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Germany's EPP leader to deliver ultimatum to Hungary's Orban

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Germany's EPP leader to deliver ultimatum to Hungary's Orban
Manfred Weber. Photo: Sven Hoppe/DPA
09:16 CET+01:00
Manfred Weber of the centre-right European People's Party will meet Hungarian populist Prime Minister Viktor Orban to discuss his Fidesz Party's dispute with the EPP, a German newspaper reported.
On Tuesday, Weber, the EPP's leading candidate to take over as head of the European Commission later in the year, set Fidesz an ultimatum if it wanted to avoid being expelled from the largest group in the European Union parliament.
 
Orban had 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.
 
"I will again in the coming days personally hold talks with Viktor Orban in Budapest," Weber told Welt am Sonntag, due to appear Sunday.
 
He said he wanted to make it clear to Orban that Fidesz was going to be forced out of the EPP if he did not change his position, he said. On a visit in Slovenia on Saturday, Weber refused to confirm if he was going to Hungary personally, saying only he and Orban were in "regular contact" and had several phone calls. 
 
"Let me say, that for the moment we are in the period of talks," he told reporters at a joint news conference with Janez Jansa, the leader of Slovenia's main opposition Social Democrats Party (SDS), which is an EPP member.
 
"For me there is no Europe of East or West, of South or North, of small or big. There are only Europeans... We have to keep Europe together that's why with talks you can solve problems, and we'll try to do it until the 20th of March," he added, referring to the day EPP members are due to discuss Fidesz's future in the group.
 
In December, the CEU announced it was moving most of its programmes out of Budapest to Vienna, complaining it had been targeted by government legislation pushed through parliament in 2017.
 
Weber has also objected to a campaign in Hungary targeting European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, also of the EPP, accusing him of backing illegal migration.
 
On Friday, Orban said 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.
 
The EPP is the biggest party in the European Parliament and comprises the main centre-right movements in Europe, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel's CDU.
 
 
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