Victor Orban Adviser Maria Schmidt: “Orban and Trump are like Twins”
Dr. Maria Schmidt is a historian and one of the closest advisers to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. On May 24, she spoke to a U.S. travel delegation led by Dr. Daniel Pipes of the Middle East Forum and gave this exclusive interview to Gateway Pundit.
by Collin McMahon
How did you first meet Viktor Orbán?
I began to work for Viktor Orbán in 1994. I was at home with my younger son at that time, who was 3 years old, when the Communists came back in power with the Liberals. Orbán was head of the opposition party. I was always anti-Communist. I first “fell in love” with Orbán in 1989 when he gave his speech on Heroes Square telling the Soviets to leave Hungary. It was the most important speech of that era in Hungary. I had just come back from the University of Indiana, in Bloomington, where I went on a Soros Grant in 1989 to research Jewish history. I had one of the first Soros Scholarship in Hungary in 1984! And when I came back from the States, there was this funeral (for Imre Nagy, Hero of the Hungarian Uprising 1956) where Orbán spoke, and I said, “Oh my God, he’s the bomb!”
I knew his chief of staff at the time so he introduced me. I was sure they wouldn’t follow the Liberals into a Communist government. They were young, but their heart was in the right place. I’ve never voted for any other party than Fidesz since 1990. When Orbán became Prime Minister in 1998, I became Chief Adviser and started the Terror House Museum in Budapest.
Viktor Orbán was on very good terms with Helmut Kohl. Can you imagine that? There was a conference on Helmut Kohl’s 85th birthday, where Orbán gave a speech. When Orbán became Prime Minister the first time in 1998, he was only 35. So his first move was to call Helmut Kohl and ask him “What should I do?” Kohl said, “Come on over, we’ll talk.” The former Romanian President Emil Constantinescu did the same thing when he became President in 1996: He called Helmut Kohl. All the Central Europeans looked up to Helmut Kohl, but now they would not turn to the head of the German government for advice anymore. What Angela Merkel and the Germans forget: Germany is not a Western European country. It is a Central European country. It’s in the middle of Europe. It does not belong to the West, or to the East. It could make something out of that. After Brexit, France is alone. Without Eastern Europe, Germany can’t have good policy.
Why do you think Germany changed? What happened?
Because Angela Merkel is very good at keeping power, at outmaneuvering her rivals. But she has no ideas, no vision, no knowledge of history or the world. In 14 years, I never heard one single sentence from her which is worth remembering. Once she said “There is no such thing as multiculturalism” but the next day, she did the opposite. She could stay in power 10 more years, or months, but history will not remember it any more than already. Because she stands for nothing. History will remember two things about Angela Merkel: That she let two million illegal migrants in and destroyed Germany, and that she failed to salvage the economy of Europe after 2008. Those are her two main achievements.
She always wants to please the mainstream. A politician should be a leader, and give the people direction. But she’s the opposite. She’s a follower.
When Orbán first said in 2015 that we will build a fence and not let illegal migrants in, that was very unpopular in Western Europe. Everyone was against him. But he stood by his position. And people now see that he was right. If you say something and retract it, you’ve lost. You can never be right that way. That’s what Merkel does. She abandoned nuclear power – for what? Now the Germans have to pay 30% more for electricity. The Green Party will destroy her. She is trying to turn the CDU into a Green Party. Why should anyone vote for the CDU? What is left?
Under Angela Merkel, Germany has become a new East Germany. She’s a real disaster. Germany used to be a land of Romantics. Schiller, Heine, Beethoven. Today, there is no culture and no heart. If I quote Goethe they have no idea. Why are German people like that? I don’t give interviews to the German press anymore. They just write terrible things about you.
Viktor Orbán is charged with Anti-Semitism over his opposition to George Soros, even though Benjamin Netanjahu is one of his closest allies. How did Orbán and Benjamin Netanjahu first meet?
Orban and Netanjahu first met officially as Prime Ministers, but they felt a certain chemistry right away. Like with Trump, they feel like they are twin brothers. That’s what Trump said after the meeting with Orbán.
I once had a discussion with a Christian Democrat MP in Munich and he said, they don’t like what Israel is doing with the Palestinians, and I said, it is possible for the Germans just once not to tell other countries how to behave? Just once.
Germans are always the prisoners of ideology, whether it’s Nazism, Socialism or Multiculturalism. Trump is a Realist politician, like Helmut Kohl or Gerhard Schröder.
In Germany, 20 or 30 Journalists make politics. And all the politicians follow them. Angela Merkel’s biggest crime is: she killed politics in Germany. Do you see a political discussion going on there? Everyone says the same thing. There are no different opinions.
I watched the discussion of the EU “Spitzenkandidaten” (top candidates) on TV. I was forced to, but if you do not fall asleep in 40 seconds you are not healthy. The top conservative candidate Manfred Weber was so weak. All the party representatives except from the AFD and the FDP were just saying ‘We mustn’t let people drown in the Mediterranean’. It reminded me of the movie “Miss Congeniality” with Sandra Bollock, where she takes part in the Miss America contest, and they all say they want “World Peace”. This is what German politics is like: They want “World Peace”.
Hans-Peter Schwarz died a month after Helmut Kohl. He was one of the greatest post-war historians in Germany. Before he died, he wrote a book about Merkel and migration. We use it in Hungary, but not in Germany. He was the official historian of Merkel’s CDU.
A lot of conservatives are not conservatives anymore, like the Tories in UK or the Republicans of McCain, before Trump.
That was the important thing about Trump, that he went against the media and destroyed them. Nobody believes them anymore.
The left-wing media claim there’s no more press freedom in Hungary. Where do those stories come from?
From the Liberal Left. They used to have everything. Now, they only have half. But they are only comfortable when they have everything.
Are there newspapers being shut down?
The problem is, the press is dying. People don’t read print newspapers anymore. They go online. You can’t stop that. There are no government restrictions. Why should there be?
They call Orbán a fascist.
George Orwell said the meaning of “fascist” is that liberals do not like you.
Orbán calls his politics “Illiberal”, but that has a bad sound in English. Maybe “Conservative” would be better?
“Conservative” sounds very stodgy and boring in Hungarian. We use “Illiberal” because everybody hates the Liberal Party, who formed a government with the Post-Communists in 1994. Every word has different meanings in each society. In Hungary, “Liberal” means the Hungarian Liberal Party, the traitors. People in Hungary don’t hate the Post-Communists, because they say, we know what you stand for. But the Liberals, who pretended to be Anti-Communist and then switched sides, we will never forgive them. You never forgive traitors.
Is there a rival for Orbán in sight?
Every election is a mystery. But right now, the opposition is in very bad shape in Hungary. The most important opposition leader is the former Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány, but you can’t take him seriously. He was voted out by his own party with a no-confidence vote 2009. He will never get a majority again. The Post-Communists are so weak, you can’t even remember the name of their leader. Then there’s a Green party and another Liberal party, which is nonsense. If you ask people who are not hardcore Fidesz voters why they voted for Orbán, they say there’s no other serious candidate.
Until 2010, we copied the Western world. We thought that’s what we had to do to achieve the standard of the Western world. But in 2008 came the collapse of the financial markets. Bush and Obama had a plan to deal with it. But in Europe, there was nothing. They couldn’t do a thing without the USA. That showed there’s no such thing as a separate European policy. Then the IMF came with the same plan they’ve had since the 1960s. That’s when we realized we have to go our own way.
Good politics means for us, you have to take what’s useful from every side, from Social Democracy, which was one of the most successful politics of the 20th Century, as well as from Conservativism. That’s how it works. Orbán took some parts from Conservativism and some parts from Social Democracy. Whatever works. That’s why he’s so successful. This new policy meant he went against the big multinational companies and made them pay. He cut taxes. He was not willing to put all the burden on the people, like in the United States or in Western Europe. For Orbán, politics for the people comes first, not economics.
Soros Central European University
The left-wing media make it sound like George Soros’ Central European University is closed, but it’s still here, right?
Sure. They can stay here if they follow the laws. There were a lot of fake international universities in Hungary where you could buy a diploma, so we introduced legislation that you could only have a satellite campus in Hungary if you had a real university at home. But George Soros doesn’t have a university in the United States. If they do, then there’s no problem.
Central European University is very clever. There is a Soros-run Hungarian university called Közép-európai Egyetem, which means “Central European University”, which is still working. And then there is the Central European University, which offers an American degree, but they do not have a home university in the United States. I was talking to the deputy directors, but they couldn’t say which one they work for, or how many staff each one has.
Viktor Orbán met with Soros several times, right?
Soros gave a lot of money when there were floods in Hungary in 2010. They met a couple times then. George Soros is a Hungarian, he has an apartment atop the University, he comes here a lot. You can see him walking down the street in Budapest. That’s no problem. He can do whatever he wants.
You know, his father Tivadar Soros was registered as a Catholic when he was a POW in 1916. I don’t know if he’s really Jewish. Why would you convert back to being Jewish in the 1930s? He never behaved like a Jew. He’s a mystery to me.