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Foreign Minister Demands US Ambassador to Show More Respect

Mariann Őry 2023.02.03.
Pressman US Ambassador Szijjártó

Minister of Foreign Affairs Péter Szijjártó responded to US Ambassador David Pressman’s criticism of Hungary’s position on the war in Ukraine.

“Political leaders in the government of Hungary often speak of promoting peace, but — from condemning sanctions to embracing Russian ‘cease-fire’ proposals — they continue to push policies endorsed by Putin,” US Ambassador David Pressman told Politico earlier this week. The article with the diplomat’s emailed statement was published on Wednesday. Last Friday, Pressman spent a working lunch with Hungary’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó at a restaurant in Budapest. They also discussed the war in Ukraine and the Hungarian-US alliance within the framework of NATO.

This was their second meeting under similar circumstances, because last September, shortly after Pressman’s arrival, they met at a Japanese restaurant in downtown Budapest. Since then, Pressman met with most members of the Hungarian government -except for Prime Minister Viktor Orbán – and has been actively meeting with Hungarian opposition politicians too, and even traveled to Brussels to meet MEPs.

It is irrelevant, absolutely irrelevant, what he or any other ambassador thinks about the internal political processes in Hungary, because it has nothing to do with him,”

Szijjártó reacted to Pressman’s latest criticism at a press conference held on another topic. According to the minister, Pressman “has no business interfering in Hungary’s internal affairs, and if he wants to use his time in Hungary to criticize the actions of a government that was elected by a fairly clear majority of the Hungarian people and has the authority of the Hungarian people, he will have a very difficult time working effectively to improve cooperation between the two countries.”

“When we welcome ambassadors, we mean it literally: we welcome ambassadors. People who we believe are sent by the sending country to work on improving and developing the relationship between the two countries, on the basis of mutual respect,” Szijjártó went on.

We do not welcome governors or magistrates, who I assume are sent here to tell us how to live in our own countries,”

he added, stressing that “this era is over.” “So, we ask for more respect for Hungarians, even from the ambassador,” Szijjártó concluded.

This was not the first clash between Pressman and Szijjártó. Last November, when Szijjártó was negotiating about nuclear energy in Sochi, Pressman told Politico: “I am concerned when I see missiles flying from Moscow to the playgrounds in Kiev – and I see Hungary’s foreign minister flying to Moscow to hold Facebook Live conferences from Gazprom headquarters.” Szijjártó said: “I do not comment on the US Secretary of State’s travels either, and I would certainly expect the US Ambassador to refrain from commenting on Hungarian political issues in the same way.”

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Featured photo via Facebook/US Embassy Budapest

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