A serious disagreement has erupted in the National Judicial Council (OBT) about the fact that two judges, members of the council met with David Pressman, the Ambassador of the United States, according to leaked minutes of the OBT meeting on 2 November, reported by the daily Magyar Nemzet.
Last month Pressman came under fire for meeting two Hungarian judges, Csaba Vasvári and Tamás Matusik, members of the OBT at the US embassy. The 15-member OBT is a body that supervises the central administration of the courts and also performs administrative tasks.
In his speech at the November meeting, Tamás Matusik said that while criticism should be tolerated, press rhetoric following the meeting was unprecedented.
The President of the Hungarian Bar Association (Magyar Ügyvédi Kamara), János Bánáti, said that the press has deliberately conflated judicial and public activities. In his opinion, it is necessary to separate judicial activity from public activity, and that in this case the two judges did not participate in this meeting as judges, but as public figures, as members of the OBT.
“If you go out into the political arena, you are no longer protected by judicial independence. It has to be acknowledged,” András Zs. Varga, President of the Supreme Court (Kúria) reacted.
“If the rules have not been respected, it should not be surprising that criticism is voiced. In this case, there is not just an irregularity, but a breach of the law,” András Zs. Varga explained. According to the President of the Supreme Court, the participants of the meeting at the American Embassy failed to comply with the Vienna Diplomatic Convention Act, because they should have informed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade before the meeting.
Featured photo via Twitter/Ambassador David Pressman