French diplomacy split over Viktor Orban case

Home"TO THE ONE"French diplomacy split over Viktor Orban case
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INQUIRY - The "fleeing" note of the French ambassador in Budapest, which nuances the judgment on the Hungarian prime minister, regularly criticized by Brussels for his illiberal inclination, has exposed a line of fracture in diplomacy French.

French flag floating in the front of his jeep, the French ambassador to Georgia Éric Fournier sailed that day between the columns of Russian tanks advancing on the road to Gori. In the middle of the Russo-Georgian war, his aim was to go and bring "symbolic relief" to a military base located at Satchkere in the mountains of the country, a base that had been equipped by France. In August 2008, the atmosphere was more than volatile on the French diplomatic front, in the front line to ensure compliance with the ceasefire that President Sarkozy had wrenched from Russia. Ambassador Fournier had heard of the intention of a Chechen battalion integrated with the Russian forces to destroy the said base. "We are not going to be dangling," he said ... As night fell, we reached Satchkere. Fournier had the French flag hoisted on the base. "This moral support is crucial," commented Commander Tarel Tarakadze excitedly about the ambassador's "artagnanesque" gesture.

Éric Fournier, then ambassador of France to Georgia, in May 2008. - Photo credits: Stringer Russia / REUTERS

Ten years later, ambassador Éric Fournier - who went through the management of continental Europe, where he handled the Russian issue with a "realism" that his former Georgian friends thought too complacent - is back under the media lights.

But this time he does not expect it. While preparing for his departure from Budapest, where he has been ambassador for three years, an article Mediapart on June 29, resuming a confidential diplomatic dispatch that he drafted and which visibly leaked via an ill-intentioned colleague. «The French ambassador to Hungary supports Viktor Orban», title the site on line Mediapart, quoting excerpts from this confidential note which aims to question the "magyarophobia" that would color the media coverage of events in Hungary. Fournier sweeps the accusations of "anti-Semitism" and "populism" hanging over the Orban government, saying that Hungary is "like Real Madrid of Europe", because it was the first to build a tight borderand, from this point of view, "passes" "for a model" in the eyes of a growing number of countries.

Support to Jewish culture

The text, that Le Figaro has been able to consult, gives pride to the Orban government and does not address the issue of attacks against counter-powers, which weakens it. But it's less caricatural than what Mediapart retains. Fournier brings interesting insights into the nature and reality of "Hungarian anti-Semitism," which qualifies the dominant doxa on Hungary, namely that of a country drifting inexorably towards a fascist dictatorship worthy of the 1930s. The bottom of the air is not brown, he says, believing that the anti-Soros Hungarian campaign (Hungarian-born American magnate whose NGO has just moved to Berlin after the adoption of a law targeting her in Hungary) is linked to her advocacy of open borders and not to the fact that she is Jewish. In support of his demonstration, he cites Orban's "zero tolerance" for anti-Semitism and his support for Jewish culture. It evokes the point of view of Nobel Imre Kertesz, survivor of Auschwitz who claimed to feel completely free to be a Jew in Hungary. Fournier also handed the Hungarian decision to insert a Christian reference in the constitution in its historical context, noting that this does not prevent Hungary from being secular.

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But Mediapart, who does not at all have the same indulgence "for the Christian obsession" of Orban, has fine game to highlight Fournier's un-diplomatic and improper conclusion, on the fact that "the new modern anti-Semitism" does not not located in Hungarian land but in "the Muslims of France". "What is shocking is the stigmatization of a community as a whole," said Judge Agnes von der Mühll, spokeswoman for the Quai d'Orsay.

"Method of intimidation"

So, on the morning of June 29, when the journalist from Mediapart asks Emmanuel Macron to comment on his ambassador's remarks in Budapest, the president, who has just negotiated an agreement all the night on migration to 27 countries, is cutting: "I do not share the words you just reported, he replied about Fournier's telegram, particularly the sentence relating to Muslims, noting that if it had been pronounced publicly, the ambassador would have been "immediately dismissed". "The non-cooperative nationalist game is not worthy of what made Europe, born of the mistakes of the last world conflicts. But it is also deeply ineffective, "he adds, noting, however, that Fournier's dispatch was not intended to be published and therefore does not have to be sanctioned.

At the Quai d'Orsay, it adds that "the remarks to which the article of Mediapart come from an unsolicited and unwelcome comment by its author to which it has been firmly reminded of the need for a precise and measured expression ". The ambassador, whose return is done in the framework of a normal rotation, is summoned finally to rally Paris, before the festival of July 14, that he had to organize in Budapest. One way to punish him, deplores the Hungarian Minister of Justice Laszlo Trocsanyi, stating that he suddenly decided not to be present.

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When we try to sound French diplomats on the Fournier episode, several elements emerge. The first is that the ambassador went astray and gave himself up to a dangerous panegyric of Orban. "He understands nothing, says a specialist in the region who considers it" unreliable ", one day ready to eat Russian, and the next day the opposite." "Do not see that Orban instrumentalises Hungarian anti-Semitism in the Soros is denying the obvious! "On the other hand, another ambassador who" likes ", has" no criticism to make "," if not the conclusion on French Muslims who has a suicidal side. "The fact of fleeing a telegram is a method of intimidation," he says, regretting "the freedom of tone of the past and the rise of a neoconservative line on" liberal values ​​", which is detrimental to" the realistic school "".

"Fleeing a telegram is a method of intimidation"

A third heavyweight of the diplomacy judges "justified the will to explain the springs of the success of Orban", but warns against "the Stockholm syndrome" which sometimes pushes the diplomats to become the apologists of the countries which they describe . The evolution of Hungary requires "extreme vigilance" on the issue of "growing gaps", he says, concerned about the "shrinking civil liberties, including the NGO law, which draws a drift to the Russian". He is also concerned about the virulence of Orban's criticism of the EU. "We end up wondering why he stays!"

Behind these reactions, a real "subject" emerges. That of the perplexity and disagreements that tear France and Europe on how to manage the phenomenon Orban, and beyond, the populist rebellion that defies the EU. Perhaps a little clumsy, Fournier's text tries to convey the idea that the reading of the Hungarian reality must be less binary, notes the journalist Françoise Pons, author of a book on Hungary who wants to take account the long time to enlighten this policy. Pons rebels against a media coverage dependent, which is exclusively informed by liberal leftist circles. "There is anger today that the conservative powers want to put the institutions under control, but it was the same with the old liberal leftist teams," she says, saying that "the systematic criticisms formulated are also the result a great lack of knowledge ". Pons reports that he went to the EU's Venice Commission to verify the democratic nature of the laws during a session on the 2012 Hungarian law on religious freedom, which was then widely criticized. She was shocked to see the rapporteur list a long list of objections before concluding that the law remained "very generous" and then conceding, on the record, that it "was among the two or three most liberal laws in Europe. ".

"PEP Awareness Review"

At a recent conference in Berlin last week by the German Marshall Fund on the future of conservatism in Europe, many speakers cautioned against confusing criticisms of Poland and Hungary. Confusing the attacks on democracy, which must be fought on foot, and the defense of traditional values ​​or national sovereignty in immigration - ideological choices that ultimately belong to the people - is a trap to be avoided. noted the American Jeff Gedmin. The conference spent a lot of time thinking about the topics that should be "banned", and those whose right-wing parties should seize to steal the initiative from the populists. "This is exactly the examination of conscience that will face the EPP, in the run-up to the European elections," noted a diplomat, noting that the retention or not of Orban in this parliamentary group, was the question of the moment. A priori, an expulsion seems more than improbable because Europe "urbanizes", he noted.

The editorial advises you:

Laure Mandeville 


Source: © French diplomacy split over Viktor Orban case

995 Partages

One Response to "La diplomatie française divisée face au cas Viktor Orban"

  1. Disraeli   6 July 2018 at 1 h 34 min

    Do not forget that in matters of Islam, Hungary has been occupied by the Ottoman Empire for more than a century and that it has not left very good memories.

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