Wednesday

17th Jan 2018

Hungarian PM backs Trump, amid anti-EU rhetoric

  • Trump criticised the EU, suggested that the US will not protect its allies within Nato and might leave the WTO (Photo: Matt Johnson)

Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban has come out as the first EU leader to support US presidential candidate Donald Trump, citing his proposals on security and immigration.

“I’m not part of Donald Trump’s campaign. I’d never have thought it would occur to me that [Trump] would be the best choice for Europe and for Hungary”, Orban said in a speech at a university fair in Baile Tusnad, in Romania, on Saturday (23 July).

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“But I listened to the candidate and I must tell you he made three proposals to combat terrorism. As a European, I could have hardly articulated better what Europe needs.”

Orban said he agreed with Trump on boosting intelligence gathering to stop radical Islam.

He said Trump was right to promise no more “regime change” overseas, with both men blaming Western action for creating instability in Libya, Egypt and Syria,

“This valiant American presidential candidate called for an end to the policy of exporting democracy, I could not have said it better myself," Orban said.

Trump has also called for a wall to be built on the US border with Mexico to stop irregular immigration, while Orban built a 175 km border fence along its southern frontier last year.

The controversial Republican Party candidate, in other remarks, has said the US might not defend its Nato allies in Europe unless they increase defence spending.

He said the US might withdraw from the World Trade Organisation (WTO) if it tried to stop his plan to use tariffs to bring factories back to the US from Mexico.

He also criticised the EU on Sunday, claiming that the bloc was created to “beat the United States when it comes to making money”.

Orban did not directly address Trump’s Nato comment but, in a change to his own prior position, he said he would support the creation of an EU army.

Orban and Trump are both known for their populist, anti-elite rhetoric and their rejection of what they called political correctness.

They have depicted Muslim immigration as a threat to Western lifestyles and values and blamed terror attacks on uncontrolled migration.

But Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Party’s nominee for president, has previously criticised Orban's domestic policies.

As secretary of state, Clinton warned Orban against the “systematic dismantling” of democratic institutions in Hungary since his Fidesz party took power six years ago.

Global player no more

Orban, in his university speech, also said the UK leaving the bloc meant that the EU is no longer a global, but a regional player.

He said the British vote to leave the EU represented the failure of Europe’s political elite.

“The EU is incapable of defending its own citizens, its own external borders and it is unable to hold its community together, as the United Kingdom’s exit has shown,” Orban said.

“What else is needed to say that Europe’s current political leadership has failed?”.

Orban said nation states in Europe should retain more authority to make their own decisions on specific issues, such as migration.

“We have to make it clear that our problem is not in Mecca, but in Brussels,” Orban said, according to the AP news agency.

“The bureaucrats in Brussels are an obstacle for us, not Islam.”

Trump’s European allies

Orban was not the only European politician to hail Trump.

Geert Wilders, a popular Dutch far right politician, has praised Trump for his criticism of Muslim immigration.

“Angry people have become the middle of the political spectrum,” Wilders was quoted as saying by the Wall Street Journal after he attended the Republican presidential convention in Cleveland last week.

He again called for the Netherlands to leave the EU, saying that the bloc is crumbling due top its policies of open borders and its ideology of cultural relativism.

Other European right-wing politicians were less impressed with the Republican candidate, however.

The UK’s Nigel Farage, who advocated for his country to leave the EU and who also attended the Republican convention last week, said he felt “very uncomfortable” about Trump’s anti-Muslim language.

Farage himself has been blamed for using racist language and imagery in his Brexit campaign.

He now said he liked Trump's “daring” anti-establishment message, but distanced himself from the Republican nominee's comments on Muslims.

"I think that what [Trump] said about Muslims, and we've got other politicians in Europe doing the same, if we're labelling a whole section of our community effectively bad, that is not the way forward," he told the Sky News TV broadcasters.

“Occasionally, the style of it, it makes even me wince a little”, he said.

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