‘Keep out of other people’s business!’ Hungarian foreign minister scolds US State Department

Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó on an official visit to Bosnia-Herzegovina on Wednesday, March 22, 2023. (Credit: Facebook, Péter Szijjártó)
By Thomas Brooke
6 Min Read

Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó launched a blistering attack against the U.S. State Department on Wednesday, accusing the United States of continuously encroaching on the sovereignty of independent nations and commenting on issues that should be of no concern to the U.S. government.

Speaking at a joint press conference in Sarajevo with his Bosnia-Herzegovina counterpart, Elmedin Konakovic, Szijjártó was asked to comment on a recent publication by the U.S. State Department, which criticized what it described as “irresponsible comments” from Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik, who was re-elected in November last year to serve a third term as president of the Republika Srpska, a majority-Serb entity of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Dodik had recently publicly threatened to secede the Republika Srpska from Bosnia-Herzegovina if its territorial integrity was at stake, and criticized a recent decision by Bosnia-Herzegovina’s Constitutional Court in early March to repeal a property law passed in the Republika Srpska a day before it came into force.

The State Department warned Dodik that his rhetoric was “irresponsible, dangerous, and detrimental to BiH’s progress towards further Euro-Atlantic integration,” and pledged the U.S.’ “rock solid” support to those wanting to “uphold BiH’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, and multi-ethnic character.”

“The United States of America is not going to give up on the people of Bosnia-Herzegovina,” the statement added.

The Hungarian foreign minister expressed his exasperation with a U.S. State Department that seems intent on involving itself in matters which simply do not concern it, especially when no one has even asked for its opinion.

“While we are on the subject of this report from the U.S. State Department, I have to say to you that I am appalled, and I am appalled again and again every year that the U.S. State Department has the courage to make such excoriating statements about the internal issues and situations of other countries,” Szijjártó told reporters.

“My question is, where do they come up with this? How do they come to this?

“I am not aware of the Foreign Ministry of Bosnia and Herzegovina let alone my own, writing reports on human rights or other matters in other countries. Why? Because, firstly, it is none of our concern, and secondly, it is none of our business. So, I find it outrageous and appalling that bureaucrats in Washington get together and make such statements about our countries based on all kinds of one-sided reports, often funded by the United States.

“So let me stop you there. How do they come to this? We leave it up to those who live in Bosnia-Herzegovina to decide who should govern in Bosnia-Herzegovina or how, and whether the people of Bosnia-Herzegovina are satisfied with the way things are,” he added.

The Hungarian foreign minister related his frustration with U.S. government interference in his own country’s affairs, interference which has been unwelcome and intense, particularly after the Democrats took the White House in 2020.

“As for the situation in Hungary, let Washington leave that to the Hungarian people, because the Hungarian people are mature enough to decide what is good for them and we will not allow anyone to question Hungarian democracy and the will of the Hungarian people expressed in democratic elections even if they happen to work in the State Department in Washington. Let’s really stop this right here and now,” Szijjártó told reporters.

The Hungarian minister lamented a wider issue of disrespect in politics in recent times, criticizing certain countries and institutions for their unnecessary and unwelcome interference.

“Mutual respect is not present in international politics these days. Some countries are very keen to interfere in other countries’ affairs. We always work with the leaders of Bosnia-Herzegovina who are elected here in Bosnia-Herzegovina. We never question the results of the elections here, we respect them, and we work with the people who are elected by the Bosnian people,” Szijjártó explained.

Returning to the topic of Milorad Dodik, Szijjártó insisted the Hungarian government will continue to work with the elected politician, insisting they have a “fair, honest cooperation based on mutual respect,” and urged governmental departments of other countries to do the same.

The Hungarian minister followed up his remarks with a Facebook post that read: “It is absolutely clear: those who think that anything can be solved in the Western Balkans with sanctions, they have no idea about the Western Balkans.

“We respect the decision of people living in Bosnia and Herzegovina, we respect the re-election of Bosnian Serbian leader Milorad Dodik, and we take the Western Balkans seriously, because the security of Europe is unimaginable without the stability of the region.”

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