U.S. assistant secretary stresses democratic values

History

A. Wess Mitchell, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, visited Hungary Thursday and met with Hungarian government officials as well as members of civil society, says a statement released by the United States Embassy in Budapest.

Mitchell had what were described as productive discussions with Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó and Minister of Defense Tibor Benkő on a range of shared interests, including deepening security cooperation, increasing energy diversity, and demonstrating the importance of NATO’s unified support for Ukraine as a victim of Russia’s aggression, the U.S. Embassy statement says.

Mitchell stated that the United States and Hungary are bound together as allies in NATO and are jointly committed to a shared set of democratic values and freedoms.

In addition, Mitchell met with representatives from civil society, who play an important role in Hungary’s civic life and care deeply about the future of their country, the statement adds - somewhat pointedly in light of the Hungarian governmentʼs recent attempts to hamper the activities of NGOs in Hungary, which have been met with broad international condemnation.

Notably, a statement released by the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade about Mitchellʼs visit does not refer to democratic values and the role of civil society in the future of the country, focusing instead on Ukraine as a country violating ethnic Hungarian minority rights, rather than as a victim of Russian aggression. The statement also highlights cooperation between the Central European region and the United States, in areas including energy security, defense and economic ties.

Mitchell was appointed last year as Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, a position previously held by Victoria Nuland, who had repeatedly expressed criticism of Hungaryʼs government.

Szijjártó already met Mitchell in Washington in January this year. On that occasion, Szijjártó told Mitchell that the political pillar of U.S.-Hungarian relations has “not been operating suitably.”

“We had to face several instances of undue criticism, and on several occasions experienced a lack of understanding with relation to America’s view of Hungarian measures,” he said at the time, stressing that the appointment of the new assistant secretary for the region could mean “the beginning of a new chapter in Hungarian-American political relations.”

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