The speech US Ambassador Colleen Bell delivered at Budapest’s Corvinus University on Wednesday condemning the democratic backsliding that has taken place in Hungary over the past five years while reassuring Hungarians of the United States’ friendly intentions appears to have caught the Orbán government completely off guard.
Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjárto (pictured left) waited until Thursday morning to give the following statement to the Hungarian press service:
“We’ve already heard many times the opinions stated by Colleen Bell at her university performance, and they contain nothing new. Since Hungary is not a part of the United States but a member of the European Union, we will discuss the issues raised by the ambassador with the European Union. In fact, we have already discussed these matters, and we consider the matter closed.
“We know that the United States would like to see as many immigrants in Europe as possible. Obviously, it is for this reason that they expressed this opinion of theirs at this time. At the same time, Hungary is the only European country able to stop the tide of immigrants at its borders.”
Minister Overseeing the Office of the Prime Minister János Lázár (pictured center) used the occasion of his weekly Thursday afternoon press conference to comment on Bell’s speech, saying that “Hungary will not be a colony of either Russia, the EU or the United States”.
“It is expressly irritating to me, as a Hungarian citizen, when an American citizen comes here and interferes in our lives. We tolerate this well because the Hungarians are a generous people, but the US needs to see how insulting the ambassador’s statements were to the Hungarian people. Not to us, but to the Hungarian people.”
When asked what could be behind Bell’s claim that corruption is endemic in Hungary, Lázár said the question should be asked of Bell, as she offered no concrete proof.
Prime Minister Viktor Orbán (pictured right) waited until his weekly Friday morning radio interview to comment on the speech.
“This is already realpolitik. This is already naked national or imperial interest.”
Orbán said the United States does not support the immigration policies that Hungary represents, and that it was clear from the comments of the US ambassador to the UN that it is not contrary to the interests of the United States if many millions of immigrants arrive from regions torn apart by war.
“Of course, even though this does not go against their interests, I would be curious to know if somebody tried to enter the United States without a visa, would they manage to do so alive. Hardly.”
Orbán said that if Hungary were to do half of what the United States does, where there is a border fence, walls and an order to fire (on illegal immigrants), “they would strip us of the baptismal water” (i.e. punish us severely-ed.).