Hungary News Politics & International

Hungary shunned from Biden’s second Democracy Summit

Budapest, Hungary – Hungary is the only EU country not to be invited to US President Joe Biden’s second Summit for Democracy, organised from March 28-30.

The White House invited over 120 leaders from all around the world to take part in the 2023 Summit for Democracy, including eight countries which hadn’t been invited to the first summit, held virtually because of the Covid pandemic in December 2021.

Once again mostly held online, this summit is being co-hosted by countries from the other continents (the Netherlands, South Korea, Costa Rica and Zambia) and will involve a range of civil society actors and companies to discuss key topics pertaining to democratic governance.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is also scheduled to take part virtually on Tuesday morning.

Hungary’s government had already not been invited to the inaugural summit two years ago, while Turkey – a NATO member state – or Saudi Arabia count among the other high-profile countries and US allies not to have received an invitation slip.

A 2020 campaign pledge of Biden, the so-called Summit for Democracy aims to reaffirm the US’s leadership in championing democratic values and human rights around the world after Trump’s turbulent presidency, and show a united front against authoritarian regimes, mainly Russia and China.

“The United States launched the Summit for Democracy process in early 2021 to put new and high-level focus on the need to strengthen democratic institutions, protect human rights, and accelerate the fight against corruption both at home and abroad,” outlined National Security Council director for democracy and human rights Rob Berschinski.

“This is a summit for democracy; it’s not necessarily a summit of democracies”, he added.

The initiative has faced criticism from the get-go. Critics have likened it to a PR stunt with little tangible effect, while pointing to the participation of some countries where authoritarianism and democratic backsliding are on the rise.

Its virtual format has added to the general sense the summit isn’t a foreign policy priority for the Biden administration and will not lead to significant change or reform.