A political soap opera is brewing between Washington and Budapest over remarks made by American Senator John McCain.
I remember a Hungarian proverb: A man who comes from far away can say anything that he wants to.
The Republican senator launched a scathing attack on prime minister Victor Orban as he criticised the appointment of TV producer Colleen Bell as ambassador to Hungary on Tuesday.
“I am not against political appointees… I understand how the game is played, but … (Hungary) … is on the verge of ceding its sovereignty to a neo-fascist dictator, getting in bed with Vladimir Putin,and we’re going to send the producer of ‘The Bold and The Beautiful’ as the ambassador,” said McCain.
Hungary’s Foreign Ministry summoned the top US diplomat in Budapest following the outburst.
Orban came to Moscow’s defence recently by opposing EU sanctions on Russia over the Ukraine crisis. In Brussels Hungary’s Justice Minister László Trócsányi, was quick to dismiss the Senator’s insinuations.
“Look, I don’t know the senator. But I remember a Hungarian proverb: A man who came from far away can say anything that he wants to. The French say: “it’s easy to lie when it’s impossible to verify what you say.” I obviously respect everyone’s opinion. But I have to add, that it is such an exaggeration that we must reject it.”
The US State department distanced itself from McCain’s remarks. But it comes just weeks after another diplomatic row over visa bans for several Hungarian officials.
The appointment of Colleen Bell to a diplomatic has also attracted controversy in the States. As a TV producer some deem her unsuitable for diplomatic work. As part of her qualifications she cited her background in TV and much has been made of her large financial donations to President Obama’s re-election campaign.