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Should warnings by the US be returned in kind?

December 21st, 2011

A leading right-wing commentator and long time critic of US policies calls upon the Hungarian Foreign Ministry to return American criticism of Hungary’s pivotal laws in kind.

“If the Bem Embankment (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) thinks that retreat and defence is the best tactic – slowly growing into a strategy – then it is mistaken,”  István Lovas writes in Magyar Nemzet, in a comment on the latest critical American statement on Hungarian constitutional reforms.

As Budapost reported on Tuesday, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Thomas O. Melia told HVG that the State Department intended to step up its criticism of Hungarian pivotal laws, and was planning to make public its concern about the state of the system of checks and balances in Hungary.  In an earlier spat, István Lovas condemned an article by US Ambassador to Budapest Eleni Tsakopoulos Kounalakis expressing the same preoccupations. The passionately right-wing commentator described the Ambassador’s article as an act of ‘blatant meddling’ in Hungary’s internal affairs.

This time, Lovas turns the kind of arguments used to criticise the Hungarian government against the US. If Mr Melia’s logic is to be followed, he suggests, then the USA can hardly be considered a democracy. Next year’s Defense Authorization Bill (passed earlier in December) gives sweeping powers to the executive against terror suspects. It will be possible to keep them in custody indefinitely without trial. “Thomas Melia invited the Hungarian government to raise its voice as an equal partner, if democracy is impaired,” Lovas argues, so “why hasn’t the Foreign Ministry given any sign that it is worried by such a threat to democratic rights in the United States?”

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