Joe Biden, president-elect of the United States, has nominated William Burns to be the director of the CIA. Burns, having served under the Bush Administration as well as the Obama Administration, is known to be a major critic of Viktor Orbán.
US-Hungarian relations are standing on increasingly shaking ground with the nomination of William Burns as CIA director. Burns is known to have strongly criticized Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán and the Hungarian administration. He has also criticized former US ambassador to Hungary David Cornstein for, in his view, not representing American interests in Hungary.
Hungarian tabloid Blikk found an article written by William Burns in which he criticizes the former ambassador and the Hungarian prime minister. The article argues that Cornstein developed a case of what Burns calls “clientitis,” towards Orbán, whom he refers to as an “authoritarian, civil-liberties-bashing leader”. Burns’ article makes it clear that he does not support the current government in Hungary, and that he believes the former ambassador to have, in a manner unfitting of a diplomat, fallen under the influence of his hosts’ partisanship.
Joe Biden was recorded justifying his nomination, citing the public servant’s professionalism and integrity. In the video, Burns says he will do his job “without a hint of partisanship.” Only time will tell whether he will stay true to his statement.
Given his dissatisfaction with the Orbán government and his comments about David Cornstein, the nomination of Burns comes as another checkmark on the list of factors likely to damage US-Hungarian relations.
Featured photo illustration by MTI/EPA-EFE/José Mendez