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Feb 11, 2019 - Zoltán Kovács

US Sec State Pompeo in Budapest: “Americans and Hungarians have always stood together in the pursuit of freedom, and that tradition continues today”

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was in Budapest today. His was the first visit to Hungary of a secretary of state in eight years. It comes at a time when the relationship between Hungary and the United States is bearing fruit in areas that mean a lot to our two countries.

“We have begun to rebuild the third pillar of the Hungarian-American relationship, the political relationship,” said Minister of Foreign Relations and Trade Péter Szijjártó at the joint press conference with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, following their bilateral meeting in Budapest this afternoon.

"This is largely due to the fact,” FM Szijjártó said, “that the Hungarian Government and the US administration, led by President Donald Trump, represent the same or very similar approach on a number of general and international political issues." Among these areas, he highlighted that both governments pursue patriotic politics, which means that national interest comes first, and the security of our citizens ranks as a top priority. “That's how we could join our forces in the fight against the [UN] Global Migration Compact,” the FM explained.

Although the general direction of US and Hungarian policy is important, cooperation is clear in specific areas as well. In the spirit of a policy based on mutual respect, Hungary, for example, has vetoed every decision in the European Union that would have criticized US foreign policy endeavors. 

“The United States can count on Hungary as a reliable defense and military ally,” said Minister Szijjártó. “We are proud that we are expanding our NATO contingent with 108 people in Kosovo and Afghanistan.”

US National Security Advisor John Bolton tweeted last week that during Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó’s visit to the White House they discussed “defense cooperation, energy diversity, confronting Russian malign influence and maintaining our ironclad commitment to NATO.” The meeting, according to Bolton, provided “a great preview of our 2019 goals and Secretary Pompeo's trip."

Not only is the US the second biggest investor in Hungary, providing jobs for some 105,000 Hungarians, but we can also point to a number of significant developments in other areas as well. A few examples:

Last November, PM Orbán heldimportant energy talks with US Secretary of Energy Rick Perry in the Parliament and called for the diversification of Central Europe’s energy supply. In December, by signing a Memorandum of Understanding, the two countries joined forces to increase coordination and help persecuted Christian communities in the Middle East. In 2018 alone, FM Szijjártó visited the US four times to work on bilateral political and international security issues and exchange views on current trade matters between the European Union and the United States.

It’s fair to say that under the previous administration, Hungary’s relationship with the United States endured some challenging moments. Politics and those driving a political agenda tried to intervene. Recent media reports (like this one in the The Wall Street Journal) again attempted to run interference. But these efforts have never managed to undermine our strong bond, the growing investment in Hungary from the US, and our tight relationship in NATO.

Today, thankfully, the tone has changed. To any reasonable observer, the above are signs of a constructive relationship between close allies, and Secretary of State Pompeo’s visit today pointed to meaningful progress on these fronts. Hungarian-American political relations, as Minister Szijjártó said, are improving.