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Obama discloses pressure against Hóman’s statue

January 30th, 2016

Commenting on President Obama’s remarks on how the United States acted to prevent the erection of a statue to interwar Culture Minister Bálint Hóman, a left-wing newspaper calls the government’s attitude shameful, while a pro-government daily quotes an official statement denying that the government yielded to foreign pressure in scrapping the project.

Addressing a ceremony on the International Holocaust Remembrance Day at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, President Obama said “the United States worked very hard with many Hungarians and other interested international groups to prevent the erection of the statue… Ultimately the statue’s backers cancelled their plans.” (Bálint Hóman, a renowned historian served as Minister of Cults and Public Education from 1932 to 1942 and promoted anti-Jewish legislation, and even urged the deportation of Jews in 1944. After the war he was sentenced to life imprisonment on trumped up war crimes charges, and died in prison where his heart disease was not treated. He was only rehabilitated by the top court in 2015. Reports on his anti-Semitic activities surfaced in public discourse only after the plan to erect his statue had been made public.)

In its front page editorial, Népszabadság criticises the public new agency MTI for having omitted this remark from its first report on the president’s speech. (MTI justified the omission saying that the correspondent had based her original report on a news agency summary which did not mention Hungary at all.) Népszabadság lays the main blame at the government’s door, however, accusing it of supporting the idea of erecting a statue to an anti-Semite  and last ditch supporter of the Hungarian Arrow-Cross regime.

In Magyar Hírlap, Loretta Tóth quotes a government spokesman who said foreign pressure only hindered the solution of the matter. The Prime Minister is quoted as having said that America had better not intervene. (Several leading Hungarian officials, including three cabinet ministers opposed the statue before the Prime Minister himself objected to it in Parliament, see BudaPost, December 12 and 25,2015.)







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