Ambassador Szemerkényi embraces neo-Nazi Jobbik delegation in Washington

Ms. Réka Szemerkényi has been recently accredited as Hungary’s Ambassador to Washington. After she presented her credentials to President Obama at the White House she promised to open a new chapter in US-Hungarian relations.

She did.

Never before had a Hungarian Ambassador to the US embraced  neo-Nazis. Ms. Szemerkényi is the first Hungarian diplomat in history to welcome the neo-Fascist Jobbik party’s delegation in Washington. Mr. István Szávay, vice chairman of Jobbik and Mr. Gábor Staudt, both MPs, have visited the Embassy in Washington where Ms. Szemerkényi briefed them. (Jobbik reported about the event on their Facebook page.)

Ms. Szemerkényi with her family and President Obama in the Oval Office.

Ms. Szemerkényi with her family and President Obama in the Oval Office.

Just to give you an idea who these thugs are, let’s quote a 2012 letter written by fifty US congressman to Prime Minister Viktor Orbán: “We are deeply concerned however, by anti-Semitic and homophobic positions espoused by members of the Jobbik party. For example, Jobbik’s presidential candidate, Krisztina Morvai, referred to Israeli Jews as “lice infested, dirty murderers” and warned Hungarian Jews that “your kind’s time is over.” The Jobbik magazine implied there is truth to the myth that Jews used Christian blood in religious rites, and Jobbik introduced a bill in Parliament referring to homosexuality as a perversion and calling for the imprisonment of those who “promote” homosexuality. Further, Jobbik has attacked the employers of those who may be gay, calling for the ouster of Robert Alföldi, the director of the National Theater, based on his presumed homosexuality. These statements take place against the backdrop of broader problems of intolerance and discrimination against Roma, migrants and others.” (Full letter here.)

Before you think this was a mistake by the Hungarian diplomacy, an unfortunate oversight – think twice. The very same Jobbik delegation was welcomed earlier in New York by Mr. Ferenc Kumin, Hungary’s Consul General.

Just recently, Mr. Kumin met ADL (Anti-Defamation League) director Mr. Andrew Srulewitch and assured him “absolute zero tolerance” against any form of racism and anti-Semitism. Mr. Kumin earlier “firmly excluded the possibility of any kind of cooperation with Jobbik and called them a danger to Hungarian democracy.” (Read here Mr. Kumin’s statements about Jobbik.)

Mr. Kumin’s “misinformation team” in action at ADL.  From right: Mr. Kumin, Mr. Csaba Latorcai junior minister of the Orbán-government, Mr. Andrew Srulewitch ADL director, Mr. Dávid Singer cultural attaché at the Washington embassy, Mr. György Szabó, a Fidesz operative, currently head of MAZSÖK, Mr. Gábor Galik section head in PM Orbán’s office.

Mr. Kumin’s “misinformation team” in action at ADL. From right: Mr. Kumin, Mr. Csaba Latorcai junior minister of the Orbán-government, Mr. Andrew Srulewitch ADL director, Mr. Dávid Singer cultural attaché at the Washington embassy, Mr. György Szabó, a Fidesz operative, currently head of MAZSÖK, Mr. Gábor Galik section head in PM Orbán’s office.

We all know about the tricky double-talk of Hungarian politicians, on one hand they quietly support neo-Nazi Jobbik, on the other hand they busily organize Holocaust memorials and preaching „zero tolerance.” But this incident went beyond the usual Janus-faced Hungarian diplomacy.

On April 27, Ms. Szemerkényi attended on a Cybersecurity conference at Georgetown University. Her section was moderated by Phyllis A. Schneck, who is Deputy Undersecretary for Cybersecurity at the US Department of Homeland Security.

Why was Ms. Szemerkényi invited to this conference? A diplomat who “briefs” Hungarian Jobbik operatives shouldn’t attend meetings where highly sensitive Homeland Security issues are discussed. Jobbik’s close relations with Russia and President Putin are well known, and this is not baseless fearmongering. The European Union has recently launched a formal investigation of a prominent Jobbik politician, Mr. Béla Kovács, who is suspected of having ties with the Russian intelligence dating back to the late 1970s. (Read about it here.)

I find it disturbing that pro-Putin Hungarian fascists are parading at the Washington Embassy, and I also wonder if the time has come for the State Department to take a closer look at Ms. Szemerkényi’s and Mr. Kumin’s activities and accreditation. What do you think?

György Lázár


  1. Very disappointing. Well, I commented fascism in Europe many times, I rather comment the picture above this time.

    It looks like the young boy on Obama’s right is her son. Obama looks very happy while the boy is somewhat stressed out squeezing his hand into fist.
    I can understand his sulky depressed mood when he realized how careless and unprofessional Obama’s White House protocol team was as they forgot to consult with him and allowed Obama to wear the exactly same suit, shirt, necktie and shoes that he was wearing without his approval.

  2. Jobbik is NOT a Neo-nazi party! They are far from it! After the recent days, they could not even be called radicals! They become a simply, moderate conservative party!

    This website should change its name to ‘Hungarian Leftist Press’

    • In general apart from HFP . Leftist cannot call themselves “Free” while a Civilian Party and like Fidesz can openly call themselves “Illiberal”?

      • Not good comparision, I guess. The term “free” is very subjective, hard to determine, it means different to many.
        For example, for many people, gay marriage legalization is freedom – but for me, it is the exact opposite.

        While, on the other side, “illiberal” is quite definite term.

        • The term “free” is unequivocal and easy to determine, you have the individual liberty to interpret it in your own way; no one will mark you, though.
          The definition of free:

          a./ personal rights or liberty.
          b./ existing under civil and political liberties.
          c./ enjoying political autonomy, independent.
          exempt from external authority, interference, restriction.
          d./ able to do something at will; at liberty.

          Keyword for free is liberty / liberal.
          The definition of illiberal.
          a./ narrowminded; bigoted, prejudiced, intolerant.
          b./ not generous; mean, lacking in culture or refinement.
          c./ concept of minimum individual freedom.
          d./ narrow-minded politically; unconcerned with the rights or liberties of others, not supporting people’s rights to say or do what they want.

          Keyword for Fidesz, introduced by Orban, is / illiberal.

          • c./ correctly: enjoying political autonomy, independent, exempt from external authority, interference, restriction.

  3. Jobbik was and remains a Neo-Nazi party, their recent “cuteness” campaign is to suck in moderate racists from Fidesz. After the 2018 election Fidesz and Jobbik will form a government to lead Hungary into another disaster. At least they will have another reason to sing: “balsors akit regen tep”.

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  5. Gyuri, I fully agree with your conclusion. But no foreign governments, but we “the people” have the duty and hopefully the means to stop this tendency of running into nazism. József Attila: It is our task to settle at least our common affairs, and this is not as easy as it seems (translated by me)

  6. Avatar Sandor Kerekes says:

    I don’t know if my answer ti the remarks to the note of Madame Ambassador will automatically make their way here, but since I want them read here too I am going to copy the whole post here:

    I emphatically disagree with all those who poo-poo the Jobbik and its so-called “legitimacy.” That goes for the commenters, but above all to Madame Ambassador, hiding behind the parliamentary veneer of the visitors.
    In fact, the very existence of Jobbik, wherever they may appear, is in contravention of the Paris Peace Treaty of 1947 and it is a testimonial to the entire spineless Hungarian establishment that they are not only tolerating, but outright pampering these bums.
    That will be the day when we are going to match “personal values” with diplomats of the illiberal state, kissing asses of nazis, while singing the praises of fairness and diplomatic even-handedness.
    The argument that the Jobbik is a democratic party, just because it was elected to parliament democratically, is an untenable nonsense, believed only by idiots, who have no idea what democracy is. Or should I enumerate all the vicious dictators from Hitler to Putin, whom were all elected “democratically?”
    Besides, it is simply not true that the ambassadorial position doesn’t afford distinctions whom she represents. It was her and Kumin’s choice to cosy up to the nazis and no amount of artificial indignation will sweeten the bitter aftertaste of this event.

  7. Very disappointing, though a very good article. I translated it into Hungarian, to make it available for the readers who don’t speak English. I think such information should be shared as widely as possible. I wonder how much of similar facts are necessary to wake up Hungarians ….

    • It’s not a question of how much, one is enough if hits home and triggers a domino effect. Easy to wake up the sleepers but to bring back ten million from a mind controlled hypnotic trance is a different problem.
      It needs a magic word. The antidote. They don’t need the truth. Truth hurts. They don’t want to hear it even if you pay for them to listen. They only want promises and lies even if they have to pay for that.

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