Commentary US

Trump changed his predecessor’s Hungary-policy

By meeting Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in the White House, US President Donald Trump has changed his predecessor’s Hungary-policy. Magyar Nemzet columnist László Szőcs takes a look at the reasons behind the change.

Amid two acute crises – the trade war with China and the tensions in Venezuela – President Trump took the time to meet the Hungarian Prime Minister. This also shows that his administration ascribes a higher importance to Central Europe than the Obama administration did. But why exactly is this happening now?

Half a year ago, when Hungary was happening to stand against a high-level NATO-Ukraine meeting, a US official talking to our paper asked what interest would Donald Trump have in meeting the Hungarian Prime Minister. This was a clear indication that such a meeting would require more than just Orbán being the first among European leaders to support Trump back in 2016.

In other words: the meeting had to serve tangible US interests. One such interest is that Hungary signed the defense agreement allowing US troop movements on Hungarian soil and, more importantly, Hungary is supportive of President Trump’s Israel policy and is open to purchase military equipment from the US.

The latter is probably the crucial element here. Let us not forget that Trump has not only campaigned with the slogan “America first” but his policy is also based on it: he will put US interests ahead of the needs of international organizations and his main voter base is the workers whose jobs are under threat of being moved abroad.

We shouldn’t forget that Central European countries willing to purchase US weapons systems – such as Poland and Romania – are more likely to receive an invitation to the White House. When the White House speaks about the need for NATO members to increase their military budgets, that also includes the purchase of US equipment.

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