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Czech and Hungarian leaders show united front ahead of EU summit

Budapest, Hungary – After meeting with Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte in Rome earlier this week, Czech PM Andrej Babiš held talks with his Hungarian counterpart Viktor Orbán on Friday, in Budapest, as V4 leaders gear up for a stormy EU summit.

Ahead of the European summit to be held in Salzburg, Austria, on September 20, the Czech and Hungarian leaders have called for a meeting with their two other Visegrad partners – the Visegrad Group, or V4, includes Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland.

Such “pre-summits” between the four Central European states ahead of critical EU summits have, lately, become more frequent and almost customary.

The bilateral talks between the two Central European Premiers covered a wide range of topics, including economic and trade relations, the EU budget and possible areas of cooperation in the defense industry.

Migration was also high on the agenda between the two leaders, who have consistently refused that their countries accept more refugees and whose hard-line stance on immigration has repeatedly made them clash with European partners and officials.

M. Orbán, who won a landslide victory in last April’s elections, welcomed the opportunity of being able to discuss with a “non-traditional politician”, claiming that there was a need for “fresh ideas”. He also accepted M. Babiš’ invitation to Prague to pursue bilateral talks later this fall.