Press conference of Viktor Orbán after his meeting with Boris Johnson, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
London, 28th May 2021

Jó napot kívánok! Which language do we have to use, Hungarian or English? So what are you interested in? So first of all it was a great experience to see your Prime Minister. We have a friendship back to the time when he was the foreign minister visiting Hungary four years ago, three years ago. We agreed given the time when UK and Hungary was equally member of European Union, but now that period is over, so Brexit is done. So the issue for today was to find a way to cooperate in a post-Brexit period – mainly between Hungary and the UK, but we discussed how Central Europe – and especially the V4 – could cooperate with the UK. So that was the subject. Speaking on bilateral terms, two issues proved to be very successful. The first is energy. Your company Shell is the only company which is not Russian, and we have a long-term gas contract for six years delivering in the future. That’s very important for us from the point of view of the sovereignty. And the second issue is the defence industry: we try to have common research and operation as well. So these are the two promising issues for the post-Covid and post-Brexit period of cooperation between the UK and Hungary. So that was in nutshell the essence of the meeting.

Mr. Prime Minister! The UK and Hungary are the two best vaccinated countries in Europe at the moment. Is there any hope in the near future of quarantine-free travel between these two countries?

It’s depend on you, I mean, it’s depend on UK. Yeah, you are the first, we have the silver medal, it’s not bad anyway in that competition. 60 percent of the adult population in Hungary is vaccinated at least by one jab, and the second is moving up also. So I think we are relatively in a good shape. The life is free, a little bit even more free then here, if I understand correctly what’s going on in London. So you can travel, if you have bilateral agreements to accept your immunity card, you know. I have my immunity card, this one, which is Hungarian and English, and we can use it. So to many neighbouring countries we can use that immunity card and can travel freely, unfortunately not to UK. They are cautious, may I say, the British government is very, very cautious. We understand it because it’s an island; it’s more difficult to treat than a landlocked country as we are. So I hope that sooner or later the foreign ministers will able to reach an agreement to travel using the immunity cards from both sides.

Did the Prime Minister raise his concerns about human rights in Hungary, the state of democracy and the rule of law?

He raised the issue both of democracy, the press, LMBTQ community, all of that kind of, rule of law stuff. Yes, we discussed it.

And what did he say to you, and what did you say to him?

He was interested in how things are going on. And I said it’s a Western democracy, so it’s the same system as here: the press is free…

With respect sir, the press is not as free. It is free here; it is less free in Hungary.

No, no, no.

The rule of law and judges here are different to how you do it in Hungary, sir.

The independence of the judges in Hungary is one of the best in the European Union, if I am able to understand.

But that’s not the view of many in the European Union: they have concerns, they have raised them in the European institutions.

Yes, but it’s a political issue, you know. So don’t be worried about it; it’s just a simple political game. The fact is…

But there are many people who are worried about it. They fear the state of democracy.

No, no, no. The leftist activists. They’re leftist activists. Of course they criticize us, but that’s normal. Come to Hungary and see with your eyes, and you can see how we live and how is the press. If you go to the Hungarian newsstand and you ask for a paper which is attacking the Government, you will get a dozen at least – immediately. So it’s free.

What do you say to the opposition parties – the Labour Party here, the Liberal Democrat Party here – who say you are the most regressive leader in the European Union? They have concerns about remarks you have made in the past they say are anti-Semitic, they say are Islamophobic, and they say is just so anti-immigration. What do you say to them?

In terms of anti-immigration it could be – it could be true. Anti-Semitism is simply ridiculous; we are a more fair and correct country in that respect. We have a huge Jewish community, probably the number three in…by size…

But you repeatedly attack people like George Soros…

Ah! Oh!

…with anti-Semitic overtones.

Oh! No, no! George Soros is a talented Hungarian businessman, a very strong rival. He is very much in favour of migration, financing and helping the NGOs who are doing that. We don’t like it, but it has nothing to do with his ethnic identity, you know. He is just simply a quite clever Hungarian man. Anyway, but back to migration: you should understand probably, Gentlemen, that the cultural context of migration here – in the centre of a global empire, may I say – is totally different than in Central Europe. Migration in the Hungarian cultural context is totally negative. So to be anti-migrant, it means that you are on a good side. And this is the intention of the people: we don’t need migration; we don’t like that phenomenon at all.

Why did you refer to Muslims once as “invaders”?

That’s happened, that was the fact. So without any kind of legal permission, without any permission coming from any Hungarian authorities, they just destroyed the border and they marched through the country. It’s…in the Hungarian language we call it “invasion”. And they were all Muslims, anyway. That’s a simple fact.

Did you understand how many Muslims find that offensive?

No, no, no, I understand it. Yes, of course I understand, but this was the fact. This was the fact. You know, in democracy you have to name the fact. This was the fact. Sorry. We don’t have, sorry, we don’t have any kind of anti…how to say it…hostile feelings. We simply would like to defend our own rights, sovereignty and decision-making system. If we would like to invite somebody to our country, we invite them. If somebody would like to come to Hungary, they must follow the procedure and then come – but never illegally.

Do you see Mr. Johnson as a man…a fellow ally, somebody you can prod Brussels with, somebody who is outside the system?

He represents a country with nuclear power, the number six, probably, by trade in the world, you know, so it’s a different dimension. I can’t compare myself to him. Hungary is a ten million country, don’t forget that. Any more? No more questions. Thank you very much.