Christopher Adam 0

Protest divisive party politics at the Embassy of Hungary in Ottawa!

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Ambassador László Pordány has represented Hungary in Ottawa since January 2011. Ever since his appointment as ambassador, Mr. Pordány has repeatedly brought shame to democratically-minded Hungarians by whitewashing far right politics in Hungary, breaking bread with antisemites and promoting blatantly partisan attacks against Canadian citizens who dare express criticism of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán's government.

In June 2011, shortly after arriving in Canada, Mr. Pordány referred to Hungarian Canadians as being "like-minded" ("egyívású") in their right-wing political beliefs. But when he realized that the mere existence of organizations like the Canadian Hungarian Journal and the Canadian Hungarian Democratic Charter demonstrated that Hungarians in Canada were much more politically and ideologically diverse--and that many had deep reservations about the authoritarian practices of his government--Mr. Pordány changed strategies and used his 2012 New Year's address to encourage pro-government Hungarian Canadians to wage a battle against "antinational forces" in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver. Mr. Pordány's address was aired on CHIN Radio in Ottawa and the full text version continues to appear on the Embassy's website. By labelling Canadian Hungarian critics of the Orbán government as antipatriotic and--ultimately--as treasonous, Mr. Pordány has helped to politically divide Canadian families and communities and he has played a key role radicalizing public sentiment within the diaspora against all who express concern about the authoritarian practices of the Hungarian government. Since 2011, the divisive politics of the Embassy of Hungary has ensured that dissent among Hungarian Canadians is met with ostracization, as well as verbal tarring and feathering.

The dismantling of the country's generally bipartisan civil service in Hungary since Prime Minister Viktor Orbán returned to power has been most acutely felt in Canada, thanks to the activities of the embassy in Ottawa. András Göllner, Founder and International Spokesperson of the Canadian Hungarian Democratic Charter, recently noted: "Orban broke with a tradition that is sacrosanct in most western democracies – namely, the maintenance of a bi-partisan public service, and especially, a bi-partisan foreign representation. The mission of the Ottawa Embassy, with Mr. Pordány at the helm, and Orban’s entire foreign Ministry, has been re-designed. It’s character is utterly contrary to the behavior of diplomatic missions within the North Atlantic community of nations."

The Embassy's connections with antisemites and racists, as well as the blatant whitewashing of far-right extremism in Hungary has been a particularly troubling element of Mr. Pordány's tenure as ambassador. In February 2012, Mr- Pordány gave an interview to Canadian television network SUN TV, in which he explained to the host that Jobbik--the Party know for its blatant antisemitism and anti-roma rhetoric, and for a highly inflammatory proposal last year, which called for the mandatory registration of Hungarians of Jewish descent--is neither militant, nor far-right, but is simply somewhat more "radical" than Mr. Orbán's government.

In April 2012, Mr. Pordány met with a blatant antisemite at a Hungarian community event in Toronto and encouraged him to send the embassy a letter expressing his concern about Canadian author Anna Porter's interview on the weekly Hungarian broadcast and about an earlier article she had written for Macleans, which was critical of the Orbán government. The letter-writer referred to Ms. Porter as a "treasonous Jew," in the first line of his letter to Mr. Pordány. The ambassador's secretary then responded to the letter writer by thanking him for his note and reassuring him that the Hungarian embassy is doing all it can to counter "anti-Hungarian" attacks. It was only after the embassy's response appeared in the Canadian Hungarian Journal (Kanadai Magyar Hirlap) that Mr. Pordány apologized for not having noticed the antisemitic comment in the first line of the letter. He indicated that he had not read the note carefully.

The Embassy of Hungary in Ottawa's careless, insensitive and repulsive decision to break bread with antisemities, the ambassador's attempted whitewashing of a fascistic party in Hungary and the mission's persistent fanning of the flames of hatred in the Hungarian community against all those who are opposed to the politics of the Hungarian right is entirely unbecoming behaviour from diplomats of a European Union and NATO member state. The activities of the Embassy of Hungary in Ottawa are also a disservice to Hungary's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the country's foreign policy interests and objectives.

The signatories of this petition call for an end to blatant party politics at the Embassy of Hungary in Ottawa, an end to the verbal lynching of Canadian citizens and others who express dissent. Mr. Pordány and all those diplomats who share his apparent disdain for a party-politically neutral civil service and diplomatic corps have no place in Hungary's missions abroad.


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Canadian Hungarian Journal / Kanadai Magyar Hírlap


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