Shedding some light on anti-Hungarian conspiracies

Conspiracy theory has been driving the thinking and communications of Fidesz, Hungary’s ruling political party. The ‘story’ is that the country is being targeted by foreign interests, most notably the Democratic party in the United States along with organizations posing as NGOs, which are actually working together complicitly to overthrow Viktor Orbán’s democratically elected government.

One result is that Atlatszo and many other civil groups have been subjected to government attacks. A recent “battle” in the ongoing “war” erupted in October last year, when the US government banned a number Hungarians from entering the country on the grounds that they are involved in corrupt practices. The names of the people affected by the ban are not public knowledge, apart from the head of the tax authority.

Since the story of the corruption ban came out, the government media has continued to spin the events, framing them as part of a larger conspiracy that US business and political interests are using the NGOs and their direct connections with Hungarian peers to pursue a subversive US agenda in Hungary.

A quick glance at the factual background of their efforts paints a comical picture. A recent piece in the political daily Magyar Nemzet reported on an agreement between NGOs loyal to the US government, which have backing from covert agencies to gather sensitive information which would then be use to exercise pressure on the Hungarian government. The organization in question is called Human Rights First (HRF), with a clear focus on promoting and protecting human rights.

The group does indeed have ties to the armed services and is actually working closely with numerous retired military officers, but its goals could not be more different than those implied by the Hungarian spin. HRF has for years been working to release the records of the “enhanced interrogation techniques” that the US military has employed on enemy combatants, people detained without charge or trial. They engaged in several rounds of strained talks and conflicts between the transparency advocates and the US agencies. And their persistence and efforts paid off, resulting in the release of the records, leading to much international criticism of the American practices and foreign policy. In summation, HRF, the group that was to head a cloak and dagger effort to destabalise the Hungarian government is one of the most ardent supporters of transparency and now has the results to show for its efforts.

Then there was the appearance of John McCain, a staunch Republican, on the scene. The Hungarian right differentiates between the Democrats, which use the local left-wing groups and their proxies, and the Republicans, which, being conservatives themselves, they believe to be friends to the Budapest government. Imagine their surprise when the GOP senator referred to Prime Minister Viktor Orbán as a neo-fascist dictator. The shock was such that the spin doctors were caught off guard and were unable to find a way to tie McCain to any ongoing global conspiracy that would make him an accessory to the diabolical efforts of the political right.

Here is one suggestion they could try: McCain has long been a close supporter of HRF and the senior retired military officials it has been working with, and was also one of the most vocal advocates of making the torture documents public, thus placing him on the same platform as many Democrats. His position on the matter likely has to do with his personal history as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. For his continued support, McCain received the HRF Beacon award in December. The editor-in-chief of attended the presentation ceremony upon invitation from HRF.


The original article was published in Hungarian on 23rd December 2014.