Published: Wed, May 15, 2019

Trump praises Hungary's Orban for keeping country 'safe'

Trump praises Hungary's Orban for keeping country 'safe'

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. Trump said it was a great honor to receive Orban, that the Hungarian prime minister was doing a "good job", that he has kept his country safe and was therefore "highly respected throughout Europe".

United States ties with Budapest were chilly under Trump's predecessor Barack Obama, who often chided Orban for cracking down on civil liberties and freedom of the press in Hungary. Orban has said he hopes he and Trump can coordinate that stance into a global alliance.

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.

Amnesty International has condemned Hungary for its "systematic crackdown on the rights of refugees and migrants" in recent years.

Welcoming the right-wing Hungarian leader for a meeting in the Oval Office, Trump lauded him for being tough on immigration, a policy area in which the two leaders have similar visions.

Trump plans to meet with Putin and Xi on the sidelines of the G20 meeting in Japan in June.

Trump projected an air of kinship with Orban.

"Respected all over Europe", Trump said, adding: "Probably like me a little bit controversial, but that's okay".

Critics of Orban say he peddles anti-Semitic tropes in his attacks on George Soros, the Hungarian Jewish billionaire and liberal donor, and that his government has distorted Holocaust history by seeking to shift full blame for the fate of Hungarian Jews on Germany. Sens. James Risch, R-Idaho, and Bob Menendez, D-N.J., said that under Orban, elections have become less competitive, the judiciary is increasingly controlled by the state and press freedom has declined.

Hungary's foreign minister told state radio on Sunday that an anti-migration alliance was being formed and noted that Hungary and the U.S. were among a handful of countries that previous year opposed a United Nations migration pact.

Orban has been in office since 2010 but never had a White House meeting with President Barack Obama.

"Trump's meeting with Orban will also have the effect of boosting the illiberal, pro-Russian European far right over the mainstream, pro-American centre-right".

While special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation didn't establish a criminal conspiracy between Russia and Trump's campaign, Trump repeatedly praised WikiLeaks in 2016 and celebrated information exposed by Russian hackers on the campaign trail. "All I need is the opponents that I'm looking at".

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