Hungarian daily Népszabadság learned that Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has received another tough message - this time from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Although the daily has yet to see the letter, it wrote that sources told it the concerns expressed in the letter are similar to those raised by European Commission President José Manuel Barroso.
The contents of the letter reiterate concerns frequently voiced by the US in recent weeks over "a systematic dismantling of Hungary's democratic institutions", Népszabadság has claimed. Specifically, Clinton has expressed concern over the independence of courts, the new Act of Parliament on the status of churches, freedom of the media, and, as a new issue which had not been mentioned before, taking away the frequency license of left-leaning Klubrádió. A source has told the newspaper that "we have expressed concern on several occasions over protecting individual rights and freedoms, the system of checks and balances, and implementing changes in a transparent way after the necessary debate." The report reminded of Clinton's June visit in Hungary when the Secretary of State made a statement mentioning a discussion with PM Orbán of the controversial Media Act and restrions of the rights of the Constitution Court. Two months later, US Ambassador to Hungary Eleni Tsakopoulos Kounalakis sent a démarche to the Hungarian premier protesting steps against democratic institutions, as well as the attitude of the Orbán administration which has apparently ignored US criticism.
Spokesperson Péter Szijjártó of the Prime Minister's Office acknowledged receipt of the letter, saying it "essentially summarized earlier personal communication by Clinton. He added that "of course, the Prime Minister will reply in accordance with protocol".
Right wing Magyar Nemzet is sarcastic about letters from the Chairman of the European Commission and the US Secretary of State to the Hungarian PM, while left wing Népszabadság speculates about the lack of public criticism towards Hungary on the part of the German government.
Magyar Nemzet thinks prominent Western critics would like the Hungarian left wing to have broader access to the political decision-making process. To back up this thesis, deputy editor-in-chief Gábor D. Horváth quotes from a statement by the Hungarian EU Commissioner László Andor, a left-winger himself, who said the former Prime Ministers of Greece and Italy were replaced with politicians „who are capable of building bridges between government and opposition parties.” Horváth ironically interprets that statement as suggesting that „Hungarian democracy which apparently does not exist at the moment, is supposed to be re-established in blatant disregard of the results of democratic elections,” which gave the present governing parties a 2/3 majority in parliament. According to that logic, the pro-government columnist continues, real democracy would require widespread political support from those who were ousted from power by the electorate.
Népszabadság believes that Germany is concerned about what is described as growing nationalism in Hungary, although Berlin has not expressed that concern in public, unlike Mr Barroso or Ms Clinton. The commentator, Edit Inotai suggests that in the eyes of German officials, the Hungarian government is becoming more and more like the Kaczynski party in Poland and is seen not only as a political danger, but as a source of instability for German investors in Hungary. The German press is openly critical of current trends in Hungary, as are the opposition Social Democrats. The conservative Merkel government, however, does not want to jeopardize economic co-operation and presumably does not believe in frontal attacks.
Source: Népszabadság, MTI, Budapost.eu
Last Updated on Friday, 30 August 2013 09:11