Mateusz Wyrwich talks with Jan Pospieszalski – a TV journalist and publicist and one of few Polish journalists who have carried out interviews with the Prime Minister of Hungary Viktor Orban

MATEUSZ WYRWICH: - Viktor Orban, taking over the authority found his country in a total ruin, with a gigantic public debt which exceeded any permissible possibilities...

JAN POSPIESZALSKI: - Orban found out that his country demanded not only thorough economic reforms, but mainly re-defining the whole model of functioning of the country in many areas; starting with the ideological area, through the whole social policy, till economy which demanded sudden intervention. The victory of Fidesz, that is, the political party of Viktor Orban in the election of 2010, assured him the third place in the parliament. In this way the society gave him a mandate of trust, allowing him for implementing brave changes, not only economic. Moreover, the society gave him a tool making it possible to carry out these reforms: the right to change Stalin’s constitution.

Despite the majority in the parliament, leading Hungary out of the economic collapse, as we see it today, became extremely difficult, why?

Post-communist governments bounded Hungary with very unprofitable international contracts for the country. For example, foreign consortiums did not have to pay taxes, whereas other, taking advantage of legal gaps, did not have to present their income, earning their profit abroad at the same time. However, these vast supermarkets earned and still earn a fortune, and the Treasury of the Hungarian country is empty...It is even standing on the threshold of bankruptcy. Orban decided that he would not race in the investigation how this big capital is making profits, but he taxed international consortiums in a clear way – introducing taxation by a crisis tax for the period of three years.

And it resulted in a peculiar event which took place in Budapest last year. It was a meeting among ambassadors of countries investing in Hungary, organised to the wish of entrepreneurs, and devoted to the issue how to prevent reforms of Orban...

In fact, the brave program of Orban’s reforms caused a panic of the international capital. And this resulted in this meeting in Budapest during which it was discussed how to stop the reforms which lead to real lowering benefits for the foreign capital.

And what is unusual, the Hungarian press was supporting these entrepreneurs but not its prime minister. How is it possible?

In Hungary, to a more extent than in Poland, the owners of nearly all newspapers are foreign corporations. After 1990, communist newspapers, with the leading newspaper of Hungarian communists ‘Nepszabadsag’ which appeared after stifling the Hungarian revolution in 1956, were bought for pennies. It is a king of the Hungarian ‘Tribune of the People’. First it was bought by Germany, and today its owners are the Swiss of leftist-liberal opinions. However, the maintenance of the whole editorial team was guaranteed to former communist journalists, which, certainly, could not be compared to the way of writing about democratic Hungary and the world. As they used to serve to the communist propaganda, now they started to promote hurray-propaganda of the liberal economic as well as social and worldwide policy.

Which was probably most visible in the case of the Media Act introduced from the initiative of Viktor Orban.

When in the beginning of the year 2011 Hungary took over the presidency in the European Union, the government of Orban prepared and implemented the Media Act. Immediately it raised a gigantic protest among Hungarian liberals and post-communists who have enormous influence till today in the so-called saloon, that is, in university groups, among people of traditional media and also among the representatives of various foundations, institutions, which – similarly as in Poland – are functioning mainly for money of foreign capitals. Those ‘moralists’ felt threatened and caught this Media Act, stating that it is an assassination to the freedom of speech. It was also characteristic and referring to our reality that the Act had been branded also by the international public opinion – before it was translated into English. For example, deputes for the European Parliament did not leave a dry thread on it. There were even ‘warning’ voices: if you think that the democratic process is impossible to withdraw, then have a look at Hungary... however, when the Act was translated into English, it turned out that 95% records of the Hungarian Act of Media is the so-called convergence, that is, adjusting it to ‘civilisational norms’, which are used by countries of the so-called free world. There is the protection of authorship, privacy and prevention from spreading contents which are insulting, fascist and anti-Semitic. This Act also refers to moral issues. It regulates, among the others, the presence of harmful contents in the public space or contents which are strongly invasive in the emotional sphere and which are harmful for the youth. The Act also raises the age of people permitted to perform in erotic films or even pornographic. For, post-communists introduced the law according to which 14-year-old children were allowed to take part in pornographic films. But it also caused the situation when a few hundreds people from radio and television, who had started working in media during the ruling times of post-communists, lost their work. Changes in the Hungarian constitution, not violated since the times of Stalin, and in nearly 400 other acts were and are very strongly discussed by the centres of public opinion in liberal countries in the West.

However, what is not liked by post-communists and liberals, is accepted by the society...

This uncommon attack of the national post-communist and liberal foreign media unfavourable to Orban resulted in a manifestation in the centre of Budapest on 21 January. This gigantic demonstration gathered about half a million people. I have recently seen such crowds not only during Pope’s pilgrimages in Poland. In this respect it made a greater impression on me, that I noticed many Polish flags –many Poles live in Budapest. And it was not a demonstration of furious participants. These were people who spoke by their attitude and banners: ‘We have a right to live our own way’. There were hardly such anti-union slogans which had aggressive character, whereas there were slogans: ‘We thank Lithuania’ or ‘We thank Poles’. It made a great impression. The march lasted a few hours. Judging from banners, the Hungarians had come to Budapest from the whole country and from abroad. And something else was important: they were carrying crosses and rosaries. Women were singing religious songs. This fusion of element.... where on the bottom there is Divine Cult – a deep faith – with what is expressed as patriotism, love to the Homeland and is as integral as in some of our communities. It gave me a feeling of being in my country. I am perfectly able to recognise and understand this idiom. The demonstration arrived at the Square of Lajos Kossuth where important events take place but also where in 1989 young Orban was calling for withdrawing Soviet armies. Organizers were greeting the arriving people without any speeches, and the people were going away soon in order to leave the square.

You were talking with the Hungarians on the square and during the march, about what, among the others, will be the topic of your film made with Ewa Stankiewicz, about Hungarian reforms. What mainly was repeated in statements?

I was talking, among the others, with a young mother who had come with three children. She was saying that it was hard. Everything is getting expensive day by day, because fuel is getting expensive. But she was saying that we can survive it, clench our teeth, and refuse something to ourselves when we do it for the sake of our children’s future. She came here because she trusts that the direction of policy shown by Viktor Orban is right. This strong motivation repeated the most; not these particular EU mottos, but just this one: ‘Hajra Magyarorszag! Hajra Orban (‘Move forward Hungary, Move forward Orban’)... It was extremely imposing. Pride, the sense of patriotism, relationships with tradition, regaining all this. Choking on it. They were saying: Viktor Orban is bringing back freedom to us. He is doing this unaccomplished homework – completing the revolution of 1989.

However, there were not any journalists of big networks or television stations during this manifestation ...

There weren’t, indeed. There were no cars of German or Austrian television. An unusual thing for me was what I remember from Polish manifestations like the March of Independence in 2011, that such a big demonstration took place at low interest of the Western television stations or agencies. What does it prove? Does it prove the fact that the interest in events all over the world is selective, that is, where Orban is supported, about which the Western media do not say anything; whereas the environments which criticize Orban have open antennas. And loud sensations are created from it. For example, I found the correspondence of the Polish Press Agency very hurtful in which it suddenly turned out that a correspondent had estimated the number of the manifestation for over a hundred thousands people...He also gave a number of protesters against Orban who had come out into the street: a hundred thousands as well. It was a complete nonsense; whereas there may have been five of them or ten thousands. The police estimate that there may have been twenty thousands of them. This unfair estimation is something what I know from the description of our reality in Poland. But there should not be any consent to it. And where it is possible, this nonsense and lies should be corrected, acknowledging that it is a kind of de-information and an attempt to influence the reality.

Viktor Orban, Hungary may be dangerous for liberals because the country shows that their policy throughout the last two centuries in post-communist countries had failed. These environments may be afraid that Hungary will become a pioneer of changes resulting from discontent about the reforms carried out in the 90s in the countries of the former Soviet block...

Yes, and also from the discontent about the leftist idea of order in Europe and the dictates of the international capital which starts to organize the whole market and is a representative of the interests of banks, not tax-payers, that is, citizens. It seems to me that it is a dangerous epidemic which Orban is eliminating today. He shows that it is possible. He has a strong determination and consistence in action. It gives hope to people. Last December, Orban, an Evangelist, answered a question of one of journalists about how he copes with the seriousness of challenges, that he receives strength due to his everyday presence at early morning celebrated masses in Advent, at six in the morning. It explicitly shows a way of hope, not only for Hungary.


"Niedziela" 09/2012

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: redakcja@niedziela.pl