Trump invites Hungary's Viktor Orban to White House

Trump and Orban will meet at the White House for the first time on May 13 for talks on security and trade. Both leaders have taken tough anti-immigration stances and been criticized for policies viewed as anti-Muslim.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban will meet with US President Donald Trump next week, the White House announced on Tuesday.

During the May 13 meeting, the two leaders "will discuss ways to deepen cooperation on a range of issues, including trade, energy, and cyber security," the White House said in a statement.

Trump and Orban will also mark Hungary's 20th anniversary as a NATO member, and hold talks on national security.

Anti-immigration allies

Both leaders have been criticized for their anti-immigration stances, with Orban once describing refugees from Muslim-majority countries as "Muslim invaders." 

Orban clashed with Trump's predecessor, former US President Barack Obama, over what critics called an erosion of democratic values in Hungary.

Last summer, Orban delivered a speech saying that he hoped to push for "an alternative to liberal democracy" in the upcoming European Parliament elections. He dubbed his alternative a so-called Christian democracy which "gives priority to Christian culture" and is "anti-immigration."

Trump has long vowed to build a wall on the US southern border with Mexico and has attempted to prevent the arrival of asylum seekers.

Viktor Orban's most controversial migration comments

'Muslim invaders'

"We don't see these people as Muslim refugees. We see them as Muslim invaders," Orban said in a recent interview with German daily Bild newspaper. The 54-year-old prime minister of Hungary added: "We believe that a large number of Muslims inevitably leads to parallel societies, because Christian and Muslim society will never unite." Multiculturalism, he said, "is only an illusion."

Viktor Orban's most controversial migration comments

'You wanted the migrants, we didn't'

When asked by Bild whether it was fair for Germany to accept hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants while Hungary accepted none, Orban responded: "The difference is, you wanted the migrants, and we didn't." Migration, he said, threatens the "sovereignty and cultural identity" of Hungary.

Viktor Orban's most controversial migration comments

'Migration is poison'

It was not the first time the Hungarian leader has framed migration as a problem for his country. In 2016, he said that Hungary "does not need a single migrant for the economy to work, or the population to sustain itself, or for the country to have a future." He added: "for us migration is not a solution but a problem ... not medicine but a poison, we don’t need it and won’t swallow it.”

Viktor Orban's most controversial migration comments

'Importing homophobia'

Orban has repeatedly criticized German Chancellor Angela Merkel for her decision to allow over a million migrants into Germany in the summer of 2015. Orban told Bild in early 2016: "If you take masses of non-registered immigrants from the Middle East into your country, you are importing terrorism, crime, anti-Semitism, and homophobia."

Viktor Orban's most controversial migration comments

'All terrorists are basically migrants'

Orban has also repeatedly criticized the EU for trying to get member states to share refugees based on national quotas. In a 2015 interview with POLITICO, he suggested the bloc's leaders instead focus more on strengthening the EU's external border. In the same interview, he said: "Of course it’s not accepted, but the factual point is that all the terrorists are basically migrants."

Viktor Orban's most controversial migration comments

'Parallel societies'

Orban has found allies in other right-wing governments in eastern Europe such as Poland that also oppose the EU's refugee policies. In an interview with Spanish TV channel Intereconomia in 2015, Orban raised fears about integrating Muslim migrants in the EU when he said: "What sort of Europe do we want to have? Parallel societies? Muslim communities living together with the Christian community?"

Orban clashes with EU conservatives

Orban's hardline anti-immigration stance and critical remarks about the European Union have alienated him from other European leaders as well as former conservative allies.

In March, Orban's Fidesz party was suspended from the conservative European People's Party (EPP), the EU's largest and most influential political grouping.

The suspension came after a controversial billboard campaign ran in Hungary, accusing European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker of planning to allow large numbers of mostly Muslim migrants to come to Europe.

On Monday, Orban withdrew his support for Manfred Weber, a German politician and former ally who is the EPP's main candidate to replace Juncker.

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