On the Conflict between Orbán and Simicska

An interview with Andrej Matišák from Slovakia’s daily newspaper Pravda, 7.2.2015

In early 2015 Lajos Simicska, an influential businessman affiliated with Hungary’s governing party FIDESZ waged a conflict with Hungary’s controversial Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.

What is this “fight” between Simicska and Orban about, what’s the main problem?

On the surface, Simicska has waged this war against Orbán because he sees his media companies as a victim of the new media advertisement taxation rules the government is preparing. Since the government is under pressure to change the highly progressive, size-dependent tax rates targeting RTL Klub (a looming treaty infringement procedure before the European Court of Justice), the government decided to introduce a tax rate that would burden Simicska’s companies. However, this conflict is probably only a symptom of the more fundamental alienation that has occurred in the course of the last year between Orbán and Simicska, the hitherto prime oligarch of FIDESZ. The most likely explanation seems to be that Orbán lost trust in Simicska and has begun viewing him as too powerful and a threat to FIDESZ rule. Therefore Orbán sought to strengthen other FIDESZ-affiliated oligarchs (Zsolt Hernádi, MOL-CEO, and István Garancsi, Videoton FC owner) in order to reduce his dependence on Simicska. read more

Zur Lage der Demokratie in Osteuropa

Ein Interview für das WDR-Osteuropamagazin, 6.7.2014

Den ostmittel- und südosteuropäischen Staaten hat die Krise der Eurozone vor Augen geführt, welchen Anpassungszwängen weniger wettbewerbsfähige Länder ausgesetzt sind und welche sozialen und politischen Erschütterungen die erzwungenen inneren Abwertungen auslösen können. Die Konflikte innerhalb der Währungsunion und die anhaltende Rezession in den südeuropäischen Staaten belegen, dass ein Beitritt zur EU und zur Eurozone weder eine Gewähr für ökonomische Stabilität und Entwicklung bietet, noch als Kompass für eigene Reformen ausreicht. Zudem hat die Krise die Bruchlinien zwischen den Wirtschafts- und Sozialmodellen und den zu Grunde liegenden politischen Ökonomien in Nordwest- und Südeuropa vertieft. read more

Germany’s Role in Timoshenko’s Release from Prison

Interview with Evgen Tei’ze, Deutsche Welle, Ukrainian-language service, 21.11.2013

European diplomatic pressure led the Ukrainian government to release the former Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko from prison. How the German government assesses this decision in view of a pending ruling the European Court of Human Rights will declare on Timoshenko’s imprisonment.