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Diplomatic row over remarks by the US charge d’affaires on the press 

October 20th, 2017

A pro-government columnist criticizes the US charge d’affaires for accusing the Hungarian government of interfering with the media. A left-wing analyst thinks that Hungarian-US relations are unlikely to improve under the Trump administration.   

On Tuesday in a speech delivered to the Hungarian Association of Journalists, US charge d’affaires David Kostelancik expressed concerns over what he defined as ’negative trends’ in the Hungarian media. Mr Kostelancik accused the government of distorting the media landscape. Among other things, he mentioned the takeover of governmentcritical news outlets by pro-government investors and streamlined editorial policies. In a swift reaction, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned Mr KostelancikState Secretary Levente Magyar rejected his claims and called on the US diplomat to stop interfering in Hungarian internal affairs. 

Magyar Hírlap’s Tamás Ulicza thinks that Mr Kostelancik violated basic diplomatic norms by sharing his own personal and biased opinion about the Hungarian media landscape. The pro-government commentator suspects that the US charge d’affaires’ ‘meddling’ with Hungarian internal affairs reflects the US diplomacy line under President Obama, but is alien from President Trump’s foreign policy vision. Ulicza welcomes the Hungarian government’s decision to firmly reject the accusations. In an aside, Ulicza adds that Mr the diplomat’sa llegations are likely to have been suggested by left-wing intellectuals and journalists.

In Népszava, Gábor Horváth calls Mr Kostelancik’s statement ‘a clear message’ which indicates that the attitude of US diplomacy has not changed under the Trump administration. The left-wing columnist is convinced that Mr Kostelancik’s speech was approved by Washington and thus it cannot be considered as his own personal view.  In conclusion, Horváth believes the Orbán government cannot hope that the US will become any friendlier or more accommodating towards them under President Trump.

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