Gábor Vona: Hungary must remain a part of the EU and NATO

December 14, 2017

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Jobbik chairman and prime ministerial candidate Gábor Vona speaking at Jobbik’s commemoration of the revolution of 1956 at Corvin-köz, Budapest, on October 23, 2017. | Photo: Budapest Beacon/Balázs Pivarnyik

“Those who would be in a position to go out into the streets and protest against the Orbán government are now washing dishes in London, they are waiters in Paris, and they are janitors in Berlin. At least 600,000 people have left this country of 10 million people.” – Gábor Vona, chairman, Jobbik Movement for a Better Hungary


The Beacon caught up with Gábor Vona this week to discuss a range of issues, including Hungary’s dependence on Russian energy and whether ruling party Fidesz poses a threat to the Hungarian nation. According to Vona, the Fidesz government is engaged in “state-operated industrialized theft” in which “there is no longer a rule of law.”

The Jobbik chairman certainly has cause to be frustrated. If the past two weeks are an indication of what Jobbik can expect from Fidesz in the run-up to the 2018 national election, the next three and a half months will prove to be especially difficult for Hungary’s largest opposition party.

Last week, former Jobbik MEP Béla Kovács was indicted on charges of spying and fraud. Then, the State Audit Office fined the party HUF 660 million for allegedly receiving restricted nonmaterial political support in the form of heavily discounted ad space from businessman Lajos Simicska. On Monday, a debate between Vona and independent MP Zoltán Kész was abruptly cancelled hours before it was scheduled because the owner of the venue refused to give space to Jobbik (which is strange when one considers that the same venue had hosted Jobbik politicians in the past).

For the better part of the past two and a half years, Fidesz has taken the wind out of Jobbik’s far-right sails, in part by adopting large pieces of Jobbik’s original platform. The once “radical nationalist” opposition party is now struggling to stay relevant as it attempts to strategically reposition itself as a center-right people’s party.

Have Jobbik supporters mellowed with time?

The Beacon asked the Jobbik chairman whether Jobbik supporters have the “cahones” to lash out at the government in a manner similar to the way they lashed out at Jewish and Roma communities in the past.

Vona denied that he personally and Jobbik supporters – in an official capacity – had ever openly condoned violence or collective judgement against minority groups in Hungary. He also denied that he or his party ever had any connection to the banned Hungarian Guard (“Magyar Gárda”, of which Vona served as the president) and extremely violent Outlaws’ Army (in the company of whose members Vona was frequently photographed).

“That’s a big question. We’ll see,” Vona said.

Is Viktor Orbán afraid of seeing 2006-like riots?

When asked whether he thinks Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is afraid of seeing riots similar to those in 2006, Vona said: “Those who would be in a position to go out into the streets and protest against the Orbán government are now washing dishes in London, they are waiters in Paris, and they are janitors in Berlin. At least 600,000 people have left this country of 10 million people.”

Could Orbán’s relationship with Russia’s Putin and Hungary’s dependence on that country’s energy pose a national security risk?

Asked if Hungary’s dependence on Russian energy poses a national security risk to Hungary, Vona said: “As long as the [Paks nuclear plant expansion] contract is classified, this poses a national security risk.” He added that Hungary must protect its national sovereignty from Russia just as it would with any other great power.

Is Orbán Putin’s Trojan Horse in the EU and NATO?

“Viktor Orbán’s relationship with Russia and President Vladimir Putin is very strange,” Vona said. “Just a few years ago he warned Hungary about the dangers of Putin. Since then, it’s obvious how close they’ve become.”

Jobbik on the EU and NATO

“Hungary is a member of the European Union and it has to stay that way. We have to remain a member of NATO,” Vona said.

KGBéla

Vona told us he does not know what to make of the fact that the prosecution service’s press release announcing the indictment against Béla Kovács for spying makes no mention of Russia. According to Vona, state-run media will show Kovács paraded around in handcuffs a week before the 2018 election, but the alleged spy will be acquitted of the charges.

“Tactical voting”

“This term appears more and more in public discourse. It means that in individual electoral districts, the opposition expects voters to vote for the strong opposition candidate — and that is why I am working making sure Jobbik presents the strongest candidate in every district,” Vona said.

“Tactical voting” has indeed been floated as an idea whereby opposition voters – regardless of party preference – cast a ballot for the opposition candidate they feel is most likely to win in a given electoral district, even as they cast a second vote for the national list of the party he or she supports.

Vona told us that as Jobbik chairman, he must encourage all Jobbik’s supporters to vote for the party’s candidate and the party — “[but if] the parties will not be able to reach an agreement, the voters will have to.”