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Hungary govt fails to address US concerns, ambassador says

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US Ambassador to Hungary Eleni Tsakopoulos Kounalakis says Hungary’s government has failed to address Washington’s misgivings after US diplomats actively consulted with the government for months on key reforms, sharing their concerns regarding democratic checks and balances.

This does not, however, mean that they will not ask the government again to reconsider the decisions, the ambassador added, speaking on a public radio programme on Friday morning.

 The ambassador referred to the letter sent by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban before Christmas, "in order to urge the the government publicly to take seriously the importance of democratic institutions".

The ambassador emphasised at the same time that Hungarian laws are determined by Hungarians, and the democratically elected government must be respected.

Nevertheless, certain details of the key reforms are perceived by Washington as seriously affecting Hungarian democracy, and the US will continue to express its concerns, but always in a respectful and friendly manner, Eleni Tsakopoulos Kounalakis said. The ambassador cited as examples the situation of the National Bank of Hungary, judicial reform, the media act and the church act.

In connection with the issue of the IMF talks, the US ambassador emphasised that the talks between the IMF and Hungary are the business of the two partners, however, they encourage and support the continuation of the informal talks. The ambassador said the US hopes that progress will be made in this regard.

Answering a question as to whether investors are planning to continue with their plans in Hungary or are adopting a wait-and-see attitude and postponing decisions, Eleni Tsakopoulos Kounalakis emphasised the importance of security and predictability. The ambassador said the US companies that have been operating in the country want to stay as they appreciate the good infrastructure, well-qualified workforce and favourable operating costs.

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