Manfred Weber, the group leader of the European People’s Party (EPP), said in Budapest on Tuesday that his talks with Prime Minister Viktor Orban had been constructive and covered several issues, but some problems had remained unresolved.
EPP has clear fundamental values which have to be respected by all EPP member parties, including Hungary’s ruling Fidesz, Weber told journalists during his visit to the Great Synagogue in Dohany Street.
It is essential for Fidesz to terminate its campaigns against Brussels and the EU, remove billboards warning against measures planned by Brussels and promise not to mount such campaigns in future, the group leader said.
Weber said it would be an appropriate solution for Orban to apologise for “problems” he had caused to EPP member parties.
Academic freedom is a fundamental value, Weber said, insisting that the Central European University (CEU) should stay in Budapest.
After paying tribute in the synagogue’s garden, Weber said he was there “to make clear” that in making European policies small communities are always taken into consideration.
Weber warned that anti-Semitism is on the rise all over in Europe, adding that politicians have the job to speak out for the freedom of religion. He hailed the thriving of a strong Jewish community in Hungary.
The debate on Fidesz’s membership in the EPP is actually about immigration, as the EPP members’ approach to the issue is determined by their stance on migration, Gergely Gulyas, head of the Prime Minister’s Office told a press conference later in the afternoon. Fidesz had several conflicts with the parties that initiated its exclusion from EPP even previously because almost all of them had voted in favour of mandatory migrant quotas, Gulyas added.
He said Weber and Orban shared the intention that Fidesz should remain an EPP member, with the two sides having an interest in an agreement. Gulyas added, however, that both sides have some “boundaries” which they are unwilling to go beyond. Orban made it clear that Hungary cannot and does not want to make concessions in terms of defending its external borders, rejecting migration and protecting Christian culture, no matter what internal conflicts this approach generates within the EPP, he said.
The government welcomes that Weber has informed Orban about his plans, among which defending external borders and halting migration are priorities, Gulyas said, adding that this is why Hungary can support the German politician’s quest to become president of the European Commission. Weber made it clear that if he were the EC president, he would take resolute action against migration and for the defence of external borders. “This is a common cause”, Gulyas said. Weber also stressed the need to totally halt illegal immigration, he said.
Concerning Weber’s previous requests to the Hungarian government, Gulyas quoted Orban as saying that the billboards warning against measures planned by Brussels would be replaced by ones that promote the government’s family policy measures.
The prime minister also said he had not wanted to insult anyone with the expression “useful idiots” and if someone still feels offended, he is prepared to apologise, Gulyas said. The minister added that the government considers the future of the Central European University (CEU) in Budapest as guaranteed.
Source and photo: MTI