Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán called for unity and cooperation between the eastern and western member states of the European Union ahead of a working lunch with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris on Friday.
At a joint press conference with Macron in the garden of the Elysee Palace, Orbán said Hungary and France were both interested in a successful and economically strong Europe.
The prime minister noted that France and the central European member states held similar positions on security, border protection and the need for a joint European military.
Orbán said he will also explain to Macron why Hungary and France hold such differing views on the issue of migration.
He underscored the differences between Hungary and France’s civilisational traditions, saying that the two countries had different ways of contributing to Europe’s security through the means of solidarity.
On the topic of EU enlargement, Orbán said Europe could only boost its security by “pushing its gates” further down to the south.
As regards climate policy, the prime minister called Hungary a “climate champion”, arguing that it was among the one-third of EU member states with the lowest CO2 emissions and was ready to continue pursuing its goals in this area. He emphasised, however, the need to find the right balance and harmony between competitiveness and the fight against climate change.
Concerning bilateral ties, Orbán said economic relations between the two countries were “excellent”. France is the fourth largest investor in Hungary, with 670 companies employing some 40,000 people, he said.
Orbán expressed hope that French investors would continue to pursue their activities in Hungary.
Orbán also said that Macron was “highly respected” in Hungary because he was a leader who had “brought back the intellectual strength of debates about visions into European politics and we greatly appreciate this”.
“We hope that Europe can regain its imagination,” he added.
Macron said the difference in his and Orbán’s stance on migration policy, climate change and protection and the EU budget is well-known.
The French president, however, expressed the conviction that a consensus could be found on those matters over the next months under the auspices of the new European Commission.
Macron called it essential to have a strong European Commission capable of presenting ambitious plans.
“I will keep working on this with Prime Minister Orbán and the Visegrád Four,” he said.