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Goodfriend: Corruption a growing problem here

History

André Goodfriend, charge d'affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Budapest, said in a local TV interview yesterday that the Hungarian government does not need his office to publicize the names of Hungarian officials who are officially denied entry into the U.S., as they know well who those people are.

During an interview with Hungarian commercial television ATV, Goodfriend said that corruption is a growing problem in Hungary, and cited national tobacco store concessions as an example.

In the recent case of 10 Hungarians being denied entry into the U.S., Goodfriend told ATV that the U.S. government decided to blacklist the individuals based on investigations and discussions with officials, not on mere press rumors. He said he would not disclose the names of the people involved, nor their titles, and added that his office informed the the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade about the issue as a favor.

Goodfriend said in the interview that transparency in Hungary is deteriorating, while freedom is also under attack. He declined to rank Hungarian-American diplomatic connections on a scale from 1 to 10, though he said there is hope. He insisted that open discussions are needed between the two countries to settle their affairs. Goodfriend added that he believes there is a chance that Hungary might be voted to be excluded from the Community of Democracies.

Fidesz MP Antal Rogán, giving an interview to ATV, said he and Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orbán are unable to decide whether this affair "is a joke or not". Rogán said that “if there are no names or evidence mentioned, then we might think that something is unclear.”

Rogán also told ATV that keeping the names of the banned individuals confidential is "an act of provocation."

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