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Visegrád countries on collision course with Chancellor Merkel? 

February 18th, 2016

As Chancellor Merkel and the V4 states propose divergent plans to stop the flow of migrants, commentators both on Left and Right believe that the rift between the core EU states and Central and Eastern Europe is becoming ever deeper.

Commenting on the Monday V4 summit in Prague, Népszava’s Róbert Friss (see BudaPost, February 17) suspects that PM Orbán is using the migration debate to establish an anti-Merkel coalition in Central and Eastern Europe. The left-wing analyst thinks that Mr Orbán wants to take revenge on the German Chancellor, whom he describes as having been highly critical of the Hungarian PM’s efforts to establish ’illiberal democracy’. PM Orbán, Friss continues, wants to mobilize and unite V4 countries around criticizing German immigration strategy. He adds that the erection of a border fence on the Greek and Macedonian border would lock Greece out of the Schengen zone and further deteriorate Greek-Macedonian diplomatic relations. Friss predicts that after PM Orbán’s meeting with Russian President Putin and the Thursday EU summit on migration, we will see to what extent the Hungarian Prime Minister can enforce his vision on the EU. He also suggests that the V4 countries may eventually expand their regional partnership and include Serbia, Croatia, Romania and even Bosnia if the core EU states decide to create a two-tier Union and push towards further integrating Western Europe.

In Magyar Nemzet, István Pataky welcomes what he calls the V4 leaders’ courage, in opposing Angela Merkel’s migration plans. The conservative columnist, however, is somewhat sceptical if the V4’s proposal to erect a fence on the Macedonian border can be implemented. Sealing off the border would make Greece a giant refugee camp where civil war is likely to break out, Pataky speculates. He goes on to note that Chancellor Merkel’s suggestion to stop the influx of migrants through a deal with Turkey is equally unfeasible. In conclusion, Pataky notes that the emerging battle between the Central and Eastern European coalition and the core EU states is a symptom of the crisis of the EU.

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