Budapest, Hungary – U.S. Democratic candidate Joe Biden has irritated Polish and Hungarian authorities after comparing the two Central European states to “totalitarian regimes”.
“All the thugs in the world”: What did Biden say about Poland and Hungary?
With the U.S. presidential campaign in full swing and only two weeks to go until election day, former US vice-President and Democratic challenger Joe Biden held a televised town-hall meeting on Thursday in which he took a swing at President Donald Trump’s foreign policy.
When asked by a member of the audience about the U.S. President’s foreign policy track-record and achievements, Biden, who’s currently leading in national polls, criticized Trump for cozying up with and empowering authoritarian leaders all around the world.
“You see what’s happening from Belarus through Poland and Hungary and the rise of totalitarian regimes in the world”, Biden said during the campaign event. “Our current president supports all the thugs in the world”, slamming his relationship with North-Korean dictator Kim Jung-Un and his accommodating behaviour towards Russia’s Putin.
Since his election in 2016, President Trump has strengthened ties with both Poland, one of its closest allies in the EU, and Viktor Orban’s Hungary, who for years was shunned by the previous U.S. administrations for his attacks against the rule of law and growing concentration of power.
Commentators have long pointed out that a Biden win in November 2020 could spell trouble for Hungary and Poland, and pave the way for a refocusing of U.S. foreign policy on rule of law and democratic values.
If Democrats win, “countries in the [CEE] region will be expected to show a commitment toward closer relations across the Atlantic, not only when it comes to upholding the existing security architecture, but also closely mimicking liberal values-led developments in the U.S.”, argued experts Cristian Nitoiu, Florin Pasatoiu and Loredana Simionov in a recently published LSE paper.
“Nothing to do with reality”?
Officials in Warsaw and Budapest evidently didn’t take too well Biden comparing them to “totalitarian regimes” and putting them in the same basket as Belarus, commonly labelled “Europe’s last dictatorship”.
On Friday, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said that Biden’s comments had “nothing to do with reality”, highlighting that Trump and Orban “take similar views on illegal immigration, border protection, security, supporting families and protecting Christian communities”.
Zoltan Kovacs, the Hungarian government’s notoriously outspoken spokesman for international affairs, went even further on Twitter: “So, this is what we can expect from the Democrats if they win the election? More condescension and lecturing?”.
Unsurprisingly, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban became, as in 2016, the first EU leader to publicly endorse Donald Trump for next month’s election.
Main photo credit: Official Facebook page of Joe Biden