Szijjártó: What the US ambassador thinks is completely irrelevant

February 02. 2023. – 04:32 PM



Copied to clipboard

David Pressman, the US ambassador in Budapest, has sharply criticized the Hungarian government in an article published by Politico on Wednesday:

“Political leaders in the government of Hungary often speak of promoting peace, but – from condemning sanctions to embracing Russian ‘cease-fire’ proposals – they continue to push policies endorsed by Putin”, the ambassador said, adding: “We join the Hungarian government’s call for peace, but those calls should be directed to Vladimir Putin”.

The Hungarian government did not take long to respond. Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó was quick to reply to the criticism on Thursday.

"What he or any other ambassador thinks about domestic political processes in Hungary is completely irrelevant, because it is none of his business, it is not his job to interfere in Hungary's domestic affairs."

"If he wishes to use his stay in Hungary to criticize the activities of the government elected by a fairly clear majority of the Hungarian people, which has the mandate of the Hungarian people, then he will have a very difficult job in terms of working effectively to improve cooperation between the two countries," the Hungarian foreign minister said.

According to Szijjártó, when Hungary receives ambassadors, they are expected to work on the development of relations between the two countries on the basis of mutual respect.

“It's not governors or magistrates we are receiving as, I assume, those would be sent here to tell us how to live in our own countries. That era is over. Hungary is a sovereign country, no one from outside can tell us how to live.”

The Foreign Minister said that the Hungarian people will be those who judge the work of the government in the parliamentary elections, just as they did last year. "Even if from other parts of the world, maybe even from where the ambassador comes from, some have tried to inspire and even finance different decisions," he said, referring to the opposition's campaign financing case.

Szijjártó asked Pressman for more respect, and said that the government's foreign policy is guided solely by the national interest, which is to have peace return to Ukraine as soon as possible. “There have been external attempts to have a government in Hungary that does not represent Hungarian interests, but these attempts have failed. I might even say that the considerable amount of money that has been mobilized to this end has proved to be a bad investment.”

Update: Ambassador Pressman reacted to Szijjártó's words on Twitter. He stated that they "do not consider Russia’s attempt to unilaterally redraw the borders of Europe as just a “domestic political development in Hungary.”

The Hungarian Foreign Minister and the Ambassador met in person a few days ago, which Pressman commented on by saying: "In this important moment in U.S.-Hungary relations, it was great to meet with Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó today to continue our discussion about the challenges our countries should confront together & opportunities to strengthen our partnership."

The new US ambassador to Budapest, David Pressman, arrived in Hungary last September. In a departure from diplomatic protocol, the Hungarian government sent a department head instead of a state secretary to welcome him.

The diplomat, who represented the United States as ambassador to the UN Security Council under Democrat President Barack Obama from 2014 to 2017, was nominated for the post by President Joe Biden in May. The Senate voted 61-30 in favour of his nomination, including 11 of the 50 Republican senators. At his Senate hearing, Pressman said that "Hungary is a declining democracy and the Russian influence over the Hungarian government must be confronted". He also cited the Chinese influence as a worrying trend.

For more quick, accurate and impartial news from and about Hungary, subscribe to the Telex English newsletter!