October 29, 2014
In the wake of Maidan, a new diplomatic scandal has erupted, this time in the heart of Europe, in Hungary. Like in Kiev, it again involves an old acquaintance of ours: Victoria Nuland, the diplomat responsible for European Affairs within the US State Department.
Hungary is currently in the process of converting Swiss franc- and euro-denominated home loans into forints in order to prevent a massive number of defaults on mortgages contracted by Hungarian citizens during the nineties. Unpleasant as that might be for foreign banks operating in Hungary, Fidesz cannot be faulted for taking the side of its citizens.
As the Orban government had proved less willing to endorse the Nuland-inspired hate campaign against Russia, six of its officials were recently put on an American visa blacklist.
Last Sunday, a probably ill-conceived tax on Internet usage contemplated by the Orban government has ignited a 100,000-strong street protest in Budapest and a few other Hungarian cities. The demonstration has provided yet another opportunity for a major US diplomatic gaffe, one that a seasoned professional would have easily avoided. The US chargé d’affaires in Budapest, Mr. A. Goodfriend, actively took part in the protest, thus endorsing an offensive action against the government of his host country, which is rather unprecedented in the history of diplomacy.
Whilst it is true that most neoconservatives and Victoria Nuland herself are of Jewish origin, it is wrong for the Orban government to even tacitly accept anti-Semitic parties like Jobbik’s racist hate speeches in the political arena or the Hungarian media. The race of the persons involved in anti-Hungarian attacks is irrelevant. The actions themselves is what matters.
Granted, some officials of Jewish origin are the children of World War II victims and as such are themselves personally affected by an irrational hate of Europe and especially of Russia. The fault of being put in charge of the affairs of the same continent where their ancestors have suffered continuous discrimination and unspeakable victimization, however, is not theirs but that of US Presidents and Secretaries of State who appointed them in the first place.
As a specialist in international relations myself, and as an European historian I would like to strongly condemn the policy of appointing diplomatic personnel and key decision makers who actively do more harm than good to the normal US-EU trans-Atlantic relationship.