PiS “open” to Orbán joining its European group and condemns EU “blackmail” against Hungary

Poland’s Law and Justice (PiS) party is “open” to the idea of Hungary’s Viktor Orbán joining its European grouping, despite their very difficult positions on Ukraine, says former PiS Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki.

Morawiecki also condemned the European Union for what he said are its constant attempts to “blackmail” Hungary, most recently over Orbán’s reluctance to endorse a proposed package of support for Ukraine.

Były premier Polski Mateusz Morawiecki o tym, jak Bruksela szantażuje Węgry planami zaprzestania finansowania Budapesztu, jeśli Viktor Orban nie przestanie finansować wojny na Ukrainie: „Nie sądzę, że Unia Europejska powinna działać w ten sposób.”


— Andreas G. (@EreaAndrzej) January 31, 2024

Speaking on a visit to Brussels, during which he met with Orbán, Morawiecki said that “after the [upcoming European] elections, I’m open to Fidesz joining our ECR group”.

Orbán’s Fidesz party was in 2019 suspended from the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) and decided to leave the EPP two years later. It currently is unaffiliated to any of the recognised political groups in the European Parliament.

PiS is the largest force within the conservative European Conservatives and Reformists Party (ECR), which also counts Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s Brothers of Italy, the Sweden Democrats and Spain’s Vox among its members.

During PiS’s eight years in government from 2015 to 2023, it was closely aligned with Orbán, despite them sitting in separate European groupings. The pair regularly supported one another in their respective clashes with Brussels. PiS is now Poland’s main opposition party.

Poland’s prime minister joined Donald Trump, Giorgia Meloni and Viktor Orbán in addressing a rightwing rally in Spain

„The EU wants to create a transnational beast without a soul,” he said. „I will not apologise for the fact that I am a Pole, a Christian” https://t.co/bgz0CZtcAG

— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) October 9, 2022

Speaking yesterday, Morawiecki said that current reports that the EU will seek to cut financial support for Hungary if Orbán continues to block a €50 billion package for Ukraine are another example of how there has been “one attempt after another to blackmail Hungary”.

“I can only tell the Hungarian government and Prime Minister Orbán that we are very much supporting his efforts to fend off those brutal attempts at blackmail,” Morawiecki told the media. “We do not accept such an approach. I don’t think this is how the EU should operate.”

However, he also emphasised that PiS “obviously supports Ukraine in their fight against Russia and financing for Ukraine”. But he added that “this has to happen without damaging our common policies, in particular the common agricultural policy”.

During PiS’s time in power, it strongly supported Ukraine in its defence against Russian aggression but also clashed with Kyiv over trade policy, in particular Ukrainian agriculture exports.

Viktor Orbán już w Brukseli.
Wrzuca zdjęcia z protestu rolników, ale ma także ciekawe spotkanie – PMM.#Węgry #kropka_hu pic.twitter.com/nqw8kjByUJ

— Dominik Héjj (@kropka_hu) January 31, 2024

In stark contract to Morawiecki, Poland’s current prime minister, Donald Tusk, this week hit out against Orbán, calling him “the only openly anti-Ukrainian” leader in the EU, whose “pro-Putin rhetoric” has left him on the “political and moral sidelines”.

Ahead of today’s EU summit, at which the support package for Ukraine will be discussed, Tusk said that “we will not make compromises, that is all I can tell Viktor Orbán, [who]…must decide whether he wants to be part of the European community”.

During a visit to Kyiv last week, Tusk declared that “there is nothing more important than supporting Ukraine”.

„One way or another, with or without Orbán, we will find some solution to support Ukraine,” says @donaldtusk.

He called Orbán „the only openly anti-Ukrainian” leader in the EU, whose „pro-Putin rhetoric” has left him on the „political and moral sidelines” https://t.co/U2TX9lPmQ9

— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) January 30, 2024

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Main image credit: KPRM (under CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 PL)

Daniel Tilles is editor-in-chief of Notes from Poland. He has written on Polish affairs for a wide range of publications, including Foreign PolicyPOLITICO EuropeEUobserver and Dziennik Gazeta Prawna.

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