Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó, starting an official visit to Washington, DC, has heralded a new phase in Hungary-US ties.
The minister told MTI’s correspondent that significant changes were afoot at the State Department. He cited as an example the appointment of Wess Mitchell as the official responsible for the central European region, which he said presaged a new chapter in the Hungarian-American political relationship.
He said economic ties and cooperation in defence were “excellent”, and he underlined Hungary’s unswerving commitment to NATO and the fight against terrorism. Political ties, however, have not functioned properly, he said.
“We had to face many unfair criticisms, and in several cases we experienced a lack of understanding when it came to America’s assessment of Hungarian measures,”
Szijjártó said, adding that now a new chapter could begin with Mitchell’s appointment. “Taking into account the last few years, now is our best chance for political relations to develop to the level of our ties in the economy and defence.”
Szijjártó will meet Mitchell for talks on Tuesday before consulting with President Donald Trump’s assistant and special representative for international negotiations, Jason Greenblatt, and Trump’s security advisor Fiona Hill.
Also on the agenda will be meetings with senior leaders of Procter and Gamble and a conference organised by the Brookings Institute, where Szijjártó will deliver a speech on Hungarian tax reform and the “extremely successful Hungarian economic model”.
“Over the past seven years, Hungary has been brought back from the edge of the abyss … and today it is one of the dominant countries of the central European growth engine; and this is recognised here in America,” he said.
Szijjártó said US-Hungary ties have started to see a revival recently. One sign of this was that in November a US congressional delegation visited Budapest and another will come in late January, and plans are for American politicians to visit Budapest in March, he noted.
“The current American administration represents a similar position to the Hungarian government’s on a number of important international issues,” the minister said.
Szijjártó also welcomed a letter sent by Republican lawmakers to Rex Tillerson urging the State Department to take steps to improve US-Hungary ties and immediately suspend a programme financially supporting sections of the Hungarian press.
As we wrote few days ago, Andy Harris, a Republican congressman for Maryland, has asked his colleagues to sign a letter urging the State Department to improve relations with Hungary and withdraw its grant to promote “objective media”. Read more HERE.