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Macron and Orbán Discuss Energy Security Issues

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán spoke by phone with French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday, Bertalan Havasi, the Prime Minister’s Press Chief, told news agency MTI.

The two leaders discussed issues related to Europe’s energy security, said the tight-lipped Havasi.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen took a surprise trip to Budapest on Monday to meet with Orbán and attempt to convince him to support energy sanctions against Russia.

Leaked information about the discussions has suggested that the EU will give a longer period for Hungary and other countries heavily dependent on Russian oil to transition to different sources, and will also reportedly provide financial resources to manage the process. [Magyar Hang]

Two Orbán Allies Come Up Short in French and Slovene Elections

“Liberal political forces won in two European elections on Sunday,” writes 444. “In France, Emmanual Macron was re-elected president for another five years, while in Slovenia, a green-liberal party that started last year will form a government.”

“This is unpleasant news from the perspective of the Hungarian government. The French election was important for Viktor Orbán because it was a chance for a leader ideologically allied with him to finally come to power in large EU member state, and one of its founders.”

“Likewise, Sunday’s Slovenian election result doesn’t help Orbán’s European efforts either. The green-liberal victory means that Janez Jansa, a Christian democratic politician who was an important ally for Orbán, will likely no longer be prime minister.” [444]

Orbán making secret trip to Paris today, Moscow on Tuesday

picture of Viktor Orbán and Emmanuel Macron

Népszava has learned that Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is visiting Paris on Saturday, January 29, following his meeting with populist party leaders in Madrid on Friday and Saturday.

The Prime Minister will take a special flight to the French capital for a “private visit,” then return home on Sunday, the Hungarian daily reported. On Tuesday, Orbán is scheduled to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow.

On Friday morning, the Prime Minister stated on Kossuth Radio that he would be discussing the security situation in Europe with EU and NATO leaders prior to his trip to Moscow, but he did not provide any details.

Orbán’s visit to Paris could possibly be a part of these consultations, considering that France took over the rotating six-month presidency of the European Union at the beginning of the year.

MEP Nathalie Loiseau, a member of French President Emmanuel Macron’s party LREM and the chair of the Subcommittee on Security and Defense in the European Parliament, spoke to Euronews on Thursday about Viktor Orbán’s upcoming visit to Moscow. As she stated:

I sincerely hope he is aware of what is at stake, and that he maintains the EU’s message of unity.

While Bertalan Havasi, the head of the Prime Minister’s Press Office, announced on Tuesday that Viktor Orbán would be traveling to Madrid to meet with the leaders of European populist parties, nothing was said about the detour to the French capital. Népszava inquired about Orbán’s trip to Paris, but apparently did not receive an answer from Havasi’s office.

Also present at the Madrid event this weekend was Marine Le Pen, chair of France’s far-right National Rally and the strongest challenger to President Macron in this April’s French presidential election.

[Népszava][Photo: Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris in 2019]

Szeged politician exposes massive security breach during Macron visit to Budapest

picture of Bálint Szabó at V4 Summit

Bálint Szabó, a local municipal representative from Szeged, had no difficulty walking into December’s summit in Budapest between V4 and Emmanuel Macron despite the security around the event, and even managed to take a few pictures near the French President and the V4 leaders.

The representative from the Everyone for Szeged Movement posted several photos on Facebook from the V4 summit back in December, at which Macron was the main guest. Security was provided by Hungary’s Counter-Terrorism Center (TEK), and following the event the Ministry of the Interior stated that nothing extraordinary had taken place.

Szabó’s photos show that his car was also able to join the convoy of vehicles transporting the leaders and their assistants, apparently without being noticed.

In addition to a selfie, Szabó posted another picture that appears to have been taken just a short distance from Viktor Orbán, Emmanuel Macron, the Polish and Slovak prime ministers, and former Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš:

Szabó’s photo of V4 leaders and French President Emmanuel Macron

24.hu reports that TEK was aware of the security breach, but did not want to make it public. Within the organization, however, several personnel were reprimanded and even replaced following the incident, according to the news site.

Bálint Szabó subsequently stated that he went in because he wanted to test the security around the event. He claims that he had previously successfully demonstrated the level of security at other guarded events, and thought that he would do the same when one of the world’s most guarded politicians, Emmanuel Macron, visited Hungary.

The Szeged politician claimed it was absurd how easily he was able to get close to the French President despite the protection around him.

The discussions had been going on for twenty minutes when they noticed me. Then they discreetly asked me to leave the room.

-wrote Szabó, who stated that after posting the photos, he received several phone calls asking him to remove his post.

Index writes that Bálint Szabó has had an unusual political career. At the beginning of last year, he was in the press when police went looking for him as a missing person after he promised to reveal some major news in Szeged.

[Index][Photos: Bálint Szabó / Facebook]

Macron promises opposition that rule of law mechanism will be launched during French Presidency of EU

picture of Emmanuel Macron and Hungarian opposition

“It was an honor that he gave so much time to the Hungarian political opposition despite all of his meetings, and I think he expressed visible sympathy for our efforts,” stated opposition prime ministerial candidate Péter Márki-Zay after his meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday afternoon, at which opposition leaders Anna Donáth, Klára Dobrev, and Gergely Karácsony also took part. Márki-Zay said that the meeting had lasted an hour and took place at the French Embassy.

Péter Márki-Zay said that they share the values ​​that Macron shares, namely the idea of ​​a stronger, more secure, freer, more democratic Europe, and they feel confident that they can count on support from him in these areas.

The fight against corruption was an important area of ​​their discussion, added Márki-Zay, as was the topic of municipalities who have had their funding cut from the national government’s budget.

The President does not expect the European Union to be able to provide Hungary with a more substantial amount from the recovery fund, and the reason for this is corruption.

-said Péter Márki-Zay.

Hungary will continue to lose subsidies for as long as its corrupt government steals taxpayer money, but “hopefully an honest and anti-corrupt government will be able to receive it after the election,” he added. “We are very optimistic about the future following this meeting,” summed up Péter Márki-Zay.

“Macron made a firm promise that the rule of law mechanism will indeed be introduced during the French presidency of the EU,” said MEP Klára Dobrev from the Democratic Coalition. She added:

This is why Viktor Orbán cannot expect to receive EU subsidies with these policies of his. The opposition therefore has a duty to create the legal environment after the election to be able to receive this money.

Macron also shares the opposition’s view that closer European cooperation is needed right now, according to Klára Dobrev. She believes that when France takes over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union on January 1, the EU will become stronger, Hungarian democratic supporters will have the opportunity to display their values, and Viktor Orbán will become weaker.

[Magyar Hang][Photo: Gergely Karácsony / Facebook]

Macron and V4 leaders hold press conference after Budapest talks

picture of press conference

On his visit to Budapest yesterday, French President Emmanuel Macron held a press conference with heads of government from the Visegrad countries. In addition to host Viktor Orbán, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki of Poland, and Prime Minister Eduard Heger of Slovakia all took part in the event.

Viktor Orbán stated that they had “thoroughly and exhaustively” discussed migration, and had “thoroughly, exhaustively, and passionately” gone over the rule of law issue as well. Other topics of discussion in the V4-France summit were the Western Balkans and energy, particularly nuclear energy and the ETS energy accounting system.

As the Hungarian Prime Minister put it, rarely do they get the opportunity to speak so openly about such important issues.

In his speech, Emmanuel Macron spoke about the fact that the European Union is going through a number of intertwined crises, with the migration crisis now critical for Poland. He hopes to carry out a complete reform of the Schengen system when France takes over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union on January 1, including a review of the rules on external border protection and expelling migrants to their country of origin.

Speaking on the rule of law, the French President said he knew it was a sensitive issue and noted different positions on it. However, he stated that the fight against discrimination and the protection of minorities was an existential issue for the future of the EU. He assured his partners of his good intentions, and stressed that they needed to find the opportunity to make progress in this area as well.

Eduard Heger also spoke about the challenges facing the EU and globally, including the climate crisis. Both Andrej Babis and Mateusz Morawiecki mentioned migration, with Babis defending Viktor Orbán’s defense of Europe with his border fence, and Morawiecki reminding them that that Poland was defending the eastern border of the EU and NATO.

The only Hungarian press allowed at the event was public television channel M1, but a member of the foreign press managed to ask the Hungarian Prime Minister about the Pegasus spyware scandal. In response, Orbán stated that Hungary was a country governed by the rule of law, and that the rule of law, which is always observed, governs the operation of its intelligence services.

Also in response to a question, Orbán stated that Hungary would not be getting its share from the EU Recovery Fund due to political reasons. He said it was completely unacceptable for the European Commission to call for a change in Hungary’s laws on family and on education.

“What does this have to do with restarting the European economy? What has this got to do with using money wisely?” Orbán asked. The Hungarian Prime Minister sees Hungary as a victim of “political blackmail,” but the Hungarian economy is strong enough to survive long-term without these funds.

Viktor Orbán also complained that Hungary had not only not received any praise, but had to suffer harsh attacks all while defending Europe’s borders against migrants.

We were regularly shot in the back from Brussels and some European capitals.

-stated Prime Minister Orbán.

He sees that the situation has changed now, and it is time for the European Union to show some solidarity so that Brussels can provide a fair accounting for the cost of defending Europe that is due to each country.

[HVG]

What’s behind Emmanuel Macron’s visit to Budapest?

picture of Emmanuel Macron

Hungarian daily Népszava takes a look at what Emmanuel Macron (pictured) wants to get out of his first official visit to Hungary, and determines that the trip to Budapest may help the French President advance his domestic agenda.

According to the official version, the French President will meet with Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, attend a summit with leaders of the Visegrád countries, and exchange views with Hungarian opposition politicians.

However, the next few months will be critical for Macron, says Népszava, as France will take over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union on January 1, and Macron is also vying for re-election as French President in April. Macron’s re-election chances will greatly increase, claims the Hungarian daily, if he succeeds in carrying out reforms on the future of the European Union that he has been promoting since 2017.

Notably, Emmanuel Macron is the third French presidential candidate to visit Budapest in the past few months, after Éric Zemmour and Marine Le Pen.

For Macron, therefore, there are partly domestic political reasons for this diplomatic offensive, which includes a stop in Budapest. In a Thursday opinion piece, French conservative paper Le Figaro said that Macron “wants to use Europe to destabilize his opponents in the Presidential election.”

The French President laid out his plans for the EU Presidency on Thursday at a time when the European Union is facing difficulties due to challenges from migration and the coronavirus epidemic. Macron’s visit to Budapest, suggests Népszava, may be intented to divert attention in France from the refugee issue, which the country’s right wing will want to put front and center in the country’s Presidential campaign.

[Népszava]

Macron also meeting with opposition politicians next week in Budapest

picture of Emmanuel Macron

French President Emmanuel Macron (pictured) will meet with Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony on Monday afternoon during his upcoming visit to Budapest, reports HVG. The visit will take place at the French Ambassadorial residence in Budapest.

The news site has also learned that Péter Márki-Zay, the joint prime ministerial candidate for the united opposition, Klára Dobrev, MEP from the Democratic Coalition, and Momentum President Anna Donáth will take part in the meeting between the French head of state and the mayor as well.

Macron will arrive in Budapest for a summit between the V4 countries and France on Monday, where he will meet with President János Áder and Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, and hold talks with the other V4 heads of government.

Ahead of the French President’s visit to Budapest, Macron said of Viktor Orbán on Thursday that the Hungarian prime minister was a “political opponent but a European partner,” noting that EU member states should work together, “even if we have serious differences. And there are, such as on the issue of the rule of law.”

[HVG]

Emmanuel Macron meeting with V4 in Hungary next week

picture of Emmanuel Macron

Local press reported last month that French President Emmanuel Macron (pictured) had visited every EU country except for Hungary, but that omission will now be rectified, writes 444.

On December 13, the President of the French Republic is planning to arrive in Hungary to attend a summit with the Prime Ministers of the Visegrad-4 countries, according to a statement by Bertalan Havasi of the Prime Minister’s Office to news agency MTI.

Macron is expected to hold bilateral discussions with President János Áder as well as with Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. Following these, the heads of government of the V4 countries and the French president will hold talks at the Castle Garden Bazaar.

A joint international press conference will then be held after the V4-France summit, followed by a working dinner.

[444]

Macron has visited every EU country except Hungary

picture of Emmanuel Macron

France supports Croatia’s accession to the Schengen area, the area within the European Union without internal border controls, Emmanuel Macron (pictured) said after talks with Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic in Zagreb on Thursday.

The trip is of special interest to Hungarians, writes Magyar Hang. With the French head of state’s trip to Croatia, Hungary is now the only EU state where Macron has not arranged an official state visit, according to the news site.

However, Hungary has not been without visits from French politicians lately. A month before Macron’s trip to Croatia, French politician Marine Le Pen, a leading figure in the French far right, was personally received by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in Budapest, where the two politicians held a joint press conference.

[Magyar Hang]

Péter Márki-Zay meets with Macron allies in Budapest

Picture of Péter Márki-Zay and French politicians

Péter Márki-Zay met with two MEPs from French President Emmanuel Macron’s La République En Marche! party on Wednesday, the Hungarian opposition leader stated on his Facebook page on Wednesday.

The opposition’s candidate for prime minister discussed the fight against corruption, the rule of law, and joining the European Public Prosecutor’s Office with Valérie Hayer and Pierre Karleskind, he wrote.

“We talked about the importance of the freedom of press, such as the independent European news channel Euronews, which is based in France but also broadcasts in Hungarian,” mentioned Márki-Zay.

[Népszava]