Hungary Cancels Baerbock Meeting: Orbán Forms New Right-Wing Bloc in EU

Diplomatic tensions have reached a boiling point between Germany and Hungary following Budapest's abrupt cancellation of a scheduled meeting between Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó and his German counterpart Annalena Baerbock

by Sededin Dedovic
Hungary Cancels Baerbock Meeting: Orbán Forms New Right-Wing Bloc in EU
© Sean Gallup / Getty Images

Diplomatic tensions are escalating between Germany and Hungary after Budapest canceled a meeting between Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó and his German counterpart Annalena Baerbock, which was scheduled for Monday in Budapest, reports Politico.

The unusual last-minute cancellation—equivalent to a diplomatic incident—followed harsh criticism from German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and other EU leaders over Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán's trip to Moscow, where he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday.

Baerbock had planned to raise the issue of Orbán's meeting with Putin during her visit to Budapest on Monday. "But to our surprise, the Hungarian side canceled" the meeting with Szijjártó "on short notice," a German Foreign Ministry official told reporters late on Friday.

"Given Prime Minister Orbán's surprising and uncoordinated trip to Moscow, a serious and honest personal discussion between the two foreign ministers would have been very important. We regret the cancellation," the official said, adding that the trip would be rescheduled for a later date.

A Hungarian official said that the German Foreign Ministry and its embassy in Budapest were informed of the reason for the postponement but declined to state it publicly. On Friday, Scholz joined other EU leaders in condemning Orbán for meeting with Putin, emphasizing that the Hungarian leader—whose country took over the rotating presidency of the EU Council earlier this month—"is traveling to Putin as the Hungarian Prime Minister," and not as an EU envoy.

Baerbock, who planned to visit Budapest for the first time since taking office in December 2021, has been particularly vocal in her criticism of Hungary, as well as other countries like China. Last month, Scholz also snubbed Orbán for the second time in a row by refusing to receive the Hungarian leader with military honors and a press conference at the Chancellery in Berlin.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference CPAC held at the Hilton Anatole© Brandon Bell / Getty Images

Orbán Forms Far-Right Conservative Coalition Within the EU

Leaders of the Dutch and Spanish far-right parties plan to join a new right-wing alliance being formed by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, writes Politico.

Orbán is now on the verge of securing enough members to form an official new group on the far-right side of the European Parliament—and potentially diminish the power of Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, who has lost members of her group to Orbán's Patriots for Europe.

Dutchman Geert Wilders said on Friday that he wants his Party for Freedom to join the Patriots for Europe group to "protect our Judeo-Christian heritage and our families." Spanish Vox leader Santiago Abascal told La Gaceta that his party would also join Orbán's alliance, thereby withdrawing from Meloni's European Conservatives and Reformists.

Abascal then sent a message on social media apologizing to the Italian prime minister, expressing a "personal, political, and moral bond" and promising to continue working on a "common historical project." According to parliamentary rules, an official group requires 23 MEPs from seven countries.

Formal party groups receive financial and procedural advantages. Orbán has met the first condition, the number of MEPs—he has gathered them. And with nationalist, anti-immigration parties from Hungary, Austria, Portugal, and the Czech Republic, now joined by groups from Spain and the Netherlands, he needs just one more national party to cross the threshold.

So far, Orbán has been rebuffed by Poland's right-wing Law and Justice party. Media reported yesterday that France's National Rally (RN), Marine Le Pen's party, is also in talks to join Orbán's alliance. Shifting alliances on the fractured far-right come after the European elections in June, where Meloni's group became the third largest in the parliament, while the more extreme Identity and Democracy (ID) group was fifth.

If Le Pen's 30 MEPs were to join Orbán's group, ID would be left without enough members to survive. Overall, nationalist parties now command a significant wing of the parliament but have so far shown little coordination.

Wilders added in his message that he wants to "cheer" for Ukraine. Orbán faced sharp criticism from EU leaders on Friday for his visit to Moscow, where he discussed with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Last month, Orbán even claimed that NATO plans to build "three large bases in Poland, Slovakia, and Romania" to move weapons to Ukraine, promising to keep Budapest out of it.

"We won't give a penny. We won't give Hungarian territory," he said. "Thirty-one out of 32 NATO member countries want to defeat the Russians. Hungary's stance is that this is a mistake, even if we are one of 32," Orbán added.

Hungary and NATO announced on Wednesday that they had reached a compromise that Budapest would not participate in the alliance's efforts to help Ukraine, nor block NATO from providing security assistance and training to Kyiv.