Hungarian PM Orban to meet Italian Premier Meloni ahead of EU summit

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Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban will visit Rome next Monday for talks with Italian premier Giorgia Meloni, his press chief told AFP on Thursday.

The visit comes ahead of a European Union summit next week, where leaders will seek to decide the EU’s top three jobs -- leading the commission, chairing summits and stewarding the bloc’s diplomacy -- for the next five years.

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The Hungarian and Italian leaders insist that the deal on top jobs should reflect the results of this June’s European elections, after far-right parties made gains.

Meloni heads the hard-right European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group, which will be the third-largest faction in the new European Parliament.

She wants ECR’s relative success to translate to a key spot in the carve-up of positions.

Orban previously indicated his nationalist Fidesz party would apply to join ECR after the election, but some parties within the group voiced opposition to the inclusion of Fidesz over Hungary’s Ukraine stance.

Orban is the only EU leader who has maintained ties with Moscow despite its invasion of Ukraine and has refused to send arms to Ukraine.

Fidesz was a member of the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) -- the European Parliament’s biggest group -- until it quit in 2021 amid wrangling over accusations of Hungary’s democratic backsliding.

On Tuesday, Orban rival Peter Magyar and six new European parliament members from his TISZA party joined the EPP’s parliamentary faction, which supports European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen’s bid for another term.

TISZA gained about 30 percent of the EU vote in Hungary, while Orban’s Fidesz still came out on top with 44 percent. This was its worst score in its 14-year rule.

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