′Orban cannot yield′ on migration, Christian values, Fidesz official says | News | DW | 06.03.2019
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'Orban cannot yield' on migration, Christian values, Fidesz official says

Membership in the EU's conservative political bloc is important, but not as important as defending "European Christian values and stopping migration," a Hungarian Fidesz party official has said.

Hungary's far-right Fidesz party has shrugged off an ultimatum from the European People's Party (EPP) to avoid being jettisoned from European Parliament's conservative bloc.

Fidesz's communications director, Balazs Hidveghi, told reporters on Wednesday the far-right party, led by Prime Minister Viktor Orban, "cannot yield" to conditions set by the EPP's German-born leader Manfred Weber.

"The defense of European Christian values and stopping migration is more important than party discipline," Hidveghi said.

In an interview published on Tuesday by German newspaper Bild, Weber had said Orban must stop the campaign against European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, apologize to EPP member parties, and allow the Central European University (CEU), which is backed by George Soros, to keep its headquarters in Budapest.

"Viktor Orban has the opportunity to move on these three points and show his appreciation for the EPP," said Weber, who aims to replace Juncker as European Commission president following EU elections in May.

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The EPP, founded in 1976, is made up of 52 parties, including Germany's Christian Democratic Union and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union, and holds the largest share of seats in the European Parliament.

On Monday, 12 parties within the conservative bloc requested the expulsion of Orban and Fidesz from the group. The EPP is set to discuss Fidesz' membership at a meeting on March 20.

The move came after a series of measures that raised doubts within the EPP about Orban's commitment to EU values. Adding to the unease was a nationwide poster campaign in Hungary targeting Juncker, also of the EPP, accusing him and Soros of backing illegal migration.

Juncker, who slammed Orban for the poster campaign, has said he would support the exclusion of Fidesz from the EPP. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose CDU party is a member of the EPP, voiced support for the European Commission president, but she stopped short of calling for Fidesz to be kicked out of the European political group.

Meanwhile, Orban labeled conservatives calling for his party's exclusion "useful idiots."

Watch video 03:31

Fighting right-wing populism in Hungary

dv/sms (AFP, AP, dpa)

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