Holding Orbán Regime Accountable for Crimes: Treason or Patriotism?

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79435191_10157656059046093_1089938145673216_o“We have often found ourselves in a situation where the interests of Hungarian citizens were, in fact, represented by Brussels against the Hungarian government”. For this sentence, many in the governing party camp are now calling me a traitor, even though it is a quote from Fidesz’s European programme, which is still in force today. Moreover, it is accurate and true.
But let me go on: here’s another quote from the same Fidesz European party programme: ‘Hungarian democracy (…) is in great need of control, of being held accountable for following democratic norms.”, And in a paragraph on the enforcement of our common values and principles, the current governing party writes: “Fidesz is convinced, however, that the enforcement of our common values and principles should not be subject to discretion. (…) It is a contradiction in terms to expect the EU to make the governments of the Member States enforce the standards, while being reluctant to give it a mandate that might undermine our sovereignty.” Yes, you read that right. I quote this Fidesz programme a lot (Yes, Hungary can do better – 2009), as it perfectly demonstrates how hypocritical Fidesz’s current government position is and how its anti-EU, life-threatening rhetoric is based on blatant lies. It must be pointed out and people’s attention must be drawn to the fact that they are constantly the victims of a vile hoax and deliberate misleading.
Fidesz regularly and deliberately refers to the entire Hungarian nation, as if, on the basis of their governmental mandate, they and only they alone can (and do) represent the interests of Hungarians; i.e., anyone who does not follow the policy they have set out is betraying the nation, acting against the interests of the Hungarians, and is simply a “traitor”. This argument is not only a vicious lie, but also a vile poison, the effects of which will scar generations. Let us stick to Fidesz terminology: what is treason and what is a patriotic act based on these principles? Was Viktor Orbán a traitor when, as leader of the opposition, he called for the withdrawal of EU aid to our country at the 2006 EPP group meeting in Strasbourg? Is it patriotic to point out the crimes of the powers that be in the interests of the nation? Is it treason or a patriotic act to stand up for the fact that the money Hungary is owed is not for the benefit of white-collar gangsters but for the benefit of Hungarian families? Is it in the Hungarian interest that EU funds should disappear uncontrolled into pro-government pockets, or that they should be used fairly to improve the lives of all Hungarians? I think the answers are simple, but the Fidesz logic confuses Hungary with the NER (Orbán’s so-called National Cooperation System), the interests of Hungarian people with the interests of the system. I do not think they are the same. They are very different.
All this is topical again because next week, the European Parliament’s Strasbourg sitting will have on its agenda a report on the situation of the rule of law in Hungary and the violation of the Union's fundamental values. It is no pleasure to say it: for the umpteenth time. This document is in fact a record of the developments, or rather the deterioration, since the last so-called Sargentini report. And, indeed, it concludes that there are still serious concerns about democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights in Hungary because of the actions of the current government, and the situation has basically only worsened in recent years. According to Fidesz and its visible minority of anti-EU supporters, the report is “another attempt by federalist European political parties to attack Hungary and its Christian Democrat, conservative government on ideological grounds”. I can already predict that next week there will be no substantive debate, no arguments on the content and no concrete explanations of the specific points of accusation, but the usual silly propaganda from the government side: saying that those who support this report are acting against the Hungarian people, or perhaps, as we have already heard from some Fidesz MEPs, that they “hate their country”. It is a blood-curdlingly despicable standard of communication.
I do not consider Fidesz and its leaders to be treasonous. I will not call them so as I was brought up more decently than to do that. What I do know and what I do say is that those in power at the moment have, in recent years, deliberately and with nefarious intent, built democracy in Hungary so that they could use its wealth, its values and its resources for their own personal enrichment. According to my values, this is theft from our common nation, and harm to our common country. To say this, to prove it and to confront the culprits is, according to my values, a patriotic duty. As a Hungarian, I do not represent the interests of the NER in the European Parliament, but the interests of hundreds of thousands of Hungarians who entrusted me with a position and with duties. Anyone who doubts this is not only despicable, but also infinitely ridiculous.
I began with an excerpt from Fidesz’s current European programme, and I will end my open letter today with one. The written commitments of the then opposition party read as follows: “(…) We must finally become a law-abiding, credible Member State, aligning our ambitions with the principles and objectives of the Union shared by all”. Well, that is what the European Parliament, democratically elected by hundreds of millions of European citizens, will be calling to account for the umpteenth time next week. One of Fidesz’s principled commitments. No more and no less. Let us all stick to that.

dr. István Ujhelyi
Member of the European Parliament
11 September, 2022.