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Evaluation of Macron’s visit to Hungary

December 15th, 2021

Commentators on both sides of the political divide see both room for cooperation and opposition between the President of France and the Hungarian Prime Minister.

President Emmanuel Macron of France spent one day in Budapest on Monday, meeting the participants of the Visegrád 4 summit, holding separate talks with Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and receiving representatives of the Hungarian opposition.

In Népszava, Miklós Bonta describes the relations between the two leaders as fraught with disagreements, mainly over liberalism and the future of the European Union. On those matters, he writes, they are adversaries, but the French president readily cooperates with Mr Orbán to promote his country’s interests. This is what happened when the two leaders jointly urged the European Commission not to oppose the use of nuclear energy. This time, Bonta surmises, Mr Macron – who will take over the rotating presidency of the European Union in January – wants to boost his image as an international leader ahead of the presidential election scheduled for next April. However, the left-wing commentator adds, there is a red line the French president is not prepared to cross, namely he refuses to compromise on the principle of the rule of law.

In Magyar Nemzet, László Szőcs also views the relationship between the two leaders as twofold – on the one hand, they are rivals, while on the other, they are partners. He reads their body language at the joint press conference as expressing both mutual respect and disagreement, including on the interpretation of the rule of law. The pro-government commentator recalls that over the last few weeks, Prime Minister Orbán met Mr Macron’s two right-wing rivals, Eric Zemmour and Marine Le Pen, and finds it natural that during his visit to Budapest, the French President received leading representatives of the Hungarian opposition parties.

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