Emmanuel Macron on a visit to Viktor Orban in Hungary, “a political opponent but a European partner”

This is the first trip by a French head of state to Hungary since 2007. Emmanuel Macron meets, Monday, December 13, in Budapest, the Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, within the framework of a summit of the countries of the group of Visegrad (Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia). The relationship between the two men is not known to be the warmest.

“He is a political opponent but a European partner”, underlined, Thursday, Mr. Macron, who thus ends his tour of the capitals of the European Union (EU). “Whatever our political sensitivities, our choices, we must work together for our Europe”.

“It is very clear that on the subject of the rule of law, there will be disagreements, but I think that on the subjects of sovereignty, on the subject of the growth model and on multiple subjects, there can also be an ability to find useful compromises ”, he added. Viktor Orban has however often been cited by Emmanuel Macron as the leader of a nationalist and sovereignist camp in the EU, to which he opposes that of the Europhiles ” progressive “.

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Common ground

With Poland, Hungary has adopted several laws contested in Brussels, in particular a text prohibiting the representation of homosexuality among those under 18. And like Warsaw, it challenges the supremacy of European law over national law. In response, the Commission launched several procedures against them for undermining the rule of law and the values ​​of the EU, in particular a mechanism of “conditionality” of European aid, which blocks the payment of stimulus subsidies.

But these subjects “Are not necessarily related” to the agreements that can be found on digital sovereignty, the strengthening of defense Europe, a European investment budget or even industrial alliances, argued the French presidency. The two leaders had already found common ground when Emmanuel Macron received Viktor Orban in October 2019, in particular on border protection and the need for European defense.

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Likewise, “Despite the differences between a liberal Emmanuel Macron and a conservative Viktor Orban, important points of cooperation exist, for example on energy policy between these two supporters of nuclear power”, comments Daniel Deak, pro-Orban analyst at the XXI Hungarian Institutee century.

Meet the opposition

The Elysée, however, assures us that the French president will speak of points of disagreement and has “Not in the habit of dodging”, while the Hungarian LGBT + community called on him to raise the issue during his meeting with Mr. Orban, in an open letter to the French magazine Stubborn.

As soon as he arrives in Budapest, scheduled for 11:30 a.m., Emmanuel Macron will also go to the grave of the philosopher Agnes Heller, who died in 2019, an opposition figure he had received in Paris in 2018.

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He will also meet Gergely Karacsony, the mayor of Budapest, as well as other representatives of the anti-Orban parties, including Peter Marki-Zay, the sole opposition candidate who hopes, in the April 2022 legislative elections, to overthrow the prime minister. Hungarian, in power since 2010. Which makes him the longest serving EU leader since Angela Merkel left.

“Mr. Macron, the Hungary you are about to visit is indeed a country ruled by the extreme right”, questioned him the mayor of a district of Budapest, the sociologist Gabor Eross, denouncing “Widespread corruption, the anti-LGBT + campaign, electoral fraud, the oligarchization of the economy and the massive repression of civil society”.

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The World with AFP

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Emmanuel Macron on a visit to Viktor Orban in Hungary, “a political opponent but a European partner”

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