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May 10, 2019 - Zoltán Kovács

PM Orbán’s upcoming meeting with President Trump: here’s what to expect

“Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s working visit to Washington on May 13th, during which he will be received by U.S. President Donald Trump, will be extremely significant,” Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó said at a recent press conference in Brussels.

“The Hungarians regard the United States as a strategic ally,” the minister said, adding that the agenda for the working visit will focus on regional security, energy supply and bilateral relations including defence cooperation. “We have a similar view to the current administration on many important issues that represent a dilemma for the world. We have a similar way of thinking concerning migration, the protection of Christians and security,” Szijjártó said. “[T]he United States is Hungary’s most important export market outside the European Union”.

The prime minister also emphasized the importance of the migration issue – and the similar positions of our two governments.

“[O]ne of the most important issues of this meeting will be how we could cooperate in the fight against migration at international forums in the future,” said Prime Minister Orbán about the upcoming meeting.

The invitation from the White House to Prime Minister Orbán is among several invitations that Washington has recently extended to Central European heads of state and government.  It follows Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s tour through the region in February during which the top US diplomat sent a strong signal that the United States aims to re-engage the countries of the region. The US, he said, had been “prone to forgetting about Central Europe and abandoned this region.”

“When we’re not here,” said the secretary of state at a joint press conference in Budapest with FM Szijjártó, “others will show up.” Underlining the secretary’s point, it’s been thirteen years since the president of the United States received a Hungarian prime minister at the White House for an official meeting.

We’re delighted to see that the relationship has taken on a new energy, focused on the very important areas where our national interests intersect. Expect to hear a lot of static and criticism in relation to the meeting. Our critics do everything they can at times like this to try to run interference and downplay the importance of the meeting or its outcomes or portray it as some kind of quid pro quo. But that’s just noise and spin.

The US, as Minister Szijjártó said, has long been our strategic ally, and we have much that keeps us close, essential issues like NATO, security cooperation, energy security, migration, pro-family policies, and the protection of our Judeo-Christian heritage and culture. We’re looking forward to what will surely be a productive meeting between Prime Minister Orbán and President Trump.