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U.S. Embassy condemns Horthy celebration

November 9th, 2013

A pro-government daily suggests that the warning issued by the US Embassy in Budapest over the Horthy statue amounts to interference in Hungarian politics. An opposition commentator blames the government for what he calls a new low in Hungarian-American relations.
The American Embassy in Budapest published a statement condemning the celebration of interwar Regent Miklós Horthy by Jobbik MPs and stated “Although the significant number of counter-demonstrators showed there is strong opposition to the organizers’ views, and members of the Hungarian government have expressed disapproval, an event such as this requires swift, decisive, unequivocal condemnation by Hungary’s highest ranking leaders”. (On the Horthy commemoration, see BudaPost November 7.) The National Security Committee of Parliament convened behind closed doors on the initiative of PM Viktor Orbán to look into NSA operations in Hungary which were described by unnamed sources quoted by Magyar Nemzet as possibly involving “an attempt to gain political influence”. 

In Magyar Nemzet, Tamás Pilhál interprets the Embassy’s press release as yet another attempt at interference in Hungarian affairs by the United States government. He reminds readers that Fidesz floor leader Antal Rogán did condemn the Horthy ceremony and János Lázár, the State Secretary in charge of the Prime Minister’s office said Horthy should be evaluated by historians. Pilhál thinks the American statement is further proof that Washington is trying to support left-liberal forces in Hungary. He cites the contract between The Open Society Foundation of George Soros and Ferenc Gyurcsány’s company on training Roma personalities in the Balkans (see BudaPost November 5) and repeats the allegation that American national security agencies leaked information to Hungarian political actors on the left, adding that the new constitution, the new regulation of religious organizations and the new media law also came under attack. The author says the Embassy did not react to the question if they shared secret information with Hungarian political parties and while Together-PM said they find such operations in allied countries unacceptable, they did not explicitly deny having received information from the NSA.

In Népszabadság, Gábor Horváth writes that despite former Minister of National Development Tamás Fellegi’s efforts in Washington as a lobbyist for the Hungarian government – such as contributing funds to Republican campaigns – and the memorial year to be held to commemorate the 70th anniversary the Hungarian Holocaust, Viktor Orbán cannot deflect charges that he is after Jobbik voters since he said so himself in Parliament. (Answering a question by a Jobbik MP, Mr Orbán said he deemed her party’s views unacceptable and encouraged Jobbik voters to side with Fidesz). The columnist likens this case to what happened in 2011 with an anti-American diatribe by a far-right leader. (The late István Csurka, leader of the far-right MIÉP party said in Parliament that the 9/11  attacks had been provoked by the US itself. This claim was rejected by Foreign Minister János Martonyi, while Washington would have allegedly expected the Prime Minister to condemn Mr Csurka.)  Horváth thinks Mr Orbán refrained from speaking up personally both then and now over the Horthy ceremony, because he needs the vote of the radical right. He describes the hints that the United States spied on Orbán himself and helped his political opponents with information absurd, but also a sign that the United States is about to be included in the “ever growing list of mortal enemies”, alongside the IMF, Brussels, the foreign press, the Greens, the Liberals and the left, and targeted in the upcoming campaign.

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