Hungary-US Ties: US Ambassador Colleen Bell Briefed Hungarian Lawmakers

  • 6 May 2016 9:00 AM
Hungary-US Ties: US Ambassador Colleen Bell Briefed Hungarian Lawmakers
There are appreciable changes in Hungarian-US ties and this is thanks to a sharing of interests in several areas, Zsolt Németh, head of parliament’s foreign affairs committee, said on Thursday. On migration, one of the subjects addressed at the closed-door hearing at which US Ambassador Colleen Bell briefed lawmakers, Németh said that notwithstanding criticism at a rhetorical level, Hungary and the United States essentially had the same approach.

The US protects its southern borders “in more or less the same way as Hungary protects its own borders to the south,” he said. The EU should protect its southern borders, too, he added.

There is also a shared conviction that the so-called Islamic State terrorist organisation is the force behind migration, and firm steps taken against IS includes troop deployments, he said. Hungarian-US relations also centre around their relationship as allies within NATO and shared views on security policy, Németh said, referring to the importance of heightened cooperation ahead of the forthcoming NATO summit in Warsaw.

Although neither NATO nor the US plan to station any troops in Hungary, a small command headquarters of 40 men will be established, he noted. Németh mentioned the controversial TTIP agreement being negotiated between the EU and the US. Whereas Hungarian opposition parties oppose it, the Hungarian government is open to such a pact with conditions, such as keeping the country GMO free, he said.

Németh praised the impact Colleen Bell has had on Hungarian-US relations since she took her post in January 2015.

This, he said, should be reflected in higher-level political relations. He welcomed attempts by the ambassador “to resolve disputes through diplomatic channels; which can be expected among allies.”

Gábor Vona, a member of the committee and leader of the Jobbik party, said after the hearing that Hungary-US relations had been tested numerous times in the recent past and any improvements were thanks to the more open and consensus-seeking attitude of the ambassador who strives to understand the positions of various groups in Hungarian society.

Jobbik’s position on the TTIP agreement, he said, is that “it is not timely to enter into such negotiations”.

Republished with permission of Hungary Matters, MTI’s daily newsletter.

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