Magyar Hírlap, the pro-government print and online daily owned by Fidesz oligarch Gábor Széles, published an interview with Hungary’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó. Among other things, Szijjártó told the right-wing daily that he “did not wish to influence the American presidential election in any way”, not being an American citizen.
Asked whether he supports Democrat Hillary Clinton or Republican Donald Trump, Szijjártó said, “the presidential election is the job of the American people. But it’s worthwhile to notice that this campaign has shown its followers things and opinions that even in Europe’s most heated political battles are completely unimaginable. There’s a lot to be learned from what is happening over there.”
Szijjártó admits that a lot of what has happened in Hungary since Fidesz came to power in 2010 has been criticized by many people.
“In Hungary it is the Hungarian people who decide what kind of government, values and political direction they want to guide the country. No one can make that decision for them, regardless of how much money they have. We respect the opinions of others but we expect them to respect the wishes of the Hungarian people,” he said.
According to Szijjártó, “Hungary is a democratic rule-of-law country. Everyone, including the civil society organizations who undertake activities in Hungary, must abide by the law. If the foundations operating in our country abide by the law, there is no reason for us to concern ourselves with them.”
His comments echoed the sentiments of Minister Overseeing the Office of the Prime Minister János Lázár who announced on Thursday that he had seen super-secret reports about philanthropist billionaire George Soros’ activities put together by Hungary’s intelligence agencies. Lázár’s statement implied that Soros’ activities are a national security concern for the Hungarian government, otherwise why else would they be classified?
On the issue of Russia’s influence in Hungary (and Hungary’s very critical view of EU sanctions against Russia), Szijjártó says Hungary is very keen on sticking to shared EU decisions (at least when it comes to Russia).
According to him, Hungary’s exports to Russia have lost around $4.5 billion since the sanctions kicked in. This, he said, is something that “Brussels” doesn’t understand: the sanctions have different effects in Western Europe.
Another reason why Szijjártó is upset is because, as he says, there needs to be a debate over whether it is right to condition the lifting of sanctions on Russia meeting its obligations under the Minsk Agreement.