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Home / World / Mike Pompeo’s warning for Hungary spells trouble to come

Mike Pompeo’s warning for Hungary spells trouble to come



S The state's ecarch Mike Pompeo was in Hungary on Monday to strengthen ties with the NATO member and the US ally. But his visit highlights a clear difficulty for the United States: rejecting non-democratic allies and countering openings from Russia and China. This is a fine line for walking. Too much pressure to reform and undemocratic leaders will seek support elsewhere, too little, and a country could permanently lose democracy.

These tensions were exposed during the Pompey press conference with the Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto. Speaking of the danger of growing ties between the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Russian President Vladimir Putin, Pompeo warned: "We must not allow Putin to sell wedges between friends in NATO". He later warned: "Russia is not the only power that wants to erode freedom in this region" adding that it had already discussed with Szijjarto "the dangers of allowing China to obtain a bridgehead in Hungary." [1

9659002] But the foreign influence is not the only concern of the United States in Hungary. Under Orban the country of Central Europe that was once considered a clear example of post-Soviet democratic success has slipped into an aspiring authoritarian state. The Fidesz party, under the leadership of Orban, rewrote the electoral laws, deprived the tribunals of their independence, turned the independent media into state propaganda and forced a university accredited by the United States to move to Vienna.

As an ally and a member of NATO, the United States has tried to keep Hungary closed while pushing for reforms. During his visit, Pompey met with opposition leaders and noted during the press conference: "I also met the leaders of the Hungarian civil society to talk about the importance of protecting and strengthening democratic institutions throughout the Western world."

But those statements and the symbolic importance of meeting with opposition leaders is somewhat overshadowed by other Washington efforts to strengthen relations with Orban.

For example, despite the speeches on Pompey's freedom, the United States cut the money for a State Department program that would finance independent journalism in Hungary. Likewise, US Ambassador David Cornstein tried to behave well with Orban and refused to recall the abuses that occur in the country. Despite these attempts to push the government to reduce the grip on society, however, Orban shows few signs of collapse.

Worse, Hungary does not seem ready to make a choice between the United States and its powerful potential supporters in Moscow and Beijing. During the press conference, Szijjarto clarified the position of the government: "When it comes to cooperation with Russia or cooperation with the People's Republic of China, this does not endanger our being a reliable partner for the United States and NATO. " [19659002] Although Hungary is in the public eye as the result of Pompey's trip, the country is not unique in presenting a challenge for US foreign policy on the balance between 39. application of the pressure for freedom and complete non-expulsion of the allies.

In Myanmar, for example, the United States has not taken a stronger line against ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya Muslims for fear of losing influence in the country entirely in Beijing.

Given that Russia and China offer alternatives to the United States, Washington is losing its ability to hold responsible allies. Why would an aspiring authoritarian leader give power to American solicitation when another power is too happy to support his regime?

Like Pompeo and President Trump respond that the crucial issue will determine the trajectory of US foreign relations for years to come, and probably the breaking of new alliances in an increasingly multipolar world.


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