Legislative Trauma

The Dutch Ambassador to Hungary: The Anti-LGBTQ-law Causes Anguish in Hungarian Families

11 August 2021

A law that conflates paedophilia and LGBTI issues is harmful, says Dutch ambassador René van Hell, who will leave Hungary at the end of August. He says that Hungarian politics is also a topic for the Dutch press, and although there are often disputes between the two countries, environmental protection is a common bond between the Netherlands and Hungary. Van Hell had no regrets about coming to Budapest as an ambassador and even traversed the country left and right, south and north, east and west.

Telex’s Csongor Körömi interviewed Ambassador René van Hell on his time in the country, covering issues such as the anti-LGBTI+ law as well as areas where the two countries have common goals. René van Hell was born in Amsterdam in 1964 and graduated from the University of Amsterdam in 1988. Previously he worked as an advisor in several ministries, and from 2004, he was Head of Economic Division at the Dutch Embassy in Washington. From 2012, he was Director of International Enterprise at the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and in 2017 he arrived in Budapest as Dutch Ambassador. Rene Van Hell will move back to the Netherlands at the end of August and will be succeeded in Hungary by Désirée Bonis, who has previously served as Dutch ambassador to Syria and Morocco and will take over the embassy in September.

Csongor Körömi: Last year on the 100th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Netherlands and Hungary, you said in a video message that you chose Hungary, that you wanted to be an ambassador here. In spite of the last four years, do you still think it was the right decision?

René van Hell: Oh absolutely, for all the reasons that I applied for this job. I very much like working in the context of the European Union and I visited Hungary when I was young. I went with my parents to Balaton — it was in the south, I think it was Balatonlelle. And of course, we saw other cities, and of course, a few times Budapest, so that sort of created my curiosity. Hungary is in the centre of Europe, so I really was and am happy about my choice.

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Csongor Körömi

Journalist at Telex.hu

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