„Certainly there are real grounds for concern over some aspects of Hungarian democracy. Eastern Approaches has chronicled in considerable detail the government’s takeover of formerly independent institutions. Only today the government nominated János Áder as president; Mr Áder, a Fidesz loyalist, may prove just as pliable as Pál Schmitt, his predecessor, who recently resigned after a plagiarism scandal.
But how many more transnational organisations would like to tell Hungary what to do? During a recent interview with Thorborn Jagland, secretary-general of the Council of Europe, I asked him why Hungary was getting so much global attention. His answer was simply that there were rules, and that Hungary was breaking them. Watching Mr Jagland, flanked by his battalion of advisers and press officers, each primly holding a thick dossier, it was hard not to feel that Hungary was part of a giant sausage-making machine from which there is no escape. Some nasty regimes, however, appear to have less trouble. Consider Azerbaijan, another member of the Council of Europe. Here, journalists are frequently harassed, beaten up and blackmailed. Two have been murdered in recent years.
Azerbaijan is about to host the Eurovision song contest, at considerable human cost. Numerous homes in the capital, Baku, have been bulldozed to make way for the new arena. Mr Jagland has expressed his »concern«, but opposes a Eurovision boycott demanded by human-rights organisations. Sometimes it is not difficult to see why some Hungarians feel they are being unfairly singled out.”