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Dec 22, 2017 - Zoltán Kovács

The breathtaking arrogance of that old, State Department elite

Recently, the popular, Hungarian weekly Heti Világgazdagság, or HVG, published an interview with Thomas O. Melia, a former deputy state secretary in the US State Department under the Obama Administration. The interview ran under the headline, “Everyone sees what is happening in Hungary.”

The arrogance on display from this politically appointed member of the Obama-era State Department elite is positively breathtaking. Behold a few choice quotes from the well-known Hungarophile, Melia:

“When things turn in the wrong direction, as they have since the 2010 elections concerning democracy [in Hungary], these friends [by which Melia apparently means himself and his circle] point to those problems and push for solutions.”

“We are just as frustrated as many Hungarians that the government has made the country less democratic, silencing critics, be it NGOs, journalists or others.” [He apparently missed the irony in his making this claim while giving an interview with an opposition-leaning magazine that happens to be one of the mostly widely read weeklies in the country.]

Hungary, Melia informs us, is going in the wrong direction. We have problems that are crying out for answers, and, in our frustration, we need help from friends like Melia to push for solutions.

The Hungarian voters swept the Orbán Government to power in the elections of 2010 with the largest popular mandate any political party has ever received since the fall of communism. That was followed by another landslide victory in 2014 and a commanding popular mandate for another two-thirds majority.

But Melia knows better than the Hungarian voter. The former executive of the National Democratic Institute, an NGO loosely affiliated with the Democratic Party, can barely conceal his wish for “an opposition that is capable of winning” and patronizingly informs the reader that “it is the task of Hungarian voters and politicians to organize a better alternative”.

Gee, thanks. Borrowing loosely from a now-famous tweet by Member of the European Parliament Tamás Deutsch: Who the heck is Thomas Melia?

I mean, really. This is a man who cannot speak or read Hungarian and, as far as I know, has never lived in Hungary. He cannot cite a single, concrete example – not one – but continues to spew the same generalities he used in 2011. And here he is telling Hungarians from the comforts of his conference room in the United States that Hungary has problems, that many Hungarians are frustrated, and we need friends in the US to push for solutions.

In fact, Melia is part of an old, liberal cabal once part of the State Department. They relied imprudently on biased and politically-motivated sources for their information about Hungary and lost sight of the real issues. Melia and his cohort are likely the original instigators of this 700,000 USD announced by the State Department to support “independent” media in Hungary, and while he’s out of power now, he’s on the PR train to convince everybody what a great idea it is.

It’s almost funny. But here’s what’s sad: According to Melia, the “message of US diplomacy to the people of Hungary is that the USA and Americans are their friends.”

Unfortunately, no. The message is that you have no respect for the free will of Hungarians. You look down on the Hungarian voter. And your so-called help comes off as condescending and ideologically-driven meddling in our affairs.

Thomas Melia, you and your cabal have done grave harm to Hungarian-US relations. It will take years to repair them.