Updates: 09/29/2021 20:40
Released: 29.09.2021, 20:30
Prague / Ústí nad Labem – About ten days before the parliamentary elections, the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán visited the Czechia today. First, he met with the head of the ANO movement, Andrej Babiš, in Kramář’s Villa in Prague, then the two prime ministers went together to Ústí nad Labem, where Babiš leads the ANO candidate. They addressed relations between the two countries, the effects of the covido pandemic or migration. Some journalists did not get to the afternoon press conference, they questioned that it was due to the small capacity of the hall, as a government spokesman explained. After the work program, both prime ministers meet with friends of the YES movement at the Ústí Theater. During the visit, several activists demonstrated in the capital and northern Bohemia, criticizing the style of government of both prime ministers. Critics say the Hungarian government is restricting media pluralism, academic freedom and NGOs.
Despite the joint trip to Babiš’s constituency, Orbán emphasized that he did not want to interfere in the Czech elections. According to him, he came to the Czech Republic to confirm the importance of the Czech-Hungarian wing in the Visegrad Four, which includes Poland and Slovakia in addition to the Czech Republic and Hungary. He appreciated that he had just arrived in Ústí nad Labem, because the book Lovers and Murderers of Vladimír Páral, which takes place in this North Bohemian town, was a hit for his generation in Hungary.
The gala lunch of the prime ministers took place at the Větruše chateau, where the ANO movement launched an election campaign at the beginning of September. Before Větruší, several people with transparent ones were waiting for the prime minister. “Shame,” they shouted as Orbán and Babiš got off the cable car. “We both gentlemen, who appeal to those still instincts, evoke hatred and fear, we accompany all day,” one of the protest organizers, Otakar van Gemund, who was already in front of Kramář’s villa when Orbán arrived in Prague, told ČTK.
With banners and shouts of “Shame!” Orbán’s demonstrators also welcomed it to the North Bohemian Opera and Ballet Theater, where a press conference was held, followed by a debate between the two prime ministers and ANO supporters. About two dozen demonstrators stood in front of the theater, bringing banners with the words “Meeting of dictators” or “The future is Europe and the Euro. No. Grandma!”.
Some journalists seeking accreditation did not make it to the press conference today. They were representatives of the Western European media, Hospodářské noviny or the Investigace server. A government spokesman justified this due to the insufficient capacity of the hall, but according to Magdalena Sodomková from the daily Le Monde, journalists who did not accredit themselves in advance were also admitted to the press conference. A member of the marketing team of the YES movement decided to enter the hall, she told ČTK. Government spokesman Vladimír Vořechovský said that mostly journalists arrived on Tuesday and received an apology that it would not be possible to confirm their accreditation for a press conference due to insufficient capacity. “I am sorry, but everyone who did not receive accreditation found out in time,” he told ČTK.
After a meeting with Orbán in Ústí, Babiš stated at a press conference that he had asked for the topic of emission allowances to be included in the European Council’s program on 5 October. According to him, a quick solution is needed regarding the negative effects of the prices of emission allowances and speculation with them.
In front of YES supporters, the prime ministers debated at the North Bohemian Theater of Opera and Ballet in Ústí nad Labem. It was part of the YES movement’s campaign. Behind the two leaders was the inscription “Until the Body Tore,” which is the motto of the movement’s campaign. He opens up topics such as family policy, immigration and social issues to the prime minister. Supporters of the movement applauded them both. A small crowd of protesters waited in front of the theater all the time, and they whistled when Orbán left. In the evening, the Hungarian Prime Minister was received in Lány by President Miloš Zeman.
The prime ministers of both countries have long criticized the European Union for not sufficiently defending their borders from illegal migration, which they say should be prevented. On Monday, the Czech government approved the deployment of 50 police officers to help protect the Hungarian-Serbian border. The contingent should go to Hungary in mid-October.
Hungary became the target of criticism in June for a law banning LGBT lighting. Babiš did not join the letter of the leaders of 17 EU countries in support of sexual minorities, whose initiative was the law. According to him, Hungarian law does not apply to sexual practices, but is to protect children and parents.
The Czech Prime Minister lists Orbán, who does not have many allies in the European Union, as his friend. They have similar views on anti-immigration policy, which is also one of the topics of the election campaign in the Czech Republic. The Czechia is facing parliamentary elections, which will decide on the next government, next Friday and Saturday, and Hungary in half a year.