They want Trump to talk about issues like Hungary’s “downward democratic trajectory”, Orbán’s anti-Semitic and xenophobic comments, or the country’s relationship with Russia with the Hungarian PM.
“Downward trajectory” in democracy
As we wrote before, the official announcement Átlátszó reported first about a possible Trump-Orbán meeting in May. Interestingly, the Hungarian premier was the first European leader who openly declared his support towards Trump in the 2016 presidential election campaign; however, he did not have the chance to meet the American president in person yet. But at the end of 2017, there was a change in the diplomacy of Trump administration which encompassed a
more forgiving attitude in the case of Hungary
And though there are still considerable problems in the bilateral relationship of the two countries and therefore, there is little chance for Trump to come to Budapest, but since Washington thinks it abandoned Central-Europe in the last decade they would like to strengthen ties with a Trump-Orbán summit.
This will happen tomorrow, but both Senior Republican and Democratic members of the U.S. Congress told President Donald Trump on Friday they were concerned about
Hungary’s “downward democratic trajectory”
Russian bank and arms dealer
Republican Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jim Risch and Bob Menendez, the panel’s top Democrat were complaining about the erosion of the democracy in Hungary in recent years, a less competitive election system and a judiciary increasingly controlled by the state.
Several Democratic members of the House of Representatives, led by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel,
called on Trump to cancel his meeting
with Orbán, citing similar concerns and adding his anti-Semitic and xenophobic comments.
The senators also mentioned their concerns about the close relationship between Hungary, a NATO partner, and Russia. They said Hungary has failed to diversify its energy resources from Moscow and allowed Russia to exploit its visa system to evade U.S. sanctions. Furthermore, they called the headquarters of the relocation of the International Investment Bank (IIB) from Moscow to Budapest “an exercise in Russian power projection.” Moreover, they said it was disturbing that Hungary rejected a U.S. extradition request for two arms dealers and instead sent them “to their freedom in Moscow.”
Clashes over Ukraine?
The senators want Trump to raise the issues mentioned above in his meeting with the Hungarian premier, but White House senior administration official told reporters that the Trump administration would only like to re-engage in Central and Eastern Europe, encourage cooperation after years of abandonment, therefore,
such questions are unlikely to be raised.
Interestingly, the official also told that it will be one of the meeting’s purpose to encourage Hungary’s collaboration with neighbours like Ukraine. This is interesting because Hungary now blocks all NATO-Ukraine talks because of, for example, the Ukrainian language law eliminating all of the minorities’ rights – including Hungarians living in Subcarpathia – to the use of their own language.
In fact, Reuters introduced Orbán in its report as a nationalist leader who has often had conflicts with the European Union over his anti-immigration campaigns and judicial reforms. He clashed with the administration of then-U.S. President Barack Obama, a Democrat, over what critics said was an erosion of democratic values by his government.
Péter Szijjártó, Hungary’s foreign minister said on public radio before that the meeting between PM Viktor Orbán and United States President Donald Trump will provide an excellent opportunity to coordinate the two countries’ stand on and
steps against migration in international forums,
as well as to discuss bilateral political, economic and defence cooperation.