Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, a prominent right-wing voice in Eastern Europe, fired back at U.S. President Joe Biden for his remark on the campaign trail that grouped the leader in with autocratic strongmen like Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.
During a town hall in 2020, Biden accused then-President Donald Trump of palling around with “all the thugs in the world”:
“You see what’s happening from Belarus through Poland and Hungary and the rise of totalitarian regimes in the world”, Biden said at the time. “Our current president supports all the thugs in the world.”
Biden’s 2020 opponent, Trump, was notably close with Orban – as the left-leaning Brookings Institution claimed that the then-president’s hosting of Poland’s Andrzej Duda was essentially helping him in his reelection bid against a left-leaning Warsaw mayor.
Orban – speaking with “Tucker Carlson Tonight” on Thursday — was the first European leader to endorse Trump’s reelection bid, while Trump lauded Orban’s border security and counterterrorism policies, as well as endeavors to “protect and help Christian communities” throughout the world.
The Hungarian prime minister told Carlson that Biden has “limited knowledge” of his country, and therefore cannot understand the issues at hand when he makes such remarks.
“Somebody who does not speak our language has a very limited knowledge on Hungary, even in the recent several decades of our life, not understanding of obviously having an opinion like that,” he said. “You know, it’s by itself, it’s a personal insult for all the Hungarians.”
Orban spoke to the broader political issue, in that left-wing politicians like Biden cannot fathom a nationalistic or conservative alternative ideology.
“The Western liberals cannot accept that inside the Western civilization, there is a conservative national alternative which is more successful at the everyday life, at the level of the then the liberal ones,” he said. “That’s the reason why they criticize us. They are fighting for themselves, not against us.”
Orban said Biden and the Democratic Party cannot accept the success Hungary has seen in protecting its Serbian and Croatian borders.
In the U.S. Congress, several top Democrats have also criticized Orban for alleged “xenophobic language” and unacceptable closeness to Russia. Now-former-Rep. Eliot Engel of New York, the former chairman of the foreign affairs committee, joined House Hungarian Caucus co-chair Marcy Kaptur of Ohio to strongly advise Trump against hosting Orban as he did last year for those reasons.
Of Biden’s initial comment about “totalitarians” which named Hungary, Orban’s secretary of state for international communication Zoltan Kovacs notably remarked last year: “So, this is what we can expect from the Democrats… more condescension and lecturing?”.
More broadly, Orban spoke at length about the importance of a Christian-Democratic ideology in government, saying that even a countervailing left-wing government in the U.S. will benefit from Hungary’s political position.
“It’s better for the leftist liberal government in the United States to have a good partner, which is a Christian-Democratic one supported long-term by the people, the Hungarian people.”
Orban further argued that there is nothing hateful or xenophobic about a strong national defense and secure borders:
“[National sovereignty] is coming from God, and nature. All begins with us. This is our country. This is our population. This is our history, our language. We have to [secure our borders]. Of course, if you’re in trouble and there’s nobody closer to you than the Hungarians, you have to be helpful,” he said.
“But you can’t say, okay, it’s a nice country. I would like to come and live here because it’s a nicer life, it is not a human right to come here. No way. It’s our land. It’s a nation, a community, family, history, tradition, language.”
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Host Tucker Carlson noted the disparity between the immigration policies of Orban’s Hungary compared to another powerful Central European government – Angela Merkel’s Germany.
The host also added that the U.S. and other Western governments that have ostracized Orban and Hungary are doing the opposite of what they once did when he was a young activist bravely speaking out against Soviet occupation in the 1980s. Carlson inferred that Orban has not changed since, but that the prevailing worldview toward conservative governments like his has – in the host’s words, starkly transitioned from universal support to being dubbed a “totalitarian” thug by the United States’ leader.