America’s new Ambassador to Budapest has vowed to work with the Hungarian foreign minister to make bilateral relations between the two countries “the best relationship that it has ever, ever been”.
Ambassador David B. Cornstein was speaking at the U.S. Embassy’s official Independence Day Celebration, held at the Ambassador’s Residence in Buda’s leafy District XII on July 3, an event he referred to as “our little birthday party”, though it drew in around 1,000 guests.
As he had done at his Senate Committee on Foreign Relations hearing, the ambassador highlighted the importance of freedoms he said America holds dear.
“This is a very, very important day for every American,” he told the assembled guests on the lawn of the residence. “It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor, if you’re white, brown, black. It doesn’t matter if you are a first-year immigrant into our country or if you’re a fourth generation. This is a day that we celebrate our freedom and it’s very, very important. The rule of law that we have, the freedom of the press, the freedom of religion, the freedom of speech. This is all so, so important to us.”
And those were more than just words, Cornstein insisted. “I come from the business world, and a lot of times we say that words are fine, but actions really prove something. And I believe that in this brief 242 years that we’ve had, we’ve shown through action how important these freedoms are to us. We fought a Civil War for the freedom of all rights of men to be free and not to be slaves. We fought in World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and too many wars in the Middle East just to show how important democracy is to us.”
Just ten days into his post, he told guests “I can’t thank all of you for being here enough; it means a great deal to me,” adding, “I can promise you one thing, and that is one year from today we’ll know all of you a lot better than we know you today.”
He also singled out for praise David Kostelancik, who acted as charge d’affairs while the embassy was left without an ambassador.
“It was his birthday yesterday and I told him how much I really didn’t like him,” the ambassador joked. “The reason I don’t like Dave Kostelancik is that everybody I’ve met just thinks so much of him, and I thank you, Dave, for the work you did in watching the store here for the past year and a half, and doing a wonderful, wonderful job.”
Cornstein then introduced Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó as: “Somebody that I know that we are going to work together to make this relationship the best relationship that it has ever, ever been, and I think we’re off to a wonderful start.”
The minister was equally upbeat, telling the ambassador: “It is not an exaggeration to say that what is coming up is a renaissance of our bilateral relationship. And the political pillar of this relationship now will catch up with the economic and security perspectives of our cooperation so far. We are ready, Your Excellency, to work together with you to create the best ever U.S.-Hungarian bilateral relationship.”
Szijjártó said Hungary understood how important this day was. “Just like you Americans, we Hungarians are real freedom fighters as well.” Hungary felt “solidarity” with all those who have to fight for their freedom.
“Hungary will never join the U.S.-bashing chorus in Europe, which sometimes, it seems to me, is becoming a kind of political hobby,” he said. “We will always respect the decision of the American people: we will never judge and never comment on that.”
The foreign minister said the two countries also shared a belief that nations had a sovereign right to decide who could enter their territory.
“Your President called my Prime Minister just very recently. And I will always remember one sentence – of course all of the sentences of him – but one sentence for sure, when he said ‘Keep the borders strong’. That was the President’s advice to my Prime Minister.”
Other shared beliefs include peace keeping and protection of the Judeo-Christian heritage, the minister said.