14 Dec 2021 4:46 p.m.
For some time now, Hungary has been criticized from Brussels and Berlin for alleged violations of EU law. Even sanctions are under discussion. Macron’s trip to Budapest could be understood as a rejection of a radical anti-Hungarian course.
French President Emmanuel Macron and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán emphasized their partnership in a joint press statement in Budapest on Monday, but also acknowledged their differences, as did the Chinese news agency Xinhua reported.
Last week, Macron called Orbán a “political opponent but a European partner” with whom a compromise could be found.
Orbán, who opened the press conference on Monday, quoted Macron’s words and assured him that his government also sees the European partnership as extremely important.
The Hungarian head of government also thanked Macron for his visit and recalled that a French president had last traveled to Hungary in 2007. He stated that Hungary’s relations with France are based on respect. Orbán named three major policy areas in which he agreed with the French President. He emphasized:
“We both love our country, we are working to strengthen Europe and we have set ourselves the goal of creating strategic autonomy for Europe.”
In addition, both states would support the policy of joint European defense capacities, nuclear energy and a strong European agriculture, he said. The economies of both countries depend heavily on nuclear energy. Budapest and Paris are known to urge the EU to continue promoting nuclear energy and to recognize it as a “green” investment.
For his part, the French President said the two countries agreed on the need for a strong Europe.
Macron’s visit took place shortly before France took over the EU Council Presidency for a period of six months from January 1, 2022. The French President stated:
“We will have the opportunity to exchange ideas about digital change.”
This is an important goal of the French Presidency, said Macron, emphasizing the importance of the dialogue on contentious issues.
However, there are still differences of opinion between the two countries on LGBT rights and migration, which are causing tensions.
On the latter issue, Macron said that Europe needed to take a new initiative and that he would like to discuss this in detail with Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki at their scheduled meeting later that day.
“As Europeans, we need to think together to find solutions to protect our borders more effectively, and we also need to think about how we can act together.”
According to the European Commission of the EU, Hungary does not comply with EU standards for rule of law and democracy, which Budapest rejects.
In Budapest, Macron also took part in a meeting of the heads of state and government of the Visegrád group (Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia). He also wanted to meet the leaders of the Hungarian opposition parties.
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