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“EU Means The Same As Democracy” – Joint Interview in Munich

Hungary Today 2014.11.11.
Joint interview in Munich: Viktor Orbán and Horst Seehofer (photo: Jörg Fokuhl - welt.de)

Joint interview in Munich: Viktor Orbán and Horst Seehofer (photo: Jörg Fokuhl – welt.de)

A joint interview with Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán and his Bavarian counterpart Horst Seehofer was published under the title „One Hungarian, One Bavarian – No Dispute” in the online edition of the German conservative newspaper Die Welt.

The introduction of the interview highlighted that there are „surprising” similarities between the views of the Prime Ministers, and they only havevastly diverging views on the issue of the euro. In answer to the question concerning the depth of the European crisis, Horst Seehofer stressed that the EU is facing challenges but if it concentrates more on the „great tasks in hand” and less on bureaucracy, a „new era” may begin. 

Viktor Orbán took the view that we may experience a „spiritual” crisis as Europe spends beyond its means on social expenditures, while its percentage in the world economy is declining, “but we still continue to believe that Europe has the greatest dynamism”. „Admitting the truth” seems to be difficult, in spite of the fact that this is a pre-requisite of finding the right economic policy, and the lack of facing up to the facts is one of the reasons why governments lose elections one by one.


Horst Seehofer underlined that „a good policy is the best protection” against radicalism, and expects the new European Commission to pursue a policy of stability, while the promotion of growth from credit is out of the question. Viktor Orbán highlighted in this context that every Member State must perform its duty and the EU must not resort to double standards. These are „inconvenient truths” but the future can only be built on the foundations of these, he added.

In answer to the question relating to the situation of the euro, the Hungarian Prime Minister said that the idea of accession to the Eurozone has „little attraction” at present, and that the economies of the countries outside the Eurozone are growing faster. The „project of the euro has come to a halt”, while its future is „open”, he remarked. As regards the idea of fiscal, economic and political union on the foundations of the euro, Viktor Orbán argued that it has yet to be proved that full political consensus may be reached in the Eurozone. He highlighted that nation states will not lose any of their significance in the future.


In the interview, both statesmen spoke in favour of Britain’s EU membership. Viktor Orbán said, in agreement with the Bavarian Prime Minister, that „the EU is, in actual fact, an ingenious invention”, and the „concept and meaning” of the EU would change without the Brits.


As regards the values of the EU, Orbán stated: “for us, the EU means the same as democracy”. He added that he spoke about the „original form” of democracy in which the meaning of the term is „from the people, by the people, for the people”. He stressed that he does not like to see attributes attached to the term ’democracy’ because he was born in a so-called people’s democracy, and there are some attributive constructions which make him „suspicious”, such as, for instance, the term liberal democracy which has a great number of followers in Europe but he believes that the question may arise whether it will not lead to „non-democratic liberalism”. “I am happy with democracy, just on its own”, he pointed out, remarking that if something must necessarily be attached to the term, it should be the German pro-freedom (freiheitlich) concept.


In response to the question concerning the criticisms levelled at his government, Viktor Orbán said that, as regards the investigation of constitutions, there is no other country that the European Commission audited more thoroughly in the context of fundamental democratic values than Hungary. Horst Seehofer added that “it is also a fact” that Viktor Orbán has been legitimised by the Hungarians in democratic elections on several occasions.

As regards corruption, the Hungarian Prime Minister stressed that he is an adherent of „zero tolerance” in this department, and that “a country where there is no corruption is a good country”. He added: „regrettably, I do not know of any such country”, but we must not give up on this ideal. We take the criticism of the United States very seriously, and we shall look at all the data which has been placed at our disposal in connection with the cases concerned, Orbán said.


Orbán stressed in connection with the crisis in Ukraine that Hungary regards Germany’s foreign policy as governing, and the EU must prepare for the fact that Ukraine „will cost us a lot of money “. Horst Seehofer added, inter alia, that supporting Ukraine is „money well invested” as regards peace and the economy of the EU.

via Prime Minister’s Office (kormany.hu) and Die Welt (welt.de) photos: Jörg Fokuhl (welt.de)


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