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Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has responded to an open letter by Mikulas Dzurinda, Slovakia’s former head of government and the chairman of the Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies, the official think tank of the European People’s Party (EPP), published in leftist daily Népszava.

In the letter published in Népszava on Friday, Dzurinda said Orbán was underestimating the debate ongoing in the EPP.

“Viktor, I know that you are concerned that our political party – the European People’s Party – does not fully embrace traditional Christian values. Although I do not share this view, I accept that you feel this way. I, too, am concerned about how divisive the matter of deciding and implementing common European responses to the challenges of the financial crises, the unexpected wave of migration, terrorism and climate change has become. However, Viktor, you underestimate the debate over these fundamental issues in the EPP at present,” Dzurinda wrote.

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He wrote that, since 2016, the political think tank of the EPP has pressed for an initiative for a different type of Europe, a strong, global Europe in which the stress is not on deeper integration, but rather on the principle of subsidiarity which “is one of the fundamental political, legal and social principles of Catholic social doctrine”.

This “New Europeanism” encourages decentralisation and competition and is not built on centralisation and harmonisation, Dzurinda wrote.

“It condemns democrats’ attempts to use EU institutions to force liberal values on more conservative member states, as this is detrimental to the establishment of a unified Europe,” he added.

Dzurinda noted that Orbán would soon travel to Rome where he will deliver a speech at a conference where the head of the conservative Italian Liga party, Matteo Salvini, will also speak.

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“I suppose, with all due respect for both of you, that you will not be able to deliver workable solutions for the most important problems of our age. The slogans of national conservatism will not be of assistance to you in finding solutions to such issues as migration and climate change,” he wrote.

Dzurinda proposed to Orbán participating at a high-level conference on migration that will take place in Athens on April 2.

Orbán to Dzurinda: pity that in order to represent Christian values consistently, Fidesz had to suspend its membership in the EPP

Orbán posted a reply to Dzurinda’s letter on his homepage on Sunday.

“It is good to see that you are still inspired by the ideas that connected us when we both served as prime ministers. You know us Hungarians, so you know that the values cited in your letter, such as a strong Europe, subsidiarity, the support of decentralisation and competition, the Catholic social doctrine and stepping up against the forced dissemination of liberal values are all music to the ears of Hungarians,” Orbán wrote.

“I am glad that you gave a sign of life, and reappeared on the horizon of Hungarian politics,” he added.

Orbán thanked Dzurinda for the invitation to the conference in Athens.

“You know my opinion that the ideal of Europe comes from the three hills: the Acropolis, the Capitol, and the Golgotha. So you can imagine the joy I felt upon your invitation,” Orbán wrote.

“What a pity that in order to represent Christian values consistently, our party, Fidesz had to suspend its membership in the EPP,” he said.

“I don’t know if you are allowed to invite me to Athens under these circumstances. If so, you can count on me! See you at the Acropolis!” Orbán wrote in closing.

Featured photo illustration by Balázs Szecsődi/PM’s Press Office

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