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Welcoming the new US Ambassador to Hungary

November 12th, 2013

Pundits across the political spectrum believe that Colleen Bradley Bell, the new US Ambassador to Hungary will form a rather dim picture of Hungary and its government if she gathers information from the US press before taking up her post.

US President Barack Obama has named Colleen Bradley Bell the new US Ambassador to Hungary. Ms Bell and her family donated and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Obama’s presidential campaigns. Ms Bell is known in Hungary as the producer of the popular soap opera ‘The Bold and the Beautiful’.

Barack Obama is continuing the tradition of his predecessors by rewarding a top campaign donor who has no real ambitions as ambassador in Hungary, Levente Sitkei writes in Magyar Nemzet. The pro-government commentator notes that Ms Bell is not a seasoned diplomat and presumably has little knowledge of Hungarian politics. So she is likely to base her research into the country on press reports and US briefs, which Sitkei believes draw a very biased picture of Hungary and suggest that the country is marked by radicalism and racism. This image falls in line with the latest public statement by the US Embassy on Friday condemning the celebration of the interwar Regent Miklós Horthy by a radical right-wing Calvinist pastor and Jobbik MPs and expressing the view that such an event should have been condemned by top leaders (see BudaPost November 9). Sitkei nonetheless dares hope that Ms Bell will live up to American democratic ideals, avoid prejudice and be open to different views.

Colleen Bradley Bell will have to learn the double speak practiced by the Orbán government, Attila Seres contends in Népszava. Pondering the US Embassy’s statement, he speculates that “Washington has written off Hungary and its Prime Minister” who, Seres admits, condemns racism and anti-Semitism but at the same time ‘tolerates’ the racist tide. The left-wing pundit likens PM Orbán to Regent Horthy, and suggests that both politicians co-opted anti-Semitism in order to take the wind out of the sails of far-right parties.

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