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Snubbed Hungary vetoes EU presence at Biden’s Democracy Summit


Budapest, Hungary – The Hungarian government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban will block the EU from being an official participant to US President Joe Biden’s Summit for Democracy.

According to diplomatic sources, Hungary made the announcement at a meeting of EU ambassadors last week, saying Budapest would veto the formal joint participation of the EU to the summit because the US had failed to invite all member states.

Hungary is the only EU country that didn’t receive an invitation to the virtual meeting, scheduled for December 9-10, a campaign pledge of then presidential candidate Joe Biden intended to discuss the state and challenges faced by democracies around the world.

More than 100 countries and governments are due to attend the digital summit. Other notable exceptions include Russia, China, and Turkey.

Hungarian officials said that no common EU position could be adopted if Hungary was not invited, referring to the unanimity rule presiding the bloc’s foreign policy.

They also appeared to downplay the snub, claiming the US democracy was in a worse state than Hungary.

“Hungary does not have the same serious democratic problems as the United States,” said Gergely Gulyas, the head of the Prime Minister’s office.

“If we can help and America thinks it needs our advice, we are available. In Hungary, we are not at a point where nearly a third of the electorate thinks that the democratic election has been rigged, and I hope we won’t be, regardless who wins the elections,” he added, referring to next year’s general elections.

After four years of rapprochement under President Trump, relations between Budapest and Washington quickly deteriorated after the election of Joe Biden. Contrary to its predecessor, the new US administration regularly condemns the government of PM Orban on its rule-of-law record, while also criticizing Orban’s close relations with China and Russia.

The Hungarian government and state-affiliated media have, for their part, frequently taken aim at President Biden, accusing the US of failing to uphold the democratic standards it preaches, and singling out Washington as the main threat of interference in Hungary’s upcoming election.

Coordinated by Ábel Bede, Kafkadesk's Budapest office is made up of a growing team of freelance journalists, editors and fact-checkers passionate about Hungarian affairs and dedicated to bringing you all the latest news, events and insights from Hungary.