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Jul 04, 2019 - Zoltán Kovács

Looking for a good reason to celebrate the Fourth of July

We have good reason – in spite of everything – to celebrate with the United States today.

Congratulations to our American friends who are celebrating Independence Day. On July 4th, 1776, members of the Second Continental Congress – a precursor to today’s United States Congress – signed the Declaration of Independence from Great Britain.

We have good reason – in spite of everything – to celebrate with them today: This week the Hungarian National Assembly approved the long-awaited Defense Cooperation Agreement signed by our two countries. As Hungary modernizes its defense forces to address security challenges and continue to contribute robustly as a member of the NATO alliance – remember that we are among the few NATO members who have made a firm commitment to up our defense spending to 2% of GDP – this agreement will play an important role. In the words of US Ambassador David Cornstein, it’s “a win for both of our countries.”

It’s the latest testament to what Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Szijjártó has called an improvement of relations between our two countries. It follows the White House meeting between Prime Minister Orbán and President Trump in May, an encounter that the prime minister characterized as having “an excellent atmosphere, based on mutual respect.”

I say in spite of everything, however, because some seem determined to undermine the improving relations. The tone of the visit to Budapest yesterday of a delegation of members of the US Congress, for example, was not something we would characterize as “based on mutual respect,” not the kind of dialogue we would expect among close allies.

In fact, the delegation essentially ignored the Defense Cooperation Agreement, choosing instead to spend its time on matters that are, frankly, Hungary’s internal affairs, meeting with activists – several of them Soros-funded, of course. They even canceled a meeting with a senior government official. It was disappointing and more than a little unfortunate.

But we won’t let them spoil that excellent atmosphere of our improving relations. To the United States of America on its birthday: Isten éltessen sokáig! May God grant you a long life. We’re confident, despite these politically motivated distractions, that we can continue to work on the things that really matter to both of us: NATO, energy security, defense cooperation, and stopping illegal migration.