March 7, 2019 / 6:55 AM / in 13 days

Hungarian daily urges Orban's Fidesz to quit EPP group

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Hungary’s main pro-government Magyar Nemzet daily urged Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s Fidesz to quit the conservative European People’s Party, saying it had abandoned its formative values and “could not be differentiated from the socialists or liberals”.

FILE PHOTO: Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban in Budapest, Hungary, February 10, 2019. REUTERS/Bernadett Szabo/File Photo

Hungary has made hostility to immigration the main plank of its campaign for European elections in May, putting up billboards accusing European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and U.S. billionaire George Soros of plotting to destroy European civilisation by bringing in masses of Muslims.

“The time has come for Fidesz to stop the humiliating haggling with the European People’s Party,” the paper said in an editorial on Thursday. “The people’s party is no longer Helmut Kohl’s party.”

Orban has said the former German chancellor had invited Fidesz to join the EPP.

The press office of Orban’s Fidesz party did not immediately respond to emailed questions for comment about the editorial titled, “A new alliance!”

Fidesz should join forces with European nationalists instead, the paper said.

“The people’s party no longer defends nations, or Christianity, or the traditional family model or any other European tradition we can name. The people’s party has become the servant of sick liberalism,” it added.

Hungary defied demands to apologise on Wednesday for its vitriolic criticism of EU leaders, but a senior government aide suggested it was seeking compromise to avoid the ejection of its ruling party from the main conservative group in the European Parliament.

The campaign has triggered rebukes from the Commission and calls for Fidesz’s ouster from the EPP, which meets on March 20 to discuss the issue. But Magyar Nemzet said Fidesz would probably be better off outside the group.

“There is only one path forward for Fidesz: the path of the new alliance,” it said. “Viktor Orban and Fidesz should leave the European People’s Party and form an alliance Matteo Salvini, the Freedom Party of Austria and the Polish ruling party.”

The paper said Orban should spearhead a pan-European alliance against immigration, which it called the only logical conclusion of his politics.

Reporting by Gergely Szakacs; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

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