Hungarian politician attacks Republican Senator James Risch of Idaho

Mr. Zsolt Németh, a politician in Hungary’s Fidesz party and leader of the Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee has launched a bizarre attack against Republican Senator James Risch of Idaho.

Senator Risch recently criticized the erosion of democratic institutions in Hungary: “I am very concerned by today’s news that Hungary will be indefinitely ruled by executive fiat. The Hungarian Parliament, controlled entirely by Prime Minister Orbán’s Fidesz party, has granted Orbán’s request to respond to the coronavirus outbreak with unquestioned power.”   In his statement Senator Risch mistakenly claimed that Hungary had also suspended Parliament. (Read Risch’s statement here)

Obviously, Mr. Németh has every right to correct the Senator’s misstatement, yet I would also expect him to respond to the primary concern, which was Orbán’s unprecedented power grab of unlimited power for an indefinite period. Instead, Németh claimed that the Senator had been “deliberately misled” by unnamed anti-Orbán political forces. He wrote: “At first glance it reads just like the hundreds of similar ones we have got used to seeing over the past ten years.”

Mr. Zsolt Németh (left) and Viktor Orbán. Németh has lost influence in his Fidesz party.

Németh’s response is patronizing and insulting to the 76-year-old Senator. He writes that the Senator accepts “alternative realities” and has failed “to carry out basic fact-checking.”   Németh accuses him of undermining President Trump’s foreign policy with “especially unfortunate” comments that “overshadow” the “promising development” of Hungarian-US ties.  (Németh’s response in Hungarian)

It might have escaped Mr. Németh’s attention that the US Embassy in Budapest has also issued a similar statement expressing the US State Department’s concerns:  “A government has no higher duty than the security and safety of its citizens. Any emergency measures taken should be targeted to address the COVID-19 crisis. Governments should ensure such powers are restricted to the period of time needed to address the current crisis and lifted as soon as they are no longer needed.”

Mr. Németh is 56 years old, the son of a Protestant pastor.  In 1988 he was one of the founders of the Fidesz party and an early supporter of Orbán.  After a promising start, Mr. Németh’s  political influence gradually diminished within the party, he failed to get a cabinet post and there is talk that he will be sidelined and ”exiled” to an ambassadorial post.  His committee chairmanship is largely ceremonial without political weight and with this letter he is trying to play the role of a Fidesz „attack dog” hoping that the party will reward his public rudeness.

Mr. Németh is also wooing US Democrats.  He has ties to Ms. Katrina Lantos Swett, daughter of the late Congressman Tom Lantos, a Hungarian Holocaust survivor.  64-year-old Swett, a rare Mormon Democrat, was an Obama appointee and run unsuccessfully for both Senate and Congress.

Ms. Katrina Lantos Swett (middle) and Mr. Zsolt Németh (right)

Mr. Németh has also waged a campaign to rehabilitate Mr. János Esterházy, an ethnic Hungarian Slovak politician who died in prison as a convicted WWII criminal.  Mr. Esterházy, a religious Catholic supporter of Hungarian ruler Miklós Horthy prayed for Hitler’s victory against the Allies.

Mr. Németh’s current attack on Senator Risch is not helpful.  It doesn’t exhibit diplomatic finesse and it won’t improve US-Hungarian ties. It is a fine example of unprofessional (and rude) political posturing.

György Lázár


  1. Avatar Don Hermiston says:

    It appears there is much more democracy in Hungary than the U.S. at the moment. Especially when Hungary understands the virtues of Nationalism and looking after their own people as opposed to the rampant Globalism infecting much of the Western World.

  2. There are enough problems in the US during this period. The senator should work on helping the US citizens in crisis instead a spending time trying to interfere where he has no business. He is probably doing a favor for Soros.

    Things will return to normal, once this Chinese Wuhan corona virus infections are eliminated.

    All criticism is premature for now.

  3. Németh’s foreign policy carrier is a good case in point when a political operator suddenly ceases to be a person and is becoming the mouth piece of his master’s voice. He doesn’t have a shadow of a thought in his mind, his element is sycophancy and that is how he lost his own persona under the thick layer of nonentity.
    A good example how to become a nobody, by the dint of hard work and perseverance.

  4. Look who’s talking about alternative realities being one if the Orban minions pushing primitive propaganda and outrageous lies, eg. system if national co-operation (in a quasi dictatorship), zero tolerance of corruption (while Orbán’s front man went from zero to richest person in 6 years exclusively on gov contracts), the best 19 years (when Hu population became the second poorest in the EU PPP index), etc.
    European pols have often failed to grasp how brazen a liar and a cheat Orbán is and were surprised by Orbán’s duplicios peacock dance. I hope the US pols may learn from the record.

  5. Avatar Andrew Ludanyi says:

    György Lázár’s underhanded attack on Zsolt Németh is a continuation of his constant anti-Hungarian and anti-Orbán rampage. These weekly or bi-weekly outbursts never build a better understanding of what really goes on in Budapest, but only adds to the “feeding frenzy” of the “Liberal” Corporatist Establishment’s distortions. By perpetuating fake news about a country that has been relatively successful in combatting the corona virus (744 infected, 38 deceased, 14,000 quarantined as of April 6th.) According to Lázár, Mr. Zsolt Németh has dared to criticise the Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee by correcting the latter’s false statements about Hungary. Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho) had claimed that Orbán had acquired “unquestioned power” by suspending the Hungarian Parliament and “suspending all elections.” Both false statements! Orban has acquired the right to rule by “executive fiat” by a two-thirds majority vote in Parliament to combat the corona virus. It is power limited for the duration of the pandemic and only to combat the virus!
    Senator Risch would be better off by paying more attention to American strategies regarding the corona virus, rather than criticising a foreign state in the heart of Europe that until the present writing has done a much better job in containing the virus than any of its European neighbors or the United States.
    At the end of his article, Lázár also cannot resist to take a swipe at János Eszterházy, the sole representative in the wartime Slovak Parliament who voted against the deportation of the Jews. Lázár claims that Eszterházy “prayed for Hitler’s victory against the Allies.” An outright LIE!!!
    What is wrong with you György Lázár, does your hate for Orbán/Hungarians justify the falsification of history or even considering the merits of the present struggle against the corona virus?

    • Avatar Reality Check says:

      “until the present writing has done a much better job in containing the virus than any of its European neighbors”

      The pandemic is not contained in Hungary. I’d expect an academic to apply a bit more rigor to such an assessment. The doubling times for cases and deaths have been shortening. That not containment, that’s exponential growth. And there is nothing exceptional about Hungary to suggest it has done the best.

    • Avatar Reality Check says:

      4/10. The countries with the highest growth in death rates are doubling in four days. Hungary is currently doubling in four days.

      Better job, yeah right!

  6. Avatar György Lázár says:

    Dear Andrew Ludanyi,

    You are entitled to your opinion re. Senator Risch but please do not use this platform for Holocaust falsification.

    Mr. Zsolt Németh started a campaign to “rehabilitate” Esterházy by claiming that he risked his life to save Jews. Yad Vashem firmly refused his claim. In reality János Esterházy voted for every shameful Slovak anti-Jewish race law. He did not vote against the deportation of the Slovak Jews, as part of political maneuvering in the fascist Slovak Parliament, he abstained.

    He was a proud anti-Semite who favored “the legitimate struggle against the Jews because for decades and centuries Hungarian masses have also been suffering due to Jews and Jewish harassment.” He also wrote. “I have held an anti-Jewish stance since the early years of my life and I will continue to do so.”

    Esterházy is one of the Slovak politicians responsible for the destruction of the Slovak Jews, about 60,000 perished.

    This is not my opinion; the US Holocaust Museum, Yad Vashem, The Slovak Academy of Sciences, The Jewish Community of Bratislava… all protested the Orbán regime’s and Mr. Németh’ falsification and rejected claims that Esterházy, this anti-Semitic politician was a “Jewsaver.”

    • Avatar Andrew Ludanyi says:

      Dear György Lázár,
      Your response to my correction of the János Eszterházy record is itself flawed. You quote Eszterházy in English (whose translation?) for words he never used! What is the source from which you have lifted these quotes? Probably your own imagination.
      You may be right that Eszterházy was “anti-Semitic,” but he was definitely not responsible for the Slovak Jewish holocaust! Many Slovaks and Hungarians and other Europeans and Americans were anti-Semitic in the 1920’s, 1930’s and 1940’s, but they were not tainted by supporting the holocaust. Following W.W. II being “anti-German” was just as wide-spread among many who produced the caricature films of German behavior in Hollywood, yet this did not lead them to propose the physical destruction of the German race. To be anti-Semitic is not different from being anti-Russian, anti-Chinese, anti-Iranian or anti-Hungarian, it is simply a negative attitude toward a group, national, religious or otherwise. Lets not confuse the attempted destruction of a people, mass genocide, with simply the posture of oppposing a group or people because of their policies or characteristics. Furthermore, János Eszterházy helped Jews, Poles and Slovaks to escape from the clutches of the Gestapo in 1944. As a reward, on the insistence of Gustav Husak (Slovak Communist leader) he was arrested by the Soviets and served time in their prisons and Siberian gulag until 1949. Then he was returned to Czechoslovakia and his incarceration continued there until his death in 1957.
      Eszterházy’s life in opposition to tyranny and the persecution of minorities remains an example for all who are willing to examine his life without prejudgements.

  7. Avatar Miklos Banfi says:

    Nice piece Mr. Lázár.
    Don Hermiston, indeed it appears so in your disturbed mind. Any idea what you are talking about? Looking after his own people… Indeed, that 20 surrounding him. The rest he does not give a damn about.
    Dear Maria, so you are going to tell, who is supposed to do what? What about you? Be assured we can read between your venomous lines, spreading tar.

  8. Hello. And Bye.

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