Letter of MEP Tamás Deutsch Head of Hungarian delegation to EPP Group to Iratxe García Pérez, President of the S&D Group on outrageous comments by Ferenc Gyurcsány, president of Democratic Coalition (S&D)

2020. 09. 04.

Dear Madame President,

I would hereby like to draw your attention to the recent statement made by Ferenc Gyurcsány, President of the Democratic Coalition Party of S&D and husband of Klára Dobrev, Vice-President of the European Parliament:

“As God gives, so will God receive. They shrink at nothing. Attila Vidnyánszky became the lord of the Academy of Drama and Film. For the good of the culture war. Let open, free art and culture be destroyed! Bring on the party soldiers! So be it! There’s nothing we can do now. We have to prepare for what comes. Vidnyánszky and his comrades will remain as long as Orbán does. And then they will fall.  No! They will be grovelers in every sense. There will be no trench burial. They will be quarantined and denied everything. An airless world for those who killed Hungarian freedom. And that is alright. Calmly, rationally, dryly. Those who are still searching for moderation: it’s time to figure out who you are, wake up, live! Either you fight for your homeland or you become accomplices. It’s either this or that.”

If it was not clear, the left-wing party chairman openly threatened Attila Vidnyánszky and offended his professional and human dignity, a respected director of the National Theater, a Kossuth and Jászai Mari Prize-winning theater director. Ferenc Gyurcsány clearly envisioned that if he were to acquire political power, he would reduce Vidnyánszky to a groveling beggar, or worse.

Unfortunately, Ferenc Gyurcsány is no stranger to physical and verbal violence. A memorable incident during his premiership, in the fall of 2006, was when the police under his command launched a brutal attack on peaceful participants in a national holiday commemoration — an attack against ordinary Hungarian citizens.

Stigmatizing those who think differently, threatening with imprisonment and inciting verbal hatred toward political opponents is an extremely repulsive and deeply anti-democratic tool of political intimidation that we Hungarians have unfortunately experienced during the years of Nazi occupation and decades of communist dictatorship. It is a dangerous tool because verbal violence easily leads to physical violence.

Gyurcsány’s aim with the above statement is to awaken violent impulses in his radical left-wing supporters. It is outrageous that the party chairman, who nominates himself as the leader of the Hungarian opposition in order to gain political power, does not shy away from an open threat against artists and calls on his supporters to fight against the democratically elected leaders of public institutions.

The background of Gyurcsány’s statement is the wide-ranging higher education reform initiated by the government, in the framework of which, the operating model of art universities will also be reviewed. By intimidating Attila Vidnyánszky, who has been appointed chairman of the board of trustees of the foundation that oversees the Academy of Drama and Film, Ferenc Gyurcsány not only threatens the head of the institution himself, but also grossly interferes with the freedom of cultural and educational life. The political expectations formulated in connection with the operation and direction of the institution also raise serious issues concerning the rule of law.

Madame President,

Gyurcsány’s latest rampage has caused great outrage in Hungary, with more than 35,000 people having already joined the protest petition initiated by citizens. The time has come for the S&D Group to take a stand on this as well!

Hopefully, we agree that a dissenting opinion about a government decision should not be a reason for a party leader to threaten anyone in this way. If this is the case, please take a stand. How long will the S&D Group tolerate the president of one of its parties threatening institutional leaders in a way that evokes the period and language of the darkest communist dictatorships?

Yours sincerely,

Tamás Deutsch

Head of the Hungarian Delegation to the European People’s Party