From the Archives: Journalist Zsolt Bayer

BayerGoodZsolt Bayer is an influential pro-Fidesz newspaper editorialist and television talk-show host widely known in Hungary for his outspoken criticism of Fidesz’s political opposition and for the anti-Gypsyanti-Semitic and anti-migrant attitudes expressed in some of his published writings.    

Bayer has been one of the main organizers of the pro-government Peace March demonstrations that have taken place in Budapest since January 2012.

On August 18, 2016, Prime Ministry chief János Lázár presented Bayer with one of the most prestigious state awards in Hungary—the Hungarian Order of Merit Knight’s Cross (Magyar Érdemrend lovagkeresztje)—during a ceremony held at the Hungarian Parliament Building in Budapest (source in Hungarian).

Biography

Grew up and completed high school in Budapest. Attended Hungarian history department at the Eötvös Loránd University Teacher’s Training College in Budapest. 

One of the 37 founding members of Fidesz in March 1988. Was the party’s press secretary from 1990 to 1993.

Began career as journalist in Budapest in the early 1990s, working for several newspapers including the tabloid Kurír and the liberal-left daily Népszabadság.

Served as chief advisor to the Millenium Government Commissioner’s Office during the first two years of the first Orbán government, 1998 to 2000.

Prime Ministry chief János Lázár (left) presents Zsolt Bayer with a state award in August 2016 (photo: MTI).

Prime Ministry chief János Lázár (right) presents a Hungarian Order of Merit Knight’s Cross award to Zsolt Bayer in August 2016 (photo: MTI).

Editorialist at the pro-Fidesz newspaper Magyar Nemzet from 2002 to 2007. Worked at state-owned Hungarian Television and Duna Television and the pro-Fidesz commercial television station Hír TV between 2000 and 2007. 

Joined the Gábor Széles-owned newspaper Magyar Hírlap as editorialist and television station Echo TV as political talk-show host in 2007.

Turns 53 in 2016. 

See the following Orange Files translations of editorials that Bayer has published in the pro-Fidesz Magyar Hírlap since Prime Minister Viktor Orbán returned to power in 2010:

“The Same Stench” (Ugyanaz a bűz);

“Who Should Not Be?” (Ki ne legyen?);

“Can/May” (Hat/Het);

“Letter to Vladimir Putin” (Levél Vlagyimir Putyinnak);

“Unavoidable?” (Elkerülhetetlen?).

—————————————————————————————————————————————–

The Hungarian Illiberal Democracy

BeFunky_orban_tusvanyos_2014_mti.png

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán proclaims the illiberal Hungarian state in 2014 (photo: MTI).

Since coming to power in 2010, the FideszChristian Democratic People’s Party (KDNP) government of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has systematically dismantled the liberal democracy built in Hungary following the collapse of communism and established in its place an illiberal democracy (see Proclamation of the Illiberal Hungarian State).

This hybrid political system has preserved many of the fundamental elements and attributes of liberal democracy: free elections; independent opposition parties; the rule of law; observance of the human and civil rights of all citizens; and respect for civil liberties—the freedoms of speech, religion, association, assembly and, on a practical level, the media.

The semi-authoritarian régime established in Hungary—the first to emerge within the European Union—also has the following general and specific traits that within the country’s present political context are indicative of illiberal democracy:

Manipulates elections and state institutions in order to preserve political power. See:

National Assembly Election System

2014 National Assembly Elections

Crunching the Election Numbers

The Budget Council

Establishes legal, institutional and economic framework to stifle independent media. See:

Media Laws

The National Media and Infocommunications Authority

Media Services and Support Trust Fund (MTVA)

The Big Gun Swings into Action

Black Screen of Protest

A Few Thousand Malcontents  

Uses powerful internal-security force for political purposes. See:

The Counter Terrorism Center

Marching to Praetoria

The Dubious Plot

The Dubious Plot (2)

Uses mass mobilization as show of force. See:

Pro-Government Peace March Demonstrations

Not with a Whimper

The Soft, White Underbelly

First Peace March (photo gallery)

Sixth Peace March (photo gallery)

Impugns and obstructs the operations of non-governmental organizations. See:

The Orbán Government and EEA-Norway Grants

Invasion of the HomoVikings

Slaying the Gentle Giant

Operates government-organized non-government organization (GONGO). See:

The Civil Cooperation Forum (CÖF)

Making Politics of Migration: the Civil Cooperation Forum Signs

A Thousand Clowns

Rejects multiculturalism; opposes immigration. See:

Hungary and the Great Migration

Je Suis Viktor

National Consultation on Immigration and Terrorism

Patronizes racist and xenophobic journalists. See:

Journalist Zsolt Bayer

Who Should Not Be?

The Same Stench

Stage 3: Dehumanization

Too Close for Comfort

Will the Real Mr. Fidesz Please Stand Up!

Advocates policies similar to those of the radical-nationalist opposition. See:

The Jobbikization of Fidesz (Act 1): Reinstatement of the Death Penalty

Follow the Evil Twin

Taking the Ball

Conducts Statist Economic Policy. See:

Nationalization of Private Pension Funds

Orbán Administration Measures to Reduce Household Foreign-Currency Debt

State Monopoly on the Retail Sale of Tobacco

See: entire article.

The main objective of illiberal democratic systems such as that currently functioning in Hungary under the leadership of Prime Minister Orbán appears to be to concentrate power as much as possible within the formal parameters of democracy. The rise of this type of system, which also exists in Russia and Turkey and is under formation in Poland as well, poses a significant threat to the unity and political stability of the liberal-democratic European Union in particular and to the global strength and influence of liberal democracy in general.

—————————————————————————————————————————————–

Propaganda Camp

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán prepares to speak at Tusnádfürdő on July 24, 2016 (photo: MTI).

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán prepares to deliver annual speech in Tusnádfürdő (Băile Tușnad) on July 24, 2016 (photo: MTI).

On July 24, 2016, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán held his annual speech at the Tusványos Summer University and Student Camp (Tusványos Nyári Szabadegyetem és Diáktábor) in Tusnádfürdő (Băile Tușnad), Romania.

Orbán, both as head of government and opposition leader, has long used the speech he makes at this camp in the predominantly Hungarian-inhabited Székely Land (Székelyföld) region of Romania to explicitly articulate his domestic political vision and his viewpoints on international affairs (see Proclamation of the Illiberal Hungarian State).

Prime Minister Orbán expressed two novel opinions in his 2016 Tusványos Summer University and Student Camp speech: first, he became the first leader of a sovereign state to endorse Donald Trump for president of the United States; and second, in answering a question following the speech, he advocated the creation of a common European military.

Below are Orange Files translations of several passages from Prime Minister Orbán’s July 24 speech in Tusnádfürdő (source in Hungarian).

——–

Thank you for permitting me to be here among you again with the passing of another year. The experience of seeing you again is, in itself, valuable and sets one’s heart in motion. This, in itself, would be a sufficient reason and motive for the existence of the free university [the Tusványos Summer University and Student Camp], although the free university has for many years—for more than two decades—performed another function that truly manifests itself here only when the incumbent prime minister of Hungary speaks to you. That is to say, a situation has come into existence, a free-university space in which it is possible to speak about politics in a different way, in which it is possible to speak about difficult and complicated matters in a different way from that which politics, as a profession, forces [one to speak] the other 364 days of the year. Problems arise from this afterwards as well. Because European politics has already made steady use of the form of speaking about politics and major European affairs that maybe nobody other than the speaker understands, but which at least does not bring trouble down upon the heads of the speaker. The world of a free university is, however, different. If we don’t speak frankly here in a way that we, too, can understand about the dilemmas that torment us, which incidentally are not just our dilemmas, but which, as you will hear later, are dilemmas tormenting all of Europe, then the free university isn’t worth anything, then it’s not a free university, but a propaganda camp.

——–

We would not have previously thought this [to be possible], but it is now looking more and more like they have pushed Hungary out of the European mainstream and they have tried to interpret everything that we have done as not being an accepted part of European politics. Be it our constitution strengthening Christian foundations, be it our demographic policies, be it cross-border national unification—now, in retrospect, with the passing of a few years, these look more like advantages than disadvantages. Nobody can at this moment say for certain that over the coming years the European mainstream won’t proceed [along the path] onto which they tried to drive Hungary away from the European mainstream. This is how the black sheep become the flock, how the exception becomes the main direction.

——–

As I was listening to Bishop Tőkés [the previous speaker, Reformed bishop and Fidesz Member of the European Parliament László Tőkés] I realized that I shouldn’t have been at a loss for what to do last night [when I wrote this speech], but I should have called him up on the phone, because he provided the phrase that I should really be talking about here as my point of departure. He quoted Nehemiah: “Do not be afraid, but fight!”

——–

If I told an English, German or French young person that if you abide by the laws, respect your parents, finish your schooling normally and work diligently, you will surely get ahead, get farther and you will live better than your parents did, I am afraid that they would laugh at me. This is the promise of European life that has been shaken, which has been lost—and this will have serious consequences.

——–

Since we are members of the European Union, today I will speak about what the European Union must do differently in order for fear and uncertainty to disappear from the lives of Europeans. First of all, it must quit doing a few bad things. In the West they call one of these things denationalization, presenting in a positive light something which I think is a bad thing. In my opinion reducing national sovereignty in favor of [increased] European spheres of authority represents one of the greatest dangers in Europe today.

——–

The European Union has today become a regional player. At best, it is capable of influencing events that take place in its environment, though slowly we are seeing that [it is capable of] not even this this much, since the main player in the Ukrainian-Russian conflict is not the European Union, but the United States. We see that the European Union doesn’t play the main role in shaping events in the uncertain region of Syria, the Middle East and Iraq, but the United States and the Russians. Thus we must state that today the European Union is deceiving itself when it views itself as one of the global players in the global political space. We must recognize that today, if we even have the ability to influence world events outside our own territory, this is restricted to the region [immediately] surrounding us.  

——–

We [Hungarians] have no identity problem. Not even as much as the British, who don’t themselves know exactly if they are European or not. For a Hungarian, this is not a question: if you are Hungarian, then you are European. We have been, are and will be [European]—this is the motto of the camp.¹

——–

Migration represents a threat, it increases terrorism, increases crime; migration on a mass scale changes the cultural profile of Europe and migration on a mass scale destroys national culture.

——–

I am not Donald Trump’s campaign manager, I never would have thought that the notion would occur to me that among the full-fledged possibilities he would be the best for Europe and Hungary. I never would have thought it, but it is nevertheless the case that I listened to this candidate and I must tell you that he made three proposals to stop terrorism. I could have hardly expressed  better as a European that which Europe needs. He said that the world’s best secret service must be established in America, that this is the precondition to everything. I agree with this. [. . .] The second thing the straightforward [derék] American presidential candidate said was that the policy of exporting democracy must be stopped. I couldn’t have expressed this more precisely, because, in the end, why are a massive number of migrants coming to Europe across the Mediterranean Sea at this moment? Because the Europeans and later the Westerners [Western powers] acting under the auspices of the UN, they successfully—we successfully—managed to crush the undemocratic, though from the standpoint of border defense extremely stable, Libyan system without making sure that a new government capable of providing stability came into being. We did the same thing in Syria, we did the same thing in Iraq too. The notion is true, therefore, that if we continue to place democracy-building in the forefront instead of stability in a region in which the success of this is extremely doubtful, then we aren’t going to build democracy, but cause instability.

——–

This [the failure of democracy building] is a big lesson with regard to the current Turkish events as well, which I naturally do not want to qualify, though if they ask me what our greatest expectation is, what Hungary’s greatest expectation is toward Turkey, then we will put stability in the first place. Of course the quality of political life there is not indifferent for us. Neither are human rights indifferent for us, especially because it is a question of a country that formally still wants to join the European Union, where these are fundamental, expected preconditions, though all in all, from the perspective of current life, it is more important that several tens of millions of people not tumble down upon the European Union with no screening, control or impediment of any kind.

——–

This [data showing the projected population increases in Egypt, Uganda, Ethiopia and Nigeria by the year 2050] clearly show that the truly great pressure is going to arrive to the continent [of Europe] from Africa. Today we are talking about Syria, today we are talking about Libya, but really we must prepare for population pressure from the region behind Libya and the magnitude of this is going to be much greater than that which we have experienced so far. This warns us that we must steel our wills. Border defense, especially when fences must be built and people must be stopped there, is a difficult thing to interpret aesthetically, but believe me, we cannot defend borders and therefore ourselves with flowers and stuffed animals. We must face this thing. At the same time, it is very important, and for us also very important from the perspective of the image that the outside world formulates of us, that we make it clear that we are not heartless people, thus we are able to make a precise distinction between migrants and migration. In most cases the figure of the migrant—of course not including the terrorists— is a victim, whom the unfortunate situation, the increasingly difficult possibilities for subsistence at home, bad government, our bad, enticing migration policy and the human smugglers have made into victims. We understand this, we know this precisely. However, migration, as I said, is killing us. And migration is embodied in the person of the migrant, thus no matter how much we empathize with them and see them as victims, we must stop them at our fence and make it clear that whomever enters illegally must, according to the laws, be put in prison or expelled from Hungary. Esteemed ladies and gentlemen, esteemed free university, there is no friendlier form of defense. Of course [it must be] in a human, lawful and transparent manner, but we must resolutely do this.

——–

After all this I must state, summarizing what I have said so far, that Europe has lost its global role, has become as a regional player, is not capable of defending its own citizens, is not capable of defending its own external borders and is not capable of keeping the community together, since the United Kingdom has just left it. What more is needed for us to say that the European political leadership has failed. It cannot achieve a single one of its objectives. Thus when we convene in Bratislava in September, we don’t need beauty spots, sweeping under the carpet and whitewashing, but we must clearly state that we must come together and talk about the future of Europe because Europe’s present political leadership has failed. We must make it clear that our problem isn’t in Mecca, but in Brussels; for us, the Brussels bureaucrats represent the obstacle, not Islam.   

——–

Today “old Europe” means Europe that is incapable of change. They [old Europe] are the founding members of the European Union, they are they are the ones who introduced the eurozone and are very visibly stagnating. And there is another Europe, those whom were admitted to the European Union later, whom are said to be the “new Europe.” This, on the other hand, is viable, full of energy, capable of renewal and is looking for answers to the new challenges and thus forms an important part of our continent. This is why I think that perhaps the differentiation between the old and the new Europe is much less offensive for us now than it was previously.

——–

Today in Poland there is no economic crisis. In Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary—I don’t dare comment on the case of Romania—young people think that the old European dream is still valid: if they abide by the laws, if they respect their parents, if they listen to them and their advice regarding the future, and if they work diligently, then a Polish, a Czech, a Slovak and a Hungarian young person will certainly live better and get farther ahead than his [or her] parents. This is the European dream, this is still valid in the new Europe, in Central Europe.

——–

In response to a question following his speech, Prime Minister Orbán stated that NATO, though an “important and good thing,” is no longer capable of guaranteeing peace in Europe, thus he advocates the establishment of a common European army that could function “without the Anglo-Saxons [the United States and the United Kingdom] and the Russians.”

Orbán also expressed support for the creation of a common Visegrád Group army, though rejected the notion of expanding the number of members in the alliance composed of Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary.

The prime minister said that the prospective common European and Visegrád Group armies were needed to defend Europe in the “east and south” and would be closely connected to defense of the continent against terrorism and migration (source in Hungarian).

 

¹ The motto of the 27th Tusványos Summer University and Student Camp: “We were, are and will be at home here in Europe” (Itthon voltunk, vagyunk, leszünk Európában).

—————————————————————————————————————————————–

Prime Minister Orbán’s March 15 Speech

Prime Minister Orbán waves to audience following his speech on March 15, 2016 (photo: MTI).

Prime Minister Orbán waves to audience following his speech on March 15, 2016 (photo: MTI).

On March 15, 2016, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán delivered his annual speech outside the Hungarian National Museum in Budapest commemorating the anniversary of the 1848 Hungarian Revolution against Habsburg rule. Below is an Orange Files translation of the speech (source in Hungarian).

————————-

————————-

Esteemed celebrators!

Europe is not free, because freedom starts with the statement of truth. Today in Europe it is forbidden to state the truth. Even if made of silk, a muzzle remains a muzzle. It is forbidden to state that those who are currently arriving are not refugees, but that a mass migration threatens Europe. It is forbidden to state that immigration brings crime and terror into our countries. It is forbidden to state that those who arrive from other civilizations represent a danger to our way of life, our culture, our customs and our Christian traditions. It is forbidden to state that instead of assimilating, those who arrived earlier have built a separate-entry world for themselves with their own laws and their own ideals that pry the millennial European frameworks apart. It is forbidden to state that this is not an incidental and unintentional chain of consequences, but a planned-out and guided action, a mass of people directed upon us. It is forbidden to state that in Brussels they are currently scheming to transport foreigners here as quickly as possible and to settle them among us. It is forbidden to say that the objective of this settlement is to redraw the religious and cultural patterns of Europe, to rebuild its ethnic footings, thereby eliminating the nation-states that represent the last impediment to the Internationale. It is forbidden to state that Brussels is today stealthily swallowing more and more slices of our national sovereignty, that in Brussels many are today working on the plan for a European United States for which nobody ever granted them the authority.

See entire speech.

—————————————————————————————————————————————–

From the Archives: The Phony Realist

Published April 27, 2014.

The author: István Bibó.

The author.

Hungarian lawyer and political scientist István Bibó published a book in 1946 entitled The Misery of Small Eastern European States       (A kelet-európai kisállamok nyomorúsága) in which he employed psychoanalytical precepts to determine the cause of “the adulteration and corruption of democracy in its most diverse forms” in the states of central and eastern Europe, specifically Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary.

Bibó’s diagnosis: political hysteria stemming from unresolved historical traumas—in the case of Poland partition of the country on the part of Russia, Prussia and Austria beginning in 1772; in the case of Czechoslovakia the German-Hungarian partition of the country in 1938–39; and in the  case of Hungary defeat at the hands of the Austrians and Russians in the 1848–49 revolution and partition of the country’s Dual Monarchy-era territory via the 1920 Treaty of Trianon.

Bibó determined in The Misery of Small Eastern European States that Hungary’s defeat in the 1848–1849 revolution against Habsburg rule had had two primary effects: first, it prompted Hungarians to conclude that “Europe had abandoned Hungary in its fight for independence”; and second, it initiated “the developmental path that distanced Hungary from democratic ideals, because following the 1848–49 catastrophe the fear took root in Hungarians that assumption of all the consequences of democracy will lead to the secession of nationality-inhabited regions [of the country].”

With regard to the Treaty of Trianon, Bibó asserted that the “Hungarian political perspective attributed the partition of Hungary to mere brute force and the hypocrisy of the victors and was unable to distinguish between the detachment of non-Hungarian-language territories that were ready for separation and the groundless and unjustified detachment of Hungarian-language territories. As a consequence, it [the Hungarian political perspective] could not abandon the illusion of historical greater Hungary and became increasingly convinced that Europe owes it for a great injustice.”

Bibó maintained that the partitions of Poland and Czechoslovakia had engendered the same attitude of skepticism toward Europe and democracy among the Polish and Czechs and Slovaks and prompted the leaders of those countries to conduct the forced expulsion of Germans and Hungarians following the Second World War.

Existential Fear for the Survival of the Community 

Bibó wrote in The Misery of Small Eastern European States that these historical traumas had produced existential fear for the survival of the national community in Hungary and other states of the region:

This situation gives rise to the most characteristic trait of the imbalanced central and eastern European mentality: existential fear for the survival of the community. . . . For a western European, the talk of statesmen from any small, eastern European nation referring to the “death of the nation” or the “destruction of the nation” represents empty phraseology: a western European can imagine extermination, subjugation or slow assimilation, though the notion of total political “destruction” is for them nothing more than a bombastic image, whereas for eastern European nations it is a palpable reality.  

Anti-Democratic Nationalism 

Bibó believed that existential fear for the survival of the community inhibited the development of democracy in the countries of east-central Europe:

Existential fear for the survival of the community was the decisive factor that rendered the status of democracy and democratic development unstable in these countries. . . . these nations experienced historical situations which appeared to confirm that the collapse of the oppressive political and social powers of the past and the adoption of democracy along with its ultimate consequences expose the national community to heavy risks, even catastrophe. This shock gives birth to the most hideous monster of modern European political development: anti-democratic nationalism. 

Distortion of Democracy 

In addition to inciting anti-democratic nationalism, Bibó contended in The Misery of Small Eastern European States that existential fear for the survival of the community inhibited and distorted democratic development in the following ways:

It is not possible to take advantage of the benefits of democracy in this state of convulsive fear which believes that the advance of freedom threatens the national cause. To become a democrat above all entails the absence of fear: fear of other opinions, of other languages, of other races, of revolution, of conspiracy, of the unknown evil intentions of the  adversary, of enemy propaganda, of contempt and all other imaginary dangers that become real dangers if we fear them. . . . In the midst of this fear and continual feeling of threat, that which in true democracies gains recognition only in the hour of true danger, becomes standard procedure: the restriction of liberties, censorship, the search for enemy “stooges” and “traitors,” the imposition of order or the appearance of order and national unity to the detriment of liberty. The distortion and corruption of democracy has appeared in diverse forms through the use of methods varying from the most subtle and often unconscious to the most crude: the manipulation of universal suffrage against democratic development, the system of coalitions and compromises founded on unhealthy and ambiguous terms, electoral systems or abuses serving to either inhibit or distort the healthy formation of collective will, putsches and transitory dictatorships.

The Phony Realist 

Bibó concluded that this syndrome of trauma, fear and hysteria generated a unique type of national leader in the states of central and eastern Europe:

In the course of this development, political figures of a unique type became characteristic of political life in central and eastern Europe: the phony realist. This type of political figure, which either descended into politics from an aristocratic environment or rose into it on the wings of representative government and democratic forces, was characterized by both unquestionable talent as well as a certain cunning and a certain aggression that made him perfectly suitable to become the administrator and repository of the distortion of democracy, of anti-democratic government flowing within the boundaries of democratic form or of some other kind of aggressive political forgery.

Revival of Political Hysteria 

The prototype: Viktor Orbán.

The prototype.

Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary suffered the further historical trauma of communist dictatorship and Soviet military-intervention in the four decades following István Bibó’s publication of The Misery of Small Eastern European States. These countries, Czechoslovakia in the form of post-dissolution Czech Republic and Slovakia, all began the process of healing their historical wounds through integration with western Europe and adoption of liberal democracy following the collapse of communism in 1989.

Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia continue to travel down this uneven road toward political, social and economic integration with western Europe, whereas in Hungary a highly competent political leader—one who conforms perfectly to Bibó’s “phony realist” prototype—has either consciously or instinctively revived Hungarian historical trauma and its attendant political hysteria in order to regain and consolidate his personal power within a hybrid authoritarian-democratic state modeled on Putin’s Russia and Chávez’s Venezuela.

Note 1: The Misery of Small Eastern European States has not been translated into English. Orange Files has translated all quotes from the work published in this post. 

Note 2: since the publication of this article in April 2014, the Law and Justice–party government of Poland has begun to build a hybrid authoritarian-democratic régime in the country just as in Hungary.

—————————————————————————————————————————————–

Slaying the Gentle Giant

AA

Orange Files photograph of Baba that ripost.hu used without citing the source. 

On January 11, 2016, the on-line tabloid ripost.hu published an article entitled “Serial Criminal Ex-Convict at the Head of Soros’s Hungarian Migrant Organization!” (Börtönviselt, sokszoros bűnöző Soros magyar migráns­szervezetének élén!) regarding Baba, the most prominent volunteer for the Migration Aid non-governmental organization that provided food, clothing and other forms of assistance to tens of thousands of migrants as they passed through Hungary on their way to Germany in the summer and early autumn of 2015 (source in Hungarian).

The ripost.hu article claimed that Migration Aid, which started as a Facebook group in June 2015, was part of a “well developed Soros migrant-assistance network” that “following its establishment immediately received support from the Budapest Soros Foundation.”

The article used the following terms and phrases to describe Baba, an enormous man whom Western media such as The Guardian and the Associated Press dubbed the “Gentle Giant”: “refined criminal”; “serious criminal”; “dyed-in-the-wool swindler”; and “criminal well-known in the underworld.”

The article claimed that Baba, whose real name is Csaba Antal Tot, “got out of prison just a few months ago, where he had spent four years and six months” and that “during a routine identity check at the Eastern Railway Station it turned out that Baba—of course under his real name—has a national warrant out for his arrest for a new series of serious crimes that he has committed.” The article alleged that Baba “deals on the black market with gold jewelry that he ‘procured’ from migrants in exchange for various services.”

XX

Fidesz National Assembly Faction Deputy Leader János Halász speaking at January 11 press conference regarding Baba and Migration Aid (source: fidesz.hu).

The ripost.hu article cited no sources or evidence to substantiate its allegations regarding Baba or Migration Aid’s connection to the Soros Foundation. The article used a photograph of Baba from the Orange Files gallery Scenes from the Great Migration 3: the Eastern Railway Crisis without citing the source.

Baba responded almost immediately to the ripost.hu allegations, writing in a Facebook post that “I am neither a saint nor an angel. I am a person who tries to help those in need. I have never been a criminal, I was not taken into custody at the Eastern Railway Station and there is no warrant out for my arrest” (source in Hungarian).

Shortly after the publication of the ripost.hu article, Fidesz National Assembly caucus Deputy Leader János Halász held a press conference regarding the allegations against Baba (source in Hungarian). Below is an Orange Files translation of the statement that Halász read at the press conference:

Good day dear ladies and gentleman. I respectfully welcome you in the name of the Fidesz National Assembly group.

Today we encountered shocking news. According to a report from an on-line news portal, an ex-convict, criminal repeat offender was active at the head of one of the biggest migrant-assistance organizations in Hungary. A criminal who was in prison on several occasions and who has already committed many crimes, among them fraud and forgery of public documents.

According to the news, this criminal was one of the main organizers of the Migration Aid organization that, in fact, belongs to György Soros and assists migrants and migration both here and at other points in Europe.

As is known, this was the organization that promotes illegal migration through the provision of guide books and other services and which organized a demonstration in the autumn against the government’s planned legal and physical border barriers.

First of all, we would like to find out if the news is true. Is it true that a criminal repeat offender organized affairs surrounding migrants? If this news is true, it is shocking. We don’t understand it and we ask how a criminal can fill such a position. We demand that an investigation be carried out within the organization itself. And, if necessary, within other forums as well because this affair could entail very serious national-security risks.

According to the news, a criminal organized the affairs of illegal migrants and did business with them, taking care of money, documents, various services and who knows what else for the illegal migrants.

This person may have deceived many well-meaning volunteers as well. It is questionable whether or not György Soros’s foundation new about this matter. I can hardly imagine that it did not. We also ask for help from the media in order to determine the truth. Rather than silence, an enquiry is needed so that we can truly find out whether or not it is true that a criminal repeat offender handled the affairs of the migrant organization and the immigrants.

We wish you good work!  

Following Halász’s press conference, Migration Aid Spokesperson Zsuzsanna Zsohár told the website index.hu that the organization had never received “a penny” (fillér) from the Soros Foundation (source in Hungarian). Meanwhile Baba told the website origo.hu that “I am not a criminal repeat offender, neither am I a heavyweight mafioso as they have said I am—this is slander. I have spoken with my lawyer and we are going to take the necessary steps, we are going to sue the newspaper and the journalist that wrote this about me” (source in Hungarian).

Orange Files first saw Baba, a.k.a. Csaba Antal Tot, in May 2015: he was standing at a flimsy card table in the pedestrian underpass near the Eastern Railway Station in Budapest providing food and water to twenty or so migrants who were passing through the city on their way to Germany. The number of migrants traversing Hungary was still relatively small. The Migration Aid group had not yet been formed. Over the next four months, Orange Files on many occasions witnessed Baba serving food and distributing clothing, by then as a Migration Aid volunteer, to the steadily increasing number of migrants at the station’s “transit zone.”   

Baba’s criminal record has no bearing on his eligibility to perform volunteer work for an ad hoc non-governmental Facebook group such as Migration Aid. Even if the claims of ripost.hu that Baba is an ex-convict and repeat offender prove to be true, the extraordinary effort he made in the summer and fall of 2015 to provide many thousands of migrants with humanitarian aid is no less worthy of praise and admiration. If, as ripost.hu alleges, Baba exploited the migration crisis to gain personal financial profit on the black market, then he should be held legally and morally accountable for this delinquency. 

Fidesz attempted to use the unsubstantiated allegations against Baba in the on-line tabloid ripost.hu as a means of discrediting the civilians and civil organizations that acted largely in place of the Orbán Government to provide the nearly 400,000 migrants who passed through Hungary in 2015 with humanitarian aid. The authoritarian and despotic inclinations of Fidesz that are embodied in the party’s character assassination of Baba and denigration of Migration Aid constitute a significant risk to the long-term stability and prosperity of Hungary and the unity of the European Union. 

————————-

On January 13, ripost.hu published an article stating that the website had obtained a copy of the Budapest Court decision to uphold a four-and-a-half-year prison sentence that Baba had received for committing fraud worth 98 million forints (310,812 euros). The article asserted that Baba is currently facing another charge of fraud worth several million forints (source in Hungarian). The ripost.hu article alleged that Baba had “hit pay dirt in the migrant business,” reiterating the website’s previous claim that he had exploited the passage of several hundred thousand migrants through Hungary in the summer and early autumn of 2015 to conduct illicit business involving the trade of jewelry for various electronic goods and services, including residence permits and marriages of convenience.

Also on January 13, Baba conducted a half-hour interview with nol.hu, the on-line edition of the opposition newspaper Népszabadság, in which he acknowledged that he had served time in prison and that he had since been questioned in connection to another criminal investigation (source in Hungarian). However, Baba denied that he had received compensation for services provided to migrants passing through Hungary in 2015 and confirmed that he intended to file a lawsuit against ripost.hu on charges of slander.

—————————————————————————————————————————————–

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 27 other followers