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PM Orbán briefs Hungary’s ambassadors

July 18th, 2013

Népszabadság accuses the Prime Minister of defending his own personal power on the pretext of safeguarding national sovereignty, while Magyar Hírlap finds the government’s left-wing critics guilty of undying subservience to foreign governments.

In his address to the annual conference of Hungarian ambassadors, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán focused mainly on economic issues and said that since it took office three years ago, his government has managed to reverse negative tendencies and put Hungary on the right track. When asked by former (Socialist) Foreign Minister László Kovács how he saw the recent frictions in Hungarian–US relations, the Prime Minister replied that there are no problems on “hard issues” such as defence and security. Opinions, he continued, diverge over “soft issues, concerning outlooks and ideologies”.

In its front page editorial, Népszabadság wonders what exactly those soft issues are: “perhaps parliamentary democracy, human rights, the freedom of religion, or the rule of law and a system of checks and balances?” The authors disagree with Mr Orbán who asked why “it was America’s job” to express an opinion about “Hungarian legislation over a particular issue”. Népszabadság remarks that it is a legal duty of the State Department to prepare a yearly overview of the state of human rights worldwide and adds that democracies tend not to get offended when reading that document, unlike dictatorships and autocracies. The main left-wing daily accuses the Prime Minister of failing to understand charges of a “democratic deficit” because as far as he is concerned, “he can do whatever he wants”.

In Magyar Hírlap, Gyula T. Máté thinks Hungary’s left wing leaders find the Prime Minister’s words so abhorrent, because they are as subservient to Western power centres as they once used to be to Communist Moscow. The Prime Minister, he remarks, just called Hungary’s alliance with the United States “fine and useful”, but could not accept “the elder brother’s right to interfere with everything, all the time”. For instance, Máté continues, “it is not the US ambassador’s job to tell Hungary what should be included into her constitution”. He finds it telling that Mr Kovács questioned the Prime Minister on that very issue. Over twenty years ago, the right-wing columnist concludes, Socialist leaders “only swapped ideological allegiances, not mentalities: now they are “unconditionally at the service of the White House, rather than of the Kremlin”, as before.

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