Clinton expresses concern for Hungary

December 27, 2011

Coming on the heels of a warning message from European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has now received another tough message - this time from no other than US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

News of the message has been broken by the online edition of daily Népszabadság, which cited diplomatic sources in Washington. Spokesperson Péter Szijjártó of the Prime Minister's Office acknowledged receipt of the letter, saying it "essentially summarized earlier personal communication by Clinton. He added that "of course, the Prime Minister will reply in accordance with protocol."
The contents of the letter reiterate concerns frequently voiced by the US in recent weeks over "a systematic dismantling of Hungary's democratic institutions", Népszabadság has claimed. Specifically, Clinton has expressed concern over the independence of courts, the new Act of Parliament on the status of churches, freedom of the media, and, as a new issue which had not been mentioned before, taking away the frequency license of left-leaning Klubrádió.
A source has told the newspaper that "we have expressed concern on several occasions over protecting individual rights and freedoms, the system of checks and balances, and implementing changes in a transparent way after the necessary debate."
The report reminded of Clinton's June visit in Hungary when the Secretary of State made a statement mentioning a discussion with PM Orbán of the controversial Media Act and restrions of the rights of the Constitution Court.
Two months later, US Ambassador to Hungary Eleni Tsakopoulos Kounalakis sent a démarche to the Hungarian premier protesting steps against democratic institutions, as well as the attitude of the Orbán administration, which has apparently ignored US criticism.


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