You may recall that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sent a letter to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in which she expressed her and the Obama administration's worries about the state of democracy in Orbán's Hungary. On December 30 I published a facsimile of this letter. I described Viktor Orbán's policies as being on a collision course with practically the whole world. The signs of crisis may not look as grave as they did in late December, but I still maintain that the course that Viktor Orbán is navigating will lead to a full blown crisis sooner or later.
Below I'm making public Viktor Orbán's answer to Hillary Clinton's letter. But first let me refresh everybody's memory. Although Hillary Clinton wrote her letter to Viktor Orbán on December 23, it was only on December 27 that the Hungarian public learned about it through a report that appeared in Népszabadság. MTI, the official Hungarian news agency, at this point asked Péter Szijjártó, Orbán's personal spokesman, whether the prime minister had indeed received such a letter. Szijjártó said that he had. The only official who was ready to talk about the letter was János Lázár, leader of the Fidesz parliamentary delegation, who announced that the time for old-fashioned American democracy built on consensus is over. Hungary is building a different kind of democracy. The government spokesman, András Giró-Szász, claimed no knowledge of the contents of the letter.
Two weeks went by and there was still no word about a reply. Not surprisingly, reporters were becoming restless and kept asking Giró-Szász when the prime minister would answer. On January 5, Thursday, they were told that the letter will be sent "this week." And indeed, judging from the date on Viktor Orbán's letter, it was sent the very next day.
I suggest that you first read Clinton's letter and then return to Orbán's reply. Here I would like to point out some passages that I found intriguing.
First, I didn't quite know what to do with the passage that described the post-communist era as one "without a truly free, competition based market economy." This from a man who has been doing nothing else but re-nationalizing everything in sight.
Second, I thought that a "dig" like "the word 'change' can win elections…." was truly unnecessary.
Third, claiming that they had been "in constant dialogue and close cooperation with all interested parties, especially the European Commission, religious groups and constituents, while continuously seeking consultations with opposition parties" was a brazen lie that presupposes total ignorance of Hungarian affairs and the current political situation on the part of Clinton's staff.
Finally, I didn't quite know what to do with the claim that "several of my cabinet members and I myself have met with Ambassador Eleni Tsakopoulos Kounalakis in Budapest, to provide interpretations of our work that may not necessarily reach Washington."
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