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US Ambassador Cornstein: Orbán and Trump Straightforward People

Péter Cseresnyés 2020.10.26.

In a recent interview, the outgoing US ambassador talked about understanding the trauma of Trianon, Hungary’s geopolitical relations with Russia and China, the dispute between Hungary and Ukraine, the biggest similarity between President Trump and PM Orbán, and what he would advise to his successor.

Talking to pro-government news site Mandiner David B. Cornstein expressed regret that the two goals he set out at the beginning of the year did not move forward: settling the conflict over Ukraine’s education law and the diversification of Hungarian energy policy.

The outgoing ambassador said that although he was not sure whether the world understood Hungary’s stance regarding the dispute surrounding the rights of Ukraine’s ethnic Hungarian community to use and be educated in their mother tongue, he personally found it completely reasonable.

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Due to the Treaty of Trianon, which assigned two-thirds of Hungary to neighboring countries, Hungarians living on the other side of the border still have a strong connection to the country. “I completely understand Hungary’s attempt to protect them,” Cornstein said.

Asked about the Treaty of Trianon, Cornstein said he can fully understand the everlasting trauma it caused to the Hungarian nation.

“Well, I can only imagine what Americans would think if a third of their land was assigned to Canada and another third to Mexico. I don’t think they would be happy,” he noted.

Talking about President Trump and Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, Cornstein said that the greatest similarity between them is that both are straightforward people who speak their minds, even though most politicians nowadays only say what is politically correct.

According to him, after Western and Eastern Europe, Central Europe has also appeared in European politics, and Hungary is “smartly watching the whole region”. Today nobody says that Hungary is a small nation, Cornstein outlined.

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Hungary receives 80 percent of its energy needs from Russia. For this geopolitical reason, the Hungarian government is forced to take a pragmatic approach to Russia, the ambassador emphasized. On the other hand, he missed the lack of political outrage towards China.

Asked about the future, Corsntein said that after his diplomatic assignment concludes, his deputy will take charge, since ultimately the next president will be the one responsible for appointing the new ambassador to Budapest after the presidential elections in November.

Cornstein emphasized that any time he had to suggest the government to do something different he did it behind closed doors. “There were times when my request was granted and times it wasn’t, but not once did I say that our friendship was over; we always tried working together”, the ambassador said adding that he would suggest the same approach to his successor.

Cornstein also noted that the next ambassador would be in a much better position than he was when he got here. Now the Orbán government will listen to what the USA has to say, and wants to continue working on good relations, Cornstein concluded.

In the featured photo: PM Orbán and Ambassador Cornstein. Photo by Szilárd Koszticsák/MTI