Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban came out with a rare endorsement of US President Donald Trump who faces a re-election battle next week. During a ceremony on which he awarded US Ambassador to Hungary David Cornstein with a medal, Orban said that he is hoping for Trump’s re-election, and also congratulated the President on his major political accomplishment – the appointment of Amy Coney Barrett as a US Supreme Court justice. Orban was also the first European politician to endorse Trump in 2016, when few people believed he can pull of the amazing upset against Hillary Clinton.
And while many leaders in Eastern Europe are secretly hoping that Trump bests Biden, it was only one of Orban’s allies, Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa, to join him in a public endorsement of Trump.
Orban’s move shows how greatly have US – Hungarian relations advanced under the Trump term. In 2019, Orban received the first invitation to visit the White House after no such visits by a Hungarian Prime Minister during the Obama and Bush terms. Trump praised Orban as a tough and well respected leader and after the meeting, US media reported how successful Orban was in elevating Hungarian national interests, including on issues such as minority rights in Ukraine, at the White House. Both leaders share the commitment to tough border controls and a crack down on illegal immigration.
On the other hand, Joe Biden sent out a clear threat to conservative lead Hungary and Poland, the two key countries of the Visegrad group, even likening them to Belarus and totalitarian countries during a rally. This raised the prospect of renewed US interference in European political developments, through support for leftist protests and parties, which was the hallmark of the Obama term. Hungarian Prime Minister Peter Szijjarto dismissed Biden’s comments saying that Hungary “remembers the kind of Central European policy the democrats pursued for 8 years – the continuous lecturing, accusations and attacks”.
On the other hand, Trump paid his respect to Hungary by choosing it as one of the countries where he dispatched a non-State Department Ambassador – New York based businessman Cornstein was named as one of Trump’s personal appointments to the diplomatic service in 2018. In Budapest, Cornstein did not follow the tack of State Department diplomats who routinely support left wing parties, and was even-handed toward the ruling conservative Fidesz party, even refusing to join in the attacks over the CEU university dispute drummed up by billionaire George Soros.