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U.S. Embassy: Our main concern is democracy

History

In response to the Hungarian foreign minister's charge that America is guilty of a "gross lie" when it accuses Hungary of not abiding by the European legal system, the U.S. Embassy in Budapest released a statement today saying that its main concern is democracy and that it will continue a "constructive" dialogue with the foreign ministry.

"As Charge d’affaires Goodfriend has said, the United States has consistently conveyed our concerns to the Hungarian government about developments that harm the health of democratic institutions, civil society, and media freedom in Hungary – including concerns about corruption," U.S. Embassy Spokesperson Elizabeth Webster said in the statement released today. "The U.S. Embassy remains in close contact with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. We will continue to conduct a constructive, diplomatic dialogue with Hungary on all issues across the broad spectrum of U.S.-Hungarian engagement."

Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Péter Szijjártó was quoted as saying that "America is accusing us of not abiding by the European legal system and of not being a party to Europe, which is a gross lie" in an interview published yesterday in Hungarian daily Magyar Nemzet.

“On the basis of the facts, it is not possible to bring Hungary's European and Transatlantic commitment into doubt," the minister added in the interview, in which he expressed the Hungarian government’s intentions to sort issues out, and mend the recently worsened Hungarian – U.S. connection.

Regarding the recent corruption issue that has caused tensions with America, Foreign Minister Szijjártó said: “There are Hungarian private individuals who face accusations of corruption by the United States, and the government's problem, however, concerns how to act on these matters [...] lacking information, we do not know which cases we must act on. If we get hold of information then the Hungarian authorities can decide on the basis on the norms of the law-governed state whether to launch a procedure or not. In a law-governed state you cannot start a procedure based on perceptions or insinuation."

An October 18 press release from the U.S. Embassy about the corruption charges says: "Certain Hungarian individuals have been found ineligible to enter the United States as the result of credible information that those individuals are either engaging in or benefiting from corruption. This was a decision by the Department of State under the authority of Presidential Proclamation Number 7750 and its Anti-Kleptocracy Provision of January 12, 2004. Criminal proceedings are up to the host nation to pursue. U.S. privacy laws prohibit us from disclosing the names of the individuals involved."

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