The electoral system:
Despite a legal requirement in the Elections Act to revise boundaries that have more than a 20 per cent deviation from the average number of voters, based on voter distribution in the most recent national elections, parliament has not done so since 2018. Based on current voter distribution, 25 of the 106 single-mandate constituencies have more than a 10 per cent deviation, with the largest deviation being 33 per cent.
Some ODIHR EOM interlocutors raised concerns about limited safeguards with regard to postal voting and the accuracy of the voter register for those eligible to cast a postal ballot. Voters abroad who maintain a domicile in Hungary can vote in proportional and majoritarian elections, as well as the referendum, at 146 polling stations located at Hungarian diplomatic missions abroad, if they register by 25 March. A previous ODIHR recommendation related to equal suffrage rights for out-of-country voters remains unaddressed.
A 2021 amendment to the Law on the Records of Citizens ’Personal Data and Address changed the definition of residency to the address one uses for communication with the state …. raised concerns that the new definition of residency may result in tactical migration of voters to closely contested constituencies closer to election day, or illegal bussing of voters on election day.
Quotes about campaigning:
Many of the current campaign billboards are from third-party entities and are against the opposition coalition. An especially prominent theme of such billboards is the claim that Mr. Márki-Zay is controlled by the leader of DK and former Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány.
The ODIHR EOM has observed instances where government information mirrors messages from the ruling party.
…. complaint concerned the use of a government email address to send a message to citizens about the conflict in Ukraine, which criticized the standpoints of the opposition
Those are on finances:
Spending by third parties, who play an active role in the campaign as observed so far, is not regulated. The majority of previous ODIHR and Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) recommendations related to transparency and accountability of campaign financing have not been addressed.
Spending on referendum campaigns is not limited or subject to any disclosure or reporting requirements. A number of ODIHR EOM interlocutors expressed concerns that this lack of regulation facilitates the government’s considerable spending on the referendum campaign.
Some findings on Media:
limited access to information, surveillance, and persistent negative campaigns targeting independent and opposition journalists and representatives of civil society
Television remains the most important source of information, however, news websites are becoming increasingly important in shaping public opinion, especially in urban areas. …. Many ODIHR EOM interlocutors raised concerns about what they view as a systemic political bias and a virtual absence of opposition politicians in the programmes of the public broadcaster. The United for Hungary opposition bloc staged several protests since the start of the campaign, calling on the public broadcaster to provide the opposition with access to public media programs. In response, MTVA has accused the opposition bloc of political pressure and decided to provide each contestant which registered a national proportional list with one five-minute time slot in its editorial morning programs.
The media legislation obliges the broadcast media to provide fair and balanced political coverage; however, editorial content is not explicitly regulated for elections or referendums.
While paid political advertisement in broadcast media is prohibited by the Constitution, public-service advertisements may be broadcast by the media. Several private television channels aired advertisements commissioned by the government regarding the potential consequences of a positive answer to one of the referendum questions.
Yesterday the New York Times ran a major article https://www.nytimes.com/live/2022/03/24/world/russia-ukraine-war#biden-russia-nuclear-weapons discussing the unspeakable, tactical nuclear war in Central Europe.
As is often the case with these NYT articles the lead author is David Sanger who is trusted by his CIA and NSA sources to be discreet and likely knows a good deal more than he makes public. The good thing for Central Europeans is this statement: “Officials believe the chances that Mr. Putin will resort to detonating a nuclear weapon are small. But Russia’s steady stream of reminders that it has its arsenal at the ready, and could use it in response to anything it perceives as an existential threat, has put Washington on high alert.”
But really these types of assessments generally do not use a word like “small” to present the current threat level, they provide some type of mathematical probability number, which on background discussion Sanger likely knows but cannot reveal based on the fact it is revealed on a background basis. The article does not reveal also if the DEFCON level has been increased by US strategic forces (see https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/DEFCON).
Sanger’s article uses double speak on the DEFCON issue, it says in one statement “Russia’s steady stream of reminders that it has its arsenal at the ready, and could use it in response to anything it perceives as an existential threat, has put Washington on high alert.” Then the article quotes US official Jake Sullivan as follows:
“We haven’t seen anything that’s made us adjust our posture, our nuclear posture, but it is of course something we will have to continue to stay in close consultation with allies and partners on, as well as communicate directly to the Russians.”
But the problem with this comment is the USA has never consulted with our NATO allies about our DEFCON level when it has been changed and certainly will not consult with team Putin. NATO’s authority only extends to nuclear warheads located in NATO nations.
I think Sullivan is purposely mixing things together in this quote because the USA has nuclear warheads in Europe and Turkey that are linked to NATO and far more here in the USA not linked to NATO. In fact the USA in Europe has adjusted its nuclear posture prior to the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. What is known as Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty was ratified on May 27, 1988. President Trump essentially tore up that treaty arguing it was being violated consistently by Russia.
The US Army ground based missile firing batteries began to draw down their equipment as the missile launchers were destroyed when the treaty went into effect. However the Trump administration ordered the reactivation in of the 56th Artillery Command, which is based in Wiesbaden, Germany, and that is among the indirect indications to Russia that NATO is considering redeploying such weapons in Europe. President Biden has not changed that decision by Trump as yet.
The Biden administration is expected to assess the nation’s nuclear arsenal as part of a wide-ranging nuclear posture review. The US ICBM leg of what is called the triad was under increased scrutiny by more left-leaning US lawmakers and arms control advocates who have argued that the United States can still deter its adversaries with only its bombers and submarines. I suspect that is no longer the situation since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. So contrary to Jake Sullivan’s statement used by the NYTs the USA began changing its nuclear posture prior to the Russian invasion and it looks like it is continuing.
For those readers of this blog interested in the current danger of nuclear war this article in the US Journal Scientific America published just two days ago is worth a read https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-many-nuclear-weapons-exist-and-who-has-them/ .
The article’s conclusion is as follows: Given that the launch of a nuclear weapon would, in all likelihood, be met with immediate retaliation and could lead to all-out global nuclear war, is there a chance that all nuclear weapons could be decommissioned for the greater good? Could there ever be a future without nuclear weapons? “I don’t think this is going to happen,” said Holger Nehring, chair in contemporary European history at the University of Stirling in Scotland. “Nuclear weapons are mainly a form of deterrence against nuclear attack, so states have no real interest in getting rid of them. Entirely getting rid of nuclear weapons would mean a very high level of trust between all states in the international system, and this is unlikely to be achieved.” Andrew Futter, a professor of international politics at the University of Leicester in England, agreed. “We have probably reached a point now where further big reductions are unlikely,” he told Live Science.
Orban is at the NATO summit and on his Facebook page he put out just this statement along with a photo: “We support Hungarian interests. We will not let Hungary be dragged into this war!” I think PM Orban is profoundly delusional that Hungary will be able to stay outside the war ranging in Ukraine.
No one will drag Hungary into the war, Hungary has already recognized the very real possibility that it could end up in this war when it accepted that a NATO battlegroup will be stationed in Hungary in the last few days. That group will be about 1,000 troops and very likely will include a Patriot anti-aircraft and anti-missile battery. As no doubt Orban is aware Putin’s position is Hungary should be allowed to have no NATO forces on its soil and he had a bogus treaty drafted and sent to the USA reflecting that position. Moreover Orban knows that Putin and the Russians consider the US anti-air defense system to be convertible into an offensive short range missile system quickly and supposedly in response have already increased their own land and air launched cruise missiles. But we can see that Putin is raining hell on the people of Ukraine with these shorter range missiles
Orban knows that Putin has pretty clearly formulated a vision that none of the post communist states of Central Europe can be part of NATO, and that position has been formally rejected by Hungary in public statements as have all of the other former communist nations that are members of NATO. That rejection is more than sufficient reason for Putin to attack Hungary. Orban knows the dilemma Hungary is in, if war comes to Hungary it will not be NATO that drags Hungary into it. It will be Putin who does so. But Orban can’t speak that truth to the Hungarian people because he holds out hope that everything will return to how it was prior to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and trading deals with Russia will all return. Unfortunately that hope is gone and even Germany which repeatedly argued that trade with the west would create a more open Russia, now realizes that did not work and has gone on a huge defense budget expansion. This expansion of the German military budget comes from a ruling coalition that wanted very restrained military expenditures, but has been forced to face the reality that Putin’s Russia is an expansionist power.
Right now Ukrainians are dying for the freedom of Hungary and the other former communist nations. Because as the Ukrainians have made clear Putin’s expansionist vision does not stop at the borders of Ukraine.
this should read “As no doubt Orban is aware Putin’s position is Hungary should not be allowed to have any NATO forces on its soil and he had a bogus treaty drafted and sent to the USA reflecting that position.”
Istvan, thanks for the background info ,- though it makes me shudder.
I have written about this before.
60 years ago we tried to calculate the consequences of tactical abombs ..
NATO does not even give tanks to Ukraine let alone air planes….
The results of today’s NATO summit reminded me of this scene from the Life of Brian
(Zelensky as Brian, NATO as the suicide squad)
There is a horrible truth to your comment tappanch, I think it can be debated on what level of military support pushes NATO into war with Russia. But the great powers of NATO, the UK, France, Germany, and my own nation are guilty of some arrogance in relationship to the amazing scarifies made by Ukraine for the right of self determination of less powerful nations. Hungary’s sell out to economic self interest and terror of Russian unrestricted violence going back to the Battle of Budapest and 1956 will be consummated if Orban is not voted out. It’s all pretty disturbing.
Let’s not forget Orbán’s special relationship with Lukaschenko – he certainly stirs in more pots than he can safely manage, and now that Lukaschenko tries to influence the Poles toward adopting the “wait and see” attitude, stress-testing V4 cohesion, Orbán fuels the fire under one of his main courses – it may well get scorched in the process.
I think the NATO summit has been held to sign off on a number of strategic decisions they have been discussing for months. We are going to be given some of the details but not the really important bits.
I hope they have finally decided to commit to the serious defence of Ukraine. If that is the case Orban will be left with nowhere to hide.
in real terms he has no alternative. A proper war with Russia which is about to escalate Orban’s peacock dance will have no place. Anyway he may not be there after 10 days.
Received “mail-in” (no Hungarian address) votes
through 2022.03.24: 52,589 = 31,144 at consulates + 21,445 mailed in
through 2018.03.29: 2,888 = 818 at consulates + 2,070 mailed in
eligible “mail-in” voters (a.k.a. külhoni):
eligible voters with Hungarian address registered to vote abroad (a.k.a. külképviseleti)
voters with Hungarian address who will not vote in their home precinct for candidates of their home electoral district, but vote inside Hungary:
eligible voters who will vote in their home precinct on election day for candidates in their home electoral district
eligible voters with Hungarian address = #2 + #3 + #4:
2018.03.29: 7,835,466, a decrease of only 71,851
eligible voters with address in Budapest
(Orban recently made it possible to move the “permanent” address easier, even if a voter does not live at that address)
eligible voters with address outside Budapest
eligible voters with Hungarian address in another official webpage
“A központi névjegyzékben szereplő választópolgárok száma választástípusonként”
2018.03.29: 7,935,162, a decrease of 174,130
taken from the BBC news live updates site:
“More from Zelensky’s address to European leaders.
During his speech, Zelensky also went through a detailed rollcall of European Council members, noting their level of support – or lack of it – for Ukraine so far.
He praised many countries for standing with Ukraine, including Poland, Estonia, the Czech Republic, and Italy.
“Emmanuel,” he said, addressing France’s leader Macron by his first name. “I really believe that you will stand for us.”
Addressing Sweden, he made reference to their similar flag colours. “Yellow and blue should always stand together.”
But he also singled out some nations for being late or reluctant to take measures – Germany, Portugal and Ireland – and then lambasted Hungary for its neutral stance.
“I want to stop here and be honest. Once and for all.You have to decide for yourself who you are with,” he said. Hungarian leader Viktor Orban has long been a close ally of Russia’s Vladimir Putin.
Zelensky then called on Hungary to stop hesitating on sanctions and letting weapons through, referring to the famous Shoes on the Danube Bank memorial in Budapest – a monument to the victims of massacres by fascist, pro-Nazi forces in World War Two.
“Look at those shoes. And you will see how mass killings can happen again in today’s world. And that’s what Russia is doing today,” Zelensky said.”
A good assessment by Zelinsky.
A blind class of Hungary can not wake up to the truth.
Their dear leaders have tossed Hungary into slavery.
and now Orbán’s response: “Hungary is on Hungary’s side in the Russia-Ukraine War” – https://telex.hu/belfold/2022/03/26/orban-viktor-nato-csucs-eu-csucs-orosz-ukran-valsag
You can see how the Hu media are censored and manipulated if you look for MTI in direkt36