(CNN)The US State Department is sending two high-level officials to a migration summit this weekend in Hungary -- a country whose controversial far-right ruling party has maintained a hardline anti-migration stance, with one of the strictest policies against immigrants in Europe, and has cracked down on civic organizations, the media and academic institutions.
US sending diplomats to speak at migration summit -- in hardline Hungary
It is notable that none of the US's key European allies -- Germany, France, or the United Kingdom -- are sending any representatives from their foreign ministries. And the decision by the US to take part comes amid concerns over the spreading influence of far-right ultra nationalist parties on the continent. Poland is the only other country besides the US and Hungary with a government official scheduled to speak; they're sending a minister for humanitarian aid programs.
Hungary has built a border fence, sent the bill for it to the EU, and made it a crime for citizens to offer help to undocumented immigrants. The State Department officials will speak at the summit just days after Hungary's ruling party was suspended from its EU Parliamentary coalition after refusing to moderate its views.
"We cannot compromise on democracy, rule of law, freedom of press, academic freedom or minorities rights. And anti-EU rhetoric is unacceptable. The divergences between EPP and Fidesz must cease," Joseph Daul, the president of that coalition (the European People's Party) said Wednesday.
A Hungarian government official stressed before the vote to suspend the party that they would "under no circumstances be able to compromise on fundamental issues such as the defence of Christian culture or the rejection of immigration."
Meanwhile, Balazs Orban, the deputy minister and parliamentary state secretary for the Prime Minister's Office, is touting this Budapest migration summit, which is organized by a Hungarian university, as a way to further their agenda, a place to "gather serious intellectual ammunition."
"The migration policy of the Hungarian government, including determined, consistent, forward-looking strategic considerations, makes the country exciting for professionals who are concerned about massive illegal migration worldwide," Balazs Orban told a Hungarian news outlet.
A State Department spokesperson said the officials who will attend and speak at the summit -- Andrew Veprek, deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, and Pete Marocco, deputy assistant secretary for the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations -- "are attending the conference to discuss the U.S. government's policies and approaches to international migration issues, stabilization, and conflict mitigation."
The summit will feature speakers from a variety of think tanks, educational institutions and religious organizations, according to its website. Numerous officials from the Hungarian government are also listed as speakers.