At a working dinner with far-right Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban at the Elysee Palace on Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron emphasized the need for European “unity” on the Ukraine war, according to the president’s office.
Orban, in contrast to most European leaders, has been publicly critical of the bloc’s stance on the conflict, slamming what he has described as a “indirect war” being waged against Russia and calling for a cease-fire.
Macron “reaffirmed the need for the unity of European countries in their support for Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression, particularly via the strict application of sanctions,” as reported by the president’s team, at the dinner on Monday.
The membership of new NATO members Finland and Sweden was also discussed between the two.
Only two of the alliance’s 30 members, Hungary and Turkey, have yet to ratify both countries’ bids.
Orban has vowed to keep ties with the Kremlin despite his refusal to send weapons to Kyiv because Budapest depends heavily on Russian energy imports. Even though Hungary ultimately sided with its EU partners on the issue, he has also criticized sanctions against Moscow.
Concerns about corruption in Brussels have been at the center of a protracted dispute between Hungary and the European Union.
Brussels froze billions of euros in transfers in early December as it awaited anti-corruption reforms from Budapest.
Industrial competitiveness and migration were also discussed at the dinner on Monday, held in preparation for a European Council meeting later this month; Orban has been criticized in the past for his policies toward refugees from outside of Europe.