Human Rights, Politics, Populism, Radical extremism

U.S. Ambassador in Hungary, “Mr. Orbán’s top man in the Trump administration”

Sep 18 2020

!!444!!! InsightHungary!!!  (*)

David Cornstein announces resignation

“It was with a deep sense of pride, as well as some sadness, that I informed President Trump and Foreign Minister Szijjártó that I will be stepping down as U.S. Ambassador to Hungary on November 1.” 

U.S. Ambassador to Hungary David Cornstein announced his resignation in a statement to the U.S. Embassy’s website on Tuesday. The 82-year-old served just over two years as Ambassador after arriving in Budapest in the summer of 2018.

During his tenure, Cornstein, a retired jewelry merchant from New York City and longtime friend of President Donald Trump, was noted for his open admiration of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and declining to publicly criticize some of the Hungarian government’s most controversial policies. Cornstein brokered a meeting in the Oval Office between Trump and Orbán in 2019, where Orbán reportedly urged the President to take a hard stance against Ukraine. That meeting was later the subject of a congressional investigation related to Trump’s impeachment.

According to The New York Times, Cornstein undermined efforts by diplomats to relay messages to the U.S. government on corruption and democratic backsliding in Hungary. At a 2019 meeting in Budapest between a U.S. congressional delegation and representatives of Hungarian anti-corruption and human rights groups, Cornstein reportedly “hijacked the meeting” and declared that he had seen no evidence of corruption in Hungary.

The ambassador also sought assurances from Radio Free Europe that the revamped U.S. government-funded news service would not be overly critical of the Hungarian government or engage in excessive investigative journalism. Embassy officials reportedly told a congressional delegation that “Washington’s top man in Hungary acted more like Mr. Orbán’s top man in the Trump administration.” 

Cornstein’s 2018 attempts to broker a deal between the U.S. and Hungarian governments on the fate of Budapest’s Central European University (CEU) ultimately failed, and the American-chartered university was forced to move most of its operations to Vienna, reportedly at Cornstein’s urging. Cornstein was later quoted in The Atlantic as saying the fate of CEU would not affect U.S.-Hungarian relations.

In September 2019, several U.S. senators and representatives sent a letter to Cornstein calling on him “to uphold American democratic values and security interests when dealing with the autocratic government of Viktor Orbán.”

Szijjártó in Washington, DC: “Trump deserves Nobel Prize”

Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó visited Washington, DC on Tuesday to attend a White House signing ceremony of a peace agreement between Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. Szijjártó was the only EU diplomatic leader to receive an invitation from President Donald Trump to attend the event.

Following the ceremony, Szijjártó said that Donald Trump had “brought together such agreements that many people never thought possible. It is obvious that Nobel Prizes are usually awarded for such achievements.” (A far-right Norwegian lawmaker earlier nominated Trump for the Nobel Peace Prize for his brokering of the peace agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, which were never at war.)

Szijjártó also held talks with Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, who played a role in developing the peace agreement. The minister assured Kushner that Hungary would support US Middle East policy in the European Union. Szijjártó also signed an agreement between Hungary and the largest private space research firm listed on the stock exchange.

While in Washington, Szijjártó met with outgoing Ambassador to Hungary David Cornstein. The Foreign Minister also announced that Prime Minister Viktor Orbán had accepted his recommendation to appoint Szabolcs Takács as the next Hungarian ambassador to the United States.

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*!!444!!! InsightHungary, is one of the few independent media beyond the control of autocrat Viktor Orbán. 03.09.2020

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