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PM Orbán: Hungary Interested In Germany’s Plan On Eurasian Economic Cooperation

Tamás Székely 2015.01.30.

There are no problem areas in Hungarian-German cooperation, PM Viktor Orbán told public Kossuth Radio and added that he sees great potential for Hungary in the Eurasian economic cooperation plan. German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit in Budapest next week will attract attention to the long-lasting and stable friendship and strategic cooperation between the two countries that is likely to continue in the future, he said. Answering a question, the prime minister said he did not expect critical remarks from Merkel. “How could a country criticise another belonging to the same community?” Orbán asked.

Referring to criticism expressed by German companies in connection with such Hungarian measures as the introduction of the advertisement tax, Orbán said that those companies were protecting their financial interests. “Wherever we can match their financial interests with Hungary’s economic interests we will seek agreement. In cases where this is impossible, the interests of the Hungarian people will have priority,” he said. Germany’s large-scale plan concerning Eurasian economic cooperation could provide a new framework for debates about the future of Europe. “It is in our interest that the German plan should be included in the agenda … it would solve our problems,” he said.

Viktor Orbán also spoke about Hungarian-Russian relations and Vladimir Putin’s upcoming visit to Hungary. Orbán said he trusts that an agreement on long-term gas supplies will be reached with Vladimir Putin during the Russian president’s visit to Budapest on February 17. He told public Kossuth Rádió that the current contract with Russia would expire this year, which means that energy supplies for the economy or households would not be ensured after 2015. “That is the issue I need to solve,” he said. Concerning the European Union’s sanctions against Russia, Orbán said that those measures are in conflict with Hungary’s interests. As an EU member, however, Hungary has subordinated its interests to a common European position, which could help resolve the Ukraine crisis, he said.

On another subject, the Hungarian PM reiterated the government’s commitment to reduce the bank levy. He said the special tax had been introduced as a “crisis measure” and noted that the government had made a “commitment”, rather than a “promise”, to reduce the levy to a level “not unknown in Europe” after the country’s economy improved. Orbán said the issue could be revisited, “in a reasonable manner”, now that the Hungarian economy is performing well.

As for the ongoing debate on immigration, Viktor Orbán again pressed for a cross-European immigration policy and told public Kossuth Rádió that “we do not want to become a target country for economic immigrants”. There are masses of people arriving in Hungary who are obviously not persecuted at home but are in search of a better living; they claim to be subjects of political exile in order to get favourable assessment by the immigration authorities. Many of them leave Hungary later, Orbán said.

However, since the terrorist attacks in Paris, countries preferred by economic immigrants will introduce stricter regulations and migrants will be stuck in Hungary, but “I do not want this and I think the majority of Hungarians do not want that either,” Orbán said. He reiterated that he did not see a sensible argument for allowing masses of people from different cultures and civilisations in Hungary if the only reason for them to move to Hungary is to enjoy better living standards. In the case of “migration for work reasons” within the European Union, however, it is not correct to apply immigration categories because “we are European citizens and the whole of Europe is ours,” Viktor Orbán said.

via photo: Zoltán Máté – MTI