Note: This article may contain commentary reflecting the author's opinion.

President Joe Biden’s Ambassador to Hungary David Pressman has generated a significant diplomatic problem in the nation self-designated as a “citadel of traditional Christian values,” under conservative Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

As reported by The Post Millennial, commentators with Hungarian news outlet PestiSracok quickly took note of Pressman’s professional record as “an expert on LGBT rights” and referred to his appointment as “an obvious diplomatic provocation” against our NATO ally.

In his recent story for The New York Times, Andrew Higgins wrote that during Pressman’s Senate confirmation hearing in July, a small boat on the Danube river was photographed flying a banner near his soon-to-be posting at the U.S. Embassy in Budapest. The black banner adorned with a skull and crossbones read in English and Hungarian: “Mr. Pressman, don’t colonize Hungary with your cult of death.”

Pressman hung the picture of the banner in his office telling the reporter lamentedly, “That was before I ever stepped foot in this country.” As Higgins observed for the Times, “it has been pretty much downhill ever since.”

Hungary which as The Post Millennial’s Editor-at-Large Andy Ngo reported, banned so-called ‘gender-affirming care’ for children, has found Pressman to be an unwelcome change from former ambassador under President Donald Trump, David B. Cornstein.

Described by the Times as “a jewelry magnate who praised Mr. Orban.” Cornstein was quoted as referring to the conservative PM as “a very, very strong and good leader.”

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Pressman has since developed what can only be described as an adversarial relationship with the domestic media of Hungary and the ruling Fidesz party or Hungarian Civic Alliance as it’s translated. Fidesz is described as being a conservative-populist or national-conservative party, derided by many in the U.S. media and left-leaning outlets as “far-right.”

Origo, a Hungarian news site cited by the Times, reported that Pressman met with two Hungarian judges in April, Tamás Matusik and Csaba Vasvári, who are also members of the National Judicial Council. The outlet referred to the meeting as,

“An unprecedentedly serious interference in the justice system.”

Imre Vejkey, KDNP chairman of the Parliament’s Justice Committee told Origo, “this step cannot be interpreted as anything other than an intervention in the Hungarian justice system.” He called the meeting a “matter of concern” and said it would be more dignified for the two judges to resign to “restore confidence in the judiciary.”

The outlet wrote, “it cannot be ruled out that after the high-quality diplomatic presence of the Republican Ambassador David Cornstein, he became a more sleazy, provocative, unfriendly, Democratic leader of the American embassy.”

Pressman complained to The Times that most Hungarian officials begin any dialog with him by saying “Ambassador, it’s wonderful to meet you. I know you want to speak about gender progressive issues.” And he has in turn accused the Hungarian media, much of which is conservative-leaning, of the “repurposing of Kremlin propaganda.”

He claimed that the government-controlled media of Hungary recycles Russian propaganda on a regular basis, “pushing out Kremlin disinformation and anti-American rhetoric on a routine basis, and that is worrying to the United States.”

According to polls cited by the Times, Hungarians by and large are not huge fans of Russia, but are deeply motivated by battling “wokeism and gender ideology.”

During the Trump administration, Hungarian-American relations were cordial. However, they were occasionally strained by the eastern European nation’s energy-necessitated close ties with Moscow whose aggressive intents were at that time still simmering beneath the surface.

Since the beginning of the Russo-Ukrainian war in 2021, Hungary, which is heavily reliant upon Russian natural gas, has continued to resist sanctions against Putin’s government to avoid antagonizing them while refusing to allow arms shipments to Ukraine through their country. All this despite the nation being a NATO member.

Pressman told The Times that he regularly tries to shift conversations with Hungarian officials to the “real war that exists next door,” rather than a “culture war” and instead wants to speak to them about “Hungary’s reliance on Vladimir Putin.”

He characterized Hungary’s uncomfortable and tenuous position hemmed between the EU, NATO, and Russia, as the country “play(ing) both sides,” and added that the opportunity to do so “when we have an actual land war in Europe no longer exists.”

In response to the NYT story, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjártó responded in part,

“It is irrelevant, absolutely irrelevant, what he or any other ambassador thinks about domestic political developments in Hungary because it has nothing to do with them.

It is not for him to interfere in Hungary’s internal affairs, and if he wishes to use his stay in Hungary to criticize the actions of a government elected by a clear majority of the Hungarian people and legitimized by the Hungarian people, he will have a very difficult job in working effectively to improve cooperation between the two countries.

Because when we welcome ambassadors, we mean it literally, we welcome ambassadors. People who we believe are sent by their host country to work on improving and developing relations between the two countries on the basis of mutual respect.

We do not accept governors or procurators sent here to say how we should lead our lives. That era is over. 

Hungary is a sovereign country, no one from the outside can tell us how to live.”

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