Monthly Archives: September 2023

Is Something Rotten in Sweden, too?

The ratification of Sweden’s accession to NATO has been delayed repeatedly over this last year by the Hungarian Parliament.

Why is this so?  Is there anything wrong with Sweden? We know that something is, literarily speaking, ”rotten in Denmark.” Is then something rotten in Sweden too?  Do Hungarians have good reasons to withhold, hand in hand with Turkey, their consent to the timely accession of Sweden to NATO?  Hardly so.

Who among the Hungarian decision makers (to be sure there are only a handful) hold grudges against the Swedes?  No one, we venture to say.  This game must be about something else than against the very country from whom Hungary had procured SAAB Gripen fighters which make up the entire air force fleet of Hungary.  Yes, the whole Hungarian Air Force was manufactured in the country which the Hungarian Government does not see fit to join the NATO military alliance.  And yes, in September 2001, Minister Matolcsy (then Minister of Economy) and Defense Minister János Szabó (does anyone remember this military talent?) announced that Hungary was to purchase its fleet from SAAB in an offset program.

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The ”other” twenty seven

Just a coincidence

A new subscriber, also a friend (and incidentally an economist), was wondering what the twenty-seven so-called milestones are that the European Union is setting in front of the Hungarian Government as the condition of restarting the transfer payments, that are presently withheld. (The terms of conditionality are laid out in the Country Specific Report 2022, and can be found in the document attached at the end of this article.)

It is a mere coincidence that the number of the members in the Union is the same as the so-called super-milestones set out for Hungary to pass. The ”magic number” is twenty seven.

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No More Rubbing of Equestrian Testicles

Here is the Rub

Rubbing delicate parts of a statue is thought all over the world to bring about luck.  At least tourists and students believe in this magic in many cities.

Well-wishers rub the nose of Greyfriars Bobby, a patient dog statue in Edinburgh.  His story can break the heart.  In Cambridge, Massachusetts, mostly students touch the toes of John Harvard’s shoes.  The toe caps of both shoes are shiny, while the high heels remain black.  In Verona, if you are lucky with lining up, you may touch the boobs of Juliette without inviting charges for child molestation.  Juliette’s right breast has been rubbed more frequently than the left one.  And in New York City’s Timer Warner Center at Columbus Circle, you have Fernando Botero’s (God rest his soul) giant and no doubt portly Adam and Eve statues, and you may already guess that so many people touch Adam’s rather small but prominent penis that it has been worn to a shining golden color.  For the record: Eve’s body is untouched.

We in Budapest have an early 20th century policeman statue on the corner of October 6 and Zrínyi Streets, leading up to the Government evicted Central European University’s old entrance.  The jovial cop’ sizeable belly is shining gold as a result of friendly touching.

So, what kind of city is this, we may ask our question once again?

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An untimely celebration

Barely two weeks ago the thirtieth anniversary of the re-burial of admiral Miklós Horthy took place. His ashes had been repatriated from their resting place in Portugal and  interned in the town cemetery of his birth place in Kenderes. The awkward event in 1993 was condoned by many members of the then Prime minister József Antall and his colleagues and all the followers of the nascent retrograde right-wing political class.

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Inscribe Us in the Book of Life

Those of us who finished our Passover Seder dinner last April around 10:00 o’clock or so dutifully reiterated the time-honored closing desire: L’Shana Haba’ah B’Yerushalayim – Next year in Jerusalem.

We expressed our wish to be in Jerusalem next year.  Now we are on the brink of yet another new year.  Rosh Hashanah will be arriving on the evening of September 15.  We are still here in Budapest, and, in all likelihood, this will be so in Year 5784, too, but who knows when and how we will assemble in Jerusalem.  It will be so one day.

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What Kind of City Is This?

Perceptive readers may recall that in my introduction of our Hungarian Perspective on September 4, 2023, I did bring up the story of a troubled woman who arrived to Paris to murder Jean-Paul Marat, and before she carried out this awful deed she got caught up with the horrors of Paris in transition.  What kind of city is this?  – she would repeat the same question in a catatonic manner before she rang the doorbell on Marat’s home.  Surely, what kind of city is this?  As I have noted in my first post, the question, pertaining to this country, will come up in this Blog a number of times from different aspects.

I must say that I never intended to exclude villages and small towns from the inquiry of what kind they are.  If something takes place in rural settings, villages, this also qualifies to the generic question: What kind of city is this?  Here we have a telling story which advises you a fair bit of what kind of a country, city and village life we experience in Hungary.

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The last pavan in Brussels*




noun: pavan

  1. stately dance in slow duple time, popular in the 16th and 17th centuries and performed in elaborate clothing.

Oh! How I would love to amuse my dear readers with the fascinating etymological history, the musical derivations and geographic variations of the word and the dance! But, alas, this time I must restrict myself to the one and only Hungarian derivation, inadvertently coined by our resourceful prime minister, Mr. Orban, based on a misunderstanding and some deceptions. Mr. Orban somehow understood, mistakenly, that the mating dance of the peacock, that is to say stepping forth, than stepping back, is an apt description of how he is dealing with political obligations that he is going to ignore and will not carry out, no matter what, but for the sake of appearances he and his government are willing to pretend to try; and he named this elaborate, deceptive dance of forward and backward steps the ” peacock dance,” in short: pavane.

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Hungarian Perspective: A New Blog on the Block

Motto: “Bloggers have only interpreted the world in various ways, the point is to change it.”

With the death of Eva Balogh in late 2021, the rich years of her blog, Hungarian Spectrum, have come to a regrettable end.  This has left a painful void for readers who counted on her priceless commentary and acute observations.  A few of her readers came up with the challenging idea of recreating a Blog or a Site, in the English language, addressing a mix of Hungarian issues of general interest.  We decided to respond to this interest, and to that end are launching a Blog: the Hungarian Perspective (HP).

We are in the process of recruiting contributors.  Some may be professional journalists, savvy pundits, while others – perhaps most of them – will be simple Athenian craftsmen (line Bottom) and women (like Flute) who believe they are ready to perform a play or two on the stage of commentary.

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Opening Salvo

I greet the readers of this new blog while possibly welcoming back adherents of its predecessor, the Hungarian Spectrum.

Indeed, it is two years since the terse announcement appeared, on the 30th of November, 2021, announcing the passing of Eva Balogh. It shocked everyone, who  read the blog and relied on it for swift, intelligent and reliable information about and from all things Hungarian. Some members of the Hungarian expatriate community were wondering, ”How are we to live now without it?”

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