Hungary’s leader Viktor Orban has phone conversation with US President-elect Donald Trump

Orban said he felt that Hungary's position had "improved greatly" with Trump

By: AP | Budapest | Updated: November 25, 2016 1:27 pm
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Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, one of Europe’s biggest supporters of Donald Trump, says the US president-elect has told him of his “high regard” for Hungary and invited him to Washington.

“I spoke with the new US president by telephone, and can say that our position has improved a lot. Donald Trump made clear that he holds Hungary in high regard,” Orban told Vilaggazdasag news site in an interview published late Thursday.

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“He invited me to Washington, I told him that I hadn’t been there for a long time as I had been treated as a ‘black sheep’, to which he replied, laughing: ‘Me too’.” In July, Orban, 53, was the first EU leader to come out in favour of the US billionaire, praising his policy proposals on immigration and security.

Orban was also one of the first world leaders to congratulate him after his shock victory. The tone signals a marked shift in relations between the US and EU and NATO member Hungary.

After coming to power in 2010 the maverick Hungarian was often accused by Washington of steering Hungary away from democratic norms. Outgoing President Barack Obama and Trump’s defeated election rival Hillary Clinton both warned Hungary against clamping down on the judiciary, press and civil society organisations.

Relations between Budapest and Washington also soured in 2014 when several unnamed Hungarian government officials were denied entry to the US over alleged corruption. Orban told Vilaggazdasag that with Trump the US will have a president who is “not ideologically restricted, but an open person”.

“He is much more interested in success, efficiency and results than in political theories,” Orban said. “This is good for us, as the facts are with us. The economic cooperation has always been good, only the ideologies presented obstacles,” he added.

“I sensed that he knows that Hungarians are a brave and freedom-loving people, who in the last six years have achieved outstanding economic results.”