Everything opposes them, or almost. This Monday, Emmanuel Macron is going to Budapest to meet his Hungarian counterpart Viktor Orban. “A political opponent, but a European partner” in the eyes of Emmanuel Macron who is preparing for the French presidency of the EU.
This trip to Hungary will take place within the framework of a summit of the countries of the Visegrad group (Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia), currently chaired by Hungary. It allows the French president to complete his tour of the 26 other capitals of the European Union that he had promised to visit before the end of his mandate.
Politically, the subjects of contention are numerous. When one presents himself as the defender of Christian values and the guarantor of the Hungarian identity, the other wants to be the leader of a Europhile and “progressive” camp.
With Poland, the Hungary of Eurosceptic President Viktor Orban has adopted several laws contested by the European Commission in Brussels, in particular against the representation of homosexuality among minors. The Hungarian government is also targeted by NGOs for its attack on press freedom and its hostility towards migrants.
Finding “useful compromises” for Europe
In response, the Commission has launched several procedures for undermining the rule of law and the values of the EU, including a “conditionality” mechanism for European aid, which blocks the payment of stimulus subsidies.
“Whatever our political sensitivities, our choices, we must work together for our Europe,” Emmanuel Macron said Thursday. “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.
A few weeks before the start of the French presidency of the EU, Emmanuel Macron intends to make progress on the subjects where French and Hungarian interests can converge: the protection of Europe’s borders, an ambitious policy of revival with a European budget of investment or even the promotion of nuclear energy.
Meeting with opponents
According to the Elysee, agreements can also be found on digital sovereignty, the strengthening of defense Europe wanted by Emmanuel Macron and on the establishment of industrial alliances.
However, the French presidency assures us that Emmanuel Macron is “not in the habit of dodging” the subjects that annoy, while the LGBT + Hungarian community has called on the French president to evoke “the oppression” that it suffers during his meeting with Viktor Orban, in an open letter to Têtu magazine.
The first gesture of the French president when he arrives in Budapest on Monday will be to go to the grave of the philosopher Agnès Heller, who died in 2019, a figure of the opposition to Viktor Orban whom he had received at the Elysee Palace in 2018.
“A country led by Marine Le Pen or Éric Zemmour”
He will also meet Gergely Karacsony, the environmentalist mayor of Budapest, and could dialogue with other representatives of the opposition such as Peter Marki-Zay, the candidate who hopes to overthrow Viktor Orban in the legislative elections of April 2022.
For some, the presence of Emmanuel Macron in Hungary amounts to endorsing the policy of President Orban. “Mr. Macron, the Hungary you are about to visit is indeed a country ruled by the extreme right,” the mayor of the 8th district of Budapest Gabor Eross questioned him in a forum, who said he was “shocked” by the visit of the French president.
“You will visit a country led by Marine Le Pen or Eric Zemmour,” he warned, referring to the two presidential candidates to whom Viktor Orban had rolled out the red carpet during their recent respective visits.