[From:] ORBÁN Viktor [To:] The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton
Hillary Rodham Clinton
United States of America
Secretary of State
Budapest, 6th January 2012
Dear Secretary Clinton,
I received your letter sent in the days before Christmas, in which you followed up on our conversation during your visit to Hungary last summer. I appreciate your words regarding the close alliance between our nations. Indeed, speaking on behalf of my government and the Hungarian armed forces abroad, it is our honor to further the perseverance of our shared values, and to serve the cause of peace, democracy, and the rule of law shoulder to shoulder with our friends and allies both in Europe and across the seas, from Afghanistan to North Africa, from the Middle East to the Balkans.
We have recently celebrated the anniversary of the official establishment of diplomatic relations between our countries, even though the sympathy and affinity shared by our nations reaches back to the dawn of American independence. In this relationship a dividing line was the dissolution of the Soviet Union 20 years ago. l believe this historical event could not have come true without the unquenchable thirst for freedom of Central European nations, a struggle in which we have found the United States to be our unwavering partner. Lamentably Hungary failed until now to conclude the post-communist era. This term is to describe a political order without a new constitution and a truly free, competition based market economy. In the last 20 years Hungary – as the only post-communist Central European country – failed to introduce a new constitution, my government however was courageous enough to adopt a new Fundamental Law. The economy was dominated by old relationships and monopolies formed during the communist era; my government is devoted to transform it. The word ‘change’ can win elections but the actual transformation of old systems is bound to hurt several interests.
‘Two heads are better than one’ as the saying states. That is why we are in constant dialogue and close cooperation with all interested parties, especially the European Commission, religious groups and constituents, while continuously seeking consultations with opposition parties as well. The Venice Commission welcomed ‘the fact that this new constitution establishes a constitutional order based on democracy, the rule of law and the protection of fundamental rights as underlying principles’ and noted that ‘constitutions of other European States, such as Poland, Finland, Switzerland or Austria, have been used as a source of inspiration.’
In fact the cardinal laws and other significant pieces of legislation have been considerably impacted by these consultations. The new Media Law has been amended according to the recommendations of the European Commission in March, after which the legislation has been confirmed by the EC stating that they are in accordance with European norms and standards. The Media Law entered into force a year ago and looking back we can see that this piece of legislation did not realize the fears that accompanied its signing into law: the spectrum of media services in Hungary is as diverse as ever before. Without going into specific details l would like to dispel your doubts regarding the frequency-tender of the talk radio you mentioned. Although the Media Authority works independently from the government in Hungary, I requested information about the decision of the authority upon receiving your letter. On the basis of this, let me inform you that the competition has been conducted with full transparency, and the Media Authority has done its utmost in order to preserve this important news outlet: the applicant has received full marks on subjective criteria where deliberation was possible, but the applicant has not made a competitive financial offer. Therefore the Media Authority could not have declared the applicant you have mentioned winner without violating the theory and the practice of free market competition.
Accordingly, the former Law on Religious Organizations supposed to come into effect 1st January 2012 has been repealed by the parliamentary majority. The new text passed by the Parliament December 30, 2011 incorporates the opinion and concerns by the religious groups. Let me remind you nonetheless that freedom of religion in Hungary is guaranteed in the new Fundamental Law. The new law on religion was however a necessary step to curb the wide-spread abuse of the old system of church subsidies and registration. Out of the 350 or so entities registered, many have been in the business of helping themselves, not those in need of spiritual care. I agree that freedom of religion is a basic human right and this new law does nothing to diminish it. No subordinate law can therefore curb the fundamental right of individuals and communities to present, practice, or spread their beliefs. Accordingly the new law on religious organizations – just as the recently repealed law – will not have the power to recognize or deny recognition of religions. All religious groups – including those that do not wish to seek official recognition – are welcome, and will continue to be welcome to practice their beliefs, individually and collectively, openly or discretely. The new law sets a transitional period for all denominations during which they can decide whether to apply for a sustained status or continue their activities without it.
Parliamentary system – that l personally have been fighting for for decades against opponents coming from left or right – continues to be morally valued by the Fidesz-KDNP majority and the new constitutional system naturally includes this.
l understand that sometimes the speed with which work is being clone in the National Assembly surprises spectators. However in the current economic climate where Europe – and Hungary as a part of Europe – faces tremendous pressure by the markets to find swift solutions to its financial woes, I believe that the cost of hesitation is potentially greater than the risks of prompt action.
You can be sure that the Fidesz-KDNP government and l personally will continue to be open and attentive to all opinion, both internal and foreign. In this spirit several of my cabinet members and I myself have met with Ambassador Eleni Tsakopoulos Konualakis in Budapest, to provide interpretations of our work that may not necessarily reach Washington.
I encourage all friends and allies to have faith in the Hungarian people.
Wishing you a peaceful and prosperous New Year.