US ambassador threatens Hungary
The US has the power to pressure Hungary if it refuses to adjust its foreign policy towards the EU, NATO and Russia, the American ambassador to Budapest, Davis Pressman, has warned.
In an interview published on Friday in the Financial Times, Pressman laid out a list of complaints about Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, including his defiant stance on the Russia-Ukraine conflict and attitude towards President Vladimir Putin.
“When you look at Hungary’s foreign policy, whether it be suggesting raising questions about Ukraine’s EU accession, stymying efforts to provide financial support to Ukraine, meeting with Vladimir Putin, resisting efforts to diversify off of Russian energy, resisting sustained efforts to close Kremlin platforms inside of Hungary, all of these have something in common,” the diplomat said. “And it’s something that is leaving Hungary more isolated from its partners within Nato and its partners within the EU.”
Pressman went on to insist that Orban’s “policy choices, without question, are helpful to Putin.” He added that the US has the means of coercing Hungary.
We absolutely have leverage, that is true. And we’re prepared to use our leverage.
Unlike many NATO members, Hungary has refused to send weapons to Ukraine and has barred the alliance from using its territory to provide military aid to Kiev. Orban has also opposed certain economic sanctions on Russia. Last month, Hungary vetoed an additional €50 billion ($55 billion) in EU funding for Ukraine.
Budapest has maintained that no foreign pressure can prompt it to abandon national interests. “No one can tell us from the outside how to lead our lives within our own borders. Whether it is a foreign citizen, or even a foreign ambassador, their opinion is irrelevant for us,” Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said last year, as quoted by local media.