US and Hungarian conservatives must join forces in the 2024 elections to “take back” institutions in Washington and Brussels from liberals who threaten western civilisation, Prime Minister Viktor Orban has said.
Mr Orban also said the US needed a strong leader to negotiate a peace deal for Russia to end the war in Ukraine, Hungary's neighbour.
“Only a strong leader can negotiate peace,” he told the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), a US political organisation, in Dallas on Thursday. “We need a strong America with a strong leader.”
Mr Orban, a Hungarian nationalist, did not specifically refer to former US president Donald Trump, who has hinted publicly that he will seek the presidency again in 2024.
Mr Trump has endorsed more than 100 conservative candidates before this year's midterm US elections.
The former US leader and Mr Orban had warm relations, with the Hungarian prime minister endorsing Mr Trump before the 2020 US vote.
Before the start of this year's CPAC conference, he wished Mr Trump success in a video message.
As with Mr Trump in the US, Mr Orban has been widely criticised in Europe.
Leaders of the EU, of which Hungary is a member, have accused him of undermining democracy through measures that restrict immigration and give his government control over the media and NGOs.
Mr Orban, who was re-elected for a fourth consecutive term in April, said the stakes were high for 2024. In addition to the US election, Europeans will vote for politicians vying for seats in the European Parliament that year.
“These two locations will define the two fronts in the battle for western civilisation,” Mr Orban said.
Calling himself “an old fashioned freedom fighter”, Mr Orban said Hungary and his government were “under the siege of progressive liberals”.
He said progressives sought to separate western civilisation from its Christian roots. His government's fierce anti-immigration stance, pro-family policies and rejection of gender ideology resist those efforts, he said.
“This war is a culture war,” Mr Orban said. “We have to revitalise our churches, our families, our universities and our community institutions.”
In a speech last month, Mr Orban said that in contrast to Western Europe, where locals mixed with non-European immigrants, Hungary was not a “mixed race” country.
His words drew condemnation from the US, the EU, Jewish groups and academics.
A few days later Mr Orban backtracked, saying he sometimes said things in a way that could be misunderstood.
He told CPAC that those who accused him or his government of racism were “idiots” and said his administration had adopted a “zero tolerance” policy on racism and anti-Semitism.
“Accusing us is fake news,” he said.