27 February 2011

Sunday Music: L’opportuniste

In these momentous times we feel it is worth to slow down for a moment and look at the eternal moral question of opportunism in politics. This comes up urgently and painfully in any moment of uplifting political change. Just ask anyone from East-Central Europe…
Saturday night, Kováts acted as host and moderator at the VI. Benedictine Charity Ball in Budapest, where the issue has been raised repeatedly. Before dancing really took off in the small hours of Sunday (some were wondering what St Benedict would have said to that), much talk at the tables was devoted to the history of the Catholic Church during communism. Particularly, on how the communist secret service had been trying to infiltrate the church and weaken it by creating internal splits and by corrupting its members. Religious leaders faced the moral question present in any dictatorship: to what extent should one cooperate with the regime to help local institutions, schools and communities survive? As one of the monks put it rather wisely: to survive bow your head but never bow your spine.
But how do you separate your neck from your spine? We have already referred to the New York Times article comparing the wind of change in Eastern Europe to current events in the Arab world: “Tehran 1979 or Berlin 1989?” An additional question faced by many intellectuals, members of governments, diplomats and politicians, then, is how to tell those who only bowed their head from those bowed their spine, too.
So, here is a classic, to brighten your Sunday:

(Or here with better sound quality)
“Il y en a qui contestent
Qui revendiquent et qui protestent
Moi je ne fais qu'un seul geste
Je retourne ma veste
Je retourne ma veste
Toujours du bon côté”*

In defense of politicians, however, we shall bear in mind what Stanley Baldwin once famously quipped "I would rather be an opportunist and float than go to the bottom with my principles around my neck"
The jury is out...
*For the francophonely challenged:
“There are some who object
Some who demand and who protest
As for me, I make a single move
I turn my coat
I turn my coat
Always to the right side“

20 February 2011

Sunday Music: Political Pop

Music has long served a journalistic tradition. The epic poems of the ancient Greeks, the chanting of Zoroaster priests, the songs of medieval bards and minstrels or Mexican corridistas have served as a travelling news service singing of battles, heroes, political movements. One would think that in the times of newswires and the Internet, music may still serve as a community-building tool, but would have lost most of its information distribution role.

Mark Pedelty from the University of Minnesota in an ethnographic research project is investigating the roles of political pop and protest songs. He comes to the surprising conclusion that “music performs an informational role as well as a strong community-building function. Although music no longer plays a central role in news delivery, it is nevertheless an important source of information, particularly for young activists.” His study is rich in details, a good read for those interested.

It is in fact fascinating how political pop has played and still plays a role in current events. From “We shall overcome”, to “General” or the “Sounds of Revolution” in communist East-Central Europe, here is the latest example from Tunisian rapper Hamada Ben Amor or El Général, whose protest song “Rayes Lebled” (a jeux de mot from Head of State) has become the song of the revolution in Tunisia and further.

Tomorrow (21/02) EU foreign ministers will meet in the General Affairs Council formation presided by the HU Presidency, then in the afternoon in the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) formation presided by the High Representative. However already tonight ministers will discuss over dinner Egypt and political developments in the region. We send this song to all those preparing for tonight’s dinner. As Hip Hop Diplomacy puts it “I encourage you all to read the words of Hamada Ben Amor, aka. El General, and take a moment to meditate on the power of Hip Hop music to articulate frustration and incite young people to action” The question on everyone’s mind tonight, is where will this all lead to: “Tehran 1979 or Berlin 1989?

18 February 2011

Direct democracy in Europe: Free beer for everyone?

We have been following for years the often misleading debate on the so-called “democratic deficit” in Europe. The adoption of the citizens’ initiative this week by the European Parliament and the Council provides the occasion to ponder its validity.

The US system of initiatives and referenda allows for some comparison. While Article 1 of the US Constitution does not allow for a federal level initiative, several states do allow it in one way or another. One of the most famous such initiative was the recall of Governor Gray Davies in California in 2003, which paved the way for the election of Arnold Schwarzenegger as Governor.

The Golden State, incidentally, is notorious for the use and, as sometimes alleged, abuse of direct democracy by well funded interest groups, as it seems to be a rather expensive exercise to field a successful initiative. “There is no big secret to the formula for manipulating California's initiative process. Find a billionaire benefactor with the ideological motivation or crass self-interest to spend the $1-million plus to get something on the ballot with mercenary signature gatherers.” (John Diaz) For the downside of direct democracy, see the rest of this commentary.

But the US system (and the famous Swiss Direct Democracy) is very different from the new European citizens’ initiative. The European version is not a legislative initiative or a referendum, but a non-binding initiative, which does not oblige the Commission to follow it up with a proposal. The Commission can decide not to propose legislation and has also wide ranging powers to block initiatives (e.g. in case of not serious initiatives).

Some hailed the citizens’ initiative saying that it may help reduce the democratic deficit of the EU. The question whether the EU should be referred to in the third person notwithstanding, which would also merit some examination, we are not really convinced by this argument, simply because the much discussed “democratic deficit” may not exist.

Kovács and Kováts despise propaganda, are bored of “success stories” and like nothing more than some healthy skepticism. But we find critiques of the legitimacy of Union decision-making mostly misleading. (Not least because the usual subjects of institution bashing are the Commission and the European Parliament while the Council rarely gets its share.)

The Commission and/or the European Parliament are often branded as “distant from citizens”, “elected with a low turnout” (EP) or simply ”unelected and unaccountable to citizens” (Commission), “removed from the people’s will as shown in the rejection of the Constitution by voters”, “elitist”, etc. In 1774, well before the time of our founding fathers, Edmund Burke has presented a concise rebuke to such critique of representative democracy in his Speech to the Electors at Bristol at the Conclusion of the Poll. Kováts being a fan of Burke, we must quote him here extensively:
“... it ought to be the happiness and glory of a representative to live in the strictest union, the closest correspondence, and the most unreserved communication with his constituents. … But his unbiased opinion, his mature judgment, his enlightened conscience, he ought not to sacrifice to you, to any man, or to any set of men living. … Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion.”
How does the European citizens’ initiative relate to that? If the European Union is a representative democracy and not a country with a mixed system, what is the point of having a direct democratic element in the system, like the citizens’ initiative?

With modern communication technology new forms of civil engagement are evolving. Communication becomes interactive between the public and politicians. The citizens’ initiative can highlight issues for the Commission and thus provide a channel for the public opinion. This can create a sense of ownership of Europe and sow the seeds of a real European public space and debate.

The fact that the 1 million signatures must come form at least 7 different countries (one quarter of the Member States) will already create a European political space and political debate. This is what Kovács and Kováts see as the greatest potential result of the citizens’ initiative. Its existence may motivate citizens to use it and thus create a European public space. One may see it as the political equivalent of the Erasmus program or the research framework program, both of which (promise to) create a single European community out of disparate national communities.

Finally, we’ll be watching the Commission if it will show a healthy sense of humour when registering proposed initiatives. According to the regulation the Commission must deny, inter alia, registration if an initiative is obviously not serious (e.g. frivolous, abusive or vexatious). Imagining the college of commissioners debating an initiative for granting subsidized beer for everyone (a long-time political demand in our native Hungary), would not hurt the European Union’s image, but might just bring it closer to its citizens…

7 February 2011

Under the buttonwood tree in Brussels (The European Council information exchange)

Inhabitants of the Brussels scene work with information, so it is no surprise that they exchange a lot of it in various settings - a phone call from a diplomat to a commission official to confirm the date of a Commission paper, the paper leaked in an email to a journalist, a quick text to alert others to the surprise appearance of a bigwig in Brussels, etc.

The nature of international negotiations means that most information is unofficial, as it concerns ongoing negotiations. This requires that
off-the-record briefings (and its different subsets, like deep background, non-attributable, 'EU sources', etc.) are a necessary way of interaction between diplomats and journalists.

Much of the information going around may be inaccurate, of course, second hand, distorted or perhaps even deliberately faked. There is much noise, irrelevance and also errors caused by trying to be ahead of the crowd in getting and disseminating the info. (There are some famous cases of newspapers coming out too early and getting it wrong.) You need to have reliable sources; a wide network and you have to be able to give back as well as to take.

How this really works, and how to work it best will be worth many posts as yours truly are discovering the game, stumbling around as it were.

But given our experience of the first jamboree under the Hungarian Presidency, the recent
European Council, it’s perhaps interesting to reflect on an intensive, condensed version of it – the summit information exchange, or information hunt.

European Councils provide this intensive, condensed experience because they are, in fact, a long waiting game for the media. The VIPs arrive in the morning and may give a doorstep announcement, and then retreat to their seclusion. There, only a few notetakers are present, and information trickles down to diplomats (and then, filtered, to journalists) via an intricate system of
Chinese whispers. And at lunch, only a truly inner circle of five top diplomats can listen to the leaders’ debate. (Information leak very rarely from these lunches, as all players try to protect their confidentiality.)
Tweets by European Council President, Herman van Rompuy may be a game-changer in this regard. From the seat of the President he has decided to comment on the events in real time and to publish conclusions as they are agreed (this time he tweeted well before the end both the energy conclusions and the declaration on Egypt - and he did this using url.eu which was a novelty to us).

All through this time, journalists are hanging around in the large Atrium, the restaurant or the press bar. They already come with information gathered in advance from diplomats, member state and Commission officials. (The articles published days before may carry important details of things to come.) They have heard the doorsteps and they have written their morning reports for the Web. And the wait begins, with several hundred news hungry journalists. (The silver lining here is food and non-alcoholic drinks served for free, both at the restaurant and in the bar. And the existence smoking rooms, of course!)

we blogged about it before, diplomats, including spokespeople, can be immediately recognized by the color of their badges on a European Council. And of course, most journalists already know many of them through regular or irregular contacts. So when one of them appears somewhere in the ground floor – where they don’t really have any business to do – people will start to circle around them, trying to find out if they have something to share. Not necessarily secrets, like which prime minister or president said what, but indications of the direction of the talks, so that they can be one step ahead of the competition once the news are officially out and they have to put together their reports.

Finally the scene comes alive. The news breaks that the leaders have finished, the briefing rooms fill up in a few minutes. (Here it pays off for media organizations to have more journalists present, as most heads of state and government will hold their press conference at the same time.) The tension is at its peak, each leader is speaking in a different setup, in their distinct style. Chancellor Merkel prefers to be seated with a spokesperson at her side, and a map of Europe in the back, David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy stand alone, without the map. Barroso and Van Rompuy do a joint performance in the main briefing room. When they have listened to their preferred press conference (or the one they have been able to catch) reporters hurry back to their desks to write their reports, then close their laptops and go for a beer. No climax, just another step in European decision making - but a never ending topic of discussion.

But for the spokespeople, the hunt only begins now. During the weekend, we start from the end, flooding the living room floor with newspapers in all languages we can read and taking our time comparing coverage. By the Monday morning meeting, we should understand what went through the mind of journalists, how they filtered the information and we should condense it into new communication proposals.

5 February 2011

A case for the Financial Times (or how it tripped over a carpet)

We all have our habitual newspapers, those we came to rely on and towards which we are perhaps a little less critical than others – a phenomenon best illustrated by a quote from Oracle CEO Larry Ellison that The Economist leveraged for one of its savvy ad campaigns “I used to think. Now, I just read The Economist.

But what if one of your usual papers gets it wrong? We are talking about the Financial Times (FT) read by so many in this town. We have always been (and will remain) the ones defending the FT against comments from other journalists and diplomats. (It seems that a mixed feeling of envy and criticism surrounds the FT in the Brussels bubble.) We think that the FT is coping well with its large influence and subscribes to high standards. But they are human, too, and fallible.

Well, this time they have tripped over a carpet in their reporting – in all senses of the word:

The European Council took place yesterday (we have also blogged about it), with historic decisions on European energy policy. Since the Treaty of Lisbon the rotating presidency is not chairing the European Council, so the presidency decoration is removed from the Atrium of Justus Lipsius for the duration of the European Council. This happened to the Belgian decoration and the HU Presidency has done the same. In our case, a green rug has been laid over the widely (and sometimes wildly) interpreted historical carpet.

Another function of this cover was to protect the underlying carpet from further damage. The big screens in Atrium were delivered in a heavy truck before the summit and they are being removed probably just now (Saturday morning) the same way. This truck has reportedly caused some physical damage to the carpet already, we will see its extent on Monday.

Kovács and Kováts have tirelessly explained this to journalists in the Atrium during the “idle” hours of the European Council, but the FT has been able to get it wrong on their Brussels blog. This brings us to our point: There have been some wild interpretation and conspiracy theories in the past about the carpet. We hold that opinion is a personal issue and all should feel free to interpret the carpet as they wish. But we also hold that facts should be respected.

The facts of the case:

- The often-mentioned map on the carpet (not the only map on the carpet) is a map of central Europe with the Austrian Habsburg Empire in the middle from 1848. The map of “Great Hungary” (people usually refer to this as of 1867) is nowhere to be seen. This is a fact, anyone writing about map of “Great Hungary” or Hungary is factually wrong.

- Presidency decoration can no longer remain in the Atrium during European Council meetings. It must be removed (or covered in our case). No matter what is its “history”.

- It was a Slovak MEP, not a Hungarian one, who lamented the thought of people walking over famous historical figures on the carpet.

Still, Kovács and Kováts remain readers of the Financial Times... And of the Economist, too :))

Update: a new post appeared on the FT blog mid-week about the carpet and us which pretty much settles the issue (even if this is not a map of California)

4 February 2011

European Council and the „democratic caste system”

We are always fascinated by the practical arrangements of international events and institutions. European Councils are probably the most interesting, so we can’t resist a quick post. More details upcoming over the WE.
First of all normal access badges don’t work on these days. All participants are issued special badges for the event.
For reasons of security and organization, access to different floors of the Justus Lipsius building are restricted to certain groups of people. The higher the floor, the more exclusive it is, in general. That’s all marked by colour codes: yellow (press area and briefing rooms), grey (+delegation rooms), blue (+presidency room), red (+ meeting room area), gold (+80th floor where the VIP lunch takes place).
Journalists get yellow badges. Member State delegations are allocated a very limited number of nominative badges for each colour code + some grey, blue and red floaters, which allow you to jump up one colour code (like a special temporary power up card – until you have to pass it on to a colleague who has better reasons to get access). The colour of your badge defines your position within the diplomatic hierarchy – many diplomats collect badges of past European councils as a kind of „status symbol”.
The whole event is a bit like Davos, with several concentric circles. And you can always find people who are in a more exclusive circle (that is, unless you are a head of state or government. And in that case you get a special pin, not a badge, anyway.)
For details on food and other arrangements, see our upcoming post over the week-end.

3 February 2011

European Council conclusions (and the rotating presidency)

Right now diplomats and journalists in the Brussels bubble are either looking for or looking at the latest draft of the European Council (EC) conclusions for tomorrow. Yours truly are no exception.

Though even if we weren’t looking at them, we would already pretty well know their content from the many calls we get from journalists and lobbyists, asking to confirm this or explain that in the EC conclusions. (And I will explain later why, even after Lisbon, the Presidency still has some role to play there.)

Citicisms regularly come up in these discussions. For example, some see EC conclusions as too vague to be useful and containing conflicting, or at least incoherent bits and pieces. Or, they either seem to repeat earlier conclusions or (to some extend) cancel them.

So it may be a good idea to ponder a little over what these conclusions really are and how they matter for our work.

EC conclusions are certainly not precise, technical documents. On this level of decision making, you don’t necessarily need to say how many electric cars should circulate on the EU’s roads in 5 years, or how much solar energy we want to have as opposed to hydro, for example.

Neither are these conclusions written for eternity. As Keynes once famously quipped “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” Similarly, EC conclusions should be viewed against the backdrop of current issues, which provide the political impetus for decision making.  

What EC conclusions really do, then, is twofold: they affirm, and reaffirm, EU leaders’ commitment to certain objectives on the one hand, and they task the sectoral councils and the Commission on the other. (One could argue that what is not in them is the most important, but let’s not go down that road for now.)

So, if the European Council believes that what was said a few years ago still applies, they can repeat it. Governments come and go (thankfully, as we live in democratic states), the facts change, as noted above, and it’s a good idea to discuss what the current leaders believe to be the defining issues.

Incidentally, that is why they are important to the Presidency, too, and that is where we come back to the post-Lisbon role of the rotating presidency at the Council. The leader of the rotating presidency, after all, is still the boss of the chairpeople of the other councils, whose work is defined to some extent by the European Council.

This is even more obvious if, as is now the case, the President of the European Council decides to devote a Council to sectoral issues. For tomorrow’s Council, the preparatory work was done in the sectoral councils, and those are chaired by the rotating presidency – including their respective working groups and Corepers.

So the Prime Minister of the rotating presidency will be discussing, with his colleagues, the results of the work done by his or her “subordinates”, if you will. And he will have to take the conclusions with him back to those councils for further work. 

- Kovács & Kováts

The book that everyone should read before the European Council

And some other people may also find it useful before the upcoming European Council on Energy and Innovation (4th of February). Currently all eyes are on energy and the Eurozone economic governance, while innovation is a rather unjustly forgotten agenda item in the press (not in the HU Presidency). Thus, I can’t avoid starting my blog with reference to a now classic work on innovation, ‘The Venturesome Economy’ by Amar Bhidé that I picked up last year at Columbia University. (Thomas J. Peters referred to it as “The book that the next US President should read”.)

In his book, Bhidé destroys a few icons (or at least makes a convincing case of it) from Schumpeter to modern ‘techno-nationalist’ demands on more research spending. He does it with impeccable credentials as an ex-McKinsey consultant and a Columbia professor and by using strong empirical data from analyzing venture-capital backed enterprises to find out how innovation really happens.

He argues that prosperity arises not from creating new technological breakthroughs but from the capacity to use these breakthroughs by companies and customers.

“This 'capacity to benefit' is a higher order capacity that includes elements such as the ability to create products based on those technological breakthroughs, the ability to market those products well, the ability to take risk and freedom from over-regulation. In particular, "venturesome consumption" - the propensity of consumers to embrace products based on new technologies - is vital.”

An early example is the transistor, whose basic idea was invented by an Austro-Hungarian and a German physicist, further developed by Bell Labs in New Jersey and licensed to Texas Instruments, which manufactured the first transistor radio, but never achieved the breakthrough commercial success. Another company to obtain license for Bell Labs’ patent was the then tiny Japanese company Sony, which started mass producing transistor radios. The rest you know.

The story repeats itself with the iPod. Creative Technology of Singapore was selling a similar product two years before Apple, but the fame and profit belongs to Apple. (Apple paid to Creative Technologies USD 100 million in a later court case.) The actual iPod was a rather international effort: the English company ARM has developed the CPU or the brain of the system, Frauenhofer Institute of Germany licensed MP3 technology, the hard-drives first came from Toshiba, the audio codecs by Wolfson Electronics in Edinburgh, etc. Where Apple excelled was creating the design, the marketing, the hype, the dedicated customers (who serve as free testers for the first generation products), the complex legal structure for iStore, etc.

The conclusion is not that Bhidé would argue against public spending on research. Neither does he say that the technical development of Asia poses no threat to the West. Rather he argues that innovation is a multiplayer, multidimensional game, where simply putting more money into research will not create more prosperity for the country.

Bhidé quotes Adam Smith at the end from 1779, who says it all: “Should the industry of Ireland, in consequence of freedom and good government, ever equal that of England, so much the better would it be not only for the whole British Empire, but for the particular province of England. As the wealth and industry of Lancashire does not obstruct but promote that of Yorkshire, so the wealth and industry of Ireland would not obstruct but promote that of England.”

At that time, no one could have foreseen the current state of Europe, still in many ways the observation of Adam Smith still resonates today.

Without innovation friendly economic environment, that considers the real nature of innovative processes, I don’t see how we could maintain our European economic and social model. This is the real competitiveness pact for Europe. We should pay more attention to innovation this Friday and not let it be overshadowed by debates that seem more important on the short term.

- Kováts

Blog: A faux pas for spokespeople?

Kovács and Kováts are the two spokespeople for the Hungarian Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

Spokespeople in their traditional form do not speak for themselves. Rather they establish the link and the filter between the administration and the media.

A spokesman or spokesperson is someone engaged or elected to speak on behalf of others.” This is beautifully engrained in the French expression “porte-parole” which symbolizes that we normally speak for someone else. In our case this is the Presidency of the Council.

From this perspective, what we are doing here (starting up a blog), could be a „faux pas” for some more traditionally minded colleagues. Still, the world is changing and so does our role. We find it important to provide a face and an interface for interacting with the interested and informed public and to be transparent about our work and the presidency.

This will be our personal account of the Union. Here we speak for ourselves, not for the Presidency, while moving within the limits of our mandate. Our view is focused on the daily bits and pieces of Council life, rather than the coverage of the events and policies. If this blog can open a small window into the Justus Lipsius and give a feeling of its atmosphere, then we have succeeded in our efforts.

Why Kovács and Kováts?

Kovács was the second most common family name in Hungary with 218.252 people in 2001. In its Slavic form (Kovač or Kovačić, with different spellings) it is also very widespread in other CEE countries.

The name Mr Kovács is used in Hungary as a shorthand for the everyday man, eternalized by some ad campaigns. For us it is a symbol for Central Europe and for our view of the European Union from a Hungarian and central European perspective.

We cannot deny the fact that we are living in Belgium, whose soul for Kováts is epitomized by Hergé’s two detectives, Dupond et Dupont (or Thompson and Thomson in the English version). We stumble around the diplomatic world like the odd-couple in the Tintin adventures and this blog is supposed to denote our weekly adventures while working for the Hungarian Presidency.

- Kováts

Who we are?

Gergely Polner - The "borrowed" diplomat

Mr. Gergely Polner has been working for the European Parliament (EP) for five years. He mainly assisted Hungarian, English and German representatives, at the Directorate-General for Communications in Brussels. Then he went on to work as a Public Relations Manager at the EP’s London Office, from early 2010.
”I was ‘borrowed’ from the office, by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, for the term of the EU Presidency. I will return to my job once the six months are over. In Brussels, I will be monitoring the work of the Justice and Home Affairs Council (JHA), the General Affairs Council (GAC), the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) and the summits. My job is to inform the international press in Brussels, about a thousand journalists, on the councils’ activities.”

Mr Polner completed the Benedictine Grammar School of Győr in 1993, and obtained a law degree from the Budapest Eötvös Loránd University. As a student he travelled abroad extensively: he was an elections observer in Bosnia, by commission of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)and he even worked as a cruise ship waiter, in the Caribbean.

In respect of his new job, the young diplomat thinks that crisis management and employment generation will be major issues, in the next period. The related Europe 2020 Strategy, is closely linked to Roma integration, and education. Other key tasks, will include the development of a Strategy for the Danube Region, budgetary coordination between member states, and the re-regulation of financial service systems, to avoid crises like the one in 2008. For instance, the Justice and Home Affairs Council, wants to bring Europe closer to citizens, by standardising inheritance rules, harmonising data protection laws, and seeking more efficient means to combat organised crime.

”These European challenges, are shared by Hungarian internal policy. This country can offer its experiences as a contribution to easing the troubles of the whole community. If the Hungarian Presidency manages to achieve visible results, it will greatly improve the country’s image, and enhance its chances to represent its interests within the community.”

Marton Hajdu - The spokesperson

How does a young economist become a spokesperson for the EU presidency in Brussels? Certainly after thorough preparations and a series of “aptitude tests”. Language skills are necessary but not sufficient. The applicant should also view the European Union as a worthy endeavor, be intrigued by its complexity and be able to effectively share information with others. Or, at least this has been the case with Márton Hajdú.
During and after university, he travelled the world. In the Netherlands he sorted vegetables and studied international trade. In Germany he packed washing powder and took a finance course. In Washington, D.C. he worked at a lobbying office and studied government relations. Finally, in 2005 he ended up at the European Commission, and it is from there that he was borrowed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the term of the Hungarian presidency.

„The EU may seem dull at school and in the news but it is really exciting behind the scenes. And it has a huge impact on Hungary”, Márton says. Even the largest European country is small in the face of global competition, so cooperation is important, otherwise we all fall behind. Besides, as a member state we have the chance to efficiently represent our interests, because „if you’re not at the table (where decisions are made), you are probably on the menu.”

In addition, integration improves Hungary’s chances to catch up quicker: „We don’t have to invent or work out everything by ourselves and we can also avoid previous failures”.

During its term of presidency, Hungary can show its contributions to the success of the common project. For six months, our job will be to set the course of negotiations and table innovative proposals in such a way that the other 26 member states realize that Hungary can achieve mutually satisfactory agreements.

This duty, however, takes more than “just” good negotiation performance; it also requires effective communication with both our partners and the public at large. This is the spokesperson’s key responsibility, which can improve Hungary’s reputation and hence accumulate moral and political capital. „I am convinced that this is a great opportunity for us all”, concludes the Brussels based spokesperson, who prefers to spend his scarce free time with his wife, three year old son and six month old daughter.