By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News reporting from Budapest, Hungary
BUDAPEST (Worthy News) – Hungary’s nationalist prime minister urged conservatives in Europe and the United States to “reconquer” institutions in Washington and Brussels from liberals who he said threatened Christian civilization.
Viktor Orbán made the appeal in Budapest at Europe’s first meeting of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), America’s most prominent conservative meeting.
International news organizations including Worthy News, were not granted accreditation to the whale-shaped venue to cover the CPAC meeting in Hungary despite making numerous requests over several months.
The Center for Fundamental Rights and Orbán backed think tank that organized the meeting did not answer phone calls or emails except for one basically saying to stay tuned.
Orbán has had a tense relationship with independent media, and his allies control most national broadcasters and regional outlets, including through a foundation.
The EU has accused Orbán of curbing media and judicial independence and enriching friends and family with public funds. He denies any corruption calling it “business deals.”
In his speech, he lashed out at critics, calling them “Progressive liberals, neo-Marxists dazed by the woke dream, people financed by [U.S. billionaire] George Soros and promoters of open societies.”
His comments were a familiar swipe at Budapest-born billionaire Soros, who he accuses of trying to undermine Europe’s cultural identity by supporting immigration.
Soros has promoted liberalism since before the 1989 fall of communism, funding education and scholarships, including Orbán.
Orbán stressed Soros and other liberals “want to annihilate the Western way of life that you and we love so much.” The prime minister told the delegates admiring him that “We must coordinate the movement of our troops as we face a big test; 2024 will be a decisive year.”
It was a reference to the upcoming American presidential election in which Donald J. Trump may run for a second term and the European Parliament vote.
While seen as autocratic by critics, the 58-year-old Orbán received admiration from the American hard right during his 12-year rule.
Supporters praise his tough stance on immigration and LGBTQ issues, including a new law banning information and education on transgender or homosexual matters for minors.
Earlier this week, Orbán told Parliament that it was a “suicide attempt” by more liberal European governments to implement a “population replacement program.” He said that ideology seeks to “replace the missing European Christian children with migrants.”
While the EU claims he is limiting LGBTQ rights, Orbán on Thursday described them as “gender madness.”
His support for traditional families and Christian values also contributed to his re-election for a fourth consecutive term after a landslide election victory in April.
And on Thursday, Orbán laid out 12 points that he claimed were key to ensuring a dominance of conservatives in Europe and the U.S. He cited among several steps defending national interests and gaining control over media. “We must reconquer the institutions in Washington D.C. and Brussels.”
Orbán faces financial penalties from the EU in Brussels for alleged rule-of-law violations, including limiting judicial independence and media freedom. Brussels also accused him of failing to tackle corruption adequately. The prime minister called the charges politically motivated.
During speeches live-streamed from the CPAC conference Thursday, speakers shared their grievances over the dominance of liberal culture. They praised Hungary as a stronghold of traditionalism and on the leading edge of a culture war.
The conference website refers to Hungary as “one of the engines of Conservative resistance to the woke revolution,” which aims to “face down the onslaught of the Left.”
One American proponent of this vision of Hungary is Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who broadcast from Hungary’s capital, Budapest, for a week in 2021.
Carlson, whose father did lobby and publicity work for the government, praised the country’s policies on immigration and LGBTQ issues as a model for the U.S.
After Carlson delivered a video message to CPAC attendees, the prime minister claimed the television host was the only figure in American media to fight against “the rule of the liberal media.”
Speaking in Budapest on Thursday, American Conservative Union Chairman Matt Schlapp said, “There’s no greater time for this CPAC movement of freedom and individual rights to flourish, and I look forward to that happening in the great country of Hungary.”
American conservative media personalities Candace Owens and Ben Ferguson, as well as members of right-wing European parties such as Marine Le Pen’s National Rally in France and the Spanish Vox party, were also due to speak at the Hungary event.
Mark Meadows, the chief of staff for the administration of former U.S. President Donald Trump, was to address the conference by video link, along with Republican lawmakers from Florida and Maryland.
Schlapp told the conference that Budapest was the right place to start a conversation about what was going on in Europe, working with “freedom fighters.”
Launched in 1974, CPAC in recent years has expanded its footprint beyond its annual gathering of conservative activists and politicians in the U.S.
There have been events in Australia, Brazil, Japan, and South Korea. It plans to hold conferences in Israel, Brazil, Japan, and Mexico later this year.
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