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Viktor Orban; Eric Fournier. Photo supplied

France sacks ambassador to Hungary over pro-Orban note

Ambassador Eric Fournier was replaced at short notice after his positive remarks about Hungary's president Viktor Orban in an internal memo.

Published: July 3, 2018, 5:15 am

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    Paris

    He had praised Viktor Orban’s policy towards migrants. The French ambassador to Hungary, Fournier was dismissed by Emmanuel Macron on Friday, June 29, reported Les Echos and his replacement became official the next day in the Official Journal.

    In an internal memo dated 18 June published by Mediapart, Eric Fournier denounced “the magyarophobia” of the press, both French and Anglo-Saxon and called Hungary “a model, having anticipated the problems posed by illegal migratory movements”.

    In another excerpt from this note, the ambassador in Budapest accused the press of diverting attention away from “true modern anti-Semitism”, that of the “Muslims of France and Germany”.

    Fournier later defended the Hungarian Christian heritage, explaining: “What’s more normal from a nation that has continued for 1018 years than to make Saint-Etienne one of its founding fathers.” The Hungarian Church was founded by Stephen I, canonized by the Catholic Church.

    According to Les Echos, the ambassador sought, through this note, to oppose the possible triggering of Article 7 of the Lisbon Treaty, which would deprive Hungary of its right to vote in the European Council.

    Initially, when the note was made public, Emmanuel Macron reacted by saying that, if Fournier had not shared “anything”, these remarks would have remained “confidential” since they were “not intended for the press”.

    “Is it up to the authority to dismiss an ambassador because he says what he thinks? I do not believe so, or we would create a crime of opinion in the public service,” the President said. But his support obviously did not last very long and Fournier was fired almost immediately afterwards.

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