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French President warns not to leave EU principles citing Hungary, Poland as examples


Bratislava, Oct 26: French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday warned eastern EU members not to fall out of step with the bloc's principles, singling out Hungary and Poland whose nationalist governments have clashed with Brussels.

French President Emmanuel Macron

French President Emmanuel Macron

In an interview published in Czech, Hungarian, Polish and Slovak media, the French leader insisted that "Europe is not a supermarket", driving home a point he made previously that eastern states could not pick and choose among the bloc's fundamental values.

Devastation in war-torn Syria

Devastation in war-torn Syria

Seven months ahead of elections to the European Parliament, Macron said he expected the campaign ahead of the vote to be a duel between "progressives" and nationalists.

As he kicks off a two-day visit to Slovakia and the Czech Republic, Macron also expressed concern about the refusal of some eastern EU members to accept migrants from the Middle East and North Africa under an EU quota programme drafted in the wake of the 2015 migrant crisis.

Also Read | Syrian civil war: More than 900 children died in 2017, UN calls it ‘deadliest'

"We have a collective need for coherence and solidarity: we cannot benefit from the European budget without demonstrating solidarity on migration," Macron said.

Syrian refugees fleeing from their country

Syrian refugees fleeing from their country

He also warned that any moves by member states to reduce their payments into the common budget could serve to undermine EU unity, including its single market.

"We cannot try to reduce our contribution to the European budget without understanding what the single market brings. If we want to kill Europe, we should continue like this," Macron said. "Europe isn't a one-way street: it is a reciprocal commitment," he added.

Turning to Poland's controversial judicial reforms, Macron said he hoped that "the Polish government will take the necessary steps to address the concerns of the (European) Commission and its partners."

Its nationalist government has put Poland on a collision course with the European Union by introducing a string of controversial judicial reforms that the bloc has warned pose a threat to judicial independence, the rule of law and ultimately to democracy.

The French leader also noted that "the situation of the rule of law in Hungary is undergoing worrying developments", and pointed to threats to the division of powers and the independence of non-governmental organisations.

"I have a good relationship with Viktor Orban, whom I respect personally and as a prime minister chosen by the Hungarian people... But a Europe that ignores the diversity of ideas and beliefs, the independence of the judiciary or the press, the reception of refugees who have fled political persecution, is a betrayal of who we are," Macron added.

Also Read | Peace and development in Syria and Afghanistan equally important for India and Russia

He also condemned the February murder of a journalist in Slovakia, insisting that "threatening, attacking or killing journalists undermines the foundations of our democracies".

As the human rights in Syria started to deteriorate from 2008, it led to huge protests. In 2011, Syrian Army had to intervene that gradually lead to violence to a rapid increase in military operations to suppress resistance.

US secretary General Antonio Guterres

US secretary General Antonio Guterres

By mid-2011, thousands of Syrian refugees fled away from their own country with majority of them reached Turkish border. As quoted by Antonio Guterres, US Secretary General who was a former UN High Commissioner for Refugees stated that Syria crisis has become "biggest humanitarian emergency of our era, yet our world fail to meet the needs of refugees".


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