The United States Embassy in Budapest has responded to attacks in the pro-government media and calls for the resignation of two Hungarian judges after they recently met with newly-appointed U.S. Ambassador David Pressman. Several voices in government-friendly media outlets claim that by meeting the Ambassador, Tamás Matusik and Csaba Vasvári violated rules on the prohibition of politicization.
But in a statement, the Embassy argues that that the meeting was in line with normal diplomatic activities conducted worldwide by the United States and other countries, including Hungary.
The United States Embassy’s recent meeting with representatives of the Hungarian judiciary is consistent with the normal conduct of diplomacy by the United States and other countries – including Hungary – around the world. What is inconsistent with normal diplomatic practice between allies is the recent coordinated media attack on the spokesperson and international liaison of the National Judicial Council in what appears to be an effort to instill fear in those who wish to engage with representatives of the United States.
-the Embassy’s statement reads.
“Interference in dialogue with U.S. government officials does nothing to advance the U.S.-Hungary bilateral relationship,” the statement added.
To demonstrate that such get togethers are part of normal diplomatic relations, the U.S. Embassy provided several examples of similar meetings held between representatives of the judiciary, and ambassadors and politicians in democratic countries. For example, Viktor Orbán met with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy when Orbán was prime minister.
In addition, Hungarian Ambassador to Croatia József Magyar also met with judges on the Croatian Constitutional Court, and former U.S. Ambassador David Cornstein met with Tünde Handó, who was then president of the National Judiciary Office.
The National Judicial Council (OBT) has expressed its support of Matusik’s and Vasvári’s meeting with Ambassador Pressman. However, the meeting was condemned by Andás Zs. Varga, the former deputy of Prosecutor General Péter Polt and current President of the Curia High Court, who was appointed to his position without any judicial experience.
On Thursday morning, Népszava reported that Tamás Matusik applied for the role of president of the Integrity Authority, the anti-corruption body set up under pressure by the EU. The Aptitude Committee accepted his nomination, but Matusik was only ranked third on the professional ranking. [Népszava]