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(Bloomberg) -- Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban urged former President Donald Trump to return to the White House as president and renewed a call for populist forces to wrest control of democracy in the US and Europe.
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Orban hosted a two-day Conservative Political Action Conference in Budapest on Thursday, a satellite event of a conference circuit backed by the US Republican party. The nationalist leader used the event to endorse Trump and rail against liberalism, which he compared to a “biological weapon.”
The five-term premier, whose crackdown on liberal democracy has roiled relations with his European Union and NATO allies, presided over a meeting with speakers including the prime minister of Georgia, former leaders of the Czech Republic and Slovenia — and the failed Arizona Republican candidate for governor, Kari Lake.
“Hungary is an incubator where we experiment with the future of conservative politics,” Orban said. He lashed out at gender politics, migration and the so-called “colored” revolutions from the Middle East to Ukraine, adopting the Russian narrative that those upheavals against dictatorships had been part of a “progressive” plot that he said spread “viruses” that destroyed nations.
“I’m sure if President Trump were president today there’d be no war inflicting Europe and Ukraine,” Orban said. “Come back, Mr. President, make America great again and bring us peace.”
Orban is facing increasing pushback over his creation of his self-styled illiberal democracy from the US and the EU. He has come under intensified criticism for undermining the rule of law and letting corruption thrive, while keeping close ties with Russia despite its war in Ukraine.
The EU has frozen more than $30 billion of Hungary’s funding on rule-of-law and graft concerns. The US has launched a billboard campaign in Hungary to urge citizens to support Ukraine against Russia’s invasion, something Orban has been reluctant to do. Washington also sanctioned a Russian-dominated multilateral lender based in Hungary, forcing Budapest to quit it and to push the bank to return to Moscow.
“The two main shrines of modern democracy, Washington and Brussels, are still in liberal hands,” Orban said. “Let’s make sure that changes.”
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