János Lázár is the Minister of the Hungarian Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). In an exclusive interview last month with Hungary Today and Ungarn Heute, Lázár spoke at length about Hungarian-American relations, Hungary’s place in the EU, the ongoing “Lex CEU” controversy, and other current political issues.
This interview has been translated from Hungarian, and edited for clarity.
The Friends of Hungary Foundation is made up of well-known, opinion-forming citizens of their respective countries, for whom the fate of Hungary is a cause near and dear to their hearts. This May, the Foundation will be hosting its fourth annual conference in Budapest.
Why is it necessary to switch ambassadors?
Since a new American ambassador will be arriving in Budapest, we feel that the Hungarian side is in need of a new top diplomat to work with the new US administration. The Prime Minister has thanked [former Ambassador] Réka Szemerkényi for her work, and has tasked Deputy Foreign Minister László Szabó with the task of representing Hungarian interests in the United States going forward.
From abroad, and from an academic point of view, the intense political and ideological conflict surrounding CEU and other institutions supported by George Soros are particularly incomprehensible. Chairman of the Board Dr. Vizi likewise always stresses the importance of academic and research freedom. Why was it necessary for Hungary to modify the higher-education law? What is going on in this question?
Hungary has been a full member of the European Union for going on thirteen years now; nevertheless, there are few member states that one can read such negative, tendentious articles about in the western press as about Hungary.
That is because few member states have governments as innovative, and at the same time willing to come into conflict in order to defend itself, as we have!
If you open a modern history book, you will find that, in general, the history of the EU is one of ever-increasing integration, from the Treaty of Rome all the way until the 2008 financial crisis. At the same time, in 2011, when Hungary took up the presidency of the EU, its motto was “Strong Europe.”
Many are concerned by the remarkably good nature of Russian-Hungarian relations, since this is also nearly always mentioned in a negative tone by the international media.
Hungarians abroad are not in an easy position. When we look at the political and economic statistics of neighboring countries—particularly demographic statistics—we can see that Hungarians are dwindling in number virtually everywhere in the Carpathian basin. In the case of Ukraine, we are talking about a war-zone. Since there is essentially a civil war going on in one half of the country, essentially the only hope of survival for Transcarpathian Hungarians is direct assistance from Hungary in their everyday lives. Today, in Transcarpathia, the state would essentially not operate in Hungarian-majority counties, if it weren’t for financial support from the Hungarian government.
In Romania, the past two years have seen government policies come to the fore that deliberately attack Hungarian interests: churches, communities, schools, individuals. It has violated the rights of civil society groups, the independence of universities, the self-determination of churches, just as it has not respected private property rights. In Vojvodina, the lucky thing is that Hungarians there are able to cooperate well with both Budapest and Belgrade. For Belgrade, Budapest is a very good ally for Serbia’s hopes of becoming an EU member, and for this reason we can find common ground. In Budapest, we must always plan national politics in conjunction with Hungarian minorities, in the interest of Hungarian minorities.
The Hungarian politics today could not have taken place without changing the path of history during the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. If you would like to read more about Hungarian history click on the link below.
Reporting Tamás Székely and Balázs Horváth
Translated by Tom Szigeti
Hungary today site