Mr Trump will meet Mr Orban on May 13, Hungary’s government confirmed on Thursday. Zoltan Kovacs, Mr Orban’s spokesman, said the two leaders are expected to discuss issues relating to “energy security, defence cooperation, bilateral relations and regional security”. Hungary’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Péter Szijjártó, said the meeting has been confirmed and the two countries are “friends.” He told Politico: “They are a superpower, we are a mid-sized central European country but still we represent very similar approaches in many important areas.
“Since President Trump has been in office the attempts to openly interfere in domestic issues in Hungary have been eliminated under Obama, there were open attempts to interfere in our domestic issues, open and very strong and spectacular and visible attempts.”
The US President’s attempt to cozy up to Hungary – who is part of US-led NATO treaty – comes amid Russia and China’s increasing dominance in central Europe.
The visit will address the power competition as Mr Trump desperately tries to avert Moscow and Beijing’s stronghold over the region.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo paid a visit to Budapest in February, and Mr Trump’s meeting with Mr Orban this month is expected to build up on previous talks.
At the time, Mr Pompeo said in a speech: “Too often in the recent past, the United States was absent from central Europe. That’s unacceptable. Our rivals filled those vacuums.”
Earlier this year, Mr Trump met with with the other leaders from Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia, all former communist states that now are North Atlantic Treaty Organisation members, in an attempt to strengthen ties with central Europe.
Even though Hungary is a part of NATO, Mr Orban has built a strong relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin and was also the only country to join Beijing’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative.
Molly Montgomery, a former U.S. diplomat told Foreign Policy Magazine: “This meeting rewards Orban’s bad behaviour and encourages Hungary to continue to play China, Russia, and the United States against each other.
“It legitimises Orban’s ‘illiberal democracy,’ which has systematically removed checks on the leader’s power, and is likely to embolden him in his ongoing fight with the EU.”