A letter to Ambassador David B. Cornstein from Professor János Kertész

Mr. David B. Cornstein, the new US Ambassador to Budapest, recently gave a lengthy interview to the Hungarian magazine Szombat. Amb. Cornstein discussed his mother’s Hungarian family roots, his career goals and several issues of US-Hungary relations.

In general, Cornstein does not see problems with Hungary’s Human Rights record, press freedom or separation of powers. In fact, he insists that he has only had positive experiences thus far. None of his negotiating partners, including Jewish leaders and NGOs, have expressed concerns and he hasn’t heard any complaints of corruption either at meetings held with business leaders.

The Ambassador is 80 years old, a lifelong Republican who never held a diplomatic post before. He is a New Yorker, retired from a successful jewelry business and an old friend of Donald Trump. He does not speak Hungarian. You may read the Ambassador’s Hungarian language interview by clicking here.

Professor János Kertész of the Central European University (CEU) wrote a letter to the Ambassador after reading the interview and we decided to publish it with his permission.

György Lázár

Amb. Cornstein (second from left) with previous Ambassador Ms. Colleen Bell (second from right) with their spouses.


To His Excellency, Mr. David B. Cornstein
Ambassador to the United States of America in Budapest

Dear Mr. Ambassador,

I have read with great interest the interview with you in the magazine Szombat. As a professor at CEU, I was pleased to see that the fate of our university is close to your heart, and you consider it as one of your main tasks to contribute to the elimination of the untenable situation caused by the Hungarian Government.

However, I was surprised to read that you did not find anything to criticize concerning the state of democracy in Hungary, the erosion of system of checks and balances, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, corruption and the independence of the judiciary. This is stark contrast with the position of your predecessors, who had a chance to study the Hungarian conditions for longer time.

You argue that you believe only what you experience directly, and that you do not rely on information from the press. This can only be welcomed, as most of the Hungarian media is essentially controlled by
the government and its affiliates. Consequently, it is biased, as it has been demonstrated in a number of cases. Public-service media (a European institution with the task of impartial information financed
from public funds) have been incorporated into the government’s propaganda machine and serve the interests of the government and its constituent parties, even by spreading lies.

As a citizen of the United States, you surely appreciate the importance of the checks and balances, since, as Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said, “the system of checks and balances is an American invention.” True, he also added that Europe adapted it “due to intellectual mediocrity”. I do not think you would share that opinion.

There remain citizens in Hungary who consider the system of checks and balances as an indispensable component of democracy and are saddened to see how it has been dismantled systematically. From the prosecutor’s office to the tax office, from the Court of Auditors to the National Bank, important and supposedly independent institutions have been put into the service of the central power. As a result, corruption has grown to previously unknown dimensions, and the miraculous speed and extent of the enrichment of persons close to the power is shocking. The government has taken drastic measures against small churches and the civil sphere, and NGOs are intended to be intimidated even by police harassment. While the elections are seemingly free, the principle of equal opportunities is seriously compromised, and public and party funds get mixed in the campaign of the governing parties.

Dear Mr. Ambassador, such a letter is not a suitable vehicle for conveying detailed information. I took to writing to you because in your interview you said “nobody told me that this or that is bad.” Now I am telling you. Your country expects credible information from you about the conditions here. For this, you will surely need to collect more widespread information.

Yours sincerely,

János Kertész

Prof. János Kertész.


János Kertész (born 1950) obtained his PhD in Physics 1980 from the Eötvös University. He worked at the Research Institute of Technical Physics of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, at the Cologne University and at Technical University Munich and has been professor since 1992 at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics, and since 2012 at the Department of Network and Data Science of the Central European University. He received numerous awards, among them the Hungarian Academy Award, the Szent-Györgyi Award of the Ministry of Education and Culture, the Széchenyi Prize and the title of Finland Distinguished Professor.


  1. Avatar Robert Morrison says:

    1./ Look Who’s Talking:
    “Professor János Kertész of the Central European University (CEU) wrote a letter to the Ambassador ..” It speaks for itself.

    2./ “This is stark contrast with the position of your predecessors, who had a chance to study the Hungarian conditions for longer time”
    Of course as they were Obama appointees and trained (or paid?) Orbán haters just like the author of this article.

    3./ “You argue that you believe only what you experience directly, and that you do not rely on information from the press.”
    Contrary to Ms. Sargentini who wrote her idiotic report based on dictation from the left lib media and the NGOs while totally ignored the opinion of the people of the nation she wants to bury.

    4./ “There remain citizens in Hungary who consider the system of checks and balances as an indispensable component of democracy and are saddened to see how it has been dismantled systematically.”
    This remarks must have been intended to be addressed to Ms. Merkel and her pals in in the rest of Europe where people are sent to jail for reporting on violence by illegal invading hordes. I just came back from a two mounts long vacation in Hungary and witnessed the uncensored expressions of the people on the street and restaurants and on the train and everywhere I went to on both sides of the political spectrum. They do not hold back and I never seen any undercover police taking away opponents of the government.

  2. An ambassador, any ambassador any where on Earth has one duty, that is to represent his/her country and to keep contact and interest with the host country’s government. He/she is NOT there to to criticise, object,or oppose the government of any host country. That would be extremely unwise, counterproductive and even harmful to relations between any nations. Also wonder what might be the job of a college instructor in Hungary as well.There seems to be so many things to go against the accepted norms. Wonder why ?

  3. No need for anyone to be surprised here. Cornstein is a political appointee, a Trump loyalist. And frankly American’s government at present is far more disfunctional than Hungary’s regime. At least in Hungary Orban knows how to run a tidy little fascist dictatorship. Trump only dreams of doing this.

  4. Isn’t the CEU, including Dr Kertesz, on the Soros payroll?
    As an observer of the Hungarian political scene for 80 years, I have never seen my former country more free and independent than now. People of Szeged had no impediment in voting for a Socialist mayor. Left wing papers like Delmagyarorszag can survive if people keep buying them.
    There is an implicit notion in criticisms like the one by Kertesz that qualifies the vast majority of Hungarian voters to be ignorant. Nothing is farther from the truth.

  5. Úgy néz ki, hogy ezt az Orbán gyűlöletet rosszul csinálom Bobby; nobody is paying me.

  6. Prof Kertész’ polite, academic note will have about as much impact on the former diamond merchant, Cornstein, as water on the back of a duck. Cornstein is part of that gang – Roy Cohn, Arthur Finkelstein, the Donald – that has no time for human rights as they hustle between their banks and their Stormy Daniels.

    Cornstein’s job in Hungary is to help the Donald legitimize the pro-Russian Hungarian autocrat, who is the most corrupt leader of the European Union, because Orbán was great help during the last Presidential election and speaks the same deceptive language as the Donald. As an added bonus, he is a back-channel to Vladimir. As for the trolls, who come here to lend support to these crooks ? Best to laugh at them as they squirm when confronted by empirically verifiable evidence.

    Here is the evidence, that makes them cringe, because it cannot be dismissed as left-wing rhetoric or fake news.

    • In a vote of 393 to 221, The European Parliament condemned Hungary last May for “serious deterioration of the rule of law, democracy and fundamental rights”
    • The Civil Liberties Committee of the EUP was tasked to follow up. This is what it concluded this year: “the Hungarian people can no longer count on the fundamental rights that we take for granted in the rest of Europe. We cannot reach any other conclusion than to call for the activation of article 7. We need to stand up for the Hungarian people whose rights have been undermined” http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/press-room/20180410IPR01424/democracy-and-fundamental-rights-in-hungary-meps-assess-the-situation
    • The Simon Wiesenthat Center is unmistakable in its dismissal of the Orbán regime’s duplicity in the rising tide of anti-Semitism in Hungary. Don’t take it from CNN, watch Fox News.
    • The Pen Club, had this to say just 3 months ago.
    „In recent years, there has also a been distinct increase in homophobic, sexist, and racist rhetoric by Orbán’s government, most recently in the 2018 General Election.”
    • The European Union’s anti-fraud office (OLAF), in its recent annual report stated that corruption with EU funds is the highest in Hungary within the EU.
    • The US State Department itself has provided date that shows, Cornstein is a fraud, who is misinforming Americans and Hungarians to please his crooked boss
    • Data from the The Human Rights Commision of Iceland also demonstrates Cornstein’s fraudulent behavior.
    Freedom House is no left-wing den. Read their report on Hungary, instead of the crap dished out here by stray cats like Robert Morrison, and the other servants of Hungary’s corrupt ruler.
    https://freedomhouse.org/sites/default/files/June2017_FH_Report_Breaking_Down_Democracy.pdf; Check out the 2018 figures, and pass it on to Cornstein in Budapest:
    • Don’t read any Marxists or liberals, read center right research institutes to find out about the crooked Hungarian autocrat. Here are three such reports. The Carnegie Institute for Peace: http://carnegieeurope.eu/2017/09/04/defending-eu-values-in-poland-and-hungary-pub-72988; The Frontiers of Freedom Institute: https://www.ff.org/storm-clouds-over-hungary/; The American Enterprise Institute: https://www.aei.org/publication/populism-in-europe-and-its-russian-love-affair/
    • No need to worry about cyber warfare from Vladymir ? Read From Russia With Hate. http://www.politicalcapital.hu/news.php?article_read=1&article_id=933
    • Everythin is just dandy with the Hungarian media ? Read what the Corruption Research Center of Budapest has to say about the impact of Russia’s state run propaganda apparatus has on the Hungarian On-Line Media: http://www.crcb.eu/?p=1350

    There are hundreds and hundreds of objective, fact based studies from many of the most respected research organizations in the world, including the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, which show that Mr. Cornstein, his friend, the Donald, and the trolls who come here to praise Orbán and heap abuse on the Hungarian autocrat’s opponents are a bunch of liars. Their specialty is deception. Our specialty here at the HFP is to tell the truth, and to send the trolls whining and moaning into the alley.

  7. @ Morrison

    If all you can do is cut cheese with your tennis racket I’d pack it in and head off to cheese school. I’m sure Mr. Orbán has set one up for cats like you, where you can practice your craft 🙂 Why don’t you drag Bendy goose and Nagyvary along as your ball-boys 🙂 I think Nagyváry especially would need a bit of fresh air, after observing Hungary’s political scene for the past 80 years.

  8. Kedves Jozsi bácsi

    I see that you’ve been observing the Magyar politikai helyzet for 80 years. Congratulations, it’s quite unusual for someone to take an interest in politics at the age of 4.

    “There is an implicit notion in criticisms like the one by Kertesz that qualifies the vast majority of Hungarian voters to be ignorant. Nothing is farther from the truth.”

    Despite the fact that I did not begin observing Hungarian (or any other) politics till I reached my 20’s, I must take issue with the above.

    Many countries have ratbag right parties like Fidesz. Here in Australia we have Ms. Hanson and “One Nation”. The majority of her supporters are (to be kind) ignorant yokels, but then she poles around 8% nationally and 16% in her heartland, the vast majority are far to sophisticated to swallow her xenophobic garbage; whilst in Hungary intelligent, educated people swallow it hook line and sinker.

    You’re right to state that the “vast majority of Hungarians are not ignorant”only because the majority of Hungarians are too apathetic to get of their arses and vote.

  9. Bendeguz & Morrison as outstanding Fidesz trols jump the gun as required by their keepers. Their comments are lies and distortions as usual.

    • Avatar Robert Morrison says:

      Your comment is a clear indication of your intellectual traits. Thank you for the label which I proudly wear as a badge of honor when it comes at me from this site.

  10. It is very fortunate that we have an articulate person like Dr. Gollner who can reply to the Fidesznyiks and support his statements with FACTS.

  11. Avatar Robert Morrison says:

    @ György Lázár
    “The Ambassador is 80 years old, a lifelong Republican who never held a diplomatic post before. He is a New Yorker, retired from a successful jewelry business and an old friend of Donald Trump.”

    I need your help to find your similarly outraged article about the appointment of Eleni Tsakopoulos Kounalakis United States Ambassador to Hungary in 2010. As we all know she had no prior diplomatic or any other governmental experience, rather she and her husband were avid Obama supporters and she was sent to Hungary as a reward for her huge contribution to the 2008 election founds of the sitting president.

    I also spent some considerable time to dig out your objection against the posting of Colleen Bradley Bell, an American soap opera (The Bold and the Beautiful) producer. In 2010 Bell was named to President Barack Obama’s Advisory Committee on the Arts, and in 2011 she was elected chairperson

    Bell helped raise more than $2.1 million for Obama’s 2012 presidential campaign. In February 2012, Bell and her husband hosted a fundraiser for Obama at their home with actor Will Ferrell and his wife.

    She was appointed United States Ambassador to Hungary by President Barack Obama and took office on January 21, 2015. Obviously she had no prior diplomatic experience just as her predecessor and successor.

    Please send me the links to find your protestation against this despicable practice in naming ambassadors. Thank you in advance.

  12. Avatar Robert Morrison says:

    András B. Göllner on September 9, 2018 at 8:18 pm

    Can you name a website that is not a neo-Marxist blog that is sworn enemy of every non-open-society politicians?

  13. @ Morrison

    None of the websites I listed above is a neo-Marxist site, tennis player. If you think that the European Parliament, or the American Enterprise Institute is neo-Marxist, you need a brain-transplant. I avoided left-wing sites like a plague, and for your sake, troll. Take your balls and scram. You belong with the alley-cats, and not with those who wish to engage in fact-based, meaningful debate. Let Bendy goose make a fool of himself, you’re taking up his space 🙂

  14. The European Parliament? Of course it’s Marxist, probably to the left of Marxism; bought and paid for by Soros Gyorgy so I heard from a reliable Trumpistani source.

    I’m curious as to how many of the Orban fanbois posting here are actually Hungarian.

  15. Avatar Robert Morrison says:

    Phil S. Stine on September 10, 2018 at 11:46 pm

    I am curious how many of the writers and commenters pay their taxes in Hungary to have the right to criticize the economic activities of the government.

    And I am even more curious how many of the writers and commenters live in Hungary that gives them the right to criticize the government’s immigration policies as it would affect their everyday life and would expose them to the violence that is so prevailing in the “open borders” Western part of Europe.
    (e.g. https://www.dw.com/en/germany-police-arrest-2-afghans-suspected-of-being-involved-in-german-mans-death/a-45419776)

  16. Avatar György Lázár says:

    Dear Mr. Morrison, You may be surprised but I agree with you and I published about the “despicable practice” in naming US ambassadors in the past in Hungarian. E.g. Bundler, Élet és Irodalom, 2014 Dec. 5. For the record, Bell organized a concert fundraiser for Obama by inviting the rock group Foo Fighters…

  17. You must live and pay taxes in Germany, or is it Hungary where you live and pay taxes?

    Your seppo logic is on display for all and sundry Bobby; not being a tax paying resident of China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Syria, etc, I must not be critical of the policies of the governments of such places.

  18. @ karlbusch

    Happy to be of service, and am pleased to see you among the commentators. It is refreshing not to have to be exposed here entirely to the views of those, who get their jollies by inhaling the foul odors emitted by Vladimir Putin’s Hungarian puppet. Our authors appreciate positive feedback on their efforts.

    I encourage more of the HFP’s reading public to speak up, and make use of the opportunity to participate in thoughtful discourse about the path to justice, the rule of law and sustainable economic development. The only thing we ask for is common decency, a commitment to the truth, and to the ethical norms of rational discourse. Unfortunately, far too much of the space down here is taken up by people, who systematically engage on the infringement of each of those principles.

    You can be from any part of the great political divide, the right, the left or the center, to have access to the space down here. Our editor is not biased, as can be seen from his permissive editorial approach. He should be applauded, rather than jeered by the alley cats, who come hear to miaou.

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