Bill Clinton in Budapest

Bill Clinton is on tour of Europe, spending a few hours here and there giving speeches. This is his last tour for a while because of his obligations in connection with Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. He left Athens and landed in Budapest around 3:30 p.m. In the tight schedule he paid a visit in the Hungarian parliament where he met with Prime Minister Gyurcsány. The meeting was scheduled to last for half an hour but it lasted quite a bit longer. I guess both Clinton and Gyurcsány are known to be great conversationalists. According to the government spokesman the talk concerned Hungary’s place in the European Union and American-Hungarian relations. Gyurcsány apparently emphasized that diplomatically there is no Rumsfeldian distinction between old and the new Europe and that Hungary is committed to Euro-Atlantic understanding.

According to the Hungarian media Clinton’s trip had been in the making for at least for two years. He was invited by the Central European Business Center. His fee, according to rumors, was $280,000 (50 million Hungarian forints). The interest in attending the dinner held after Clinton’s speech was great, but there were only 250 places for invited guests. The dinner cost approximately $1,500 a plate, but if you wanted to have a photo with the former president you had to pay $3,000 for the added privilege. The speech centered around the pros and cons of globalization, terorism, climate change, and global migration.

Most of the guests came from the Hungarian business world, but among the political figures were János Kóka, minister of education and transport, Tibor Draskovics, former minister of finance, Ibolya Dávid, president of Magyar Demokrata Fórum, and April H. Foley, US ambassador to Budapest.

Originally, Clinton was supposed to leave Budapest after the dinner and fly to Germany but, according to some sources, plans were changed and he is spending the night in Budapest.

This is Clinton’s third visit to Hungary. As opposed to George W. Bush, he is quite popular among the Hungarian public.