Valér Palkovits named Hungary’s new consul general in Toronto

Thirty-five year old Valér Palkovits has been named Hungary’s new Consul General in Toronto, replacing Stefánia Szabó this summer. (Yesterday, we reported that Ferenc Kumin will become Hungary’s new ambassador in Ottawa.) Mr. Palkovits previously served as Deputy Head of Mission at Hungary’s embassy in Riga (Latvia) and prior to this, in 2007, he worked for the State Secretary for EU affairs, focusing specifically on European integration issues. This is the office that prepared the way for Hungary’s presidency of the Council of the European Union in 2011–a presidency that Mr. Palkovits noted as having been a “clear success.”

Valér Palkovits

In an interview published in 2013 in a rural publication entitled Kisalföld, Mr. Palkovits emphasized that in his understanding, diplomatic work is a professional career, rather than a political one. He explained: “We are civil servants just like those who work here at home, in public administration. It is true, however, that a diplomat may be recalled at any time. But according to general practice, professionals and career diplomats need not be influenced by a change in government.” Mr. Palkovits was speaking in 2013, shortly before the spring 2014 national elections, in which Fidesz won a second consecutive term. We also know that in practice the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was turned on its head, first under Tibor Navracsics’s brief tenure and then under Péter Szijjártó. The ministry’s cadre of diplomats bears no resemblance today to its state prior to 2014 and even less to how it looked before 2010.

We learn a few more things about Mr. Palkovits. He lived in Berlin as a young man and gained some professional experience here at the launch of his career. He speaks very fondly of the German capital. We also learn that he seems to be especially comfortable with the mostly reserved, but polite culture of northern countries, which is what he said he experienced in Latvia as well.

In Toronto, Mr. Palkovits will stumble upon a more diverse reality, though it is certainly true that Canadian political culture, and the civil service, is markedly more gracious, even genteel, than that in Hungary.

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