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New US ambassador arrives in Budapest

January 22nd, 2015

Commentators on both the Right and Left believe that US-Hungarian diplomatic relations are unlikely to improve significantly once the new US Ambassador Colleen Bell takes up her duties in Budapest.

In Népszabadság, Gábor Horváth dismisses the government’s hopes that the new ambassador will change the highly critical tone of the US towards Hungary. Government officials in their polite welcome speeches expressed their belief that after Colleen Bell’s arrival, there will be a chance to improve the strained diplomatic relationship between Hungary and the US. The new US Ambassador to Hungary will follow the same official line represented by Andre Goodfriend, who as Chargé d’Affaires has been involved in diplomatic disputes with the Hungarian government, Horváth maintains. Hungary needs the US more than the other way around, he says and thus rapprochement will depend rather on the Hungarian side.

In Magyar Nemzet, István Pataky expects no recalibration of the strained US-Hungarian relations from Colleen Bell’s arrival. Since Colleen Bell’s nomination, Hungary has become an important actor in the intensifying competition between Moscow and Washington, thus the US approach to Hungary is determined by regional geopolitical interests, Pataky notes. The conservative columnist fears that “Washington does not mind armed confrontation between Russia and Ukraine“. Thus Hungary’s ‘eastern opening’ and its rapprochement with Moscow “which was also a surprise to hundreds of thousands of Fidesz voters” is hardly tolerated by the US, Pataky suggests. In conclusion, he suggests that confrontation with the US is bound to harm Hungary’s interests, and nor does it serve Washington’s interests to produce a “loss of confidence” in an ally in a region so close to an ongoing conflict.

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