Orban tells CPAC conservatives in Europe, U.S. must align "troops" for 2024 votes

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By Krisztina Than

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Conservatives in Europe and the United States must fight together to "reconquer" institutions in Washington and Brussels from liberals who threaten Western civilisation ahead of votes in 2024, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Thursday.

Nationalist Orban said the next U.S. presidential election, when Donald Trump suggests he may seek a second term in the White House, and the vote for the European Parliament would make that a vital year.

He was addressing the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), the United States' most prominent conservative gathering, in Budapest, the first such CPAC event in Europe.

"Progressive liberals, neo-Marxists dazed by the woke dream, people financed by George Soros and promoters of open societies ... want to annihilate the Western way of life that you and us love so much," Orban told the conference.

"We must coordinate the movement of our troops as we face a big test, 2024 will be a decisive year," he said.

His comments were a familiar swipe at Budapest-born billionaire Soros, who he accuses of trying to undermine Europe's cultural identity by supporting immigration. Soros has promoted liberalism since before the 1989 fall of communism, funding education and scholarships.

Orban, who was re-elected for a fourth consecutive term after a landslide election victory in April, is seen by many on the American hard right as a model for his tough policies on immigration and support for families and Christian conservatism.

The EU has accused Orban of curbing media and judicial independence and enriching associates with public funds. He denies any corruption.

Orban laid out 12 points which he said were key to ensuring a dominance of conservativism, including playing by their own rules, standing up for national interests in foreign policy and gaining control over the media.

"We must reconquer the institutions in Washington D.C. and Brussels," Orban said.

Launched in 1974, the annual CPAC conference has grown from a confab of conservative thinkers and politicians to a jamboree of right-wing celebrities and activists.

Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union that runs CPAC, told the conference that Budapest was the right place to start a conversation about what is going on in Europe, working with "freedom fighters".

(Reporting by Krisztina Than; Editing by Alison Williams)