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US-Hungary controversy over corruption allegations

December 19th, 2014

A left-wing commentator thinks Hungary should be glad to hear that the United States plans to devote funds to fighting corruption in Central and Eastern Europe, while his pro-government counterpart likens American allegations to the charges levelled by mysterious authorities against Mr K in Kafka’s famous novel, ’The Trial’.

In Népszabadság, Gábor Horváth criticises Foreign Minister Péter Szíjjártó who expressed “Hungary’s concern” over a US plan to devote large amounts of money to an anti-corruption operation in Central and Eastern Europe. (The Minister said national sovereignty would require the Hungarian government to be involved. PM Orbán told journalists that “nobody is happy in Hungary about our country becoming an operation field along with another twenty nations.”) Instead of protesting, Horváth argues, the government should welcome Washington’s readiness to spend American taxpayers’ money to fight corruption. He hints at recently widely publicised photos and news articles showing politicians or advisers exhibiting their expensive accessories in public or buying expensive apartments and remarks that even China’s leaders have realised that the government can enhance its credibility by persecuting corrupt public officials.

In a passionate Magyar Nemzet editorial, Zsuzsanna Körmendy argues that after the Senate report on the interrogation methods applied by the CIA, the United States is not well placed to teach lessons to others. She quotes the Prime Minister’s sentence about Hungary becoming an “operation field”, but her main objection is about the suspicions voiced about Tax Authority Chief Ildikó Vida, the only one of the six Hungarian personalities banned from entering the United State whose name is known. Since the US Chargé d’Affaires in Budapest says he cannot disclose the reasons, Körmendy likens this matter to what happened to Mr. K. in Kafka’s famous novel, The Trial, where unknown people put him under arrest, accuse him of an unspecified guilt without explaining why. “Luckily enough”, she concludes, “Kafka wrote his novel hundred years ago.”

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