Opinion: US Embassy Cautions Hungary Against ‘Moving Apart’

  • 21 Oct 2022 6:35 AM
  • BudaPost
Opinion: US Embassy Cautions Hungary Against ‘Moving Apart’
The leading pro-government daily describes as ’scandalous’ the US embassy reaction to ‘anti-American remarks’ by government and government-funded commentators. Meanwhile, a pro-government TV Station ’responds in kind’.

In its Twitter video, the US Embassy quotes statements by pro-government outlets and two Fidesz politicians (Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén and Parliament Speaker László Kövér) severely critical of the United States. In a quiz format, the video invites viewers to guess whether the remarks were made by Viktor Orbán loyalists or by Vladimir Putin.

The video concludes with the following commentary: ’In recent weeks, several senior Hungarian government figures and government-funded commentators have made harsh anti-Western and anti-American statements. Hungary and the United States are Allies. As Russian aggression threatens us all, we must stand together, not move apart.’

Magyar Nemzet reproduces the video without commentary, but qualifies it as ’scandalous’ in its headline.

HírTV, on the other hand, posts five questions in the same style asking whether (1) blowing up the Nord Stream gas pipeline was an act of terror (2) whether it was  Vladimir Putin or Joe Biden who threatened to ‘blow up’ Nord Stream (in its headline HÍRTV quotes President Biden verbatim as saying – last January – that ‘there will be no North Stream’ in case Russia attacks Ukraine); (3) who gave the Hungarian opposition billions (of Forints) in support ‘to overthrow the government’ – Putin’s oligarchs or American Democrat circles; (4) who is the biggest winner of the war (in Ukraine) Europe or the United States?; and (5) who sells European natural gas at four times the domestic price, America or Russia?

Further reactions to the US Embassy Twitter video

Two authors mentioned in the video reject it as an example of a patronizing US attitude. A left-wing commentator asserts that frictions with the United States are not in Hungary’s best interest.

Reacting to the video posted by the US embassy Tamás Menczer, State Secretary in charge of bilateral relations within the Foreign Ministry, said Hungary continues to promote relations based on mutual respect with the United States ‘even should that ambition not be reciprocal’. In an interview with ATV on Wednesday, he also said Budapest would be glad to host a Biden-Putin summit aimed at ending the war in Ukraine.

In an open letter to US Ambassador David Pressman, Demokrata editor András Bencsik repeats his allegation that the two Nord Stream gas pipelines were blown up by the United States, adding that this was not behaviour one would expect from an ally. In his concluding remark, he writes he would not welcome unequal alliances ‘either with the European Union or with the United States’.

In a similar but even harsher style, Magyar Nemzet’s Zsolt Bayer compares the United States to a lady whom one used to be in love with, but who has since become a shrew. He describes Ambassador Pressman as someone who has come to Budapest in order to lecture Hungarians as ‘a new Andropov visiting a colony to explain to the natives what’s right and what’s wrong’.

In Népszava, Gábor Horváth dismisses such reactions, arguing that the statements criticised by the US embassy are in fact ‘not OK’ among allies. He predicts that after the half-joking points made in the US Embassy video, more serious messages will follow. The left-wing commentator concludes that anti-Americanism only plays into Putin’s hands, while the interest of the Hungarian public would dictate the exact opposite.

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