Dear Secretary of State, Mrs. Clinton,
The Hungarian Association wishes to thank you for expressing your support in your letter written on December 23, 2011, to Viktor Orbán, the Prime Minister of Hungary.
The Board of Directors of the Hungarian Association as well as its Members are highly encouraged by the changes in Hungary's Constitution, as brought forth by Viktor Orban and the current government. We feel the changes continue to support individual human rights, democracy and its ideals. Your above mentioned letter to Prime Minister Orbán also addresses a number of issues, ranging from democracy, to concerns regarding human rights. Please allow the Hungarian Association to address some of your concerns, as stated in your letter, because we feel that some rectifications are in order.
The Hungarian Association is aware that the US State Department has a comprehensive information gathering system, which, at least in part, is based on media coverage. But what we read as media coverage is rarely impartial journalism, as it is often incomplete, one sided and leaning to the left. We do find it very discouraging to read and hear negative media coverage of issues in Hungary. Your letter has brought to the forefront how much power negative media reports have. With that said, we are concerned that the encouragement you express in your letter may have been lost in the voicing of certain perceived negative issues. We are also concerned that this may further lead to the marginalization of the US in the eyes of the Hungarian nation.
The Hungarian Association was troubled by the concern you voiced over the Law of the Churches. However, we believe that some of the views, which you expressed in your letter, may stem from misinformation. The Hungarian Constitution clearly states that every individual has a choice to practice the religion of his or her choice, or not practice at all. The matter of recognizing historical churches was to standardize the system of state subsidies and tax benefits. This is not meant to call into question any issues of religious freedom as noted in your letter.
Our organization was further dismayed to read of the grievance regarding the non-renewal of a popular talk radio station license. It is our understanding that it was not the license that was rescinded but rather the station lost the band on which they broadcast due to the 10-year contract bidding process. In this free market system, another radio station was able to secure the 10-year contract band. This popular station displaced another station years back in the same bidding process. Being a free market system, the station is free to bid on another band, using the Hungarian democratic process.
We feel that America is a very important force in world politics. As Hungarian Americans, we have always been proud to serve America. But at the same time, we also have cultural roots tying us to Hungary. The Hungarian Association has been involved with supporting Hungarian American culture for the last 50 years. After WWII, we strove to create a home away from home for Hungarian immigrants, offering literary and cultural programs and opportunities for discussion. Our organization took an active role in voicing human rights concerns during the Communist era, not just for Hungarians living in Hungary, but also for those living as minorities beyond Hungary's borders in neighboring countries of the Carpathian basin. With the sweeping political changes of 1990, we strove to get to know the new Hungarian nation and its government. Our organization invited many folk artists, authors, religious leaders, professors and politicians to come from the new Hungary to present lectures at our organization's annual Congress. Slowly, a picture emerged of a nation struggling with the difficulties of a "bloodless" revolution. We learned there had been changes. However, many of the Communist leaders had stayed in positions of wealth and power, creating some impediments to progress.
Secretary Clinton, we sincerely thank you for your support of democratic reforms in Hungary, but we also urge you to encourage impartial reporting on Hungary's democratic reforms, and thus increase the dialogue with this nation which is clearly embracing democracy and human rights.