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Hungary Urges Foreign Ambassadors to Act Like Diplomats, Not Viceroys

By Ilya Tsukanov | Samizdat | August 29, 2022

Hungary has stood alone among its neighbors in refusing to slap new sanctions on Moscow, and has rejected demands by Brussels to rapidly cut dependence on Russian energy supplies. Budapest has also denied access to its territory for Western arms delivery to Ukraine, saying the security crisis can only be resolved through talks.

Hungary will independently determine what policies it will pursue, and foreign ambassadors should do their duty instead of lecturing Budapest, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto has urged.

“We do not send viceroys to other countries, but ambassadors…and receive ambassadors, not viceroys,” Szijjarto said in a meeting with Hungarian diplomats.

“And in the future we will not tolerate it if a representative of some other country decides that that they can teach us about a different or better life. Thanks very much, but we aren’t asking for that. We can determine ourselves how we should live in Hungary. The Hungarian electorate regularly decides this question in elections,” the foreign minister said.

Szijjarto warned foreign diplomats stationed in Budapest that any ambassador who sees themselves as a viceroy rather than a diplomat will “have difficulties,” because Hungary will not bow to any “bad compromises.”

Hungary, Szijjarto said, has based its foreign policy on mutual respect, and will continue to do so. “This means that we have behaved as representatives of a national government with a thousand year history and the corresponding self-confidence, giving respect to our partners and expecting the same respect in return.”

Hungary summoned Estonia’s ambassador to Budapest earlier this month over what Hungary’s Foreign Ministry characterized as “unacceptable’ comments made by politicians in Tallinn, who have criticized Hungary over its foreign policy vis-à-vis Ukraine and Russia.

Budapest has demonstrated its domestic and foreign policy independence for more than a decade, with the government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban getting into spats with Brussels on a broad range of issues from immigration to a move to kick a George Soros-funded university out of the country.

After the escalation of the Ukraine crisis in February, Hungary hesitated in signing on to the raft of new European Union sanctions against Russia, refused to allow convoys of NATO military equipment to use the country to transfer weapons to Kiev, and has continued to buy Russian oil and gas, warning that the Central European country’s economy would collapse otherwise.

Last month, summarizing the impact of months of Brussels’ policy, Orban reveled in the correctness of his approach, comparing the West’s policy vis-à-vis Russia to a “car with flat tires on all four tires” and pointing out that sanctions had made no change in Moscow’s course, but only cost Europe four governments.

Orban also warned last month that Europe would be turned into a “war economy” by October if Brussels didn’t change course on its “ineffective” sanctions against Russia and weapons deliveries to Ukraine. “You do not usually put out fires with flamethrowers,” he stressed.

Hungary’s unique approach to the Ukrainian crisis also stems in part from Budapest’s bad blood with its neighbor over its treatment of ethnic Hungarian Ukrainians following the 2014 Maidan coup, after which the minority gradually lost its right to receive an education in its native tongue.

In June, a vicious back-and-forth war or words broke out between Ukrainian and Hungarian officials after Hungarian parliamentary speaker Laszlo Kover suggested that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was suffering from a “mental problem” accounting for his government’s undiplomatic approach to asking Western countries for help against Russia.

August 29, 2022 - Posted by | Economics | ,

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