Hungary’s Ambassador blames Obama’s influence on State Department for poor relations

The newly appointed Hungarian Ambassador, László Szabó, has put the blame squarely on the US State Department for the poor relations between the two countries. According to Ambassador Szabó the State Department has a major problem: “The vast majority of the staff members of the US State Department, where tens of thousands of people work, still have ties to the Obama administration, but we sincerely hope that this will change and that we will gradually find more and more friends at State who understand that improving US-Hungarian and V4-US relations is also valuable for America.” (Read more here.)

The 52-year-old Szabó has no previous diplomatic experience. A medical doctor by training he spent only three years as State Secretary for Foreign Affairs and Trade in the Orbán government. Before that he was an executive at the drug companies, Ely lilly and Teva. His appointment to Washington was a surprise.

Ambassador László Szabó

Szabó does not seem to be aware of the fact that Hungary’s pro-Iranian and pro-Putin stand is not welcomed in Washington. He does not see any issue with restrictions on the media or academic freedom, or with the attack on the American-accredited private university, CEU. He hasn’t noticed the institutionalized racism, the Roma-bashing and the anti-Semitism or the revival of the cult of Miklós Horthy. Not to mention the erection of statues of Albert Wass, János Esterházy or Ferenc Koszorús, all newly discovered “heroes” of the Orbán government. All three fought against the Allies and supported Hungary’s pro-Hitler regime during World War II.

No. Szabó thinks that the problem is with the Obama-influenced State Department! I hoped that the Ambassador will identify the names of the “undesirable” staff members, those who have secretly pledged loyalty to the non-existent Obama Administration.

It shows poor political judgement to start a diplomatic career with a bizarre attack on the State Department. It is also unwise to make a statement in the name of the Visegrad 4 countries since, unlike Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia have good relations with the US and also had excellent relations with the Obama administration in the past.

We wish Ambassador Szabó good luck. We think that in order to improve relations between the two countries Budapest urgently needs to make policy changes. Hoping for sympathetic friends at the State Department won’t be enough.

György Lázár


  1. Avatar Joseph Nagyvary says:

    Lazar writes nonsense. There is no restriction on the media in Hungary, there is more variety of published opinion than here in Austin. There is less racism and anti-semitism than in the USA. Ask PM Netanyahu.

  2. You are clearly an expert on the writing of nonsense.

  3. Nagyvary

    Not only there is no restriction on the mafia in Hungary, but there is no corruption either – it became policy, it’s institutionalized.
    And pigs fly in Hungary, this is how they reached the highest positions in the country.
    Orwell got it right.

    • Let us stick to the facts. You can find the following 8 dailies at most kiosks in Budapest: 1. Bors, 2. Népszava, 3. Magyar Nemzet, 4. Magyar Hirlap, 5. Magyar Idők, 6. Világgazdaság, 7. Blikk, 8. Hirstart. Of these, only Magyar Idők is committed to the government, the others are either opposition or independent, often owned by foreign firms. The online journals and blogs are even more voicing the programs of the socialist-liberal opposition. In Austin, there is only one liberal Democratic newspaper, The Statesman.
      May I also add now that CEU is not a university but a school of political science, like our Bush School of Government at Texas A&M. It is viewed with suspicion as an inappropriate foreign interference with Hungarian politics.
      I don’t know much about the mafia in Hungary, but it’s obvious the Hungarians prefer by far the present government.

    • Nagyvári

      Pleeease, no “alternative facts”.
      The only remaining independent daily to write on domestic politics is Népszava (after the recent liquidation of Népszabadság).
      There are no independent local papers in the country any more.

      Magyar Nemzet used to be Fidesz mouthpiece before the rift with Simicska, following which they created MI as a replacement.

      So you think that teaching political science disqualifies CEU as a uni, tough luck, since several of the current regime’s prominent minions a sporting CEU diplomas.

      I agree that the CEU is now regarded with suspicion and animosity since Orban decreed it. Any fascist regime would do likewise.

      In Hungary there is no mafia, but the Orban mafia state. For details read Balint Magyar’s and Jozsef Debreceni’s books.

      • My friend, I have been a Texas A&M University professor for almost 40 years–certainly, an expert on what constitutes a university. A university is supposed to have a complete spectrum of disciplines, like humanities, science, engineering, law and medicine. CEU is a good school of political sciences with a leftist agenda. Their graduates could do great work. I am sure it will continue its operations.

      • Nagyvári

        Ii have no idea what are the criteria for a “university” in the US, there are even jeshiva unis ?! The title does’n change the nature of CEU and the other points we discussed above are way more important than some semantics.

        It is sad that after a career in a US university and with your long life experience, you don’t recognize a fascistoid regime when you see one (supposing you are looking).

  4. On Szabò’s gaffe: not only these people are silly diletants, but oafish ones at that. I say people to include Szijjàrto who must have been consulted at least or, more probably has issued some instructions.
    Shot themselves in the foot again

  5. Avatar György Lázár says:

    Dear Joseph Nagyvary

    Did Netanyahu really say that there is less racism and anti-Semitism in Hungary than in the USA? Where did you see that?

    • The Israeli PM expressed his satisfaction over the Hungarian government’s efforts against antisemitism and for the wellbeing of the Jewish faith community.
      My main objection was that you repeat the mendacious statement, that also appeared in The Economist and the Neue Zurcher Zeitung, concerning the limitation of the free press. Anyone who can read Hungarian, like myself,can ascertain that there are more anti-government than pro-government publications in Hungary. So, whom did you want to fool ?
      Any observer can see that racism is still rampant in the USA. Should I list the recent riots?

  6. Joseph Nagyváry

    Pray tell, why did the European Parliament initiate Article 7 procedures against Hungary on May 17, 2017? This is the first time such a step has been undertaken by the European Parliament in the history of the European Union. In case the answer proves too difficult, I shall quote from the resolution, that even the Conservative deputies endorsed:

    The European Parliament..
    1. Regrets that the Commission did not respond to Parliament’s call to activate its EU framework to strengthen the rule of law, as contained in its resolutions of 10 June 2015 and 16 December 2015 on the situation in Hungary, in order to prevent, an emerging systemic threat to the rule of law from escalating further;
    2. Takes the view that the current approach taken by the Commission focuses mainly on marginal, technical aspects of the legislation while ignoring the trends, patterns and combined effect of measures on the rule of law and fundamental rights;
    3. Believes that infringement proceedings, in particular, have failed in most cases to lead to real changes and to address the situation more broadly;
    4. Believes that the current situation in Hungary represents a clear risk of a serious breach of the values referred to in Article 2 of the TEU and warrants the launch of the Article 7(1) TEU procedure;
    5. Instructs its Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs therefore to initiate the proceedings and draw up a specific report with a view to holding a plenary vote on a reasoned proposal calling on the Council to act pursuant to Article 7(1) of the TEU, in accordance with Rule 83 of its Rules of Procedure;

    Mr. Nagyváry ! Why don’t you face the facts and stop spreading fake news from Austin, like a Little Johnny Appleseed ?

  7. Avatar György Lázár says:

    Dear Mr. Nagyvary,

    Quite frankly I’m surprised that there are Americans, like you, who support the Orbán Government’s Horthy-cult. Shamefully, only the Hungarian Jewish Community (Mazsihisz) and a couple of opposition parties raised their voice when recently PM Orbán praised Horthy who was responsible for the death of close to a million Hungarians as Hitler’s ally. He sent to certain death 250 thousand Hungarians in the Eastern Front and also deported close to half-million Hungarians, the vast majority of them declared Jewish by the Hungarian race-laws. Mr. Orbán’s statement attempted to whitewash Horthy. His statement was perceived by Mazsihisz as anti-Semitic, while opposition parties perceived it as anti-Hungarian.

    In the United States dozens of organizations and politicians protested Mr. Orbán’s statement which was openly anti-American considering that pro-Hitler Mr. Horthy declared war on the US.

    It seems to me that you are one of those Hungarian-Americans who has no problem with Orbán’s Horthy-cult and the Wass, Esterházy and Koszorús statues in Hungary. I have news for you, I think you are part of a tiny (but loud) minority.

    Of course, you are entitled to your opinion, but the wheels of history cannot turn back and the vast majority of Americans (including Hungarian-Americans) condemn Mr. Orbán’s attempt to rehabilitate Horthy and revive Horthysm.

    By the way, Mr. Netanyahu has absolutely nothing to do with this.

    • Dear Mr. Lazar,
      You wrote a piece of opinion slighting Dr. Laszlo Szabo, the new embassador of Hungary, based on his merely 3 years of experience in foreign service and his MD degree. I had the pleasure of spending an hour with Dr. Szabo last October in Houston, and I was very much impressed by his dynamic delivery, quick wit and repartee at the press conference. His tour of Texas and several US states were hugely successful in establishing programs with our universities and commercial ventures with companies in Texas. This could have been behind his appointment to Embassador. There is no substitute for innate talent when it comes to diplomacy, and he has it in spades. Just contrast him with the political appointees of the Obama administration to the American Embassy in Budapest. Neither do I consider his statement an embarrassing gaffe. His assessment of the thousands of minions at the State Department could be in line with the view of President Trump, and he is in close touch with his advisor Sebastian Gorka.
      Otherwise I consider any statement concerning the suppression of the press in Hungary nothing but a slander, a calumny promulgated by the vocal opposition. I visit Hungary each year, and read many papers the year round online. The two largest circulation newspapers, Nepszava and Magyar Nemzet, are viciously against Orban. So are many of the regional papers, for example, the significant Delmagyarorszag is a socialist newspaper. However, rejecting your assertions does not make me an Orban supporter, especially when it comes to paying tributes to Miklos Horthy. I grew up during his reign. The oldest holocaust survivor, Eva Fahidy is a personal friend. The reaction of my Jewish friends to the situation in Hungary is mixed, but anti-semitism is not a government policy.
      Your gripe is not only with the Orban government but with the people themselves. For myself, being a believer in democracy, I support the decision of the great majority of Hungarians who placed their faith in the Fidesz coalition, and avoid denigrating my former homeland.

    • Nagyvári

      I’ll butt in because of the “denigrating my homeland”, one of the main panels in the Orban propaganda.

      It is denigrating of the Orban regime, which is destroying you homeland.
      Witness the stats of the downward trends, incl. some appalling figures, in all major areas from happiness to health to education to economics.
      Hungary is a world champion in VAT and in the European finals in corruption. The best e.g.:
      Orban’s front man, the village gas fitter Meszaros skyrocketed from nothing to one of the 10 richest people in Hungary in six years, exclusively on gov contracts.
      Can’t find such even in Nigeria, Pakistan or the Philippines.

      And mind you I live in Budapest.

  8. Avatar György Lázár says:

    Dear Mr. Nagyvary,

    It seems that you have strong opinions about Ambassador Szabó and I encourage you to write an article. Szabó’s relationship with Presidential Advisor Sebastian Gorka is also intriguing. I’m sure that HFP would publish it and readers would love to read your take on the new Ambassador.

    You also mention a „personal friend”, Eva Fahidi, and it seems that she is not very happy with the Orbán government when she encourages the “scrutiny of the past in Hungary” and complains that it has not “really examined its history of the era.”

  9. The regime turns the screws:

    – The creation of a gov Information Center which will compile all the electronic information on the citizens incl. such from CCCameras, banks, mobile phone providers, etc. The information on each individual will be available en block to the gov agencies.

    – The bill to grant the Minister of Interior the right to vet investments from non European countries at his pleasure, ostensibly for security reasons. However the threshold of 25% foreign ownership above which the law would apply defeats this purpose. No criteria and no appeal are set out.

    – Read the language of the Foreign Minister’s in relation to the statements made by the leaving Dutch ambassador.

    If it quacks like a duck, if it walks like a duck ….

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