Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto has lashed out at the US ambassador to Budapest for meddling in the country’s internal affairs over its support for Russia, saying, “Nobody can tell us from the outside how to live.”
Szijjarto issued the scathing rebuke on Thursday after David Pressman, who has represented Washington in Budapest since September last year, censured Hungary’s push for the continuation of policies endorsed by Russian President Vladimir Putin and the country’s opposition to Western-led anti-Russia sanctions over the conflict in Ukraine.
“Nobody can tell us from the outside how to live, so it is of no interest what a citizen of another country – be it an ambassador – thinks about the domestic political processes in Hungary,” Szijjarto said at a press conference. “We ask for more respect for the Hungarians, even from the ambassador.”
Stressing that it is not Pressman’s “job to interfere in the internal affairs of Hungary,” the Hungarian foreign minister said, “If he wants to use his stay in Hungary to qualify the activities of the government elected by the Hungarian people with a fairly clear majority… then he will have a very difficult time.”
Szijjarto said when Hungary receives foreign ambassadors, it expects them to behave appropriately and work to improve bilateral relations, emphasizing that the era of foreign envoys telling Hungarians how to live in their own country “is over.”
Hungary has on numerous occasions voiced opposition to Western sanctions against Moscow in response to Russia’s protracted military operation in Ukraine, arguing that the restrictions have wreaked havoc on the EU economy.
Last month, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban also slammed Germany’s decision to support Ukraine by supplying 14 Leopard 2 tanks, warning that such steps would make Western countries active participants in the conflict. Orban stressed that, instead of arming Kiev, the West should pursue “a ceasefire and peace talks” in Ukraine.
Russia launched what it calls a special military operation in Ukraine on February 24, 2022, over the perceived threat of the ex-Soviet republic joining NATO and to "de-Nazify" Kiev. Since then, the United States and Ukraine's other allies have sent Kiev tens of billions of dollars' worth of weapons, including rocket systems, drones, armored vehicles, tanks, and communication systems.
Western countries have also imposed a slew of economic sanctions on Moscow. The Kremlin has said the sanctions and the Western military assistance will only prolong the war.