“This was not a speech worthy of an ambassador, but of a leftist political activist” – Hungarian State Secretary on US ambassador’s speech

March 15. 2024. – 09:13 AM


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"Hungary has always had great respect for the United States, and it always will. However, today's speech was not a speech worthy of an ambassador, but rather a speech by a leftist political activist," State Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Tamás Menczer wrote on his Facebook page in reaction to the speech of Ambassador David Pressman on Thursday.

Pressman spoke at an event organized by the Central European University (CEU), its Democracy Institute and the US Embassy to mark the 25th anniversary of Hungary's accession to NATO.

Among other things, the US Ambassador said that he believes it was Hungary's commitment and democracy, not its tragic history, that allowed the country to join NATO. He said that today, however, the Hungarian government "labels and treats the United States an “adversary” while making policy choices that increasingly isolate it from friends and allies (...) and is doing things that undermine trust and friendship".

Pressman said that there is no getting away from the fact that they regularly speak harshly about the United States, claiming that it is trying to overthrow the Hungarian government. He also mentioned the suppression of freedom of the press, the growing number of oligarchs, the distribution of state advertisements and the accumulation of wealth by people close to the government. The ambassador said that despite the bad relationship, dialogue is their most important tool, "even if there are differences". The American attitude is not going to change. They want dialogue, but will definitely act if US interests are harmed, he said.

The ambassador also expressed concern about the increasingly close and expanding cooperation between Hungary and Russia. Pressman spoke about Hungary's claim that it wants peace and thus believes in not supporting Ukraine. "The United States also wants peace", but the Hungarian proposal "doesn’t stand up to reality". It would be difficult to bring Russia to the negotiating table while Ukraine is fighting for survival, and is trying to defend its own territory. He called the Hungarian idea that the Russians could be stopped by negotiations “fantasy”.

Pressman then pointed out the contradiction that while the Hungarian government has regularly trivialized the invasion of a democratic country, they are constantly complaining about interference in Hungarian internal affairs – while they themselves, he said, are interfering in other countries' internal affairs "in a very blatant way".

According to the ambassador, Orbán wants the end of the current US government, while the US does not want the end of the Orbán government. Pressman said what they want is the same thing that polls indicate the majority of Hungarians would like to see: good relations with the US and prosperity.

It's fine if two countries don't agree on everything, but "as allies, we should agree on the big things, the things that matter most, and on that basis, we can work through any differences on anything else" regardless of who is leading the countries.

Pressman also said that while the Hungarian military welcomes American soldiers, the Hungarian government is refusing to allow US soldiers serving at the Pápa airbase to get Hungarian license plates for their family cars. Consequently, they have to pay a lot of money for temporary plates, just "because the Hungarian government made a political decision".

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