Former ambassadorʼs book: U.S. lost faith in Orbán

History

In her newly published memoir of her 2010-2013 term as American Ambassador to Hungary, Eleni Kounalakis discusses the U.S. State Deparmentʼs loss of faith in the administration of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, according to a June 19 review by the Washington Post.

In what the Post describes as a “far more forthcoming book — personally and analytically — than one would expect from a diplomat”, Kounalakis details her disappointment at what she saw as the Hungarian governmentʼs backsliding toward a more totalitarian government, similar to the one Hungary had under communisim. Instead of the “New Deal” that they had anticipated, Kounalakis writes, Hungarians were getting “the Old Deal, with government having too much control over the people of Hungary all over again.”

According to the Post review: “It took the release of an ax murderer to raise alarms in Washington. In late August 2012, Orban suddenly repatriated Ramil Safarov, an Azeri serving a life term in Hungary for hacking an Armenian soldier to death during a NATO-sponsored training program. To nobody’s surprise, Safarov received a hero’s welcome in Azerbaijan and was immediately pardoned, promoted and given a new apartment. Armenia cut off diplomatic ties with Hungary, and tensions escalated in Nagorno-Karabakh, over which Armenia and Azerbaijan had fought a war in the early 1990s.” 

Kounalakis reveals that this diplomatic fracas was ultimately what “ended Hungary’s two-decade status as a reliable strategic partner of the United States,” according to the Post.

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