Letter To The Editor: Bring Back The Hungary This Hungarian Loved

  • 12 Jan 2012 8:00 AM
Letter To The Editor: Bring Back The Hungary This Hungarian Loved
By Kathy Megyeri: In 2007, my husband was awarded the Gold Cross of Merit of the Republic of Hungary for his outstanding actions during the 1956 Revolution, his promotion of Hungary's membership to NATO, and his achievements among Hungarian Americans. He proudly wore his medal each day to signal his pride as a Hungarian-American.

At that time, the Ambassador to America from Hungary was Andras Simonyi, a powerhouse in Washington for preparing Hungary to enter NATO, initiating the  stationing of U.S. troops in Hungary as part of NATO's campaign in Bosnia, lobbying for the visa waiver program, raising vast amounts of money for charitable causes with his rock group "Coalition of the Willing," and even presenting Steven Colbert with his own passport and Hungarian tuxedo on "The Colbert Report."

Now, my husband's medal lies in the drawer while Ambassador Simonyi writes, speaks and pleads with the current Hungarian government to strengthen their ties to America instead of damaging all the good will he created during his tenure here. Even the State Department condemns current conditions in Hungary. What has gone so wrong since the Orban government seized power? One of Hungary's major parties Jobbik is anti-Roma (Gypsy) and anti-Semitic.

Fidesz, the governing center-right party, has passed a new Constitution, supresses opposition, compromised judicial independence, packed the courts with party loyalists, controls the media, has taken over private pension funds, and is currently reeling from its government's junk bond rating. Hungary tried borrowing from China but is now back to begging the IMF for another bailout after receiving a $20 billion-euro emergency loan to Hungary in 2008.

Their currency, the forint, continues to drastically fall, very few women are in leadership positions, and the Hungarian citizens' deplorable health habits are taking their toll as they top the European statistics for cancer and heart disease.

The average Hungarian male does not live to be 65 although females live an average of 7 years more. They drink and smoke to excess, and their suicide rate is the highest in the world.

Hungary's President Pal Schmitt, who visited the U.S. this month, is proud that the country's new Constitution includes references to Christianity, but that doesn't begin to address Hungary's most pressing problem of improving its economic standing and the living conditions of its people. Hungary's overloaded bureaucracy has to shrink to reduce its budget deficit and its people's sense of entitlement must change.

It just isn't fiscally possible for workers in Hungary to retire at 50 years of age on 80% of their earnings or to pay pregnant women $500 a month for three years in an attempt to reverse the tide of its severe population loss each year.

After 43 years of being married to a Hungarian who financially supports Hungarian causes, fluently speaks the language, brags of his Hungarian citizenship, carries his Hungarian passport, promotes the culture of Hungary and visits his homeland yearly, I am devastated that Hungary still believes its economic problems can be solved with political solutions.

So please, President Orban, make my husband again proud enough of Hungary that he will take the medal out of his drawer to wear it again. Your paper-thin democracy, re-establishment of authoritarianism and failing economy has hurt far more than you know. It has damaged Hungary's stature in the world immeasurably.

Her opinion does not necessarily represent the views of this portal, your feedback is welcome.

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