Colleen Bell, Ambassador-Designate to Hungary, told the U.S.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee on January 16 that, while
Hungary was a strong ally, a perceived erosion of democratic
checks and balances under Prime Minister Viktor Orban and his
ruling centre-right Fidesz Party gave grounds for concern.
"(Such remarks) triggered serious and justified uproar in
Hungary that you... not only proved your ignorance about
Hungarian domestic politics at your Senate hearing, but also — knowingly or unknowingly — expressed a party political stance on
serious issues," senior Hungarian lawmaker Gergely Gulyas wrote.
Gulyas, who is deputy head of the Fidesz parliamentary group,
said in an open letter published in the Magyar Nemzet daily that
Bell would have difficulty being a successful envoy in Hungary,
where he said the public was increasingly resentful of "double
standards" shown towards the Orban government.
"We are always ready for a dialogue about democracy with our
American friends but a sufficient knowledge of the facts and ...
objective assessment of those facts is a precondition for that,"
said Gulyas, who has also criticized previous U.S. envoys.
The United States, the European Union and human rights groups
have often criticized Orban's government for curbing press
freedoms and rewriting the constitution. Hungary is a member of
the European Union and of NATO.
Orban, who will run for re-election in April, has said his
government has the right to use its two-thirds majority in
parliament to overhaul a constitution that it calls a hangover
from the communist era and that the changes are democratic.
The U.S. embassy in Hungary was not immediately available for
comment on Wednesday.
(Reporting by Krisztina Than; editing by Gareth Jones)
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.