Aladár Horváth, Roma activist’s meeting with Thomas O. Melia

Yesterday afternoon Aladár Horváth had high level talks in the U.S. Department of State. He had the opportunity to speak with Tomicah Tilleman, advisor to Hillary Clinton, and Thomas Melia, deputy assistant secretary for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. The very same man about whom Tamás Deutsch tweeted in such an unspeakable manner.

I wrote about Aladár Horváth earlier. He is a former SZDSZ member of parliament and chairman of the Roma Civil Rights Foundation. The topic naturally was the question of Hungarian democracy and the situation of Hungary’s Roma population. Both Tilleman and Melia have personal connections to Hungary. Tilleman is the grandson of the late Tom Lantos, the Hungarian-born member of Congress, and even wrote his Ph.D. dissertation on a Hungarian topic. Melia, as we found out lately, was in Hungary a great deal during 1989-1990 teaching campaign tactics to members of the newly established parties, including Fidesz.

Horváth spent an hour and a half with Melia, who is still closely watching political developments in Hungary. The conversation covered the state of Hungarian democracy as well as social and economic problems. Horváth, a Roma activist, naturally brought up the dreadful situation of the Hungarian Gypsies who constitute about 40% of the approximately one million people in abject poverty. He called attention to the neglect by successive governments of the countryside and the growth of right-wing extremism. In addition, he covered the difficult situation the media finds itself in as a result of the new media law. The new law on churches and religion was also discussed, and Horváth called attention to the situation of the Hungarian Evangelical Brotherhood (Methodists) led by Gábor Iványi. The Methodists are taking care of many homeless people and the disadvantaged children of the poor, especially among the Roma. Because the Iványi-led Methodists didn’t receive “church” status, their financial future is in jeopardy and the fate of 6,000 people currently under their care hangs in the balance.

In connection with the unemployed Roma population living in isolated villages far from urban centers, the conversation moved on to public works camps to which surely mostly Gypsies will be moved to work on large government projects under the watchful eyes of retired policemen and officers. Melia was especially interested in the details of the law that will govern the running of these camps. I wouldn’t be surprised if the State Department kept a watchful eye on this “revolutionary” innovation of the Orbán government.

The State Department promised professional and moral assistance to the Roma Civil Rights Movement based on experience that the United States gained from the Afro-American civil rights movement.

At the end of the conversation Melia showed Horváth a Fidesz poster he received as a gift from the Young Democrats after the local elections held in October 1990. The poster was signed by all seventeen Fidesz members of parliament, including Tamás Deutsch.

Aladár Horváth meeting Thomas Melia in Washington


Well, that was a long time ago. The Young Democrats (Fiatal Demokraták Szövetsége) apparently ran a brilliant campaign and to their own great surprise were able to form a parliamentary caucus with seventeen of their members. The text on the poster expresses this surprise. It means something like “Well, this is something!”They were grateful then to Thomas Melia. Hence the gift.

But Tamás Deutsch still doesn’t remember Melia, and he doesn’t regret his obscene remarks. In an interview with Origo he explained that at the time of regime change he had never even heard Melia’s name and they never met. As far as the meaning of his “whimsical” remarks, that is simply the style of Twitter. So, he is just “with it”. Of course, he knew that Thomas Melia was assistant deputy secretary in the U.S. State Department. What he objected to was that the Hungarian government pays so much attention to what a low-level state department official has to say about Hungary. Who cares! What did his fellow Fidesz politicians have to say about his remarks on Twitter? Nothing, they had a good laugh.

We’ll see who has the last laugh.