Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s meeting with US President Donald Trump in Washington DC
Donald Trump warmly welcomed Viktor Orban to the White House on Monday, saying the Hungarian leader was "respected all over Europe." Trump praised Orban for protecting Christians by saying "And you have been great with respect to Christian communities. You have really put a block up, and we appreciate that very much."
Sitting alongside Orbán in the Oval Office, Trump declared it a “great honour” to host Mr Orbán, who he claimed was “highly respected all over Europe”, particularly for his anti-immigration policies.
“You’re respected all over Europe. Probably, like me, a little bit controversial, but that’s OK. You’ve done a good job and you’ve kept your country safe.” Trump said.
The Hungarian prime minister said his government and the Trump administration were aligned on some global issues. He emphasised:
“I would like to express that we are proud to stand together with United States on fighting against illegal migration, on terrorism, and to protect and help Christian communities all around the world.”
“You have been great with respect to Christian communities, you have really put a block up. And we appreciate that very much” – Donald Trump answered as an apparent reference to the barrier the government has erected along Hungary’s border with Serbia and Croatia.
The White House said Mr Orbán’s visit was aimed and deepening US “re-engagement” in central Europe, and negotiating trade in arms and energy.
Viktor Orbán’s hardline stance against illegal immigration has attracted criticism from other European leaders, but appeared to find a more sympathetic audience in the Trump administration.
In 2015, the Orbán Government erected a razor-wire fence the length of Hungary’s southern border to prevent illegal migrants, most of whom travelled from Muslim countries, entering Hungary and the European Union from Serbia.
According to the American president: “People have a lot of respect for this prime minister, he’s a respected man. He’s done the right thing, according to many people, on immigration.”
Viktor Orbán has had to miss out on high-level contacts with the US for many years. His last visit to the White House was in 1998 to see Bill Clinton, while Mike Pompeo’s visit to Budapest in February was the first visit by a serving secretary of state to Hungary since 2011.
Zsolt Németh, chair of the foreign affairs committee in the Hungarian parliament and a long-standing political ally of Orbán, said in an interview in Budapest on Monday that under the Obama administration, senior officials “thought the job of the American state department was to educate Europe”.
He said: “This educative approach characteristic to the Obama administration is over.”