Many years ago, back before 9-11 (possibly after the first WTC bombing), Congress started formulating anti-“terrorism” legislation. At the time certain conservatives expressed their concern that if the term “terrorism” entered the law books, then sooner or later the government would designate its political enemies as “terrorists” and prosecute them under the new statutes.
It seemed farfetched at the time, but as those early efforts eventually metastasized into the Patriot Act and the Department of Homeland Security, the Cassandras were proven right.
I was reminded of all this because of the recent crisis in Dutch-Hungarian diplomatic relations. Gajus Scheltema is the soon-to-be-former Dutch ambassador to Hungary. Just before his tenure in Budapest was scheduled to end, he gave an interview to the news portal 168 Óra Online — described by our translator as “a well-funded liberal site, The New York Times of Hungary” — that the Hungarian government found deeply offensive.
The ambassador’s remarks are referenced in the articles below. Many thanks to CrossWare for translating the relevant text from the interview:
|Q:||So far there is not any danger [as in]: terror attacks in many countries of the EU; the most recent one in Barcelona where a fanatic was running over people.|
|A:||A terror attack with a car can happen anywhere; most of them are in the Middle East. Then should we bomb the Middle East now? Here is a group [the Islamic State] whose members are losers under globalization, and they turned to extremism and fanatical religiosity because it gives them a sense of security. They create enemies using the same principles as the Hungarian government.
Below are two articles from The Hungary Journal about all the brouhaha. The first article gives a brief report about what happened:
Unprecedented spat with the Dutch ambassador — Hungary Journal
The Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Peter Szijjarto rejected “in the strongest possible terms” the “outrageous” remarks of the outgoing Dutch ambassador to Hungary.
The minister “especially rejected” that ambassador Gajus Scheltema equated the Hungarian government with terrorists regarding their motives or methods. “This is an accusation that nobody took the liberties to say, not even in 2015, which brought the most brutal debates”, he added. Szijjarto stressed that before his departure the Dutch ambassador is no longer welcome in the MFA, he won’t be received there on any level.
We are glad that the Dutch ambassador is going home, hopefully he does it as soon as possible. Nobody should take the liberties to say such things against Hungary and the Hungarian people
Scheltema told Hungarian weekly 168 Ora that Islamic extremists are creating enemies by the same principle the Hungarian government does. The outgoing ambassador heavily criticised the Hungarian government and spoke about the Dutch concerns regarding corruption in the country too.
It got worse after that: Hungary suspended top-level diplomatic relations with The Netherlands.
The follow-up article:
Hungary recalls its ambassador from the Netherlands — Hungary Journal
Following the remarks of the outgoing Dutch ambassador, Hungary recalls its ambassador from the Netherlands for an indefinite period of time, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Peter Szijjarto announced at a press conference on Friday morning.
The Dutch ambassador to Budapest made a statement which harms Hungary’s dignity and sovereignty, ignores and by far oversteps diplomatic traditions. It’s a rare event and its gravity calls for diplomatic steps
Peter Szijjarto said.
“The ambassadorial-level diplomatic relations between the two countries are suspended for an indefinite period of time”, the minister said, adding that on Monday the head of the Hungarian charge d’affaires is going to reject “in the strongest possible terms” the Dutch ambassador’s remarks and ask for an explanation at the Dutch foreign ministry. Szijjarto made it clear that the government wants to know if the Dutch ambassador was speaking in his personal capacity or had a “central mandate”. The minister stressed that a “closed-door” explanation won’t be enough.
Szijjarto added that if the Netherlands doesn’t apologise, the Hungarian government will make further political and diplomatic steps. “Hungary is not a punchbag”, he said, adding that “the policy of subservience might have been common in Hungary before, but now it’s not”.
If this is how the Dutch want to continue our bilateral relations, we will act accordingly
As we previously reported, Peter Szijjarto on Thursday “most firmly rejected” recent, “outrageous” remarks by Gajus Scheltema, who is soon to leave his post in Budapest. In an interview given to Hungarian weekly 168 Ora the outgoing diplomat said that Islamic extremism “applies the same principles to create an enemy as the Hungarian government”.
At his press conference, Szijjarto rejected the “accusations of comparing terrorists and the Hungarian government as to their motivation or methods”. He added that the ambassador was no longer welcome “at any level of the foreign ministry”.
We are glad that the Dutch ambassador is leaving and he will hopefully do that soon. Nobody should be allowed to make such remarks against Hungary or the Hungarian people
the foreign minister added.
Following our article, Dutch politician Geert Wilders called the Dutch ambassador “an idiot”.
Mr. Wilders and the PVV also confronted Foreign Minister Bert Koenders with what Ambassador Scheltema said, posing questions to Mr. Koenders in the Dutch parliament:
Parliamentary questions by PVV members De Roon and Wilders to the Minister of Foreign Affairs concerning the disgusting remarks of the Dutch ambassador to Hungary:
1. Are you aware of the disgusting remarks of the Dutch ambassador to Hungary? 2. What right does the leaving ambassador have to reprimand the Hungarian government, who — unlike the Dutch government — take action against problems that destabilize society, such as mass immigration and Islamization. Was the ambassador speaking on behalf of the Dutch government? 3. Do you also find it repulsive and despicable that this ambassador equates the policies of the Hungarian government with Islamic terrorists who kill innocent people with cars and bombs? If not, why not? 4. Do you agree that this ambassador is in no position to represent our country abroad? 5. Are you willing to offer an apology to the Hungarian government for the despicable statements of this deranged ambassador? If not, why not?