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US envoy criticizes Orbán as leader who ’embraces Putin’ – POLITICO

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The United States ambassador to Hungary sharply criticized Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán for ignoring the country’s alliance with NATO, describing him as a leader who “embraces” Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Ambassador David Pressman said Hungary “relies on its NATO allies but feels comfortable neglecting the interests of those same allies and our alliance, including in times of war in Europe,” while that he was speaking to a gathering of business leaders at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce event. Tuesday evening in Budapest.

“This contempt is evident when the (Hungarian) Prime Minister embraces Putin, when his government threatens to withhold crucial aid to its neighbor Ukraine, while Ukrainian men, women and children are murdered by criminals of war,” Pressman added.

Orbán has threatened to veto a planned €50 billion in aid to Ukraine and has categorically opposed the opening of accession talks with Kiev, after the European Commission recommended in November to start accession negotiations. European leaders are expected to back the recommendation at an upcoming summit this month – a move Orbán threatens to block.

The Hungarian leader also courted Russia and met with Putin in Beijing in October, something he said he was “proud” to do. A photograph of Orbán and Putin shaking hands sparked condemnation across the EU.

The US ambassador also criticized Orbán’s anti-US rhetoric, including saying in a leaked CIA report that he considers the US one of the biggest enemies of his party, Fidesz.

“When the Prime Minister declares the United States as one of Hungary’s main ‘adversaries’ or publicly declares that the American government is trying to overthrow his government, these words land not only in Washington, DC, but also in your headquarters and within your board of directors. rooms,” Pressman said.

US envoy takes aim at declining rule of law and limited press freedom in Hungary, highlighting ‘alarming’ bill to create body with broad powers to investigate foreign interference which critics say are used to intimidate political opponents and undermine civil society. Company.

“This bill makes Moscow’s foreign agent law look soft and gentle,” Pressman said.

Pressman, who was named U.S. envoy to Hungary last year, has been an outspoken critic — and frequent target — of the Hungarian government.



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Cnn

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