Tensions have risen between Hungary’s Viktor Orban and the European Union (EU) as Orban’s administration was subjected to scrutiny over the alleged misuse of EU funds.
470,000 people signed a petition launched by Independent MP Akos Hadhazy, to pressure Orban’s government into joining the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO), the EU’s new anti-corruption watchdog for EU funding.
The Hungarian government has rejected joining the EPPO, citing national sovereignty concerns and reservations about its legality.
Orban’s Fidesz party also faces the risk of getting suspended or expelled from the main centre-right group in the European parliament because of an ongoing dispute with European People’s Party (EPP).
On March 20, the EPP will meet in Brussels for a political assembly regarding Mr. Orban’s commitment to democratic principles and Fidesz expulsion.
Thirteen EPP member parties formally asked for Fidesz to be suspended or expelled after the Hungarian government launched an anti-migration billboard campaign aimed to mock European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and American-Hungarian businessman George Soros.
Ahead of the showdown in Brussels, Orban criticized EU again on Friday:
“When they attack Poland from Brussels, then they also attack all of Central Europe and us Hungarians,” Orbán told a crowd of thousands in Budapest, marking the anniversary of Hungary’s 1848 revolution.
“For the empire-builders who want to extend their shadow to Central Europe, our message is: They will always have to count on the strong Hungarian-Polish bond.”
Mr. Orban stated that Fidesz wants “to preserve Christian culture and protect borders” but had been “attacked by pro-immigration forces” in the EPP that prefer to build a Europe that is populated by a mix of immigrants.
He also expressed his intent to transform the EPP and align the organization with his mission to protect Hungary and the rest of Europe from the evils of migration from the Middle East and Africa. Orban told listeners of a Hungarian radio show that “there is room inside it for anti-immigration forces like us”. However, Orban admitted that Fidesz may find itself ostracized in the EPP.