We must establish a European line of defence on Greece’s northern border
08. 01. 2016.
In an interview with public broadcaster Kossuth Rádió on Friday, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said that a new line of defence for Europe must be established at the northern border of Greece. He also emphasised the need to amend the EU’s founding treaty.

The Prime Minister said that a vital question for 2016 will be whether Europe finally realises that it is not enough to slow down migration: it must be stopped entirely.

Mr. Orbán said that Bulgaria must become a member of the Schengen Area, and Macedonia must be strengthened in order to facilitate establishment of a line of defence on Greece’s northern border. He said that he is not confident that by itself the agreement on migration with Turkey will be sufficient.

“Brusselism” can only be remedied by amendment of the founding treaty

The Prime Minister criticised “Brusselism”, which in his view means the covert withdrawal of powers from nation states. If a problem arises in the EU, the first reflex is that “we immediately need a European solution, and we should withdraw powers” from Member States, he said, adding that the risks of “Brusselism” in the field of migration are obvious to all. In his opinion this cannot be solved without amendment of the founding treaty.

Responding to a question about incidents of sexual assault on New Year’s Eve in Germany, he said that “those who seek to lecture us on freedom of speech” and who greet the arrival of immigrants as something good, “suppress” negative news about immigrants in the name of liberalism. The events in Germany thus show that freedom of the press in Eastern Europe is broader and more diversified than in many Western European countries.

Photo: Noémi Bruzák/MTI
Photo: Noémi Bruzák/MTI

Another topic discussed in the interview was the Prime Minister’s visit to Poland on Wednesday, when he met Jarosław Kaczyński, President of the Polish government party Law and Justice (PiS). Mr. Orbán said that the EU should not be considering sanctions against Poland, as full agreement would be needed in order to introduce them, and Hungary will never support EU sanctions against Poland.

“More respect is due to Poland, because they deserve it”, he said, noting that Hungary has already suffered from what is currently happening to the Polish, and “we also demanded that respect be paid to Hungarians”. The Prime Minister was of the opinion that the Poles are right: they should not be addressed in the manner which is increasingly apparent in Brussels. He also noted that the new Prime Minister of Poland Beata Szydło will soon visit Hungary.

The European Union must be renewed

Talking about British prime minister David Cameron’s visit to Budapest on Thursday, Mr. Orbán said that Hungary shares Britain’s view that the EU must be renewed. He was of the opinion that Britain’s idea of an EU of strong nation states is in line with the vision of the Visegrád countries, therefore “here we have a natural alliance”. He assured his British counterpart of his support for the British proposals to strengthen national parliaments and to eliminate double standards.

Mr. Orbán also agreed with Britain’s efforts to stop abuses of its social benefits system, but he emphasised that in this area no form of discrimination is acceptable, because Hungarians working in Britain do their jobs properly, and their contributions to Britain’s public finances exceed the services they receive from them.

Everyone can take a step forward

Evaluating the situation in Hungary, Mr. Orbán said that the experience of the past five years has shown that the country is increasingly moving in a direction in which everyone feels that every year they can take a step forward. This will also be the case this year, he said, pointing out a few measures – including tax cuts, increases in the minimum wage and the family housing programme. Talking about the latter, he said that he expects the programme to be introduced nationwide. He added that further steps must be taken in the area of housing – for example for those in public employment; he said that this is currently being worked on.

He explained that a housing programme which benefits everyone at the same time cannot be established, because people are different, and families live in a variety of circumstances. “In the case of family support, the allowances must be combined with loans, for which certain requirements must be met […] We have to move forward step by step until we can see that everyone has the possibility to take one step forward”, he said.

The Hungarian state’s shareholding in FHB bank will not decrease

Commenting on media reports on FHB’s capital increase, the Prime Minister pointed out that the Government has renewed the system of cooperatives, and has spent a large amount of money on this, therefore it sees cooperatives as partners. However, he said, “What has happened now is that when the capital increase was introduced at FHB, the Government of Hungary decided  to seek to maintain the Hungarian state’s shareholding. This was rejected; they have the right to refuse this request, but within a framework of cooperation and a policy of alliance I do not think that this is what should be done. Done in this way the measure is unfriendly – and even hostile. It is a mistake which the bank needs to rectify”.

Finally, recent media reports on the Hungarian Swimming Federation were also discussed. In this regard Mr. Orbán said that the individuals involved are all excellent personalities. As Hungary is preparing for the Olympic Games, the issue is of national importance, therefore the Prime Minister has offered the Government’s services on a “goodwill” basis. “Somebody must tell us how the Government could help, so that it does not become impossible for several excellent people to cooperate”, he said.