The leader of the largest political group in the EU Parliament and Angela Merkel ally, Manfred Weber, has defended Viktor Orban against critics who accuse Hungary’s Eurosceptic, anti-immigrant PM of being a “bad European.”
Weber, a member of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative bloc and the leader of the European People’s Party, said it’s wrong to “point fingers” at Orban and say “he’s not a good European.”
“If you look at the migration debate, from where I come from often we’re talking about refugees. But if you look at Prague, Bratislava, or Budapest, often the debate is more focused elsewhere. They’re talking about illegal migration instead. It’s for that reason that I think what’s most important is for us to talk to one another and deal with one another,” Weber said during a press conference at the European Parliament.
The EU has repeatedly threatened the Hungarian PM with sanctions over his alleged violations of human rights, and “EU values” and freedoms in general. But Orban’s Fidesz party is a member of the European Parliament coalition which Weber heads – undoubtedly requiring a bit more nuance from Weber when discussing Orban.
Europe’s technocrats were particularly offended by a speech Orban gave after Hungary’s parliament ratified his third term as prime minister earlier this month. In it, he hailed the end of “liberal democracy,” which he said had been replaced in Hungary by a “twenty-first century Christian democracy that guarantees human dignity, freedom and security.”
Orban went on to warn that the European Union had lost touch with reality and that the bloc’s open-door migrant policy could “lead to the death of nations.”
The media already appears to be less than thrilled with Weber’s views on Orban. The UK Independent said that Weber “leapt to the defense” of Hungary’s “authoritarian” prime minister. In a similar instance of sanctimonious reporting, Weber came under fire in April after congratulating Orban on his parliamentary victory.
“Shame on you,” a Washington Post columnist angrily tweeted at Weber. “Orban is an anti-Semitic, racist demagogue and an authoritarian who is systematically destroying the remnants of democracy in Hungary. You are enabling him.”
Aside from his vocal opposition to the EU’s migrant policy, Orban has made a name for himself as a tireless crusader against billionaire philanthropist George Soros, who he has repeatedly accused of meddling in his and other countries’ internal affairs, as well as encouraging uncontrolled migration into Europe. Soros’ Open Society Foundations officially ended operations in Hungary and moved its staff to Berlin earlier this month.
“No matter how many times George Soros goes to Brussels, no matter how many times the issue of illegal immigration is placed on the agenda, and no matter how many allies George Soros has in Brussels, we will not back down,” Orban said during his campaign against Soros’ NGOs.
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