Ambassador Cornstein told the assembly in the Residence garden: “On behalf of the President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, who I represent here today, and the other 320 million Americans, may I welcome you to our little birthday party this afternoon. We appreciate all of you being here.

“I want to welcome all the Ministers and Hungarian dignitaries that are here, and I especially would like to welcome our special guest, a Minister [Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó] who I’ve had the pleasure now of meeting a couple of times. And it was one hour after I was sworn in as Ambassador that we had a meeting with Secretary [of State Michael] Pompeo, the Minister and myself, and it was a very good meeting, I believe.

“We met again that evening at an event that was at the Israeli embassy. An event that was hosted by the Hungarian and Israeli embassy, so we had a further dialogue. And tonight he’s been gracious enough to invite us to dinner, so I formally accept the invitation here for dinner. So we welcome you today.

“If I might just brag for just a couple of seconds. I think it’s really remarkable in the short period of time, the ten days that we’ve been here, that we managed to invite and meet about a thousand of our closest friends to our party. I can promise you one thing, and that is one year from today we’ll know all of you a lot better than we know you today.

“This is a very, very important day for every American. It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor, if you’re white, brown, black. It doesn’t matter if you are a first-year immigrant into our country or if you’re a fourth generation. This is a day that we celebrate our freedom and it’s very, very important. The rule of law that we have, the freedom of the press, the freedom of religion, the freedom of speech. This is all so, so important to us.

“And it’s not just words. I come from the business world, and a lot of times we say that words are fine, but actions really prove something. And I believe that in this brief 242 years that we’ve had, we’ve shown through action how important these freedoms are to us. We fought a Civil War for the freedom of all rights of men to be free and not to be slaves. We fought in World War I, World War II, the Korean War and too many wars in the Middle East just to show how important democracy is to us.

“So I thank you all for being here today. It’s very, very important to me and to all Americans what this day represents.”

The ambassador said he would like to call out a couple of people for thanks. “First of all this marvellous band, the Hungarian Air Force Band [for] a wonderful job. Excellent, excellent job.

# Ambassador Cornstein with the Hungarian Air Force Band

“I really appreciate everyone that is in the armed forces of the United States that serve our country. But I have to admit, I have a little small place in my heart that’s dedicated to the Marines. I’m on the Board of the Marine Corps Law Enforcement Foundation. So I thank them for their service and all people that serve in our country to protect and defend us.

“I can’t thank all of you for being here enough. It means a great deal to me. I want to also thank our staff for putting this together … One other person in our embassy, it was his birthday yesterday and I told him how much I really didn’t like him. The reason I don’t like [Chargé d'affaires] Dave Kostelancik is that everybody I’ve met just thinks so much of him, and I thank you, Dave, for the work you did in watching the store here for the past year and a half, and doing a wonderful, wonderful job.

“So again, thank you all. And it is now my distinct honour and really a pleasure to introduce the Foreign Minister and the Minister of Trade and somebody that I know that we are going to work together to make this relationship the best relationship that it has ever, ever been, and I think we’re off to a wonderful start. So Minister Szijjártó, it’s all yours. Thank you.”

Szijjártó told the Independence Day garden party that bilateral relations between Hungary and the United States could be expected to undergo a genuine revival in the coming period. Hungarians, just like the American people, are real freedom fighters; they both value freedom and independence, causes they had to fight so many times in history, the minister said.

Speaking about the present, Szijjártó noted a similarity in the approach of the international press towards the two countries' governments, saying that Hungary "will never join the choir of those Europeans" who he said had "made it a routine" to criticise the US. The Hungarian government will continue to have a balanced approach towards any decisions taken by the US government concerning foreign and domestic affairs, he said.

The minister said he fully understood US President Trump's position on the protection of America's borders, adding that he agreed with the principle that it is a country's sovereign right to decide whom it allows to enter its territory. On the topic of bilateral business relations, Szijjártó noted that the US is the most important market for Hungary's exports outside Europe. The 1700 US companies doing business in Hungary employ more than 100,000 people, he said.

In the area of military relations, Szijjártó highlighted Hungary's support to Washington in the form of troops serving in the international coalition fighting against the Islamic State terrorist group, as well as on missions in Afghanistan and the western Balkans.


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