Boris Johnson Raised Human Rights Issues At Orbán Meeting, Says # 10 | Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson raised “significant concerns” about media freedoms and human rights with Viktor Orbán, No.10 said, after sustained criticism of the prime minister’s decision to meet with the Hungarian leader.
Before the Downing Street meeting, Orbán had insisted that he was correct in describing the Muslim refugees as “invaders”.
The meeting, confirming Johnson’s Eurosceptic credentials, was only the second such meeting between an EU leader and the Prime Minister since the last stage of Brexit.
The decision to invite the right-wing populist has been criticized by opposition and anti-racism groups because of Orbán’s ties to China and Russia, the degradation of civil liberties and remarks about minorities.
No.10 said Johnson had raised his “significant human rights concerns in Hungary, including gender equality, LGBT rights and media freedom.”
He said he should maintain bilateral relations with EU leaders and stressed that Orbán is the current rotating president of the Visegrád group of four countries, the others being Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. .
In a statement, No 10 said: “The leaders discussed the importance for the UK and Hungary to work together to increase security and prosperity in our countries and to address global challenges such as climate change.”
Orbán highlighted the possibility of developing new ties with the UK outside the EU, particularly in the areas of defense and energy. He told reporters the couple had spoken of finding “a way to cooperate in a post-Brexit period”.
Orbán dismissed allegations of anti-Semitism and defended his past comments about the Muslim “invaders” invading Europe. He also defended the independence of the Hungarian judiciary as “one of the best in the European Union, I believe” and its free press. “If you go to a Hungarian newsstand and ask for a newspaper attacking the government, you will get a dozen immediately,” he said.
Earlier, UK Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said leaders should meet with counterparts “whose values we don’t necessarily share”.
Eurosceptic Orbán, who has previously praised Johnson on his Brexit, is seen as a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin and has twice blocked the EU from issuing statements condemning China for its actions in Hong Kong.
Last year, he pushed Brussels to lift sanctions against Belarus, where a Ryanair flight was hijacked last week so that authorities can arrest a prominent journalist who has criticized the regime.
Kwarteng said it was “absolutely right” for Johnson to “build bilateral relations” after Brexit. Responding to Orbán’s remarks that migrants are “poison,” Kwarteng told Sky News: “I think Viktor Orbán’s views on migrants are things I would not agree with in any way. Having said that, I think we need to engage with the EU, it is a leader of the EU. “