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U.S. Senator continues to blast Orbán

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After U.S. Chargé d’affaires André Goodfriend was summoned by the Hungarian government yesterday to explain why U.S. Senator John McCain called Prime Minister Viktor Orbán a "neo-fascist dictator", McCain fired back with detailed criticism of Orbán and his government.

“Since Prime Minister Viktor Orban came to power in 2010, antidemocratic constitutional changes have been enacted, the independence of Hungary’s courts have been restricted, nongovernmental organizations raided and civil society prosecuted, the freedom of the press curtailed, and much more. These actions threaten the principles of institutional independence and checks and balances that are the hallmark of democratic governance and have left me deeply concerned about the erosion of democratic norms in Hungary," McCain said in an online press release. The release went on to note criticism of the Hungarian government and Orbán from the Venice Commission, the OSCE, the European Central Bank and Chargé d’affaires Goodfriend.

The transatlantic feud began after publication of McCain's remarks during U.S. Senate debate over the appointment of Colleen Bell, a TV producer, as America's Ambassador to Hungary. McCain had reportedly maintained that a professional diplomat is needed in Hungary.

“I am not against political appointees … I understand how the game is played, but … [Hungary] … is on the verge of ceding its sovereignty to a neo-fascist dictator, getting in bed with Vladimir Putin, and we’re going to send the producer of 'The Bold and The Beautiful' as the ambassador,” McCain was quoted as saying.

In Hungary’s defense, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjárto was reported as saying that Hungarians voted for its leader, and that the choice of the people should be respected.

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