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Hungary’s Orban to host EU group leader over possible ouster

March 11, 2019
File - In this Thursday, June 4, 2015, file photo, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, left, and group leader of the European People's Party, EPP, Manfred Weber, right, give a statement following their talks at the Hungarian Parliament in Budapest, Hungary. (Szilard Koszticsak/MTI via AP, File)
File - In this Thursday, June 4, 2015, file photo, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, left, and group leader of the European People's Party, EPP, Manfred Weber, right, give a statement following their talks at the Hungarian Parliament in Budapest, Hungary. (Szilard Koszticsak/MTI via AP, File)

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Hungary’s prime minister will host the leader of the main center-right faction in the European Parliament to discuss the Hungarian ruling party’s possible ouster from the group.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s office said Monday that the meeting with Manfred Weber will take place Tuesday in Budapest.

Several smaller members of the European People’s Party have called for the expulsion of Orban’s Fidesz party, in part because of a government ad campaign in Hungary against the EU’s migration policies, as well as longstanding concerns over the Orban government’s perceived interference with the rule of law and EU democratic principles.

The ads feature European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who is an EPP politician, with Hungarian-American financier George Soros. Orban, who won a third consecutive term last year with a primarily anti-migration campaign, claims Soros is influencing EU leaders to allow large numbers of mostly Muslim migrants to come to Europe.

Weber has called for Orban to end the campaign and apologize for it, as well as allow the Soros-founded Central European University to remain in Budapest. From the next academic year, CEU is moving its U.S.-accredited programs to Vienna because the Hungarian government has refused to sign an agreement ensuring all of its activities in Hungary.

The Hungarian government said last week that the anti-EU campaign would be wrapped up this week, but insists the CEU issue is “closed” since a small part of the university’s programs will remain in Hungary.

Orban said Friday that he hopes Fidesz stays in the EPP, while seeking to achieve “the transformation of the People’s Party so there is room inside it for anti-immigration forces like us.”

If Fidesz is expelled from the EPP, Orban said he would first turn for a possible new alliance to Poland, where a like-minded populist, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, leads the governing Law and Justice party.

Orban and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki will be speaking Friday in Budapest at a commemoration of Hungary’s 1848 revolution against Habsburg rule.

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