Orbán Meets with New Polish PM, Talks Migration and ‘Defending’ Against “a Post-Christian or Post-National Era” in Hungary
Tom Szigeti 2018.01.04.
At a press conference following a meeting with his new Polish counterpart Mateusz Morawiecki, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán claimed, among other things, that Central Europe is a stabilizing force in the EU, and that the region wants to have a say in the bloc according to its weight.
Attacking the EU’s migration policies, the Hungarian Premier claimed that
While economies in our region are doing well, the EU’s migration policy has failed spectacularly…We are the European Union’s engine of growth…without which we would not even be talking about growth in the EU.
Orbán, who, together with the Polish government, has received international criticism from many quarters for policies that have been attacked as demagogic and authoritarian, thanked Poland for its help in protecting Hungary’s borders. He claimed that, by helping Hungary, Poland demonstrated that the protection of the country’s southern border was not a Hungarian domestic issue, but rather a European one.
The prime minister said the borders must be protected and migration stopped. Aid should be delivered to the source of the problem, he added. He also claimed that, even though ‘certain European leaders continue to force it,’ European people do not want migration.
Orbán described his talks with Morawiecki as “excellent”. The Polish Prime Minister’s trip to Budapest is his first official bi-lateral foreign visit since his appointment in December of last year.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán (right) with Mateusz Morawiecki, Prime Minister of Poland, at a press conference held in the Hungarian Parliament on January 3 (Photo: MTI – Tibor Illyés)
The prime minister said 2018 would be an important year for Europe, “the year of great debates”. Orbán noted that 2018 would be the last full calendar year ahead of the next European parliamentary election. This is why, Orbán said, many in Europe see 2018 as the last opportunity to turn the bloc into a collection of “immigrant countries”. He said the matter would be discussed at the European Council meeting in March.
As regards the “spiritual dimensions” of migration, Orbán employed a political expression new to him, claiming that he believed it was inconceivable that Hungary would ever “enter a post-Christian or post-national era”.
The Hungarian community had been kept together through its national identity and Christian culture, he said, adding that if Hungarians ever had to give this up, the community would fall apart.
Asked about the possibility of expanding the Visegrád Group, Orbán said one of the alliance’s biggest strengths was that its members are bound by their shared histories, culture and level of economic development. Expanding the group would put its effectiveness at risk, the prime minister argued. Orbán added, however, that the group is considering intensifying its relations with Austria.
Orbán said he intends to meet members of Austria’s new government later this month, along with some of the country’s key economic players and key figures in its intellectual life. He said Austria had proven that democracy is working in Europe and that it was inconceivable that in the long run a country’s leaders would not heed the will of voters on important matters, such as migration.
Asked about opportunities for Hungarian-Polish economic cooperation, Orbán said that while neither country wanted to “live off of German money”, they were both happy to accept foreign investment (the Hungarian premier did not address the controversial issue of Russian funding in Hungary). He claimed that it had become clear over the past few years that central Europe is capable of standing on its own two feet economically if it gets a chance to trade, invest, work and develop.
Poland is a major economic player in the region, Orbán said, adding that “those who believe in central Europe” have an interest in a strong Polish economy.
Orbán also said that Germany’s trade volume with the V4 was significantly larger than its trade volume with France. He added that cooperation between Germany and the V4 was at least as important to Europe as French-German cooperation.
“This is the new era. This is the new reality,” the prime minister said, adding that this was why the central European region deserved to have a say in the future of the bloc according to its weight.
Asked about Poland becoming a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, Orbán said Poland represented the unique experience of countries that “fought for and won their freedom with blood”. Poland’s membership is “very important” for Hungary, because it represents central European identity and interests, Orbán said. The prime minister also expressed hope that Poland’s membership would lead to the V4 addressing global security issues.
Polish PM’s Remarks
Viktor Orbán at a military welcome for Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki (right) on Budapest’s Kossuth Square (Photo: MTI – Tamás Kovács)
In his comments, Mateusz Morawiecki stressed the significance of Visegrád cooperation.
The four Visegrád countries are important constituents of the European Union, contributing to its economic growth and stability, he argued, saying that
“We trust in the EU and in its values, and seek to jointly develop it.”
The Polish premier said they completely shared the Hungarian position on the migration crisis.
Citizens of sovereign states have a right to decide with whom they wish to live together, Morawiecki said. He said his country is firmly against any mandatory migrant quotas, and insisted that the European Commission has no authority to introduce such a mechanism. He added that “aid should go where the problem is” and said that his country had contributed to relevant funds.
Morawiecki insisted that more and more European Union members supported Poland’s position and added that “the Austrian example is spectacular”.