Foreign Affairs

PM Orbán: “The European Dream Has Moved From Western To Central Europe”

The EU is currently wealthy but weak, which is the worst combination. And this is what caused trouble in the form of uncontrolled migration, Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said at an economic forum held in Krynica in southern Poland. “This process should be halted,” Orbán said adding that defence against uncontrolled migration should be taken as far south as possible, so help must be offered to Bulgaria.  The forum was also attended by the prime ministers of the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, as well as Ukraine.

Speaking after talks with his counterparts, Viktor Orbán said that when Ukraine decided to head down a new path it had received nothing but support from the EU. Ukraine was promised that EU member states were ready to accept it into their community step by step, Orbán said. But over the last two years there has not been any progress in this area, he said. He added, however, that the things that did happen in connection with Ukraine’s EU integration should not have happened, noting a referendum in which Dutch voters rejected the ratification of an EU-Ukraine association agreement earlier this year. The Visegrad countries agree that there is a need for a strong European Union, he said.

The ‘European dream’ has moved from western to central Europe, the Hungarian Premier said. There was a generation of European politicians who had a “secret dream” that the establishment of the European Union could get its member states to forget their national and religious identities and weaken their historical identities so that all those could be replaced by a European identity, Orbán said. But it turned out that there is no identity that could replace the earlier ones, Orbán said. There is no such a thing that “European nation”, Orbán insisted. He said it had now become clear that only countries with strong identity could be successful. Twenty years ago young Europeans were always told that if they complete their studies, respect the laws and work diligently then they can get further in life than their parents had, Orbán said. But young people in most of the old EU member states would laugh at this idea today, he said, arguing that central Europe is now the home of the “European dream”.

On the topic of migration, Orbán said that as the countries represented at the forum have cultures rooted in Christianity, they cannot behave as if they had “hearts of stone”. But, he said, these countries have conflicting feelings on migration: on the one hand they feel threatened by migration but on the other hand they empathise with the migrants and feel sorry for them. He said European countries should help those in need but at the same time preserve their own identities. Orbán noted that the migration wave into Europe is coming from the south and Hungary is the Visegrad Four member state that lies farthest south in Europe. He insisted that it was not true that war was the root cause of the migration problem. Instead, the root cause is that Europe is currently wealthy but weak, and others also want to attain the European standard of living, he said.

Viktor Orbán said it had to be made clear that there is a legal process that needs to be followed if one wants to enter Europe. If Europe does not make this clear it will lose everything it has worked for and it will be overrun by another community that has a stronger identity. Many overestimate the impact multiculturalism has on integration and underestimate migrants’ ability to preserve their own identities, Orbán said. Regarding EU-Ukraine relations, Orbán said Europe today plays a smaller role in the future of Ukraine than the US and Russia. He said Russia and Turkey could develop the same kind of influence in the western Balkans region. He said that if Europe wants to help Ukraine it would first have to regain its own confidence and ability to act. The EU needs to be reformed in order for it to be able to help Ukraine, the Hungarian prime minister said.

via hungarymatters.hu and MTI photo: Balázs Szecsődi – kormany.hu