Hungary’s far-right leader Viktor Orban praises Boris Johnson as ‘one of the bravest European politicians’

Intervention comes soon after aide to UK’s prime minister calls for ‘special relationship’ with Budapest

Jon Stone
Europe Correspondent
Thursday 09 January 2020 18:29 GMT
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Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban adresses the media during the annual international press conference in Budapest
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban adresses the media during the annual international press conference in Budapest

Hungary‘s authoritarian nationalist leader has heaped praise on Boris Johnson, calling him “one of the bravest European politicians”.

The praise from Viktor Orban comes days after it was revealed that one of Mr Johnson’s top advisers had called for a “special relationship” with the Hungarian government and endorsed its attacks on liberalism.

“I believe a generous and strategic cooperation is needed with the British in the coming period when they are no longer members of the EU,” Mr Orban told journalists.

“I regard Boris Johnson as one of the bravest European politicians,” he said, adding that his eurosceptic Conservative party still won a large majority in December’s general elections despite “the whole world” being against him.

The right-wing leader described Brexit as “a fantastic opportunity”, adding: “I am sure there is a success story in the making there.”

The intervention is the latest episode in the makeshift alliance forming between parts of the Tory party and Fidesz, Mr Orban’s nationalist outfit. Conservative MEPs were previously criticised for standing almost alone among mainstream western European conservatives for refusing to censure Hungary over breaches of the rule of law.

Mr Orban was also one of the first world leaders to be invited to Downing Street after Theresa May took office.

At the helm of his far-right Fidesz party, Mr Orban has centralised power around himself and his allies, cracking down on civil society and monopolising the media.

The government has also been accused of running antisemitic and Islamophobic hate campaigns, notably against Jewish philanthropist George Soros.

In 2018, Mr Orban said his party had “replaced a shipwrecked liberal democracy with a 21st-century Christian democracy”.

In May, the Council of Europe’s report on Hungary said that human-rights violations in the country had a negative effect on the whole protection system and the rule of law, adding: ”They must be addressed as a matter of urgency.”

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