Budapest (MTI) – While noting the close alliance between Hungary and the United States, US charge d’affairs Andre Goodfriend expressed some criticism of the government for steps it has taken to achieve energy independence and for its relations with regard to good governing in an interview published in daily Nepszava on Saturday.
Goodfriend declined to assess Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s comment on Friday that Hungary’s independence in energy policy, finance and commerce was under attack by those who benefitted from the country’s dependence in these areas before 2010. But he said that Hungary’s energy independence was threatened by the plan to build a second gas pipeline from Russia, as well as by the aim to boost the role of nuclear energy.
“The United States is working on helping Hungary to create energy independence,” Goodfriend said.
He said it would be necessary to build up infrastructure in Europe, so countries could get their oil and gas supplies from a number of sources, not just from Russia. Existing pipelines are unidirectional, and that makes Europe, and Hungary, too, extremely vulnerable, he said. If this changes, energy could be delivered from the Middle East or even from the US, he added.
Asked whether he saw a change in the government’s attitude toward diplomatic quarrels between Hungary and the US, Goodfriend said “an exchange of opinions is ongoing”. We are capable of speaking about good and bad things, and that shows this is a strong relationship, he added.
He said positive statements had been made on the part of Hungary in the matter of sanctions against Russia involving the situation in Ukraine.
“There are also talks on the area of good governing, but we don’t see that anything is happening, either on the issue of transparency or the matter of holding government officials accountable,” Goodfriend added.
Speaking about the wish of Ildiko Vida, the head of Hungary’s tax office NAV, to sue for defamation — a wish supported by the prime minister — Goodfriend said such an action was conceivable.
“If an individual disputes the United States’ decision to ban their entry, then they must resort to applying for a visa, and in this process, we can debate why we introduced the ban,” he said.
Asked about Senator John McCain’s remarks at a hearing to vote on the prospective US ambassador to Hungary, Goodfriend said that, although he did not agree with all of the remarks, there were a good number of concerns voiced that had been raised earlier by other countries as well as the US.
“We certainly share these concerns,” he added.