Is the Hungarian government training diplomats in a crash course?

April 24. 2023. – 11:53 AM



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The scholarship is net 275,000 HUF (around 730 euros) per month, you don't even need a university degree to apply, and you may even be sent for an internship at a foreign mission after the first semester. The entire training at the Hungarian Academy of Diplomacy which runs under the auspices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs lasts only one year. In developed countries, students can apply for diplomatic training after graduating with a degree in either law, history or economics. This kind of fast-track training, however, fits in with the current Hungarian government's efforts to train new people loyal to them, former Foreign Minister Géza Jeszenszky told Telex.

"As far as I knew, diplomatic training is a long and demanding procedure, where one is taught diplomatic history, international law and protocol on a high level, with a lot of things that a diplomat really needs to know by heart. And now, as a graduating nursing student at Semmelweis University, I received a message through Neptune (Neptune is the educational and financial administration software of Hungarian higher education institutions, with an internal communication channel) addressed to just about everyone that left my mouth agape."

- a reader of ours wrote, and also forwarded to us the recruitment letter signed by Miklós Lengyel, Deputy State Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Photo: Hungarian Academy of Diplomacy / Facebook
Photo: Hungarian Academy of Diplomacy / Facebook

According to the letter, the Hungarian Academy of Diplomacy is inviting applications for its Diplomat Training Program for those interested in a diplomatic career, which is being implemented in the framework of a professional cooperation between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the National University of Public Service.

Jeszenszky: This is hardly enough

According to the call for applications, students will be able to travel to Hungarian diplomatic missions for an internship as early as their second semester, and after just two semesters of training, they will be able to get a job at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Moreover, you don't even need to have a university degree at the time of application – you just have to have it by the end of the training. Participants will receive a net monthly stipend of HUF 275,000.

"Diplomatic training in developed countries is post-graduate, i.e. students can go to diplomacy schools after graduating with a degree in law, history or economics and with a high level of knowledge."

- Géza Jeszenszky, former Hungarian foreign minister told us when we contacted him to ask how he sees the application from a professional point of view.

Although a higher education degree is a prerequisite in the Hungarian Academy of Diplomacy's call for applications, this condition is weakened by the fact that one may apply with any diploma, and that it is sufficient if the student obtains the necessary university degree by the end of the course. This seems to be very inadequate, according to Géza Jeszenszky, who added that such a course would require a minimum of two years, not two semesters as stated in the application.

The former foreign minister believes that this fast-track training in diplomacy fits in with the government's efforts to develop a new, loyal class of intellectuals in diplomacy, as well as in other fields (e.g. culture, public office) – even if their foundation is not as solid.

Géza Jeszenszky was Hungarian foreign minister in the Antall government between 1990-1994, ambassador to Washington in the Orbán government between 1998-2002, and then ambassador to Norway and Iceland between 2011-2014. He is Associate Professor at the Department of International Relations at Budapest's Corvinus University.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs remains diplomatically silent

We also contacted the press office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs last Tuesday and asked the following questions:

  • Don't they consider the two-semester diplomatic training course too short when compared with international experience?
  • Don't they consider the conditions too easy? (A diploma is not required at the time of application; no higher education in law, history or economics is required; and it is enough to have an intermediate level language exam in the second foreign language)
  • Is there a shortage of diplomats in Hungary?

On Wednesday, the ministry said that it had forwarded our letter to the person in charge for a reply, but we haven't received a reply by the time of the publication of this article. We will update our article as soon as we receive it.

The Hungarian Academy of Diplomacy is an educational institution managed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

“This is the first Hungarian academy of diplomacy that can provide a uniform, high level theoretical and practical training and raise up the next generation of Hungarian diplomats.”

- the institution's website states. According to the same, with the help of world-class Hungarian and foreign educators, the institution provides internationally competitive training for current and future members of the foreign service and international relations professionals from the business sector. The Diplomat Training Programme and the Leadership in Diplomacy Training Programme, which ensure the education of the next generation of diplomats, are professionally supported by the National University of Public Service at the Ludovika Campus.

Szijjártó: the basic thesis of Hungarian foreign policy is that “there's no messing with us”

In his welcome address on the opening page of the Academy's website, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó writes that in recent years he has been able to count on many young people to help the renewal of Hungarian foreign policy. Without them, he would not have been able to achieve his goal of ensuring that Hungarian foreign policy decisions are all based solely on the Hungarian national interest.

Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó announced the launch of the Academy of Diplomacy in September 2020 at the 16th congress of Fidelitas (Fidesz' youth organization). As he said, completing the Academy's training will be a prerequisite for working in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. He added:

staff at the Foreign Ministry who came from Fidelitas have played a major role in renewing Hungarian foreign policy, in overcoming the "let's dare to be small" attitude, the idea that when a conflict arose, our goal used to be "to be as small as possible".

In contrast, he said, the basic thesis of Hungarian foreign policy today is that they are proud to represent a Christian state that is more than a thousand years old, one that has defended Christian values many times during the course of history, one whose members have fought for the freedom of the nation for a long time, and which has achieved the status of being able to say that "nobody can mess with us". Young colleagues from Fidelitas have played a major role in all this, he said.

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