“That’s how friends like the U.S. help the world.” – Op-ed by Ambassador Cornstein in HVG

May 22, 2020

We live in unprecedented times.  In a few short months, much of what we had thought of as normal has changed dramatically.  One thing that should not change in times of crisis, however, is your friends.  As a NATO Ally, the United States stands as strongly as ever with Hungary. I am proud of how much my country is doing, even in the face of heartbreaking losses at home.

Amidst grief in America and Europe, we are making tremendous strides against this invisible enemy.  We’ve shared best practices with our Transatlantic partners on how free and open societies can combat the pandemic’s effects.  We have ensured wide distribution of information to prevent loss of life.  We have overcome closed borders and a reduction in commercial flights to help several hundred of each other’s citizens return home to their families and loved ones — including a flight between our two countries just last week.  And we have put our great military on the front lines, too.  Papa’s Heavy Airlift Wing, a twelve country military airlift organization including United States and Hungary, has brought in supplies for Hungarians, and our troops are working closely with NATO allies to move equipment to Europe from as far away as South Korea.

As in past health crises, the U.S. government is leading the world’s humanitarian and health response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Chinese communist party withheld critical information for six weeks following the initial outbreak in Wuhan.  Since then the U.S. government has committed ​more than $1 billion in ​State Department and USAID emergency health, humanitarian, and economic assistance to help more than 120 countries.  This is in addition to the funding we provide to multilateral and non-governmental organizations.  Every day Americans give even more through corporate, charitable and individual donations. Altogether, this “All of America” effort has already provided more than $5 billion to the global COVID-19 response. ​As of late April, American contributions accounted for nearly 60% of the total global effort.  These funds support partner countries to prevent and control infection, conduct health screenings, communicate risks to citizens, and coordinate response efforts.

Our contribution to the global fight against COVID-19, however, is more than just the money and supplies. The U.S. government worked with publishers and major technology companies to release — free of charge — the world’s largest collection of scientific articles on coronavirus. Experts worldwide have downloaded the dataset more than 54,000 times.  They also have access to more than 1,000 artificial intelligence tools to accelerate research into vaccines, therapeutics, and other critical scientific questions.

We do this — and more — proudly, transparently, and together.  We do it because this is how a free, open society behaves.   Free nations produce prosperity, unmatched generosity, and aid that truly helps people survive and thrive.

When this crisis ends, the world will consider how the pandemic came to this point: who withheld information, who downplayed the actual infection and mortality numbers, who hoarded essential medical supplies and then sold them for a huge profit.  The world should then insist on accountability and do everything possible to prevent this from happening again.  The United States has long stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Hungary, and we can rely on each other fully through any crisis. Together, we will overcome this global pandemic. We will safely re-open our linked economies and continue to build an even stronger future together as friends and allies committed to the same values of freedom, democracy, and prosperity.