We would rather help Romania protect its eastern border than build a fence along the Hungarian-Romanian border
2017. október 4.
In an interview published in Nagyvárad/ Oradea in Wednesday’s edition of Hungarian language Transylvanian daily Bihari Napló, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said that if migration pressure puts Romania to the test, Hungary would rather help Romania protect its eastern borders than erect a fence along the Hungarian-Romanian state border.

According to Mr. Orbán, the migration pressure on Europe from the East will increase, and in the period ahead this will make Romania increasingly important.

Mr. Orbán said:

“Romania is an important state from this perspective, and it will have an important mission to stop the huge numbers of uncontrolled migrants flowing into Europe across its eastern border. […] It must eventually establish a border barrier system on its eastern border. Otherwise Romania will be overrun by migrants, and then we Hungarians will have to erect a fence on the Hungarian-Romanian border. This is something we would like to avoid if at all possible. Instead of this, we would be happy to assist Romania in protecting its eastern borders, if necessary.”

The Prime Minister added that he views the Orthodox Church and Romania’s political leadership with great hope, and trusts that they will also recognise that this issue is about the future of Romania: the Christian future of Romania. He added that he believes that on these foundations in the future Romania and Hungary could engage in good cooperation.

The Prime Minister said that he sees the future as being Central Europe’s great decades.

“The Poles, the Czechs, the Hungarians and the Slovakians will definitely achieve major success together”, he said, adding that he “would also add the Slovenians to the list”. He noted that there are a few issues to be resolved with the Croatians, and that the Serbians would definitely like to join this “Central European success story”. He also stated that Romanian Hungarians have a part to play in the rise of the region, adding that “The Romanians must decide if they are capable of linking to a great Central European success story, while cooperating with the Hungarians, launching joint economic projects and setting joint goals”.

He declared that “Within a ‘V4 plus Romania’ format, we could find a form of cooperation that would eventually also mean an increase in the standard of living, greater security and better prospects for Romanians in Romania; we are keeping this door open”.

However, the Prime Minister also said that it is the Hungarian government’s duty – at both international forums and in bilateral relations – to stand up for the rights of Hungarian minority communities. As specific issues that need to be resolved, he cited the reopening of the Roman Catholic Secondary School in Marosvásárhely/ Targu Mures and the acceleration of the process of returning formerly nationalised properties. The latter, he said, is currently occurring “at a snail’s pace”. He added that “Hungarian national policy can no longer mean simply protecting minority rights”.

Referring to Hungarian economic development programmes in the region, the Prime Minister said:

“We must discuss these issues with the Romanians, but with our other hand we must meanwhile open the door through which the Romanians could enter the Central European economic area. We have already succeeded in creating cooperation with Serbia, and in this the winners are both the Serbs and the Hungarians living there. We are making excellent progress with Slovenia, and our cooperation with the Slovakians is also outstanding. We are waiting to somehow also shake hands with the Romanians, as part of mutually advantageous economic cooperation.”

In relation to the Nagyvárad/ Oradea school affair, Mr. Orbán said that he is encouraged by having developed a promising personal relationship with Liviu Dragnea, President of Romania’s governing Social Democratic Party (PSD).

“I would like to also reinforce this relationship between the two governing parties, despite the fact that we belong to two different international political families”, he added.

With regard to the planned celebrations in 2018 to mark the one hundredth anniversary of the establishment of Greater Romania, Mr. Orbán said: “The Romanians deserve to have us talk to them honestly, and we also deserve to have them talk to us honestly”. He added that “We will somehow try to make it through 2018 with both communities feeling that they have managed to put behind them this emotionally complicated period, without either feeling that their dignity has been violated”.

Replying to a question linking the Catalonian referendum to efforts by Hungarian Transylvanians to achieve autonomy, Mr. Orbán said that “The Hungarian government is not commenting on the events in Catalonia, because it regards that as an internal matter for Spain”. He added, however, that he feels autonomy is an idea which is surrounded by a great deal of mistrust.

He noted that in places such as Vojvodina, where Hungary did not fight battles for principles, but instead attempted to establish practical cooperation, the Serbs also realised that coming to an agreement with the Hungarians on this issue is not “the work of the devil”. He said that at the moment Hungary is further away from achieving this with Romania.

Mr. Orbán said he felt the Hungarian government and the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (RMDSZ) have managed to set aside their previous grievances, and that current cooperation between the two sides is forward looking. “Hungarian governments must always cooperate with those who enjoy the trust of Hungarians living in Romania”, he said, adding that the results of the Romanian elections have clarified the distribution of power in Transylvania, and that he is happy to work together with RMDSZ President Hunor Kelemen.

In the interview the Prime Minister asked Hungarians beyond Hungary’s borders to register with Hungary’s electoral registry and vote in next spring’s parliamentary election. “I propose that we continue together along the path that we have opened together”, Mr. Orbán said.