The prime minister’s press chief on Friday reacted to an article by Anna Maria Corazza Bildt, an MEP who is a member of the European People’s Party, that was critical of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. Bertalan Havasi said her charges against the Hungarian leader lacked credibility.

Havasi insisted that her “accusations” were based on a sentence Orbán did not say.

In an opinion piece published by Politico today, the Swedish EPP member said that Orbán had “crossed a line” in a speech on June 16 by saying “that Hungary’s ‘illiberal’ model of democracy would be a driving force that revitalizes Europe and the EPP”.

Speaking at a conference commemorating the legacy of German Federal Chancellor Helmut Kohl, Orbán said that building a strong Europe required strong nation-states. Orbán said that Hungary could help common European policies in several areas such as “offering a good example in economic reforms or assistance in returning migrants back home”.

Orbán also said that although EPP leaders had “made mistakes to our detriment”, Hungary’s ruling Fidesz would “stick to the EPP and Helmut Kohl’s ideals: rather than deserting we will undertake the more difficult task of renewing the EPP and help it find its way back to its Christian Democratic roots”.

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