Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and French President Emmanuel Macron had a working dinner Monday evening at the Élysée Palace in Paris.
According to a statement by the French president’s office, they discussed the war in Ukraine, the ratification of Finland and Sweden’s NATO membership bids, next week’s European Council summit, European industry, competitiveness, nuclear energy, and the defense industry.
According to Origo, the meeting between Emmanuel Macron and Viktor Orbán focused on the future of Europe. The site reported that Macron stands out among Western European leaders in that he is much more restrained in the area of arms transfers than, for example, Poland and the Baltic states. He is also the only major power leader to hold regular talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Orbán has repeatedly said that not all channels of communication with Russia can be cut off, and the French president is clearly trying to pursue a similar policy.
Another central issue of the meeting was how the European Union could respond effectively to the trade war between the bloc and the United States. According to the portal, the growing pressure from Washington on the EU to take some kind of action against China was also discussed.
This meeting is an important element of Viktor Orbán’s vision of Europe: two heads of state meet and elaborate their views ahead of the EU summit, instead of simply relying on Brussels,”
Thibaud Gibelin, a visiting fellow at the Mathias Corvinus Collegium told Hungary Today. Discussing the war in Ukraine was also a priority for the two leaders, he continued, because they are facing a dilemma regarding strategies: to find a compromise and end the war, or increase the war because the only way to save Ukraine is to help it win on the battlefield.
Photo: Facebook Thibaud Gibelin
Asked about Orbán and Macron’s planned trip to Beijing, and the Hungarian Prime Minister’s support for the Chinese peace plan, the expert pointed out that China is indeed a new possible negotiator of peace, because – as Orbán said – peace is possible if Russia and the US are talking, but there is no development in this regard. He noted that Macron is seeking an international role for himself, as the social situation in France is tense due to the pension system reform and the president needs some positive development on the international scene. Thibaud Gibelin added that, however, Macron is still on the sidelines, he has no real influence on what is going on in the international arena.
Nuclear energy was also on the agenda, because – as Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said during his visit to Paris – Hungary is negotiating to further increase the role of the French Framatome in the expansion of the Paks nuclear power plant, in order to prevent the German government from blocking the supply of control technology.
According to Gibelin, cooperation is also likely in the defense industry, because France is an interesting partner for Hungary if the country does not want to rely on Germany or the USA exclusively.
The Hungarian Prime Minister also met former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who recently visited Budapest.
Nicolas Sarkozy and Viktor Orbán
Photos via Miniszterelnöki Sajtóiroda/Benko Vivien Cher