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Emmanuel Macron Replaces Ambassador to Budapest Allegedly Because of Pro-Orbán Comments

2018.07.02.

French President Emmanuel Macron chose to replace France’s ambassador to Hungary. To date, his reasons are unclear. However, in a leaked confidential note, Éric Fournier made comments praising the Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán’s migration policy.

According to the confidential note leaked by French investigative site Médiapart, the diplomat reportedly said that Hungary was a “model” for dealing with migrants and that accusations of populism against Orbán were media fabrications. Furthermore, he added, that by accusing Hungary of antisemitism, French media were seeking to distract from the “real antisemitism” coming from “Muslims in France and Germany”.

At the European Council Summit this past weekend, Macron told journalists that he does not share the ambassador’s views and the confidential note does not represent the official French policy. He added that “had this ambassador said this publicly, he would have been dismissed immediately.” According to French news site, Le courrier d’Europe Central, the ambassador’s term would have expired anyway therefore his dismissal had nothing to do with his comments. This, and the dynamics of diplomatic nominations, suggests his inevitable dismissal could’ve been hastened by his comments, or knowing his term was ending, the ambassador may have felt more comfortable expressing views in opposition with the official French position.

In any case, confrontation between Orbán and Macron hasn’t exactly been a rare occurrence, as the French president has previously said that he doesn’t share any of Orbán’s values. In addition, the two leaders’ dispute symbolizes the opposition between those who support a stronger cooperation among EU members with a more liberal attitude towards migration,  and those who champion a tough stance on migration and would push for a European Union consisting of independent nations rather than a “United States of Europe”.

Pascale Andréani, France’s new Ambassador to Budapest. Via The Jacques Delors Ins.

Éric Fournier took over Budapest’s French Embassy in September 2015 and according to French Foreign Ministry’s decree issued on June 28, his successor will be another career diplomat, Pascale Andréani, who has served as ambassador and permanent representative of France at NATO and OECD.

 

via reuters.com, hu.ambafrance.org, courrierdeuropecentrale.fr, index.hu

featured image: Éric Fournier; via Komka Péter/ MTI