Op-Ed: US denies planning to overthrow elected Hungarian government
By Christopher Szabo
Jan 11, 2012 in World
By Christopher Szabo.
Budapest - The US Ambassador to Hungary, Eleni Tsakopoulos Kounalakis, says it is not US policy to overthrow the elected government of the country, despite her warnings a day before that Hungary was moving in an undemocratic direction.
A Bloomberg report say Kounalakis denied reports in the Hungarian media quoting sources in the European Union and Washington. Kounalakis said:
“I can tell you absolutely, clearly, that this is not US foreign policy, that is not our position and this report is untrue.”
A large Left-Wing demonstration, which police estimated at between 5,000 and 8,000 people, protested against the country's first post-Communist constitution on January 2, 2012. There were also Right Wing demonstrators, but western reports only talk of „anti-government” demonstration, some reporting „hundreds of thousands of demonstrators.”
So what is actually happening in Hungary? Is the populace up in arms against a dictatorial government, as most western reports claim? Or are the conservative media in Hungary, as well as Hungarian immigrant organisations abroad right, when they say the ex-Communists are upset at losing power and are frightened that those who committed serious human rights violations in the past could now be prosecuted?
Certainly, Left-Wing parties have been circulating e-mails and Facebook messages calling on people to „overthrow” the elected government of Viktor Orbán, which won a two-thirds majority in elections last year.
It's likely a bit of both, but Hungary is not in the news about any of this. The real reason goes back to a decision by Orban's conservative FIDESZ (Young Democrat) and KDNP (Christian Democratic People's Party) coalition to refuse further debt from the IMF, as described in a report onDigital Journal. The IMF package, as usual, would have included „austerity measures”, a euphemism for saving money by throwing people out on the street. The elected government stated it would place employees' rights on its agenda and has worked to increase manufacturing and trade, all of which have increased since 2010.
One rather piquant fact about these demonstrators, who are all of a sudden concerned about democracy in Hungary, is they are the children of the country's former Communist oppressors, and some of them are the old guard themselves.
A major difference can be seen in the way the demonstration was handled by the „autocratic” government of Orbán, in comparison to the „democratic” government of Ferenc Gyurcsány, the last leader of KISZ, the Communist Youth in Hungary.
When Gyurcsány admitted in 2006 that his government had come to power by lying to the people, tens of thousands demonstrated and in some cases 100,000 demonstrators were counted by police. (It is worth comparing what happened to US president Richard Nixon when he lied to the American people and the casual attitude of the ex-Communists about it in Hungary.) The police, presumably on the government's orders, donned ski masks, wore riot gear and then attacked peaceful protesters in the streets as can be seen in the video.
No police investigation was forthcoming, neither was there international outrage, nor calls to become „more democratic”. Eventually a police report was complied in 2007, but very few prosecutions could be started, as the police did not wear name tags, numbers, as required by law, and covered their faces. Almost 150 people were injured and some 40 permanently, including a broken spine and eyes shot out by rubber bullets fired at head height. Even an opposition MP was injured by riot police, yet this never became a news item. Can you imagine a US Congressman, or a British MP, being beaten up by police and it doesn’t become world news?
The worst of it was this was the 50th anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution in 1956, presumably an uncomfortable date for the ex-Communists, who are now so concerned for what they fought against throughout the Cold War, namely „democracy”.
So, the conservative government committed its great „sin” against the established „World Order” in September, 2010. This included a tax on multinational corporations and on banks, that is, the Original Sin in the eyes of the international financial establishment, which is backed by none other than the US government. A study shows the dangers of IMF policies, especially in African countries, in Impoverishing a Continent. It should be avoided by all nations, including Hungary.
(Although known as a "conservative" government, its economic policy reflects some of the "Occupy Wall Street" movement's thinking, as it is against the agrandisement of multinational corporations at the expense of the common man.)
Soon, despite strong economic indicators, even today, and a strong foreign currency reserve, Hungary's currency has been downgraded by all the main rating agencies to „junk”, Why? A Hungarian economist told Hir TV (News TV) that „This is (complete) economic idiocy” and pointed to the fact that Hungary was nowhere near bankruptcy, as so often stated.
Imre Boros told Hir TV that the rating agencies were making a „speculative attack” on Hungary. He said to reduce Hungary's debt to „junk” status falls into the category of „evil” and has nothing to do with economics. He stressed that the rating agencies, like Fitch and Standard and Poors, were „generating panic”. He added they were „putting out the fire with petrol, hoping that the public would be fooled into dumping the Hungarian currency, the Forint.”
He warned Hungarian citizens not to swap their Hungarian Forints for foreign currency, as people buy Euros for 320 Forints, and will buy it back once the panic is over, for 250.
He added that there has been no example of the current action of the financial institutions in the last 30 years. He said they have nothing to do with traditional economic indicators. He pointed out that multinational corporations had contacted the European Commission and the IMF, and he said there was a very real danger of foreign (American) financiers being put in charge of Hungary's government, as was already the case in Italy.
He pointed out the reason for this pressure was to force the Hungarian government to accept the IMF's conditions, which would include all the negative factors usual in the IMF's „aid” packages, notably high unemployment, ending social benefits.
He pointed out that when he was the head of the foreign currency section of the Hungarian National Bank, it was working with 500 million US dollars deficit, and no-one said the country was in „bankruptcy.” Today, Hungary had a 38 billion Euro surplus, but it was claimed to be in danger of „defaulting” and „bankruptcy.”
He said the only reason Hungary had approached the IMF to help against precisely the kind of speculation that was currently under way, but not to help with the economy. The country did not want loans and did not need them.
The price of the IMF protection would be the removal of taxes on multinational corporations and banks, and worse, the removal of important social benefits including health care, old age pensions and other aspects of life that in Hungary, as in many parts of Europe, are not seen as „optional extras” but as part of the Social Contract. After all, if someone has paid taxes all their lives to eventually earn a good pension in their old age, it is understandable if they expect to get it. The government cannot budge on this.
According to the above mentioned study, the IMF routinely demands of African countries that they „restructure their economies.”
The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are the two most powerful institutions
in global trade and finance.1 Since 1980, the United States government which dominates both bodies has used them to economically subjugate the developing world. The World Bank and the IMF have forced Third World countries to open their economies to Western penetration and increase exports of primary goods to wealthy nations.
These steps amongst others have multiplied profits for Western multinational corporations while
subjecting Third World countries to horrendous levels of poverty, unemployment, malnutrition,
illiteracy and economic decline. The region worst affected has been Africa.
As the study shows, IMF policies have caused mass poverty and even starvation. The IMF has a lot to answer for. No wonder the Hungarian government, among others, does not want their „solutions”, which seem to tend towards a „Final Solution”! The IMF has a standard, instant, Do-It-Yourself set of solutions for economies, „Structural Adjustment Programs”:
SAPs require governments to: cut public spending,(including eliminating subsidies for food, medical care and
education); raise interest rates, thus reducing access to credit; privatize state enterprises; increase
exports; and reduce barriers to trade and foreign investment such as tariffs and import duties.
So what was the result in Africa? A three-year multi-country study by the Structural Adjustment Participatory Review International Network (SAPRIN):
SAPS been “expanding poverty, inequality and insecurity around the world. [They have] torn at the heart of economies and the social fabric...increasing tensions among different social strata, fueling extremist movements and de-legitimizing democratic political systems. Their effects, particularly on the poor are so profound and pervasive that no amount of targeted social investments can begin to address the social crises
that they have engendered.
In short, the IMF wants Hungary to go back to precisely the same kind of economic policies that got it into such debt under the previous Socialist government and against which two-thirds of the population voted.
So all the shouting in the international media boils down to this. The banking powers that collaborate with the World Bank and the IMF are worried about Hungarian Premier Orbán's refusal to bow to them and his aim to strengthen his country's economy, give people work, build up their shattered self-confidence and finally bring some modicum of justice to a people murdered, tortured and crushed under Communism by naming and possibly prosecuting some of the culprits simply because, if unpunished, it could create a precedent.
Hungary is a small country and its economics do not make a huge difference to the world. The fear in the big banks is this: If enough governments followed Orbán's refusal to blindly follow the IMF and the EU (which has the same outlook) policies, the whole international financial system might be threatened.
And the money managers can't allow that, can they?