France vs. America: A Hungarian View

Now it’s time to start to consider the Franco-American split through the eyes of European nations which did not share France’s pre-war view as to the advisability of an attack on Iraq. Let’s first try Hungary, supposedly a member of “New Europe” and among the countries in effect told to “shut up” by French President Jacques Chirac in the wake of signing a letter of support for the pre-war US stance against Iraq.

Coverage of this issue in Hungary has not been so extensive. In Magyar Hirlap‘s article Powell felülvizsgálná a francia viszonyt (“Powell would re-examine French relations”) the essential elements of the ongoing flap are presented to the Hungarian public: the interview on the Charlie Rose show in which Powell said there would have to be consequences for France, the Monday meeting of high-ranking officials to determine what those consequences could be, French foreign minister Dominique de Villepin’s response during his visit to Ankara, etc. In this newspaper’s view, France also offered two significant concessions in the dispute, in the form of the French UN ambassador’s proposal to suspend – but not definitively cancel – economic sanctions against Baghdad, and his second suggestion to wind-down the UN’s “oil-for-food” program. But Magyar Hirlap takes a novel view of the affair as an outgrowth of recent direct criticism of Colin Powell and the State Department he heads by former House speaker Newt Gingrich. Although the White House has stood by Powell against these attacks, they are said to be at least partly responsible for the administration’s new tough line against its international opponents.

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