BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — President Donald Trump's position that all countries have the right to put their own interests first was the key phrase of his inaugural address, the prime minister of Hungary said Monday.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban interpreted Trump's statement as "the end of multilateralism" and as permission for Hungary to also put itself in first place.
Trump said in his inaugural address that Washington "will seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world."
"But we do so with the understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first," Trump said Friday. "We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example."
Orban, an early supporter of Trump who has praised his immigration policies, said that the West was undergoing a "change of character" and that Trump's phrase was essential to understand what was ahead for the world.
"We have received permission from, if you like, the highest position in the world so we can now also put ourselves in first place," Orban said at an economic conference organized by the National Bank of Hungary. "This is a great thing, a great freedom and a great gift."
Orban also implied that conservative Francois Fillon is his preferred candidate to become the next president of France and supported his desire for a new military alliance in Europe.
Orban said this new alliance could give Europe greater self-confidence and the ability to negotiate with all parties, including Russia.
Orban called it a "grave issue" whether Europe would be able to defend itself from external threats "without America."
"The key to the solution is really simple and it is called the French-German military cooperation, a joint army, a joint security system," Orban said. "It sounds very simple but if you think about it, such a thing has never existed."
Orban said he hoped Fillon's trip to Berlin would help clarify the issue.
The Hungarian prime minister also said that if Europe wanted to increase trade with the East, specifically with China, "it won't work if every morning we lecture them about human rights."
"This position will only result in a rhetorical opening toward the East, but not in reality," Orban said. "The essence of opening to the East is respect."
Orban, who will try to win a fourth, four-year term in 2018 and has been often criticized for centralizing power and weakening democratic checks and balances, said the "Hungarian model" was comprised of political stability, a strict fiscal policy, a work-based society and the opening toward the East.