Hungary's leader, Viktor Orban, desperately wants to be a wealthy dictator like Russia's Vladimir Putin. Much like Trump, he is completely enamored with Putin and his wealth. So much so, that he's been willing to hand over the rights of his own people and the Hungarian economy to Putin. How quickly Orban has forgotten his country's tyrannical oppressors of the old Soviet Union.
Since Donald Trump won the presidency, Hungary has been courting the current administration as well or perhaps it's the other way around. Either way, the Putin/Orban bromance has spilled over to the Hungarian Ambassador/Trump administration love affair. Reka Szemerkenyi, Hungary's ambassador to the U.S. has even bragged publicly that she has met Trump and his entourage many times. She is fond of posting as such on her Twitter page.
So what gives?
Russia and Hungary
Hungary has been a member of the European Union since 2004 even receiving a bailout from the EU in 2009 after the financial crisis. But instead of saying thank you, Hungary chose to give the EU a middle finger when it elected Orban in 2010. Orban quickly sided with Russia against the EU and NATO when it came to Russian sanctions for invading the Crimea and continues to do so. This turnaround is easily traced to the fact that Putin has been giving Orban's government loans through no bid contracts with Russian companies.
Hungary has been dependent for years on gas from Russia through contracts with Gazprom. When Orban won re-election in 2014, his then financial adviser, Lajos Simicska, stated that Orban has considered buying a popular media outlet in order to shut down its negative reports of his administration. He reportedly told Simicska that Russian Atomic Energy Company, Rosatom would buy it for him. Though the threat never materialized, Simicska resigned in disgust. In 2015, Russian company, Metrowagonmash, was given a no bid contract for over 219 million euros to renovate the Budapest Public transit system. More recently, Russia won a no bid contract with Hungary to rebuild its nuclear power plant. As reported by Politico, the EU had virtually no reaction even though Russia had to give Hungary a 10 billion euro loan in order to secure the deal.
Orban has followed in Putin's footsteps by clamping down on Hungarian civil rights and liberal organizations. His government has literally re-written the Hungarian constitution to favor himself. He has shut down media and non-government organization watchdogs with tax fines and investigations. He also gutted the independent judicial system and replaced personnel that opposed him. Much like Republicans in the U.S., Orban has rigged the election system and installed voter registration requirements making it harder for citizens to vote.
The Hungarian autocrat has become Putin's thorn in the EU's side. At EU meetings, it is Orban who argues against accepting refugees into the EU; refugees that were created by the Russian war in Syria. He has further stated that refugees are "the Trojan horse of terrorism," a sentiment echoed by Trump. In March, Hungary's parliament ordered refugees to be held on shipping containers until their applications were processed. This order has been deemed a human rights violation by an EU court.
Trump administration and Hungary
According to Hungarian ambassador Reka Szemerkenyi, she has met with Donald Trump three times since his election. She also boasted of meeting with Attorney General Jeff Seesions three times, Vice President Pence, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, HUD Secretary Ben Carson and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
— Amb Réka Szemerkényi (@AmbSzemerkenyi) November 24, 2016
She also had many meetings with Trump staff and other Republicans:
- 11/23/16 - at Mar-A-Lago with Trump.
- 1/17/17 - Szemerkenyi tweeted, "With PEOTUS Donald Trump addressing Diplomatic Corps..."
- 1/18/17- she stated on her Twitter profile that she had met with disgraced former Trump national security adviser General Mike Flynn and Representative Ed Royce at Trump's hotel in D.C. at the invitation of Representative Devin Nunes.
- 1/18/17 - tweeted that she met with Michele Bachman (former Republican representative of Minnesota) , Representative Steve King (R-IA) and Representative Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) at the Capital Hill Club.
- 1/19/17 - attended KT MacFarland speech at Business Council for International Understanding luncheon.
- 1/19/17 - attended the pre-inaugural ball Gaylord International.
- 1/19/17 - attended pre-inaugural ball at Heritage Foundation's Open House Reception.
- 1/20/17 - attended inauguration.
- 1/20/17 - invited by VP Mike Pence to Chairman's Global Black Tie Dinner at the Mellon Auditorium.
- 1/21/17 - met with Republicans Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE), Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO), Rep. Steve King (R-IA), Rep. Steve Womack (R-AR), Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), Jeff Gordon (Trump's RNC national security adviser) and Susan Hutchinson (chair of WA Republican Party).
- 2/5/17 - at Mar-A-Lago again for Red Cross Diplomat's Panel to discuss "illegal migration."
- 2/6/17 - at White House event where she met with Trump, Pence and Ben Carson.
- 2/28/17 - invited to Trump's congressional address.
- 3/27/17 - Trump staff at new Hungarian embassy opening in D.C. Trump advisers Sebastian Gorka (former Hungarian political leader) and Jason Greenblatt attended.
Foreign diplomats are afforded many opportunities to meet with current administration officials. It is part of their regular duties. However, because of Putin's hacking of the 2016 election in order to assist Trump in winning both the Republican nomination and the election, Trump's own ties to Russians, his administration's ties to Russians, the various investigations into the Trump ties to Russia, Orban being Putin's pet and one of Trump's own advisers (Gorka) being a former Hungarian political leader the high number of meetings and visits to Mar-A-Lago need further investigating.
This does not pass the smell test.