Viktor Orban among European leaders expected to pay tribute to Jacques Delors

The tribute paid this Friday, January 5 to the former President of the European Commission Jacques Delors will be chaired by Emmanuel Macron, who will salute the memory of an "architect of a united Europe" without whom France would be "less master of its destiny".

"We invited everyone," the Élysée replied when asked about the Hungarian prime minister's presence. Here on December 7, 2023 before a meeting with Emmanuel Macron. AP - Michel Euler

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So far, a dozen sitting leaders have confirmed their presence at the tribute paid this Friday to Jacques Delors, who died on 27 December at the age of 98. Among them were German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo. The presidents of the European Council, the Commission, the European Parliament and the European Central Bank are also expected to attend, ahead of a European tribute in Brussels later in January. Lille Mayor Martine Aubry, daughter of Jacques Delors, has been closely involved in the preparations, but will not speak, the Elysée said.

France invited all the Heads of State and Government of the European Union, as well as the heads of the current and current Community institutions, during the Social Democrat Jacques Delors was in Brussels from 1985 to 1995. Among the guests, one name is surprising: that of Viktor Orban. The Hungarian nationalist prime minister is the opposite of Jacques Delors' legacy, says Julien Chavanne, a journalist with RFI's international service. "We invited everyone, without distinction," said an adviser to the French president.

Paris had no interest in blacklisting Viktor Orban: the Hungarian leader's voice remains essential to validate – soon – a new tranche of aid of 50 billion euros to Ukraine. The leaders of the 27 countries have not seen each other since the last European Council in December, when the summit turned into a standoff with Hungary over Ukraine's membership. Associating Viktor Orban with the tribute of Jacques Delors, his antithesis, is a way for Emmanuel Macron to reach out to the Hungarian leader.

European elections in the spotlight

The national tribute in the courtyard of the Invalides in Paris will undergo an "innovation" linked to the continental dimension of the former President of the European Commission, who died on 27 December at the age of 98: after the funeral eulogy of the Head of State, the ringing of the bells for the dead and the Marseillaise, the Ode to Joy, the European anthem, will be played, performed by the orchestra of the Republican Guard, the Élysée announced on Thursday.

According to his entourage, Emmanuel Macron will celebrate the role played by Jacques Delors in French politics, from his journey with the social Gaullist Jacques Chaban-Delmas in the late 1960s to his influence for France to remain in Europe in 1983 as Minister of the Economy under Socialist President François Mitterrand. The President of the Republic should say that "France would not have remained a sovereign power in Europe as we know it today without Jacques Delors," an adviser told reporters. In his New Year's greetings to the French on 31 December, he invoked his "legacy" to call for the "decisive choice" of a "stronger, more sovereign Europe" in 2024.

Read alsoFrance: death of Jacques Delors, the man who didn't want to be president

Even if it is not a question of transforming this tribute into a campaign platform, the speech of Emmanuel Macron, who regularly poses as the leader of the pro-European "progressives", should also resonate in the light of the European elections in June, while the far right is leading in the polls in France.


And with AFP)

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Read on the same topics:

  • France
  • Emmanuel Macron
  • European Union
  • Viktor Orban