Pompeo Urged to Raise Threats to Rule of Law, Strategic Partnership on Hungary Trip
Washington, D.C.—In advance of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s two-day trip to Budapest, Hungary beginning February 11, Human Rights First urges the secretary to raise the Hungarian government’s efforts to undermine the rule of law and weaken its strategic partnership with the United States. The trip comes as Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban continues a systematic assault on legal protections and human rights in the country, including by attacking the free press, politicizing the court system, targeting higher education, and re-writing the country’s history concerning antisemitism and the Holocaust.
“By visiting Budapest and meeting with Orban, the Trump Administration is essentially rewarding bad behavior. Secretary Pompeo needs to treat this trip not as a friendly meeting between allies, but as an opportunity to have a frank conversation with a state increasingly at odds with both American interests and its human rights obligations,” said Melissa Hooper of Human Rights First. “At the same time that he’s rolling back Hungary’s post-Cold War democratic gains, Orban is making increasingly clear where his strategic affinities lie by cozying up to the Kremlin.”
Secretary Pompeo and Assistant Secretary Wess Mitchell, who will accompany the secretary on the trip, are appeasing Orban’s increasingly authoritarian government. Instead of publicly condemning the country’s slide towards authoritarianism, the Trump Administration has offered high level meetings in a failed attempt to draw Hungary away from Russia’s orbit.
During the two-day trip, Pompeo will also meet with representatives of Hungary’s civil society, who have consistently detailed a steady erosion of basic civil and political rights in the country.
Human Rights First has long documented Orban’s attack on democratic institutions in Hungary, including in a 2018 issue brief, Rule of Law, Free Speech, and Individual Rights Disappearing in Hungary, and a 2017 report, Hungary’s False Sense of Security.