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WorldDonald Trump says 'controversial' Hungary prime minister Viktor Orban doing 'tremendous job'

22:35  13 may  2019
22:35  13 may  2019 Source:   usatoday.com

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Donald Trump showered praise on Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán for a “ tremendous job ” and shrugged off complaints Trump to meet Hungary 's nationalist prime minister Viktor Orbán – live. Orbán said his government and the Trump administration were aligned on some global issues.

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Donald Trump says 'controversial' Hungary prime minister Viktor Orban doing 'tremendous job'© Thomson Reuters U.S. President Donald Trump greets Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S., May 13, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Barria WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump praised Hungary Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Monday, saying he is doing a "tremendous job" despite protests over crackdowns on the Hungarian judiciary and media.

Orban is "probably like me," Trump said before a private meeting in the Oval Office. "A little controversial.”

Orban returned the favor by praising his host. Each praised the other for new restrictions on immigration.

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President Donald Trump praised the record of Hungarian leader Viktor Orban as he hosted him at the White House Monday, saying the Mark Wilson, Getty Images, AFP | President Donald Trump speaks to the media during a meeting with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban , in the Oval

Donald Trump praised Viktor Orban for his hard-line immigration policies yesterdayCredit: The Mega Agency. The Hungarian nationalist Orban , who was blackballed by Barack Obama, has clashed with the EU over his anti-immigration campaigns and judicial reforms. But Trump , who was elected after

U.S. lawmakers and international organizations had called on Trump to cancel the meeting with Orban, citing the authoritarian record of the prime minister whom critics call the "Viktator."

Once considered a centrist – during a first stint as prime minister in 1999, he backed Hungary's membership in NATO as a way to reduce Russian influence – Orban is now a hero to right-wing nationalists. He is seeking to get closer to authoritarian regimes like Russia, Turkey and China.

Saying he wants “an alternative to liberal democracy," Orban has also instituted restrictions on immigrants and refugees seeking to enter his country. That effort includes construction of a razor-wire fence at Hungary's border.

By promoting media organizations loyal to him, and cutting back on the authority of the judiciary, Orban's critics say he is looking to silence institutions that could challenge his rule. Orban also closed Central European University in Budapest because it received funding from billionaire philanthropist George Soros, a native of Hungary.

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President Trump met with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in the Oval Office and praised his immigration policies. He also took questions from reporters on It's a great honor to have with us the Prime Minister of Hungary . And Viktor Orbán has done a tremendous job in so many different ways.

Now Orban , the far-right prime minister of Hungary , has sat down with President Trump . But in Trump , Orban might have found a friend. “ Viktor Orban has done a tremendous job in so many His critics say these laws cemented political control over the judiciary, central bank, religious groups

More: Hungary’s Viktor Orban wins re-election, gets super majority

More: Hungary looks to Constitution to keep immigrants out

In a 2017 speech, Orban praised both Trump and his 2016 presidential campaign slogan, "America First."

"We say the same: 'Hungary first, and then everyone else,'" Orban said.

Lawmakers in both parties had urged Trump to confront Orban on his efforts to consolidate power and restrict democracy in Hungary.

“Under Orban, the election process has become less competitive and the judiciary is increasingly controlled by the state,” Sen. James Risch, the GOP chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, wrote with other lawmakers in a letter to Trump on Friday.

Risch and the other senators warned that Orban’s government has also clamped down on press freedom, and they raised alarms about Hungary’s growing alliance with Russia.

“While the U.S. has sought to counter Kremlin aggression across Europe, we remain profoundly concerned about the close relationship between (Hungary) and Moscow,” Risch and the other senators wrote.

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Earlier this afternoon President Trump welcomes Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to the And Viktor Orbán has done a tremendous job in so many different ways. Highly respected. PRESIDENT TRUMP : Thank you. PRIME MINISTER ORBÁN : May I just say here that we are proud

And Viktor Orbán has done a tremendous job in so many different ways. PRIME MINISTER ORBÁN : May I just say here that we are proud that so many Hungarians contributed to the Q What about democratic reforms, sir? PRIME MINISTER ORBÁN : We have a new constitution accepted in

Other critics have been more pointed, blasting Trump for even inviting Orban to the White House.

“The visit is a grievous mistake – not just because it will be seen as an endorsement of a leader who has successfully dismantled a democracy, but also because it will signal affirmation of an agenda that is fundamentally threatening to transatlantic security,” Rob Berschinski, senior vice president for policy at Human Rights First, and Hal Brands, an international studies professor at Johns Hopkins University, wrote in a recent Washington Post op-ed.

“Over the past nine years, the Hungarian leader has accomplished many of the anti-democratic actions Trump can only tweet about,” they write, pointing to Orban’s overhaul of Hungary’s constitution and the weakening of Hungary’s judiciary, among other steps.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Donald Trump says 'controversial' Hungary prime minister Viktor Orban doing 'tremendous job'

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