According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs, the statement on the freedom of the press by the US Embassy to Budapest’s temporary Chargé d'affaires on Tuesday and similar manifestations cannot be interpreted as anything other than uninvited interference in Hungarian internal politics.

At a press conference in Budapest on Wednesday, Levente Magyar responded to the statement by David Kostelancik, who according to a news report by spoke about “the worrying state of Hungarian press freedom” and the Government’s related responsibility at an event organised by the National Association of Hungarian Journalists.

According to the Minister of State, the Chargé d'affaires “took the sorely-remembered path of Goodfriend tradition” when he publically spoke at length about the state of press freedom in Hungary and his perceived deficiencies in that regard.
“There are several problems with David Kostelancik’s speech”, he stressed: “Firstly, nobody asked him to make a statement.

Secondly, he had no moral or political mandate to do so. And thirdly, as a sovereign state, Hungary objects to any country interfering in its upcoming parliamentary elections in such a manner”.

“The Government will continue to reject all statements that affect Hungarian internal affairs and are based on misrepresentation in the strongest possible terms”, Mr. Magyar declared.

The Chargé d'affaires was summoned to the Ministry overnight, and on Thursday morning the issues in question were discussed with him, and our protests were expressed. He was informed about the objections relating to his “performance” on Tuesday and expressly told: we expect statements of this kind not to be repeated because they have a detrimental effect on bilateral relations and trust.

According to the Minister of State, it is unacceptable for anyone to criticise Hungarian democracy in view of the fact that Hungary also doesn’t take the liberty of putting forward its standpoint on the internal affairs of other states. “The Government also refrains from publishing its opinions on American internal politics or the state of human rights and civil liberties in America, although such opinions exits”, he highlighted.

Hungary continues to strive to maintain the most constructive relations possible with the United States, but “efforts will be made extremely difficult” if similar statements are made in future”, he said, adding: “We not only expect the Americans to refrain from stating falsehoods, but to refrain from commenting on Hungarian internal politics altogether”.

If they insist on commenting on press freedom, they could deal instead with the fact that “the germs of various political movements” invade websites they don’t like and disrupt their operations, or that minority rights in Ukraine are currently being dismantled to a level “that we have never before experienced, not even under the oppressive rule of the Soviet Union”.

In reply to a question, Mr. Magyar said diplomats generally act according to orders, and this is obviously also the case in this instance. This means that the change in approach declared by the American President “has still not reached certain areas of the State Department”.

In reply to another question, the Minister of State said that for the moment the Government regards the fact that David Kostelancik has been summoned to the Ministry and told that we regard his statements as unacceptable to be a sufficient response, adding that based on the mood and conclusion of the meeting, he believes that the American party has taken note of the Hungarian standpoint and hopefully there will be no need for similar conversations in future.

On Tuesday, the Chargé d'affaires did not provide a clear answer to the question of whether press freedom exists in Hungary, with which he implied that it doesn’t. He also made no clear statement at Wednesday’s meeting, but did state that the Hungarian press is diverse, adding that there are certain attempts to repress that diversity, and declaring that in his opinion nobody is restricting the freedom of the press in Hungary.