Updated: New US Ambassador Finally In Budapest

  • 22 Jan 2015 12:55 AM
Updated: New US Ambassador Finally In Budapest
Update: Video added below. A year and a half to the day after the departure of Eleni Tsakopoulos Kounalakis, the United States’ new ambassador to Hungary arrived at the capital’s Liszt Ferenc airport yesterday. She was greeted there by Levente Magyar, under-secretary of the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Magyar reportedly expressed his government’s hope that Bell’s arrival will lead to an improvement in US-Hungarian relations, which are at a historical low.

Bell was so far unavailable for comment, but according to official Hungarian sources she is expected to deliver her credentials to President János Áder on Wednesday.

Magyar told state-owned television M1 that he is optimistic about Bell’s arrival despite earlier clashes with the US Embassy over the decision to temporarily suspend the right of six Hungarians to enter the United States, including three public officials.

“We received the diplomat with fondness and openness,” Magyar told the presenter. “Her arrival could mean new dynamism and a new, positive direction for the Hungarian-American political discourse.” He added that “cooperation on a military and economic level is better and stronger than ever.”

A political appointee, Bell will take over from acting head of mission André Goodfriend, who will revert to deputy chief of mission. Goodfriend by now is a well-known person in Hungary. At the insistence of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, Goodfriend, who enjoys diplomatic immunity, is being sued for defamation by one of the banned individuals, National Tax and Customs Administration president Ildikó Vida, for failing to uphold her honor over the course of an interview given to Heti Válász.

Magyar and his boss, Minister Péter Szijjártó, have summoned Goodfriend to the Foreign Ministry on several occasions to account for statements on the part of various US officials critical of Orbán and his government. In December, US Senator John McCain, who strongly opposed Bell’s nomination, called Orbán a “neo-fascist dictator.” Unfortunately, that wasn’t all McCain had to say on the subject.

Bell, who reportedly was given a lavish Beverly Hills send-off, is scheduled to meet Szijjártó at an official dinner on Thursday.

Source: The Budapest Beacon

The Budapest Beacon is a media partner of XpatLoop.com

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