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Further comments on US visa waiver restrictions

August 4th, 2023

Although the new restriction on visa-free travel to the United States is largely symbolic, the issue has stirred strong emotional reactions in the Hungarian media.

On ATV News, travel writer Róbert Richárd Kiss remarks that the changes do not seriously harm Hungarians, as even if they wish to travel to the United States several times a year, they just have to fill in the ESTA form online each time. (For the details, see BudaPost, August 3.) ‘That’s nothing like being interviewed when asking for entry visas’, he added. On the same programme, liberal foreign policy expert István Szent-Iványi believes that despite official statements to the contrary, the measure was, in reality, a warning to the Hungarian government which, in his words, roots for China instead of siding with America. More serious consequences may follow if the government doesn’t change direction, he adds.

In a second Magyar Nemzet editorial on the issue in as many days, László Szentesi Zöldi believes the United States just found a pretext to cause inconvenience to Hungarians. The real threats to US security, he writes, are homeborn: violent attacks perpetrated by fascist, Islamist and violent woke groups as well as regular school shootings.

In an angry column on the Mandiner website, Szilárd Demeter, a writer in charge of the Petőfi Museum of Literature who was born in Transylvania, thinks the visa-waiver restrictions were motivated by hostile feelings towards Hungary’s policy of support to ethnic Hungarians communities in neighbouring countries. He accuses the United States of supporting the forcible assimilation of those Hungarians by local authorities.

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