'Like me, a little controversial': Trump praises Hungary's anti-immigration PM Orban

15 May, 2019, 15:02 | Author: Wade Massey
  • Viktor Orban

Today Hungary's prime minister got something he's long sought, a warm welcome at the White House.

Trump is often accused of cozying up to autocratic leaders. President Donald Trump speaks about a state of emergency from the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, D.C., February 15, 2019. "He's a respected man".

When a reporter asked Trump about "democratic backsliding" in Hungary, where Orban has imposed restrictions on the press and on universities, Trump praised Orban as "tough". It will help preserve over one million cultural artifacts, while the building itself makes Budapest even more lovely, more modern and green, according to Orban.

But Trump didn't mention any US concerns about Orban's administration to reporters.

MARTA PARDAVI: We've had clients in the past few years who've been fired from their jobs for simply expressing a political opinion that was not supportive of the current government.

"Pardavi says the Orban government has been passing laws that have no place in a democracy". Hungary is a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally.

He clashed with the administration of former U.S. President Barack Obama, a Democrat, over what critics said was an erosion of democratic values by his government. Trump went on to warmly praise the Hungarian leader: "He's a respected man".

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Like Trump, right-wing Orban has taken a hard line against migration. His visit Monday comes only after Trump met with the leaders of the other three former communist states in the Visegrad region - Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. In recent years, Hungary and the United States have had occasional disagreements, for example at the end of 2018 when Hungary handed over two Russian arms dealers, wanted by the USA, to Russia.

Hungary has been in talks about purchasing military equipment from a USA supplier.

In this March 15, 2018 photo, people taking part in a march against Prime Minister Viktor Orban flash the lights of their mobile phones in Budapest, Hungary.

In a letter ahead of the visit, several Democratic lawmakers said Trump should postpone their meeting until Orban "returns his country to the path of democracy and respect for human rights".

Orban has overseen the re-writing of Hungary's constitution to strengthen his control over parliament and an extensive re-design of the country's electoral map to favour his conservative Fidesz party.

KELEMEN: Berschinski says Trump's praise for right-wing authoritarians undercuts USA efforts to promote human rights in places like Venezuela. This can be seen in the fact that prominent Hungarian opposition politician Peter Marki-Zay was received at the US State Department on the same day.

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