Hungary: Bolsonaro and Orban stress shared migration views

By Justin Spike, The Associated Press

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — The populist leaders of Brazil and Hungary emphasized their shared conservative approach to issues like migration, Christianity and family values during a visit to Hungary’s capital on Thursday by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.

Speaking at a news briefing in Budapest following bilateral talks, Hungary’s nationalist prime minister, Viktor Orban, called Bolsonaro’s visit a “historic diplomatic event,” and said that the two leaders shared a single approach to “the world’s large, global challenges.”

“We have the same approach to migration,” Orban said, adding that Hungary and Brazil had agreed to set up an “early warning system” to detect any international agreements that facilitate migration and to work together to oppose them.

“There are still some of us — what we call a coalition of the sane — who do not want the world to change as a result of migration,” Orban said.

Bolsonaro’s official visit to Budapest, the first ever by a Brazilian president, came just a day after he met in Moscow with Russian President Vladimir Putin — a visit his critics, and even some within his own Cabinet, argued was ill timed due to the ongoing tensions over fears of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Orban, who has pursued close ties with Putin and himself visited the Kremlin early this month, said on Thursday that “every effort toward diplomacy” was valuable as the “possibility of war casts a shadow over our days.”

An ideological ally of Bolsonaro’s and a proponent of what he calls “illiberal democracy” and a Christian approach to governance, Orban said the two leaders had pledged to extend joint support to persecuted Christian communities in Africa, and discussed what they see as attacks on the traditional family model.

“One man and one woman make a family, and we will do everything we can at every level to make sure that this concept is not relativized,” Orban said.

One of the few foreign leaders to attend Bolsonaro’s presidential inauguration in Brazil in 2019, Orban is often praised by the Brazilian leader’s far-right allies.

In a speech in Congress’ Lower House in March 2021, Bolsonaro’s son Eduardo, a lawmaker who presided over the foreign relations committee at the time, called the Hungarian prime minister a “reference.”

Yet despite their ideological proximity, the two leaders differ on their approach to the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccination.

A Brazilian Senate report recommended last year that Bolsonaro, who says he is unvaccinated, be charged with crimes against humanity and other charges for allegedly bungling Brazil’s response to COVID-19 and contributing to the country having the world’s second-highest pandemic death toll.

Orban’s government, on the other hand, has emphasized the importance of vaccination as the only path to bringing the pandemic under control.

On Thursday, Brazil and Hungary signed memoranda of understanding on advancing defense cooperation, as well as in the areas of humanitarianism and water management and sanitation.

“We only spent a very brief time in Hungary but this will have a huge impact on our nations,” Bolsonaro said.


David Biller in Rio de Janeiro contributed.

Justin Spike, The Associated Press

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