Politics

PM Orbán In Brussels: “Make Europe Great Again”

Europe is going in the wrong direction but there is an opportunity to reform the bloc and “make Europe great again”, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in Brussels at a closed event organised jointly by Hungary’s Antall József Knowledge Centre and Germany’s Konrad Adenauer Foundation.

The Hungarian Premier was invited to the event by Hans-Gert Pöttering, former President of the European Parliament and Chairman of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation. In his welcoming speech, Pöttering said that Europe needs a common foreign and security policy, and that its external borders must be made safe through strong border protection.

“We need borders which provide refuge for those in need of protection, but which stop economic migration and do not permit anyone and everyone to enter the territory of the EU”, he said, insisting that  “a new asylum policy founded on European and Christian values must always respect human dignity.” Europe cannot rely on anyone else, Pöttering said, and it is our responsibility to protect our unique values in the world, which rest on the foundations of freedom, peace, democracy, solidarity and human dignity.

In his lengthy speech, Viktor Orbán said the primary question is to what extent Europe and the European Union are ready to adapt to this new era. Instead of open societies, people want democratic societies in the new era that is “knocking on Europe’s door”, he told the event  “Things are going badly in Brussels and in the wrong direction,” Orbán insisted. He said that just 20 years ago, Europe had ambitious goals but none of those objectives have been met.

He mentioned, for example, plans to create a European-Asian economic space and to set up an independent European security policy, adding that both those schemes had failed. “The number one principle in politics is whatever exists is possible,” he said. “Unfortunately many leaders in Europe do not accept that fact,” he said. Instead of learning from the economic successes of China and other Asian countries, Europe is trying to convince itself that “what exists in China and Asia is not really there, or is temporary and lacks foundations.”

It is time to take the new president of the United States seriously, Viktor Orbán said in a speech in Brussels. Britain decided last year to leave the European Union and the world’s biggest military power elected a new president, yet efforts have been made to try to convince the public that things are not as they actually are. Donald Trump made a historic statement that it is every country’s right to put itself first, Orbán said. Change, he added, will happen soon and the era of multilateralism will come to an end.

After the 2008 economic crisis, a paradigm shift took place in world politics, Orbán said. Whereas the world had been unipolar, it is now becoming multipolar. This shift is unprecedented and there is no consensus on what the new global political structure will look like, he said. Preparations must be made for a multipolar world, he said in his speech entitled Europe in 2017. “There is no single model of salvation,” he said, arguing that instead of multilateral agreements bilateral relations would receive greater emphasis.

Europe is hit by a competitiveness, demographic, security and foreignpolicy crisis, Orbán said. As for the foreign policy aspect of the crisis, Europe is barely capable of influencing events taking place in the region, Orbán said, noting the conflicts in Syria and Ukraine. Orbán insisted that Europe’s economic growth would not exceed 1-2% in the next few years, adding that Europe had once been globally relevant before becoming a regional power. “Europe will lose its status as a global player and become a regional player, and it will soon struggle to remain a regional power,” Orbán said.

The Hungarian prime minister said Europe was focusing its strengths on the wrong goals, arguing that it had failed to achieve any of its plans and had become a “slave” to the “Utopian idea” of a “supranational” Europe. He said there was no single European people, only European peoples, adding that Europe had only been strong when it had strong multiple centres of power.

Europe needs more self-confidence, Orbán said. Europe must state that it is capable of protecting itself without outside help, he said, adding that a joint European defence alliance would enable Europe to negotiate with everybody, including Russia, as equal partners. He urged a new agreement with the US to replace stalled trade talks. In addition, opportunities need to be found to make a deal with China, and the issue of Russia should be put back on the agenda, he added.

via hungarymatters.hu and MTI