Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó, in a lecture at the University of Bonn on Monday, argued for a strong Europe composed of strong nation states.
“If there is any country that needs a strong Europe, it is definitely Hungary,” he said, noting that Hungary, located in the middle of Europe with an open economy, has a history of losing out in conflicts between east and west. Europe, he added, faces historic challenges, so it is natural that there are debates about its future and on how to secure a strong Europe. Whenever “someone strays from the mainstream” in the debate on the European Union’s future, it is wrong that they immediately get labelled “un-European”, he said.
Szijjártó said some wanted weak EU member states within a kind of united states of Europe. Yet strong integration between weak countries is hard to achieve, he argued, adding that Hungary believes strong member states are needed.
Szijjártó named migration among the EU’s ongoing challenges. He said migration had heightened the threat of terrorism in Europe. When hundreds of thousands are allowed to enter the continent unchecked, certain terrorists take advantage of such a lax policy, he said. This is why migration is also a security issue, he said. Meanwhile, he said every country should have the opportunity to provide its own solutions to its demographic challenges, and this did not necessarily have to be in the form of immigration. Border protection is also a question of sovereignty and even the Schengen Agreement mandates the protection of Europe’s external borders, Szijjártó said.
The minister also said Europe should return to its Christian roots. He called it “unacceptable” that Christian symbols were being removed in certain places in western Europe.
He also touched on the issue of the EU’s next budget, saying that its implementation should be preceded by a fair debate. The distribution of EU funds does not depend on the generosity of western European countries, Szijjártó said. “We have a right to these funds,” he said.
The minister also said the EU should place greater emphasis on the bloc’s enlargement. The larger the EU, the stronger it will be, he argued. Hungary knows what it is like when there is peace in the Western Balkans and also when there is instability, he added.
In response to a question, Szijjártó noted that a few years ago several thousand people crossed Hungary’s border illegally “and it is not clear how they would have had the right to do that”. He said the migrants had rejected any sort of cooperation with the authorities and “took over public spaces”. Hungary does not judge another country if it wants to build a multicultural society, but other countries should not judge Hungary, either, for following a different path, Szijjártó said.
via MTI photos by Mitko Sztojcsev/Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade