Orban & ‘new boy’ Macron engaged in verbal slugfest over EU policies
Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban has slammed the French president over what he terms inappropriate conduct after Emmanuel Macron criticized Eastern Europe for a ‘lack of solidarity’ and ‘cynicism’ in dealing with the refugee crisis.
Macron’s first public appearance at official EU level was “not very encouraging,” Orban told journalists on the sidelines of the EU leaders summit that started Thursday in Brussels.
The Hungarian prime minister went on to say that the French leader “thought that the best form of friendship [between the EU states] was to kick the Central European countries,” adding, “it is not the norm here.”
He also called Macron “a new boy” in European politics as reported by the Hungarian ATV broadcaster. Orban pointed out that the current EU leaders summit was the first for the recently elected French president.
The Hungarian leader’s angry reaction came after Macron chastised Eastern European countries for their “cynical approach” towards dealing with the refugee crisis and for allegedly betraying European principles and values. Macron’s comments were made in an interview with several major European media outlets, including Le Figaro, Sueddeutsche Zeitung and the Guardian.
During the interview, Macron also said that “certain Eastern European leaders” only use the EU as a source of money “without respecting its values” and “turning their backs on Europe” in times of need.
He did not mention Orban or any other Eastern European leader by name. But, his criticism was widely viewed as being directed against Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic, all of which now face legal action by the EU who considers their hardline stance toward migrants as a lack of “necessary action” in the face of the refugee crisis.
“Europe isn’t a supermarket. Europe is a common destiny. It is weakened when it accepts its principles being rejected. The countries in Europe that don’t respect the rules should have to face the political consequences,” Macron underlined on Wednesday.
“I won’t compromise on European principles – on solidarity or democratic values. If Europe were to accept that, it would mean it’s weak and had already ceased to exist,” he added.
Orban said there will be no consensus on the issue of redistributing refugees and migrants among EU countries as “the Western [EU states] just want to get rid of unwisely accepted migrants” and to re-distribute them among those “countries that protected their borders and did not let them [migrants and refugees] in, such as Hungary.”
He went on to say that EU leaders should instead focus on the issues that can be agreed upon, such as adopting a new EU border protection strategy that would deal with the external aspect of the refugee crisis and help the bloc to prevent those “whom the EU do not want to see here” from reaching Europe.
The two-day EU leaders summit, which started in the Belgian capital of Brussels on Thursday, will focus on issues of common defense policy, security, migration as well as economic aspects.