Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó, starting an official visit to Washington, DC, has claimed that a new phase in Hungary-US ties has arrived. The minister argued that significant changes were afoot at the State Department.
He cited as an example the appointment of Wess Mitchell (who was chosen last fall) as the official responsible for the central European region, which he said presaged a new chapter in the Hungarian-American political relationship. He said economic ties and cooperation in defence were “excellent”, and he underlined Hungary’s unswerving commitment to NATO and the fight against terrorism.
Political ties, however, have not functioned properly, he said. “We had to face many unfair criticisms, and in several cases we experienced a lack of understanding when it came to America’s assessment of Hungarian measures,” Szijjártó said, adding that now a new chapter could begin with Mitchell’s appointment. “Taking into account the last few years, now is our best chance for political relations to develop to the level of our ties in the economy and defence.” “Over the past seven years, Hungary has been brought back from the edge of the abyss … and today it is one of the dominant countries of the central European growth engine; and this is recognised here in America,” he said.
Szijjártó claimed that US-Hungary ties have started to see a revival recently. He argued that one sign of this was that in November, a US congressional delegation visited Budapest, while another will come in late January, and plans are underway for American politicians to visit Budapest in March as well. “The current American administration represents a similar position to the Hungarian government’s on a number of important international issues,” the minister said.
Szijjártó also welcomed a letter sent by Republican lawmakers to Rex Tillerson urging the State Department to take steps to improve US-Hungary ties and immediately suspend a US program to fund “objective media in Hungary.”
After 2016’s US presidential elections, many speculated on what the Trump administration would mean for Hungary, and many were initially optimistic in this regard. Viktor Orbán was among the first to express sympathy for the then president-elect, and had said he expected that “things will improve” under the Trump administration. However, so far it seems that, despite similar ideological outlooks and encouraging early signals, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has failed to forge a strong relationship with Donald Trump.
image via KKM