Orbán is praising and condemning Vietnam’s Communists – at the same time

Viktor Orbán is in Communist Vietnam on an official visit. He warmly greeted the country’s leaders and laid a wreath at the Hanoi War Memorial commemorating the Communist victory over the Americans and their South-Vietnamese allies. Orbán met with Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong and signed “a Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation between the two ruling parties and expressed his hope for furthering the ties with the Communist Party of Vietnam and heightening the bilateral relations in the future.” (Read here.)

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Vietnam Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong. Photo: MTI.

In a passionate speech last February Mr. Orbán complained that the sins of Communism are still excused by the West. He explained that Communism, similarly to National Socialism, came to exist in the 20th century as “an ideological product of the West;” yet the ideology was forced to become “owned by us, central Europeans” in practice whereas it remained only an ideology for the West.

Orbán has criticized the EU for not condemning the crimes of Communism “for which sympathies or affiliation with the political left cannot serve either as an excuse or as an explanation.” While crimes of Nazism had been condemned by an international tribunal, the crimes of Communism have never been as strictly penalized by any representative bodies “of the free world” after that regime’s collapse. (More here.)

The official Vietnamese news agency noted 67 years of “traditional friendship” between the two countries “cultivated by the leaders and peoples of the two countries throughout many generations.” They added, “The Vietnamese people always remember the enthusiastic and precious support that the Hungarian Government and people have offered to Vietnam in the country’s past struggle for national liberation.”

“We are with you Vietnam” – Hungarian Communist poster from the 1960s…

Over fifty years ago Hungary’s Communist government supported the struggle of the Communist Viet Cong against the Americans and it seems strange now that Vietnam is grateful to Orbán’s Hungary for the help that Kádár’s Communist Hungary provided in the Vietnam War. (Read more here.)

“They are fighting for you!” – Hungarian Communist poster 1966.

I expected that Mr. Orbán would object to the statements since his government is a generous supporter of the Washington-based Victims of Communism Foundation. Orbán’s favorite historian Ms. Mária Schmidt hand-delivered a million-dollar check to the organization and in May the Foundation’s Chairman condemned Vietnamese Communism promising “to tell the truth about what is happening in Vietnam today.” (Watch Chairman Lee Edward’s speech.) Mr. Edwards also visited Budapest to discuss with Mr. Orbán, an ex-Communist youth leader himself, how to uncover the crimes of past and current Communists.

Mr. Lee Edwards (middle), Mr. Viktor Orbán (right), Mr. János Horváth (left) and Ms. Edith Lauer (Hungarian American Coalition) on the balcony of the “White House” (a building that houses MP offices) in Budapest.

In Hanoi Mr. Orbán is praising his Communist friends; in Washington he supports the Victims of Communism Foundation to condemn the very same Communist friends.

Doubletalk? Inconsistency? Or just Hungarian diplomacy as usual.

György Lázár

One Comment

  1. The war has ended long ago. Both sides have buried the hatchet. Is the HFP try to re-ignite the flame of past war? Will the Reds of Hungary ever be able to live in the present, and perhaps for the future ?

    One criticim is due to Orban. He never held any of the guilty responsible for their crimes. At least the people of Viet Nam today freely question if the war was worth all the sacrifices that it took. But they are progressing economically well. Hopefully Hungary will follow.

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