Bahrain changes account of 2015 meeting with Viktor Orbán’s “wife”

August 31, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-08-31 at 8.34.23 PM

“Minister of Energy His Excellency Dr. Abdul Hussain bin Ali Mirza received in his office at the National Oil and Gas Authority (NOGA) the wife of Prime Minister of the Republic of Hungary Ms. Rahel Orban, accompanied by the Consul of the Republic of Hungary to the Kingdom of Bahrain Mr. Balazs Garamvolgyi in the presence of Dr. Ahmed Ali Al Sharyan, the NOGA General Secretary,” reads a September 21, 2015, press release published on the website of the Kingdom of Bahrain’s Ministry of Energy.

The only problem here is that the photo included in the press release does not show Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s wife, it shows the prime minister’s daughter, Ráhel, and Orbán’s son-in-law, István Tiborcz.

The authors of the press release, which was tracked down by Hungarian news site 444.hu, seem to be convinced that the lady in the picture is actually Orbán’s wife, Anikó Lévai.

Whether or not Bahrain’s Minister of Energy was aware of whom he was actually speaking to, according to the statement the parties discussed:

  • “steps to increase the volume of co-operation between the two countries within the framework of well-established relations with the EU countries, to extend it to the oil, gas and energy sectors,”
  • “a number of global oil and gas market and energy issues and ways to benefit from sharing experiences, exploring investment opportunities and expanding economic and trade ties between the Kingdom of Bahrain and the Republic of Hungary,” and
  • “the benefit to the national economy of both friendly countries arising from improved co-operation.”

The press release goes on to write that “Ms. Orban and his [sic.] accompanying delegation expressed their deep appreciation for H.E. Dr. Mirza, and thanked him for the warm reception and issues discussed, which were aimed at creating a sustainable business environment and help build new trade and investment bridges between the two countries that will enhance the economic interests of both. They wished every success to the Kingdom for further development and prosperity.”

According to 444.hu, neither Ráhel Orbán nor István Tiborcz serve in any official capacity for the government of Hungary, so it is unclear why Bahrain’s energy minister is speaking to them about oil trade between the two countries.

444.hu turned to the Prime Minister’s Office to find out

  • Why, and in what capacity, was the daughter of the prime minister representing Hungary at this meeting?
  • Who initiated the meeting?
  • Who paid for the trip?
  • What was the outcome of the meeting?
  • Why was news not made public of Ráhel Orbán’s official trip?

“This had nothing to do with an official government delegation, the Prime Minister’s Office has no information about such a visit, and please address questions to those involved [in the meeting],” responded Bertalan Havasi, the prime minister’s press officer.

Ráhel Orbán released a statement Tuesday night in which she addresses the news stories about her trip to Bahrain.

“I took a private trip to Bahrain with my husband from September 17-20, 2015. We paid for the trip ourselves. Any other statement related to this is a lie,” wrote the prime minister’s daughter (who Bahrain’s minister of energy referred to as Orbán’s wife).

Bahrain’s Ministry of Energy subsequently modified the post.  It now correctly identifies Ráhel Orbán as the Hungarian prime minister’s daughter.  Furthermore, the website now claims that the discussion was limited to an overview of the Bahrain economy.

Menu