Hungarian Prime Minister's White House Visit Draws Criticism


Senior Republican and Democratic members of the U.S. Congress told Trump in a letter on Friday they were concerned about Hungary's "downward democratic trajectory" and its close relationship with Russian Federation. "So why was Hungary's far-right prime minister Viktor Orbán meeting with President Donald Trump in the Oval Office on Monday?" writes CNN.

The identity of a nation and a civilization is mostly reflected by and centered on culture, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said here on Tuesday during the inauguration of the National Museum Restoration and Storage Centre.

He has also advocated restricting immigration to ensure Hungary remains a racially and culturally homogenous society.

Steve Bannon, the former Trump adviser seeking to forge a nationalist alliance across Europe, called him "Trump before Trump".

Trump also announced Monday that he will be meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a gathering of the leaders of the Group of 20 major economies in Osaka, Japan next month - the pair's first face-to-face since the Mueller report's release.

Asked about democratic backsliding in Hungary, Trump called Orban "a tough man", but added that he's "a respected man", too. Probably, like me, a little bit controversial, but that's okay.

Trump's expressed belief that Orban is "respected all over Europe" comes days after one of Trump's top aides noted that Orban's authoritarianism has been unpopular among other European leaders.

While Trump has clashed with traditional United States allies like Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau and German chancellor Angela Merkel, he has shown a notable affinity for "strongman" leaders including Russia's Vladimir Putin, Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines, North Korea's Kim Jong-un and China's Xi Jinping. "Under Orban, the election process has become less competitive and the judiciary is increasingly controlled by the state".

"Pardavi says the Orban government has been passing laws that have no place in a democracy".

Orban is not the only hard-liner Trump has engaged with. Last night, he was rewarded finally by the president with a White House reception.

The timing of the meeting, less than two weeks ahead of European elections in which Orban and his Fidesz party are becoming a thorny issue, raised some eyebrows in Europe.

The one thing that I would say as a caveat is, a lot of Europeans aren't going to like this meeting.

"Well, I never did use [it]", the president replied, alluding to Russia's meddling in the 2016 campaign.

In this April 7, 2018 photo, a man walks by an anti-migration billboard from the Hungarian government, on a street in Budapest.