Orban quips that he and Scholz are ‘still alive’ after EU rivals meet

Viktor Orban slams 'irresponsible' EU Commission over oil embargo

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Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has described his talks with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin as “fruitful”. The pair spoke for two hours on Monday. “I am happy to tell you that he (Scholz) is still alive. So am I,” he said after the meeting at the Chancellor’s Office, which he said lasted two hours. It appears both sides were satisfied following the meeting, with all difficult issues being addressed.

The Chancellor’s Office made no announcement about the talks.

On Sunday, Mr Orbán had already met former German Chancellor and CDU leader Angela Merkel and Armin Laschet, former Minister President of North Rhine-Westphalia and current CDU foreign affairs politician in the Bundestag.

Ms Merkel’s office did not want to comment on the contents of the meeting. As a matter of principle, no further information is given about “non-public personal talks”, it was said.

Mr Orbán has been prime minister since 2010 and sat at the same table as Ms Merkel at euro summits for eleven years.

Mr Orbán’s right-wing nationalist Fidesz party belonged to the European People’s Party (EPP), like Merkel’s CDU, until it left in 2021. So the two know each other quite well.

The Hungarian head of government is regarded by many in the EU as a “right-wing nationalist troublemaker”, according to one German media outlet.

He is repeatedly accused of violating the rule of law. Katarina Barley (SPD), Vice-President of the EU Parliament, called Orbán “the great fall from grace of the European Union”.

Orbán did not get “into such a position from one day to the next that he can blackmail the EU, but it has built up over twelve years,” Barley told the news portal “The Pioneer”.

Mr Orbán is currently also being criticised for alleged misuse of EU funds.

The EU Commission has therefore proposed to cut payments of around 7.5 billion euros from the EU budget to Hungary.

According to the German side, however, the focus of the talks with Scholz should be the reactions to the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine.

The right-wing nationalist Hungarian head of government has been raging against the sanctions imposed by the EU against Russia for months.

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Nevertheless, his country has so far always voted in favour of the punitive measures, which have to be decided unanimously.

A few days ago, Mr Orbán announced a referendum in Hungary on the sanctions.

Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg

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