This trip, the first by a French head of state since 2007, takes place within the framework of a summit of the countries of the Visegrad group (Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia).

"He is a political opponent, but a European partner," Macron stressed Thursday, thus completing his tour of the 26 other capitals of the European Union.

"Whatever our political sensitivities, our choices, we must work together for our Europe".

"It is very clear that on the subject of the rule of law, there will be disagreements, but I think that on the subjects of sovereignty, on the subject of the growth model and on multiple subjects, there can also be an ability to find useful compromises, ”he added.

Viktor Orban has however often been cited by Emmanuel Macron as the leader of a nationalist and sovereignist camp in the EU, to which he opposes that of the "progressive" Europhiles.

- Common ground -

With Poland, Hungary has adopted several laws contested in Brussels, in particular a text prohibiting the representation of homosexuality among those under 18.

And like Warsaw, it challenges the supremacy of European law over national law.

In response, the Commission launched several procedures against them for undermining the rule of law and the values ​​of the EU, in particular a mechanism of "conditionality" of European aid, which blocks the payment of stimulus subsidies.

But these subjects "are not necessarily linked" to the agreements that can be found on digital sovereignty, the strengthening of defense Europe, a European investment budget or even industrial alliances, argued the French presidency.

The two leaders had already found common ground when Emmanuel Macron received Viktor Orban in October 2019, in particular on border protection and the need for European defense.

The Elysee, however, assures that the French president will speak of points of disagreement and is "not in the habit of dodging", while the Hungarian LGBT + community called on him to raise the issue during his meeting with Mr. Orban , in an open letter to the French magazine Têtu.

As soon as he arrives in Budapest at 11.30 a.m. local time (10.30 a.m. GMT), Emmanuel Macron will also go to the grave of the philosopher Agnes Heller, who died in 2019, an opposition figure he had received in Paris in 2018.

Meet the opposition

He will also meet Gergely Karacsony, the mayor of Budapest, as well as other representatives of the anti-Orban parties including Peter Marki-Zay, the sole opposition candidate who hopes in the April 2022 legislative elections to overthrow the Hungarian Prime Minister, in power since 2010. Which makes him the longest serving EU leader since Angela Merkel left.

"Mr. Macron, the Hungary that you are about to visit is indeed a country ruled by the extreme right", called out the mayor of a district of Budapest, the sociologist Gabor Eross, denouncing "the generalized corruption, the anti-LGBT +, electoral fraud, the oligarchization of the economy and the massive repression of civil society ".

By receiving Emmanuel Macron after having recently rolled out the red carpet to Marine Le Pen or Eric Zemmour, two far-right French personalities who are running for the presidency, "Viktor Orban can demonstrate his European importance" well beyond the weight of his country of 9.8 million inhabitants, explains Eszter Petronella Soos, a Hungarian political scientist specializing in France, to AFP.

And at the bilateral level, "despite the differences between a liberal Emmanuel Macron and a conservative Viktor Orban, important points of cooperation exist, for example on energy policy between these two supporters of nuclear power", comments Daniel Deak, pro-Orban analyst at the Hungarian Institute of the 21st Century.

© 2021 AFP