Emmanuel Macron replaces French ambassador to Hungary after pro-Orban comments | News | DW | 02.07.2018
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Emmanuel Macron replaces French ambassador to Hungary after pro-Orban comments

The French ambassador to Hungary, Eric Fournier, came under fire after the publication of pro-Orban comments. He has been replaced, although there is some confusion about the timeline.

French President Emmanuel Macron fired his ambassador to Hungary after the publication of a document praising the harsh migration policies of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

The public dispute came amid a deepening crisis in the European Union on how to shape the future of migration in the bloc, with the liberal policies of France and Germany clashing with conservative policies of countries such as Hungary and Poland.

What the document said

Ambassador Eric Fournier wrote a memo to the Elysee that was published by French investigative site Mediapart, saying:

  • Hungary was a "model" for dealing with migrants, which had "anticipated the problems posed by illegal migratory movements"
  • Accusations of populism against the democratically-elected Orban were fabrications of the "Anglo-Saxon and French media"
  • Media outlets were attempting to divert attention from the "real anti-Semitism" coming from "Muslims in France and Germany" by accusing Hungary of anti-Semitism.

Read more: Visegrad countries urge stronger EU border defense

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Wasting our time

When Macron was alerted to the publication at an EU summit in Brussels last week, he said Fournier would be fired if it emerged that that he had intended the comments to be published.

"(Orban's) non-cooperative and nationalist game is not only unworthy of what Europe has done, (...) but it is also deeply inefficient given the reality of these migratory phenomena. It wastes our time given that we will have to live with these challenges over the long term," he was quoted as saying by French broadcaster BFM TV.

An official government gazette later revealed Pascale Andreani would replace Fournier as ambassador. However the gazette, published on June 30, was dated June 28. Mediapart first published the Fournier's memo on June 29.

Read more: EU leaders seek migration deal in Brussels

Public spat: Macron has repeatedly clashed with Orban and other Eastern European leaders, accusing them of not respecting democratic values and refusing to take in migrants. Macron spent time at last week's EU summit with the Visegrad group, which is led by Hungary, trying to bring them back into the EU's fold. The public spat would be seen as a victory for Orban.

What's happening with the migrant dispute? After a tense summit, the EU last week largely committed itself to strengthening its borders and cracking down on internal migrant movements. Details are vague but Germany, spurred on by a domestic political crisis, has led the charge in uniting EU members.

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