French far-right leader Marine Le Pen met with Hungary’s ultraconservative Prime Minister Viktor Orban on a visit to Budapest – where she praised him for putting the “fight for freedom” at the forefront of his leadership.
Champagne, lunch and a visit to the city's sites were on the agenda as the pair traded handshakes and smiles on Tuesday. There were also plenty of photo opportunities.
During a joint press conference with Orban, Le Pen – who’s running for French president in April – promised that if elected France would seek to "reorient" the European Union "whose ideological brutality threatens the very idea of sovereignty".
The National Rally candidate, whose visit to Budapest follows that of fellow French far right leader Eric Zemmour, also hailed Orban's "determination” in pushing back migration.
"You have made the courageous choice to preserve your beautiful country from the migratory submersion that the European Union wants to organise," she said.
Le Pen's meeting with Orban comes three days after she met the Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki in Brussels.
While in Hungary, she refused to criticise the country's anti-LGBT law that is at the centre of a legal row with Brussels, also rejecting the idea that EU law should take primacy over national laws.
The Constitutional Court in Poland this month declared several articles in the EU treaties "incompatible" with the country's constitution.
Hungary has thrown its weight behind the Polish ruling, urging the bloc to respect members' sovereignty.
Le Pen on Tuesday spoke of a "centralised Brussels power intoxicated with its own existence, its power and its omnipotence".
EU threats of sanctions against Budapest and Warsaw "are unusually violent" she added.
By associating with such firebrands, political analysts in France say Le Pen can beef up her credentials as a radical in her domestic fight with Zemmour.
"She needs to boost her image," political historian Nicolas Lebourg told AFP.
"She needs to tell an electorate increasingly tempted by Zemmour that as far as authoritarianism is concerned, she also has a few things to say."