Hungary has summoned US charge d’affaires Andre Goodfriend after Senator John McCain described PM Viktor Orban as a “neo-fascist dictator”.
The Hungarian government rejected the remarks, which it said were totally unacceptable.
Republican John McCain was speaking in the Senate on December 2 before a vote on the appointment of former TV soap opera producer Colleen Bell as ambassador to Hungary.
Colleen Bell was “totally unqualified” for such a role, he said.
John McCain had been unimpressed with Colleen Bell this year when he questioned her during her confirmation hearing about what she planned to do differently from her predecessor as ambassador to Budapest.
The former The Bold and The Beautiful producer was widely seen as giving a faltering performance.
However, it was his next comments that most riled the Hungarian government and prompted Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto to summon US charge d’affaires Andre Goodfriend.
“I am not against political appointees,” John McCain said.
“I understand how the game is played, but here we are, a nation [Hungary] on the verge of ceding its sovereignty to a neo-fascist dictator, getting in bed with [Russian President] Vladimir Putin, and we’re going to send the producer of The Bold and The Beautiful as our ambassador.”
Viktor Orban has in recent months adopted closer relations with Russia, opposing EU and US sanctions imposed on key officials in Moscow because of the conflict in Ukraine. He has also advocated turning Hungary into an “illiberal democracy”.
The foreign ministry state secretary in Budapest said Hungary rejected John McCain’s remarks, both about Viktor Orban and relations with the government in Moscow.
Peter Szijjarto added that voters had three times backed the ruling Fidesz party’s vision of “how they imagine the future of the country”.
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