The Hungarian government said on Thursday it expected the United States to attempt to interfere in next year’s elections in a bid to topple Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s right-wing populist Fidesz party, adding that Washington resented Budapest for its close ties to former President Donald Trump.
Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said he expected Washington to deploy the Magnitsky Law, which can be used to impose sanctions and other measures against foreign nationals for corruption or human rights violations, ahead of the central European country’s parliamentary elections next April.
Fidesz faces its toughest challenge yet as Orban runs for a fourth consecutive term in next year’s elections. Szijjarto said Budapest would repel attempts to defeat the government.
âWe don’t live on the moon. We live in central Europe. Of course there will be attempts, âhe said. âWe have already detected preparations. . . I want to reassure the Hungarians that all the institutions concerned are doing their job to push back the attempts of external interference in the elections.
The United States has excluded Hungary from its scheduled Democracy Summit, an international conference next month with 110 nations, a move that observers say reflects Budapest’s reputation for eroding democratic principles and human rights. man and not to fight corruption.
Hungary was the only one in the EU to be snubbed, which Szijjarto said was “disrespectful”.
The US State Department said on his site: âLeaders will be encouraged to announce. . . national and international initiatives that fight against authoritarianism, fight corruption and promote respect for human rights.
Hungary has fallen in love with all these points in recent years, argue Western officials and critics, which has led to a cooling of relations with the United States as well as with the EU. Brussels has threatened to withhold billions of euros to get Orban to meet democratic standards.
“We are committed to supporting democratic institutions, human rights, the rule of law and press freedom,” the State Department told the Financial Times. âWe look forward to working with governments, including that of Hungary. . . to fight against the decline of democracy, advance human rights and defend against corruption. ”
He did not respond to a request for comment on whether the United States would apply the Magnitsky Law against Hungarian officials.
While Hungary covets close ties with Russia and China, President Joe Biden has yet to send an ambassador to Budapest nearly a year after starting his administration.
“Hungarian-American relations were at their peak during the Trump presidency,” Szijjarto told the FT when asked about the snub during a press briefing.
âWe have a lot of respect for the former president, mutual respect. We have the same respect for every elected US president – regardless of what we get in return – but it is clear that those who were on good terms with Donald Trump were not invited.
Washington applied Magnitsky’s sanctions against several Bulgarian individuals earlier this year, just before the elections there, which contributed to the downfall of strongman Boyko Borisov.
The US stocks were a “serious reinforcement of the Biden administration’s assessment of Orban’s anti-Western and anti-EU policies over the past 11 years,” said Mujtaba Rahman, Eurasia Group analyst. âIt might even portend a stronger setback and criticism of Orban as he faces re-election next year. The United States is almost at its wit’s end with Orban’s continued complicity and his double-stakes with Russia, China and other authoritarian regimes.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton put Hungary on an equal footing with Russia and Turkey and compared the leaders of those countries to Trump.
“Trump and his enablers and those who invaded and attacked our Capitol [in January 2021], they don’t like the world we live in and they have this in common with autocratic leaders from Russia to Turkey, from Hungary to Brazil, and many other places, âClinton told MSNBC Wednesday.
Hungarian Szijjarto said Clinton’s remarks on the Democracy Summit proved that “the event has a domestic political character, with invitations denied to countries whose leaders had good relations with former President Donald Trump. … We do not need anyone to judge the state of Hungarian democracy as during a school exam.