Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will arrive in Hungary on Monday at a time when the United States is becoming more concerned with Hungarian leader Viktor Orban’s dismantling of democratic institutions, and his increasingly close ties with Russia. Despite Orban’s praise for President Trump, and recent efforts to mend US-Hungary relations, Washington is growing annoyed. The Trump administration has been openly willing to work with Orban, but recent actions by Hungary indicate Orban might not be as open to working with the US.
Brushing US concerns aside, Orban continued to pressure Central European University until the school, which is a US institution, was forced to move from Budapest to Vienna. The government also denied a request from Washington to extradite two Russian arms traffickers to the United States and instead sent them back to Russia. Ukraine has also turned out to be a sore spot. Hungary has opposed NATO discussions with the Kiev government, pointing to Ukraine’s allegedly unfair treatment of that nation’s ethnic Hungarian minority.
Growing Russian and Chinese influence in Hungary is a concern Pompeo will address. Orban supports the TurkStream gas pipeline project, an endeavor backed by Moscow. Russia has also financed expansion and new construction at the Paks nuclear power plant. The Hungarian government is also allowing Huawei to develop the nation’s 5G mobile network. The Chinese telecom company is under heavy suspicion in a number of Western nations, and is at the center of a tense US-China standoff.
Following his stop in Hungary, Pompeo will head to Poland for a two-day conference on the Middle East. Vice President Mike Pence is also expected to attend. The upcoming conference will be discussed more in the next few days.