European expert: Hungary backslides on women, refugee rights

European expert: Hungary backslides on women, refugee rights

"Where barbed wire and armed guards stood, today people, goods and information cross freely", Pompeo said.

Pompeo, the first U.S. secretary of state to visit Slovakia in 14 years, will meet President Andrej Kiska, Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini and a group of students on the half-day stop in Bratislava.

"We're fine with companies competing, but they have got to do so in a way that's fair and open and transparent, and they can't do so with anything other than an economic motive", he said.

"The overall goal in Central Europe you can see as an analogue to our Asia-Pacific strategy-it emphasizes in vulnerable regions where our rivals, the Chinese and the Russians, are gaining ground that we want to increase our diplomatic, military and cultural engagement", the official told reporters traveling with Pompeo. The U.S. sees those as key to countering Russian and Chinese efforts to pull Hungary and other countries in the region away from the West and sow division in the European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, officials said.

Pompeo says the presence of Chinese telecom infrastructure could drive a technological wedge between the US and some allies.

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto, in the joint briefing with Pompeo in Budapest, pushed back against criticism that Hungary wasn't doing enough to counter China's influence, in particular Huawei. He will wrap up the tour with brief stops in Belgium and Iceland. Over the course of the past 10 years, the officials said, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leaders have become much more aggressive in the region and made inroads.

Viktor Orban, the Prime Minister of Hungary, has announced a huge incentive for women who give birth to and raise at least 4 kids.

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China has said the USA is just trying to suppress a rising competitor.

President Barack Obama's administration had largely steered clear of Orban, who won a third consecutive term a year ago in a campaign based on anti-immigration policies and whose policies have been met with street protests and deepening concern within the EU.

Pompeo put the blame for much of the backsliding on a lack of USA engagement. This would, in turn, lead to the United States keeping those countries at arms length when handling sensitive information.

Legislation approved past year, for example, allows jail sentences for people convicted of aiding asylum-seekers. Three groups that took part said they believed Pompeo would bring them to Orban.

The right-wing nationalist, who has repeatedly vowed to make Hungary a "Christian homeland, " has built high-tech border fences to curb migration and has said that Middle Eastern immigrants should be viewed "Muslim invaders" rather than "refugees", Politico reports.

Orban's government has been targeted for criticism, including from the US, for forcing a Budapest-based university founded by billionaire philanthropist George Soros to move most of its programs to Vienna.

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