Orban backs Macron over China remarks

Orban backs Macron over China remarks

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Friday backed French President Emmanuel Macron over his controversial warning against Europe potentially becoming a “vassal” of the United States.

Macron raised hackles on both sides of the Atlantic at the weekend in an interview, in which he said Europe should not be a “follower” of either Washington or Beijing or get caught up in any escalation over Taiwan.

The French president, who just returned from China, stood by his comments on Wednesday, saying that being a US ally did not mean being a “vassal”.

“The French president is looking for potential partners and not enemies, which is similar to the Hungarian position: we must start from our own interests, not take into account the interests of others,” Orban said in his weekly radio address.

“It is necessary to think through whether the American foreign policy interests coincide with the European ones,” added Orban.

The pair met last month in Paris where the French president underscored the need for European “unity” on the Ukraine war.

“President Macron is honourable, but he does not imagine the future of Europe in the same way as Hungary,” Orban said, highlighting his belief in a “Christian renaissance”.

In a separate development, Washington this week levied sanctions against a Russian-led bank in Budapest and three of its officials — two Russians and a Hungarian.

Hungary’s government said Thursday it was quitting the International Investment Bank (IIB).

Orban said on Friday that the sanctions made the bank’s operation impossible, rendering “Hungary’s further participation… pointless”.

He also described the US government as “the biggest supporter of the war” in Ukraine, while reiterating that Hungary “supports peace” and peace talks.

“The Hungarian-American friendship must endure this difference of opinion…We have good relations with the Americans, the US is our friend and important ally,” said Orban, who openly supports former president Donald Trump.

David Pressman, US ambassador in Budapest, on Wednesday expressed “concerns about the continued eagerness of Hungarian leaders to expand and deepen ties” with Russia despite the war.

Orban, who fostered close ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin before the war, has drawn fierce criticism from both EU and NATO allies for his neutral stance on the invasion.

Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French state-owned international news agency based in Paris. It is the world's oldest news agency, having been founded in 1835 as Havas.

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