08:43 GMT +330 May 2017
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    Putin and Orban: Preparing for Trump

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    Andrew Korybko
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    Russian President Vladimir Putin is scheduled to pay a visit next week to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban in Budapest in order to discuss the changing world order of the Trump Era.

    According to the EurActiv online media outlet, Orban's chief-of-staff, János Lázár, said that they'll talk about the "current socio-political and economic questions" in an "important" but not "exceptional" meeting, pointing out that 2017 "will be an important year in foreign politics, not just because of the new US president or Brexit. In place of multilateral cooperation, comes an era of bilateral cooperation." While follow-up consultations on previously agreed economic deals and other issues such as energy will certainly be on the agenda, observers are expecting the two leaders to hold all-around talks about the global situation, just as Orban's chief-of-staff reported.

    The Hungarian Premier was the first EU leader to openly come out in support of President Trump during his candidacy last year and recently praised him for putting end to multilateralism. Orban's conservative socio-political and "Euroskeptic" views also align with Trump's, which creates what will surely be an interesting personal synergy to watch over the next four-to-eight years. Interestingly, Orban also has a lot in common with President Putin, as the two leaders are openly against the shadowy Soros network and champion conservative values. Moreover, Orban bravely resisted what must have been unimaginable EU and American pressure to host President Putin last year during the height of the ongoing sanctions war, demonstrating that he's not afraid to take independent positions which put him at odds with his nominal institutional allies.

    This sovereign streak of leadership is attractive to Russia at a time when Moscow seems eager to reach a New Détente with Washington in the New Cold War, and it also shows that Orban was far ahead of his Western peers in appreciating the value of pragmatic relations with President Putin. Now that Trump is openly interested in normalizing relations with Russia and cooperating in areas of shared interest such as antiterrorist operations, Orban is revealed to be a geopolitical visionary who could also importantly help bridge the remaining divides between Moscow and Washington in advance of their hoped-for detente. Orban is already on great terms with President Putin and it can be assumed that Trump sees him quite favorably as well, so it makes sense why Russia's leader might have visited him for this important purpose.

    Andrew Korybko is joined by Stevan Gajic, Institute of European Studies (Belgrade), and Ollie Richardson, Paris-based geopolitical analyst and writer at Stalkerzone.

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    Tags:
    Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump, Viktor Orban, Hungary, Russia
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