Politics

PM Orbán Insists Hungary Not Anti-European But Represents “True European Position” – UPDATE: Opposition Reactions

Hungary has never been anti-European and its government represents a true European position, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said on Monday in the Parliament.

Addressing parliamentary session, Viktor Orbán said that the European Union is a voluntary alliance of independent nations and does not equal Brussels. “Hungary is not and has never been anti-European. Quite the contrary, the government represents a true European position, protecting the current European treaty, including the original sharing of competences between the member states and Brussels. It is Brussels rather than Hungary that has changed its position,” he said.

Referring to a man convicted in Hungary for leading a group of migrants attacking Hungarian police along the southern border, Orbán said that “Ahmed H’s obviously absurd lies” are more important for Brussels than the security of Hungarians. The prime minister accused Brussels of “openly siding with terrorists”, which he called incomprehensible.

Referring to US financier George Soros, Orban called it absurd that a “financial speculator” sets the direction for Brussels and gets to say what Europe is supposed to do while the European leaders “are bowing” to him, he said.

Viktor Orbán promised that the border fence along Hungary’s southern border would stand as long as he is the prime minister. As long as Fidesz and the Christian Democrats rule Hungary, the government will not yield to Brussels’ “blackmails” and will reject the mandatory migrant quotas, he said. He also said that Hungary is standing on the foundations of democracy and will not let Brussels to “stealthily” deprive it of its rights. Those who support migration, want to demolish the fence and would let migrants of uncertain origin, identity and motivation settle in Hungary are acting against the Hungarian nation.

Assessing the government’s recent “national consultation” survey, Orbán said most Hungarians agree that Brussels should not be allowed to force onto the country its migrant relocation programmes. “We cannot allow Brussels to take over managing our affairs,” he said.What has so far been the most successful national consultation has also made it clear that most Hungarians think Brussels should not be allowed to have a say in Hungary’s decisions on taxes, wages and utility prices, he said.

The national surveys conducted so far allow that Hungarians, and the parliament they elected and their government could act together out of a common will. This is the foundation of Hungary’s recent achievements, Orbán said, noting that the country had been rescued from a financial collapse and further price increases and had been set on an economic growth path with hundreds of thousands of jobs created and wages increased. “We want a Hungarian Hungary and a European Europe,” he said.

Viktor Orbán said that Hungary must prepare itself for autumn debates focussing on Europe’s future. Since Hungary is, and will continue to be, a member of the European Union, those debates will concern its future, too. He said that France and Germany, the two leading powers in Europe, may attempt “to transform” the bloc, but it is still hard to see if this would stymie or help Hungary in its efforts to enforce its interests in Brussels.

“We are facing debates that will concern very serious matters and will have consequences in the long term,” said Viktor Orbán. The prime minister said Hungary is on the right track and has every reason to be optimistic because “we again have a future”. He said the “hard-earned achievements” of the past seven years include preparing the ground for a labour-based economy to replace a benefits-based economy. Employment grew fastest in Hungary within the European Union and the increase in the minimum wages since 2010 has been the third highest. Hungary’s economy grew by 4.2 percent in the first quarter of this year compared to the same period of last year, he said.

The functioning of the Hungarian model has been recognised even by those that had voiced concerns in the past, he added. Achievements have been realised with national interests in mind and they should not be allowed to be put to risk as a result of “some hazy utopia, whether called the United States of Europe, or open society, or anything else”, he said.

UPDATE:  The opposition parties criticise Prime Minister Viktor Orbán for his failure to address the crucial issues of the nation in his parliamentary speech on Monday

The Socialists (MSZP) called for a fairer Hungary, a country which belongs to the “first circle” of the European Union rather than to the peripheries. Group leader Bertalan Tóth said that the government’s “national consultation” survey failed to ask people’s opinion about such important issues as education, health care, emigration and whether they agree with high spending on stadiums. He said the Hungarian economy was growing thanks to European Union funds while only the rich get to enjoy the benefits of tax cuts and the operation of the state costs more than in the past.

Radical nationalist Jobbik accused the prime minister of neglecting health care and education. Party leader Gábor Vona said Orbán has made Hungary a European leader in terms of corruption. “Corruption is at the core of the government and businessman Lőrinc Mészáros is Orbán’s personal stooge,” he added. Vona said Jobbik’s initiative for an EU wage union aims to help people succeed in their homeland. In order to achieve this, wages need to be increased, he said and asked Orbán why he would not support the initiative. If Jobbik wins the election next year, the border fence will stay intact but there will also be a border guard force there to ensure that no migrants enter Hungary, regardless of whether they are poor or rich, Vona said, referring to the residency bonds scheme.

The green LMP called on Orbán to resolve “everyday problems” and settle issues in education and health care. Group leader Bernadett Szél also urged Orbán to call a referendum on the Paks nuclear power plant upgrade project. Instead of the national government that Orbán has promised, he is involved in a permanent national consultation, she added. Szél said a Russian code had run on the national consultation website and asked Orbán to reveal why “data showing the most personal opinions of Hungarian citizens” had been made available to Russian President Vladimir Putin. She criticised Orbán for accusing Brussels of siding with the terrorists and said Orbán should stop calling those people terrorists with whom he would sit together at meetings for heads of state and government. If Orbán were brave enough, he would invite a referendum on Paks instead of holding national consultations, she added.

via MTI; photos: Tamás Kovács – MTI