Hungary covers posters featuring Juncker during Weber’s visit

A poster Weber is likely to see travelling from the airport to his meeting with Orban is painted in blue. But the poster next to it is not. [@RoFreudenstein Twitter]

The head of the European Parliament’s dominant centre-right bloc met with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán on Tuesday (12 March), again calling for the populist leader to apologise for an anti-EU billboard campaign.

Manfred Weber of the European People’s Party visited Budapest to discuss a rift with Orbán’s Fidesz party that has become an issue for the EPP ahead of European Parliament elections in May.

“We had talks in a constructive atmosphere, but problems are not yet solved,” Weber told reporters.

Weber is the EPP’s leading candidate to take over as president of the European Commission later this year, but his campaign has been overshadowed by Orbán’s strident attacks on the Commission’s current head Jean-Claude Juncker, as well as on the European institutions themselves.

The EPP, and Weber, have faced mounting calls to expel Orbán from the group, with many arguing his authoritarian tendencies run counter to European values.

Last week Weber set Orbán an ultimatum if he wanted Fidesz to avoid being expelled from the group.

Weber gives Orbán chance to apologise and remain in EPP

The Spitzenkandidat of the main centre-right party for the European elections said on Tuesday (5 March) that Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán must apologise for his criticism of the EU or his ruling Fidesz party could be suspended from the grouping.

He called on Orbán to stop his government’s anti-EU campaign, let the CEU university founded by the liberal US-Hungarian billionaire George Soros stay in Budapest, and apologise to other member parties of the EPP.

“The EPP has clear fundamental values and these are not negligible for us,” Weber said on Tuesday.

“They have to be respected by all EPP party members and also by Fidesz.”

Weber also singled out a campaign in Hungary targeting Juncker — an EPP member — accusing him of backing illegal migration alongside with Soros.

“We don’t allow any further any anti-Brussels, anti-EU posters and campaigning here in Budapest, the posters must be replaced,” Weber said.

Some posters in Budapest featuring Juncker were covered for Weber’s visit, apparently only in the direction in which he could see them. Other posters remained uncovered.

“It would be a good way to work together if Viktor Orbán would apologise for the burden and the problems he was creating for other EPP parties and countries.”

After 15 March, the Hungarian authorities said they will replace Juncker in the poster campaign with Commission First Vice President Frans Timmermans.

Hungary to replace Juncker with Timmermans in poster campaign

Hungary’s government announced Saturday (2 March) that it would end a controversial poster campaign accusing US philanthropist George Soros and European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker of supporting illegal migration.

A dozen EPP parties have called for Fidesz to be kicked out, a topic which will be discussed by members at a meeting on 20 March.

Orbán said on Friday that Fidesz could opt to leave the EPP and seek to join up with Poland’s ruling right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) party in the European Parliament.

Orban says Fidesz may leave EPP, look at Poland for alliance

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said on Friday (8 March) his ruling nationalist Fidesz party may drop out of the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) amid a row over his government’s anti-Brussels media campaign.

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