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Updated Jul 11, 2024, 12:20pm EDT
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Semafor Signals

Hungary’s Orbán to visit Trump at Mar-a-Lago after NATO summit

Insights from Chatham House, the Financial Times, Semafor, and The Guardian

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Evgenia Novozhenina/Reuters
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Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán will take a trip to Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida after the NATO summit in Washington, DC ends on Thursday, several outlets reported.

Orbán has already “spoiled” the NATO gathering, shunning Biden and “enraging allies” by arranging pre-summit meetings with Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping as part of what he’s described as a “peace mission,” The Guardian wrote.

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The meeting with Trump appears to be part of an apparent effort by Orbán to negotiate a Ukraine peace deal without the input of European Union countries or the Biden administration, the outlet added. Hungary’s foreign minister has said a potential return of Trump to the White House could bring a “chance for peace” in Kyiv.

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SIGNALS

Semafor Signals: Global insights on today's biggest stories.

Orbán is violating EU treaties, and potentially the law

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Sources:  
Chatham House, the Financial Times

Now that Hungary has taken over the rotating EU presidency, the anxiety that Orbán could jeopardize the bloc’s foreign policy appears to be proving justified, UK think tank Chatham House argued, as he “bulldozed” EU norms by arranging meetings with Putin and Xi Jinping. The visit to Moscow, in particular, was “unprecedented,” because Russia is currently under EU sanctions. The visit also violated EU treaties, which prohibit any action that could put the bloc’s objectives in jeopardy, the Financial Times noted. And on top of all this, Orbán created confusion about whether his Russia trip was a bilateral visit or a European one, which could also be in violation of EU law, Chatham House added.

Orbán’s presidency underscores ‘deeper EU malaise’

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Sources:  
European Pravda, Semafor, the Financial Times

Orbán’s apparent “peace mission” has largely been criticized by EU member states. A European Commission spokesperson said the Hungarian PM decided to assume the role of mediator in the Ukraine conflict without any explicit request to do so, while Charles Michel, the European Council President, told Semafor he welcomed plans by EU members to show him a “yellow card.” But Orbán’s first rogue decisions as rotating EU president are only among the “symptoms of a deeper malaise” in the bloc, which is plagued by the rise of hard-right parties, a Financial Times columnist argued. Any damage done by Hungary’s behavior will likely be controlled by other EU bodies and leaders, which have the power to steer the bloc in a different, more stable direction.

Trump could borrow from Orbán’s playbook, if reelected

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Sources:  
The New York Times, The Guardian

Orbán’s visit to Mar-a-Lago will be the latest pilgrimage of a leader to the mansion, which has morphed into a “White House in exile” since 2020 and is essentially the headquarters for supporters of the former president, The New York Times wrote. Orbán and Trump are openly friendly, and if reelected, Trump may decide to borrow a page or two from Orbán’s autocratic playbook, given the excitement he and his acolytes have shown toward Orbán, a Guardian columnist wrote. Trump could decide to replace career civil servants with his loyalists, for example, or engage in a systematic violation of academic freedom, like Orbán did, the columnist argued.

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