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Opposing takes on Parliamentary Speaker’s speech to national security officials

November 30th, 2021

An opposition-leaning commentator believes the Speaker called on the security services to interfere with internal politics and therefore should immediately resign. A pro-government columnist retorts that the Speaker’s words have been misrepresented by the opposition.

In a speech to leading officials of Hungary’s secret services 20 months ago, and leaked last week, parliamentary Speaker László Kövér said political forces in Hungary represent two irreconcilable worldviews – one based on national sovereignty and the other subservient to foreign forces whom they expect to bring them to power. He described this situation as the main security risk facing Hungary. Critical news outlets interpreted the Speaker’s speech as a direct appeal to the secret services to work against the opposition. Opposition leaders issued a joint statement demanding his resignation.

On the Magyar Hang website, Szabolcs Szerető admits that the Speaker knows the difference between dictatorship and democracy and realises that the secret services are banned from interfering with elections. Nevertheless, he interprets Mr Kövér’s statement to mean that a potential opposition victory would put Hungary’s national security in jeopardy. Although the Speaker didn’t formulate any expectations as to what the security services should do, Szerető concludes, he crossed a red line and should submit his resignation.

On Mandiner, on the other hand, Zoltán Veczán accuses the opposition of consciously misinterpreting what Mr Kövér said. He quotes a passage from the speech where the Speaker explicitly tells the leaders of the secret services that they should not take sides in political debates. In addition, Veczán points out that Mr Kövér didn’t call the opposition a national security risk, as the opposition side claims. What the Speaker described as a national security risk, he explains, was the state of affairs in which the opposing political sides seem not to have anything in common.

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