The end of the Visegrad 4 Group – Orbán is alone

A couple of weeks ago in Prague, the prime ministers of Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic declared that they would oppose the European Commission’s plan to redistribute 120,000 refugees across the European Union. They resolutely rejected the proposed quota system.

The Czech Republic hosted the meeting as current president of the Visegrad 4 Group (V4).

Polish Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz stated that refugee quotas would attract further refugees. Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said that the refugee quotas do not address the main issue; the key to the migration crisis is the situation in the countries like Syria and Libya. Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico rejected criticism of the V4 for its attitude toward the refugees. “I reject…the moral issues addressed to the governments of Slovakia and other V4 countries for their efforts to strictly protect the Schengen external borders,” he said.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán was beaming. Hungary deeply appreciated the solidarity expressed by the Czechs, Slovaks and Poles. This was a major victory for him; the V4 countries solidly stood behind him. Or did they?

 V4 Prime Ministers in Prague - Did they have an agreement?

V4 Prime Ministers in Prague – Did they have an agreement?

When the EU interior ministers recently voted on the proposed plan the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary voted against the mandatory refugee quotas as agreed to at the V4 meeting. And Poland?

While earlier they vehemently opposed it, now Poland voted for it, leaving the three smaller V4 countries behind. Poland is bigger than the other three together.

In the meantime, the Prime Ministers of the Czech Republic and Slovakia formed new alliances and are coordinating migration policy with Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann. Hungary’s relationship with Austria is strained; they recently called Mr. Faymann a liar.

Faymann, Fico and Sobotka are happier without Orbán.

Faymann, Fico and Sobotka are happier without Orbán.

This is the end of the Visegrad 4 Group. Poland doesn’t want to be part of it anymore, and the Czechs and Slovaks would rather partner with “liar” Austria. This leaves Hungary as the odd man out. Viktor Orbán is alone; his diplomacy hit a dead-end.

Hungary has no friends left in the region.

György Lázár

Related: See HFP’s earlier piece on the possibility of a new regional alliance in Central Europe, without Hungary.

22 Comments

  1. Avatar Charlie London says:

    I hope Orban didn’t try kissing Ewa’s hand again – she hardly looks pleased and just as in Communist photo shoots your position is all – no where near the smell coming from the end of the row!

    I believe it used to be The Visegrad Five – which Orban hoped would be a powerful economic group of CE country’s to compete with the west!

    “Hungary will be the engine that will drive the EU out of recession” Orban said in 2013!

    We are still waiting for this miracle – not to mention the 1million jobs!

    Matolcsy is too busy buying up prime real estate in the Castle District for nepotistic family (mis)management to balance the economy. And the black clouds of EU funds deprevation are gathering on the horizon.

    Whilst his adoring electorate believe the blather, Orban’s goodwill in the Visegrad 5-4-3-2-1-kerchung has evaporated.

    To this Westerner ‘Visegrad’ sounds very Russian!

    Orban is soiled goods – best distance ourselves.

    Farewell Visegrad!

    (Who was the 5th member?)

    • Sorry, Charlie, Visegrád was never “five”. In 1335, it was more or less 3 or 4 – Hungarian, Czech (which included Luxembourg), and Polish Kingdom, and perhaps some Prussian Order. They agreed on some trade and peace.

      In 1991, it was restarted as the Visegrád Triangle, Czechoslovakia, Hungary,Poland, which became V4 when Czechoslovakia dissolved in 1993. I guess that Slovenia was the closest external countries considering to join but it was far enough.

      Visegrád is a Hungarian castle near the Slovak border, once the sea of the Hungarian kings, but it is a Slavic word, indeed. It means Acropolis. Vyše- is “upper”, “-grád” is either castle or a city, like “-burg” in German. There is an ancient Vyšehrad Castle in Prague, too – usually must be on the mountain.

      Orbán is admired for his ability to defend the law and the interests of his nation and the European civilization in much of central Europe. This is where it matters. Whether someone in the West is brainwashed by stupid anti-Orbán press should be secondary, right?

      • Avatar Charlie London says:

        An! A pop!

        One man’s brainwashing is another man’s reality.

        I have enough experience of Hungary – inside and out – to know the reality.

        Your loyalty is admirable in defending that which is indefensible.

        But thanks for the history lesson. I have since discovered that Croatia might have been a candidate for the fifth seat.

        • Avatar Charlie London says:

          …….I think I detect Majgar Guarda and a Trianon irredentist.

          And Jobbik.

          • Avatar Charlie London says:

            Ah! A Czech!

            “Luboš Motl is a Czech theoretical physicist by training who was an assistant professor at Harvard University from 2004 to 2007.”

            A surprising post in the circumstances. Hardly a reputable alumni from such an august establishment?

          • Avatar Charlie London says:

            Allegedly……….

          • I am not ashamed of my having spent 6 years at Harvard at all (3 years as Harvard Junior Fellow, 3 years as Harvard faculty).

            I was there because of physics, not because of my (non-existing) support of the prevailing ideologies at Harvard – although this disagreement with the prevailing ideologies was the main reason why I escaped that school.

            Surely you’re shocked that the Harvard Society of Fellows dared to accept someone who supports Orbán and despises feminists and other SJWs, aren’t you? You would send such people to a Gulag instead, I guess.

            The brainwashing vs reality issue: the real problem probably isn’t necessarily about seeing or not seeing facts, but about understanding vs misunderstanding everything about their meaning, interpretation, and mechanisms. I am on the side of the understanding while you are not.

          • Avatar Charlie London says:

            You are mistaking me for someone who gives a damn.

            This blog is about Hungary – I suggest you keep it apposite.

      • Please tell me which “law” Orban is defending? From what I see, he is defending his own laws that were made up at the last minute, all while ignoring the laws of the refugee protection and following any of the procedures set out by the EU and UN with regards to the Geneva Convention, to which Hungary is a signitory to. What I find interesting is that someone who is educated can actually fall for this “saviour of Europe” crap. Do you not see that this is all bullshit? Do you not see that Hungary just wants the freedom to do whatever the hell they want, and get away with it even if they are stealing the money given to the COUNTRY to make politicians and friends rich? For example, how is it possible to spend 64 million euro on a fence that was solely built by military, prisoners and public works? This money should have been spent to build proper reception centers, have the personnel hired to do the processing and have proper camps with the appropriate supplies, food, medical provided for the refugees. Instead, Orban did nothing! He even waited to start building this fence until it was too late. His entire plan was to make a mockery of this whole ordeal, so he can make it look as though Hungary has it worse than others to ensure more funds! It was also done to ensure that the people of Hungary had negative exposure to the refugees, so he can preach his nationalistic sermon. It was a total slap in the face to those who organized with private citizens and NGO’s to gather food and supplies to not only feed and try to care for refugees, but also the police and military. Then turn around in worldwide media announce to the world that it was the Hungarian government who paid for this care that was given, when they didn’t even contribute to it! Disgusting in my view. Please tell me, how this makes sense to you?

        • Dear Liz, thank you for your questions. The answers are obvious.

          The main essential treaty that Orbán protects by this hard work is the Dublin II Convention also known as the Dublin Regulation. It demands that the first countries inside the Schengen area that the foreigners enter have to make sure that they’re not unauthorized entrants from a database, has to register them, and has to negotiate the asylum if those are ever allowed to travel to other countries of the Schengen area.

          Obviously, the fence with Serbia is an example of hard work that Hungary is doing that defends the whole Schengen area and every member country in it against unauthorized entrants. Also, those who do get to the Hungarian i.e. Schengen territory are properly registered and they’re only allowed to travel according to some agreements with other countries, e.g. by preagreed trains through Austria to Germany.

          None of the other countries on the periphery of the Schengen area seems willing or capable of fulfilling these basic obligations vis-a-vis the other European countries. Migrants are allowed to drift to Greece (and Italy, largely) without limitations – 1200 people during just one particular hour today. Most of them are not registered at all and they’re allowed to go anywhere to other countries without restrictions. Unlike Hungary which does its job right, Greece is using Europe as a dumping ground for the illegal immigrants that would add extra work for the Greeks.

          It’s not the first time when Hungary defends Europe against undesirable and legally indefensible Islamization, of course. The Hungarian-Ottoman Wars have slowed the onslaught of Turks many centuries ago and the Hungarians were critical when the European civilization was being defended against the Ottoman raids within the Austrian empire. Without those efforts and casualties, people in Prague if not Paris could very well be obliged to worship Prophet Mohammed these days and wars analogous to the war in Syria could be taking place in Germany.

          This is why, with some hopes, Orbán is being praised as a savior of Europe – without quotation marks.

          Your suggestion that our money should be spent to build reception centers or feed hundreds of thousands of illegal migrants is utterly unacceptable for 98% of citizens in my country and many other countries. As our president said today when he refused to meet the migrants – although he visited the very village which has a migrant camp – over 80% of these people are young men who have iPhones in their pockets and who have been fed well.

          They didn’t look for safety. If it were so, they would end up in the first peaceful countries on their journey, instead of trying to look for the EU country with the most generous welfare programs. A small fraction of them are possible refugees who are escaping wars but most of these are young men, too. They are cowards who are leaving their women, children, and elderly alone and existentially endangered, who are reducing the potential and productivity of their homelands. They are surely not role models of any sort. They are superficial egotists, too. And as the conflicts with the policemen etc. often show, many of them are a security threat, people who are willing to violate our vital laws at every moment.

          If you want to invite them to your house and do it legally, be my guest. But no official politicians have invited a single man among those migrants to countries like Czechia or Hungary. Our leaders have said very explicitly that no one is invited. (A difference from Angela Merkel’s Germany.) President Zeman has also said that they’re required to obey our laws and rules while temporarily staying on our territory and if they don’t like it, they should leave.

          You have absolutely no basis, credentials, or right to demand others to provide these illegal migrants with housing, food, asylum, citizenship, and not even with sympathies. You can’t force us to keep them, especially if neither we nor the migrants themselves actually want to stay here! You may consider the Hungarian principled, responsible, legal approach ethically problematic – the more accurate adjective is “politically incorrect” – but please live with the fact that in a similar way, we consider your proposals to be ethically defective. Even more importantly, they are illegal and dangerous for the values we find dear (such as freedom, separation of church and state, relative safety on the streets, sustainability of welfare systems etc.).

          You are supporting crime and if your support included some more tangible steps, you could very well be tried as a criminal on our territory, too (e.g. for people smuggling).

          Hopefully, it looks like Western European politicians are gradually starting to see the light these days, too. On Wednesday, the quota discussion was totally eliminated and the prime ministers started to appreciate that the influx simply has to be stopped in some way.

        • Goodness! LM you are so naïve.

          Swallowing Orban’s bullshit hook, line and sinker.

          I for one don’t want to be ‘saved’ by such a thug as he.

          And you really believe Orban was following ‘Dublin’ as his responsibility?

          Fool.

        • Goodness! LM you are so naïve.

          Swallowing Orban’s bullshit hook, line and sinker.

          I for one don’t want to be ‘saved’ by such a thug as he.

          And you really believe Orban was following ‘Dublin’ as his responsibility?

          Fool.

          Stick to theoretical physics – realpolitik ain’t your bag.

          • The observation that Orbán fulfills the Schengen and Dublin agreements while many others don’t isn’t a matter of interpretations and low-brow deluded emotional comments like yours, Charles. It is a *fact* and indeed, your incoherent yelling like a wild animal is the only thing you can do against facts.

            These rules that I advocate are not Orbán’s playbook. They are our common playbooks. They are the laws of the European Union and *everyone* who isn’t a criminal has to “swallow” these playbooks. You may call him a thug which is an emotional propagandist label detached from any empirical basis. But it’s still an objectively demonstrable fact that he defends the law – and not just some random law: it’s laws that have been designed and that are essential for preserving the values that Europe finds dear – and you do your best to violate these laws and destroy the values.

            I talk about politics because aside from the theoretical physics background, I am a sort of respected guy in politics with a heroic record and appreciated views. If you’re not familiar with my name, it only highlights how totally inadequate your knowledge is for similar discussions.

  2. Hungary has historically been on the wrong side of politics and this shows how far off they are from modern times.
    Bad decisions have cost her 2/3 of her territory and now Orban will ensure Hungary’s let to rot.

  3. Please, don’t try to create such divisions. It’s rather important for us to stay on the same frequency. In Czechia and Slovakia, Orban et al. enjoy some moderate hero status these days. Concerning the quota, Fico turned out to be a top hero.

    The Poles were intimidated in various ways, especially because Tusk is the “president” and it wouldn’t look good if Poland were against the “right” policy in such an important question. But I received lots of messages from Poland apologizing for what they government did – betrayal – and I wrote to them it was OK, even though the anger about Poland in Czechia and Slovakia is genuine.

    I wrote them – partly wishful thinking – that most of us haven’t thrown Poland under the bus yet. Don’t overlook that on October 25th, there are elections in Poland. One month away. Law and Justice will probably win and Poland may very well turn into the hard core of V4 again.

    Our Czech, or Slovak coordination with Vienna is mostly a fantasy. The relationships are a diluted version of those between you and Austria. The opposition to the vote yesterday was actually much weaker in Hungary, maybe perhaps because Hungary would be helped if such policies worked – it’s a redistribution of the migrants from the entrance countries.

    It’s Fico who is the toughest guy right now. The Czech government has already announced that it won’t join the lawsuit he files against the quota, and so on. Those things are unfortunate – we may become traitors, too. It would make sense for Prague to play the “extended muscle” for Bratislava now.

    This migration wave – which may become much worse if this “welcome all” policy continues – is likely to become such a huge, nearly geopolitical issue that we really don’t want countries of the size of HU or CZ or SK to stay alone. We are not alone. We must just work on the synergy a little bit.

  4. Avatar András B. Göllner says:

    This is a pretty inane exchange with Lubos Motl, I must admit. I’m not interested in her condemnation of Harvard and feminism, why she left the University after 6 years and what the word Visegrad means in Slovak. She may be a good physicist but her ability to address socio-political questions in an intellectually organized and disciplined manner is grossly inadequate. Can we have a break from this torture ? Please ?

  5. Avatar Charlie London says:

    I agree – as you’ll see from my post.

    Btw LM is a male – for fear of getting a diatribe on feminism!

  6. These people must be sent back to their homeland. Who would have ever thought that Europe would take it hook line and sinker, muslims running from islam is absurd. The so called “refugee” is the new Trojan horse, refugee today, terrorist tomorrow.

    Why is it the responsibility of any European country to give these “refugees”(most are economic refugees) a better life. Europe has nothing to gain by letting or bringing these people in. Europe, your first and last obligation is to your people. What do the “refugees” have to offer? They bring nothing to the table.

    Why don’t muslim “asylum seekers” go to Qatar, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates , Oman, Saudi Arabia or any of the other rich muslim countries? These are Islamic countries therefore more suitable for them.

    Has any European country benefited by opening it’s borders to non-Europeans? Name one. Do they make Europe a safer place to live? Have they made Europe great? Are they good for tourism? Do they bring anything positive to Europe? Do they respect the citizens of Europe and the customs? Do they support themselves without burdening the tax payers? Do they burden the judicial system due to high crime rates? Do they love Europe or what they can get from her?

    Do they victimize the European people in large proportions to their small numbers? Wouldn’t crimes against the European people foreshadow their true intentions? Do they trash up the areas they inhabit in Europe? If they victimize the host country’s people and trash up their land after they have been given a new start at life, wouldn’t that be like a direct “screw you”? Do they demand you to change your ways and customs so they can tolerate you? Do they respect the peoples government? Your family? Your people? Your culture?

    If they are guilty of three of these questions then It would be safe to say they should not be in Europe. There is more harm than good for Europe and her people.

    If a European country don’t let the hoards flood their land they are called “racist” and “Nazis” if they let them in, their country, their lives, their descendants lives will be torn apart. Which one is easier to live with? Which one does the most damage? Which choice is beneficial to the European country and it’s people? Wake up before it’s too late.

  7. Wow, I love how Andras reveals the true face of this sect here – Lubos is actually making some very good points, some of them could be debated, others are facts, but Andras’ response is to “cut the torture”… ostensibly because he comes here for his daily dose of Orban bashing, and having to digest and then intellectually respond to Lubos’s comments would be a torture.
    Congrats…
    Seen from what could be considered a somewhat privileged position in Brussels in terms of access to info on Council diplomacy, Tusk was the nr1 reason why PL retreated, along with the (IMHO token) concession that they only need to take 5t and not 9t ppl in the big migrant reshuffle. Also, they realise they will lose big time anyway in the October elex.
    The AT guys here really do not consider the CZ SK equals, so if I was Orban I wouldnt be too afraid of this, and, indeed, with PiS coming in after October, I’d expect V4 to become more coherent and united with Orban taking center stage. (During the Ukraine debacle, Orban’s statues were removed from PL churches. Now they are being brought back :))
    Also in Croatia you can expect a more Orban friendly administration to come in after next elex (too of course in politics there can always be surprises) and I wonder how long Ponta will last.
    None of the above should be taken as an endorsement of Orban’s domestic politics, which is average at best, but in migration on the EU level he is doing well (5 out of his 6 points were accepted by his peers yesterday. And on external borders, only Greece is resisting – and based on how the others leaned on Tsipras, it may not last long.

    • “On the EU level he is doing well “

      Er no.

      Why do so many believe Orban’s methods are saintly and inspired?

      They are not.

      (Orban bashing alert:) Oban is a thug and an opportunist.

      Of course it’s out of the book of the bleedin’ obvious that the Schengen borders will require controlling to register refugees at the point of entry.

      Ditto large efficient registration centres to fast track those that don’t qualify.

      Ditto the need to contribute to the camps where people have had to leave due to being on starvation rations because the aid agencies have run out of money.

      Ditto the need to act globally and to ensure other 1951 signatories do their bit.

      Ditto the need to engage……

      (Putin bashing alert:) Russia to challenge them to stop supporting Bomber Al Assad who is a war criminal. (And Iran that Jobbik love so much.)

      Orban doing well? Rollocks. What planet are you on?

      Pre-emptive barriers – razor wire have complicated any teamwork by the EU.
      Solutions? Pepper- Spraying TEK? ‘Leadership’ against his own population? Nationalist rhetoric?

      Nothing Orban has contributed to the refugee crisis has contributed positively to solving the problem. Nothing.

      Etc etc etc….

      ‘Doing well’? (I take note of the equivocation.)

      You’re talking Rollocks.

  8. No, it’s not END V4 group. The Poles so sorry CEE countries
    for a betrayal #migration

    We Poles are waiting for new new elections and now right-government for a next month. Orban will not be alone

  9. Avatar András B. Göllner says:

    Andrew

    Horthy wasn’t alone either in Central Europe during WWII. The Slovaks, the Romanians were good buddies for a while. Birds of a feather, flock together.

    Adam

    Well chosen name, but it won’t get you into the American Zone.

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