Laudation by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán at the presentation of the Hungarian Order of Merit to US Ambassador to Hungary David B. Cornstein
27 October 2020, Budapest

Dear David, Your Excellency,

In Hungary people are always curious to know what the US Ambassador is doing, where they’re going and who they’re meeting. Therefore the departure of a US ambassador is accompanied by a minor earthquake. Before the conveyor belts in the fake news factories were turned on, however, the Ambassador revealed the truth: he wants to go home to his grandchild. This is an attitude I can understand. A Hungarian saying has it that the English leave without farewells, while Hungarians bid farewell and then stay. Americans could be somewhere between the two. Therefore, before he leaves us, we invited our American friend here to thank him for the work he has done here in Hungary and for us Hungarians, which has resulted in Hungarian-US relations echoing their former glory.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It’s a rare gift when as an adult one finds a friend; but it’s even rarer when a country finds a friend in someone. It is this rare gift that has been granted us by Providence and by President Donald Trump. In just over two years, the Ambassador has succeeded in rebuilding Hungarian-US relations. A few years ago we would hardly have believed that there would be wide-ranging cooperation between Hungary and the United States in diplomatic and foreign affairs. We wouldn’t have believed that the United States would help Hungary as a friend, and that Hungary, too, would act in international politics as a friend of the United States. In order to preserve our sense of reality, let me just recall this joke from my childhood: “As the mouse said to the elephant, ‘Can you hear our feet pounding the ground?’” Everything changed with the election of President Trump, and then your arrival here. We have seen openness, sincerity and friendliness from the United States.

Dear David,

So it’s no surprise that we’re rooting for another victory for the President. And we send our congratulations on the election of Amy Coney Barrett. Not in living memory has the Supreme Court had such a strong majority representing traditional American values. I’m convinced that with this President Trump has saved conservative America, and has joined the ranks of the greatest US presidents. In the election we wish him – and ourselves – great success.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It’s long been known that in difficult moments the people who can fix things are experienced, highly patriotic, hard-bitten businesspeople. This is just what Hungarian-US relations needed: an ambassador who has the courage to push aside those who, for whatever reason, have an interest in the existence of tension between the United States and Hungary. This is what you did, and for that we’re grateful to you. An ambassador who knows us well. He understands what we Hungarians think about Central Europe and why we think it, what we think about the European Union and why we think it, and what we think about the United States and why we think it. And even more important than this, he also understands how this system – that to an outsider might appear complicated – falls into place in our heads and in our lives. An ambassador who understands how Hungarians’ minds work, and how to find the key to their hearts. Dear David, we know that you have Hungarian ancestry. We now think of you as an honorary Hungarian not because of this, however, but because you have treated us fairly and have grown to love Hungary. Therefore this country has also embraced you as one of us.

Your Excellency,

Please accept from us this decoration in recognition of the outstanding work you have undertaken in strengthening Hungarian-US diplomatic, economic and trade relations. Please allow me to wish you, on behalf of the Hungarian people, God’s blessing, good health and many happy moments with your family, as well as every success in your future career.

God bless you, Your Excellency!