European expert: Hungary backslides on women, refugee rights

Evarado Alatorre
Febrero 12, 2019

In Budapest on the first leg of a five-nation European tour during which he is raising American concerns about China and Russia's growing influence in Central Europe, Pompeo said nations would have to consider choosing between Huawei and the United States.

Pompeo says the presence of Chinese telecom infrastructure could drive a technological wedge between the USA and some allies.

Pompeo's tour includes a conference on the Middle East, hosted by Poland, where Washington hopes to build a coalition against Iran.

He said he also would discuss concerns about the rule of law, democracy and human rights in the region, particularly in Hungary, where nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban has been criticised for increasingly authoritarian rule.

"We have to show up or expect to lose", one official said.

"It also makes it more hard for America to be present", Pompeo said.

The country will also offer a low-interest loan of 10 million forints (£27,286) for women under the age of 40 who are marrying for the first time.

"We have an obligation to share this with them, and we will do so", Pompeo said.

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Pompeo said he hoped to reverse what he called a decade of USA disengagement in Central Europe that created a vacuum Russian Federation and China have exploited.

"We must not let Putin drive wedges between friends in North Atlantic Treaty Organisation", he said, adding that he had also warned of "the dangers of allowing China to gain a bridgehead in Hungary".

"When it comes to cooperation with Russian Federation or cooperation with the People's Republic of China that does not harm us being reliable as a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally", he told a joint news conference with the USA counterpart.

He said the initiative is meant to "ensure the survival of the Hungarian nation".

Mr Orbán was returned to the role of premier in the April 2018 elections, winning a parliamentary supermajority and his third consecutive term in office after running on a manifesto of protecting the country's border, defending Hungarian culture, and supporting families.

Pompeo put the blame for much of the backsliding on a lack of U.S. engagement. "We need Hungarian children". "The Russians and the Chinese ended up getting more influence here, they do not remotely share the American ideals that we care so deeply about". Some of their groups have been targeted by legislation making their work more hard, like a tax on funds received from overseas and the possible jail time for those convicted of aiding asylum seekers.

"The people of Europe have come to a historic crossroads", Orban said in his speech, criticizing "mixed population countries" and saying Christian majorities in some countries could soon become minorities.

Orban's government has been targeted for criticism, including from the United States, for forcing a Budapest-based university founded by billionaire philanthropist George Soros to move most of its programmes to Vienna.

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