France Supports Hungary’s EU Presidency Program

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has announced that France supports Hungary’s EU Presidency program, which is focused on strengthening the European economy. This announcement came following discussions with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris on June 26, 2024.

Prime Minister Orbán, reflecting on his European tour, noted that after stops in Berlin and Rome, he arrived in Paris to finalize agreements on Hungary's upcoming EU presidency. He emphasized that Hungary’s program aims to enhance the competitiveness of the European economy, a goal that received approval from both Berlin and Rome and now Paris.

During the talks, PM Orbán and President Macron also discussed the enlargement of the European Union to include Western Balkan countries. The prime minister expressed frustration over the 15-year wait for countries in this region to join the EU, calling it "wrong and possibly humiliating." He pointed out that there is overwhelming support among EU countries for the swift inclusion of Western Balkan nations, including Serbia, and assured that Hungary would work diligently towards this goal in the coming period.

The meeting also celebrated the positive trajectory of French-Hungarian relations. PM Orbán highlighted that 45,000 to 50,000 Hungarian families are employed by French-owned companies operating in Hungary, and bilateral trade has doubled over the past decade. He also mentioned the significant involvement of a major French company in the purchase and development of Budapest’s Ferenc Liszt International Airport, underscoring the importance of this collaboration for both countries.

Prime Minister Orbán and President Macron confirmed that this collaboration is more than just an investment, it is a significant development project beneficial to both nations. Additionally, they discussed European issues, particularly the nuclear energy coalition led by France, of which Hungary has been a member since the beginning. The two leaders clarified steps for cooperation in nuclear energy, with French companies playing a significant role in the expansion of Hungary's Paks Nuclear Power Plant.

The two leaders also agreed to expand defense industry cooperation. While there are already French defense industry investments in Hungary, they are exploring further opportunities for collaboration.

However, the discussions revealed significant differences regarding the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. Prime Minister Orbán reiterated Hungary’s stance, emphasizing that Hungary is focused on peace, not siding with either Ukraine or Russia. He stressed that Hungary's primary objective is to achieve a ceasefire as soon as possible to prevent further loss of life.

When asked about Chinese-Hungarian relations, Orbán noted that the topic did not come up in Paris. He stated that Hungary has historically maintained balanced and positive relations with China, which has significantly contributed to Hungary’s economic modernization. He added that China has invited Hungary to participate in its economic modernization efforts, a collaboration that faces no opposition from the European Union.

Regarding the distribution of top EU positions, PM Orbán confirmed that this process is complete. However, he emphasized that Hungary has always advocated for involving everyone in European decisions, perhaps due to its size and traditions. He warned that it is detrimental to distribute the most important positions and their associated programs on a party basis for the next five years, as decided by those who have appointed themselves. According to the prime minister, it is never good for the European Union to have a governing party and an opposition, a majority, and a minority.

Concluding, PM Orbán stressed that this approach has instead become a coalition of parties supporting war and migration, which Hungary is obligated to oppose. He stated that everyone should be included in the decision-making process to prevent such imbalances in the EU’s governance.