Washington Post op-ed suggests how U.S. could intervene in Hungary


When Donald Trump became President of the United States, there was genuine optimism that there would be an intensified relationship between America and Hungary. But not everyone in the States thinks that would be a good idea, as a May 3 op-ed in The Washington Post indicates.

On May 3, The Washington Post, a newspaper that has a difficult relationship with the U.S. President (when he was still just the presumptive Republican nominee, he banned it from attending his campaign events), published an opinion piece headlined “How the United States can stop Hungary’s descent into authoritarianism.” The authors, Dalibor Rohac and Mate Hajba, claim Hungary is moving “away from Western democratic values,” and lists five ways in which the United States could intervene in Hungarian political affairs to ensure it moves in a more democratic direction. 

The first point that the Post piece makes concerns the importance of having an experienced American ambassador to Hungary. Previously this position was held by Colleen Bell, who was, first and foremost, a television producer, known for her work on the soap opera “The Bold and the Beautiful.” Bell, an appointee of President Barack Obama, was relieved of her position in January and the space has not been filled since. Without a strong individual filling this vacancy, the Unites States is lacking the ability to play a direct role in Hungary’s social affairs, the newspaper article says.

Secondly, the article urges the White House to show no amiability towards Hungary’s government. “After his phone call with the then president-elect, Orbán claimed that Trump had invited him on an official visit to Washington. The invitation likely existed only in the Hungarian prime minister’s imagination,” the opinion piece claims, adding that, ultimately, it is the responsibility of the United States to dismiss or accept Orbán’s claim. 

Furthermore, military cooperation between Hungary and the United States should be temporarily suspended, creating a moratorium that would pause joint military exercises between the two countries, putting Hungary into a weakened position. 

The fourth point is that the United States should impose direct visa bans on any government officials responsible for the passing of “lex CEU” or anti-NGO legislation. The piece says this may seem harsh, but recalls that six such travel bans were imposed against Hungarian officials by the States in 2014 over a case of alleged VAT fraud. 

Lastly, the article says the administration “can urge its European partners to stop being mere bystanders. In addition to the rule of law procedure, the European Commission can turn off the inflow of structural funds into Hungary.”

The Hungarian government has yet to make any official public statement on the article; when contacted by the Budapest Business Journal via e-mail, the response from the International Communications Office of the Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister was scathing: “Why shall we reply to an opinion/op-ed — just take a look who wrote it.” 

The authors Rohac and Hajba are, respectively, a research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank based in Washington D.C., and the director of the Free Market Foundation in Budapest.

Number of Firms Working With Unis Doubles in 10 Years Figures

Number of Firms Working With Unis Doubles in 10 Years

Hungary Backs French Initiative for Cultured Meat Review EU

Hungary Backs French Initiative for Cultured Meat Review

Regus Fészek Office Building Opens in Pécs Office Market

Regus Fészek Office Building Opens in Pécs

Budapest 14th in Sports Cities Ranking City

Budapest 14th in Sports Cities Ranking


Producing journalism that is worthy of the name is a costly business. For 27 years, the publishers, editors and reporters of the Budapest Business Journal have striven to bring you business news that works, information that you can trust, that is factual, accurate and presented without fear or favor.
Newspaper organizations across the globe have struggled to find a business model that allows them to continue to excel, without compromising their ability to perform. Most recently, some have experimented with the idea of involving their most important stakeholders, their readers.
We would like to offer that same opportunity to our readers. We would like to invite you to help us deliver the quality business journalism you require. Hit our Support the BBJ button and you can choose the how much and how often you send us your contributions.