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PM Orban to German magazine Stern: “Europe is made up of sovereign nations”

By: V4 Agency

The European Union is made up of sovereign nations, Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban emphasized in an interview published by the Germany magazine Stern on Thursday.

“In Hungary we say you can only be a good European if you are also a good Hungarian,” Hungary’s prime minister told Stern, in reply to the question about what makes a good European.

The Hungarian approach is that Europe is made up of sovereign nations, he said. Some member states, however, are seeking to strengthen Europe’s institutions and to transfer as many decision-making powers as possible to Brussels, he added.

Hungarians view this “centralism” with concern because of historical experience, he noted.

The struggle against empires is a leitmotif in Hungarian history, and “we do not want to give up our sovereignty and the rule of law once again, which we gained for Central and Eastern Europe 31 years ago,” he added.

In response to the question as to why Hungary does not leave the EU following Britain’s example, he said “it is better for us to be in the EU” and that Brexit was “a big mistake that should have been prevented.”

Regarding what he expected from the EU, he said that it was primarily the preservation of the centuries-old European tradition of culturally diverse, sovereign nations, as well as an exchange of modern knowledge and technology, and thirdly, geopolitical stability and security.

“It is important for us to belong to an alliance that gives us security,” PM Orban stressed.

He underlined that Hungary fully agrees with the core values enshrined in Article 2 of the Lisbon Treaty.

These values are contained in Hungary’s fundamental law, he pointed out, adding that it is inconceivable in Hungary that a Jewish establishment needs to be protected with weapons.

One of Europe’s largest Jewish communities lives in Budapest, and “it is a social task for us to ensure that Jewish life can develop completely freely,” PM Orban said.

He highlighted that those governing Hungary today have come from the “anti-communist movement for the rule of law.”

“I always ask our Western partners who have doubts about our rule of law: dear friends, where did you fight for the rule of law? I fought for it in the streets of Budapest,” Viktor Orban said.

“I find the situation absurd that I am being asked questions about the rule of law,” and also “find it unfair, especially because these unproven accusations have never been tied to clear, objective criteria,” he said.

On the media situation in Hungary, he said, among other things, that “objective analyses show that media outlets that are very critical of the government in Hungary have a market share of well over 50 per cent,” adding that the government “does not interfere” with media issues.

Regarding family policy issues, among other things, he pointed out that the fundamental law states that a family is made up of a man and a woman, and that does not imply intolerance.

On issues related to the Hungarian people’s attitude towards Islam, he said that Hungarians do not want to have large numbers of Muslims coming to the country, bringing about a “cultural change” in their lives. As for the Muslims living in Hungary “it was us who let them in” and they have “accepted that they live in a Christian-Jewish country and they respect our laws”.

This basic attitude applies not only to Muslims. “We have an excellent relationship with the China, for example. But we don’t want five million Chinese people to come here tomorrow,” PM Orban said.

As regards the legal disputes with the EU over accommodating asylum seekers, he stressed that “we are fundamentally against illegal immigration,” adding that nonetheless, asylum seekers were given “proper board and lodging”, with their only complaint being that they could not move freely outside reception centres.

That is why transit zones – open in the direction of Serbia or Croatia – were set up in these countries, however, “unfortunately, the European Union did not accept that either.” Thus, the transit zones were closed. “The European Commission also took exception to the solution of asylum applications being submitted to Hungarian embassies in safe third countries. Therefore, we are now awaiting yet another court decision in this ‘cat-and-mouse game’,” Viktor Orban explained.

He emphasized that he was opposed to any policy which in any way would give those in need the impression that the solution was immigration into Europe, as this would encourage everyone to embark on the life-endangering and trying journey.

Mr Orban underlined that Hungary complies with, “and insists on the regulation of international treaties, according to which refugees with legitimate grounds to seek asylum have the right to be accepted in a safe country. But there is no international law stipulating asylum seekers can choose their destination country themselves.”

According to the Hungarian perspective problems should “not be brought into the country, but instead aid should be delivered to those in need. This is why the Hungary Helps initiative was set up, which is proportionally quite large considering the size of our country,” the prime minister explained, adding that ‘a kind of Marshall plan’ should be launched to assist “African and Middle Eastern countries from where migrants come.”

He emphasised, “the EU’s approach to the reception of refugees went far beyond the rights set out in the UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. Unfortunately, this has become the political benchmark, and anyone deviating from this metric is immediately black-listed.”

“Over the next twenty years, migration will be one of the most pressing issues in the future of European civilisation and this is a matter for national parliaments to decide,” he added.

He emphasized that Hungary is a “very diverse” country in cultural and religious terms, where different faiths and worldviews coexist harmoniously without conflict.

“We love diversity within our own culture, but we are very cautious about what comes from outside, partly because we are a small country,” said Viktor Orban.

In response to the question of anti-German references to World War II in his rhetoric, the premier emphasized that his words were never directed against the Germans, and since it was not the Germans but his compatriots who elected him to office, he was addressing Hungarians, not Germans.

Citing statements by leading German politicians about Hungary, he added that in general, the rhetoric of politicians leaves much room for improvement and that “verbal disarmament” would go a long way.

He emphasized that the 2015 refugee crisis showed, “German politics envisioned a post-Christian and post-nation state Europe,” which Hungarians do not believe in.

In this situation, “we should be tolerant of one another and say: you think this way and we think that way, but we can still be friends.” However, the Germans insisted that migration be viewed as the majority of Germans view it. Hungarians oppose this, which causes recurring tensions in our bilateral relations. “This is the Hungarian reading of the last five years,” said Viktor Orban.

Among other topics, the premier also spoke of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. In his words, the politician is a “strong woman who carries two burdens: German politics and European politics,” yet, she has always been straight, “for which she deserves respect.”


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