Entries RSS Feed Share Send to Facebook Tweet This Accessible version

Further ruminations on Obama’s Hungary remarks

September 29th, 2014

A left-wing columnist sees the critical remarks made by President Obama accusing the Hungarian government of intimidating NGOs as evidence that the US is deeply concerned about the state of Hungarian democracy. A pro-government commentator accuses President Obama of applying double standards against Hungary.

Péter Szijjártó, the newly appointed Minister of Foreign dismissed US President Obama’s critique of Hungary (see BudaPost September 26) as lacking any factual basis, since tens of thousands of NGOs operate undisturbedly and mostly get some sort of public subsidies, which makes it absurd to list Hungary among nations that belong to an entirely different category. The Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a press release stated that President Obama’s suggestion that the Hungarian government threatened NGOs was mistaken and harmed relations between Hungary and the US. On Friday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned André Goodfriend Chargé d’Affaires at the US Embassy in Budapest, who in an interview said that President Obama’s concerns should be seen as a dialogue between friends rather than criticism.

In Népszava, Tamás Mészáros finds it strange that the Hungarian government wants to dismiss President Obama’s critique as groundless and lacking any factual basis. The left-wing commentator thinks that the Hungarian government is unlikely to be given more credit than the US President who has been advised by several experts. Mészáros adds that Obama’s statement should be taken very seriously. He contends that the President of the US expressed fears over the Hungarian governments’ restrictive measures towards NGOs “in the context of US national security”. This, Mészáros believes, shows that the US is very concerned about these Hungarian developments and sees them “as a declaration of war on democratic states” and a harbinger of complete social meltdown in Hungary.

Magyar Hírlap’s Zsolt Bayer accuses President Obama of applying double standards. The strongly pro-government columnist claims that in the US, foreign financial support for NGOs is illegal. “The US considers any foreign funding as a potential national security threat,” Bayer writes. Thus President Obama is criticizing Hungary for restricting something that is illegal in his own country, Bayer adds, and he goes on to note that the NGOs under scrutiny are under suspicion of embezzlement (see BudaPost September 10). Bayer concludes by promising that the next “Peace March” of the pro-government CÖF NGO (of which he is a leading member) will stop by at the US Embassy in Budapest in order to protest against President Obama’s statement.

Tags: , , ,