t's natural to debate how to achieve these aims," Szijjártó said. This debate should, however, remain rational instead of emotional rhetoric branding unorthodox ideas, Szijjártó told The Future of Europe conference in Budapest. The minister said free competition within the bloc was necessary for a strong Europe. Further, he said Europeans' sense of security should be restored and Europe's Christian identity "preserved". He called for a "fair debate" over the next seven-year budget. "European democracy must not be further eroded." Szijjártó also called for fast EU enlargement.

Hungarians had made a clear decision at the last election by voting for parties that prioritise their security, he said. They wanted Hungary to remain Hungarian, and the government would represent this view in European talks. Some see weakened member states with rights to certain decisions transferred to a central institution as the way forward, Szijjártó said. Hungary, however, thought that only strong member states could form a robust EU. Unhampered competition between member states and restoring security to the bloc was part of that process.

Commenting on the situation of ethnic Hungarians in Ukraine on which Hungary published a memo the day before the event, Szijjártó said war was ongoing there while the Ukrainian government "is taking inexplicable measures" that breach its international obligations and the rights of ethnic minorities there.

Brexit is another challenge, he said, adding that the EU "is by and by losing one seventh of its economic output" and the terms of the agreement were up in the air.

British sociologist and writer Frank Furedi said anyone who still believed in borders and nations was easily branded a populist, as were thinkers who questioned federalism. Those who do not identify as a cosmopolitan are called fascist and accused of chasing the ideals of the 19th century, he told the conference.

Prime Minister's Office state secretary Balázs Orbán said it should be declared that the European political elite is suffering from cognitive dissonance when it comes to assessing migration. This was the only possible reason why there was such a great difference between reality and the statements they made. The optimism expressed by European leaders over the current situation is directly opposed to the facts, he said. And they increasingly represented a position that was impossible to maintain. The message of central Europe does not fit into the image presented by the European political elite and "they turn their frustration against us", the state secretary added.

Jan Figel, the European Union's Special Envoy for promotion of freedom of religion or belief outside the EU, said his country, Slovakia, never had an alternative for the EU and the EU is not a finished project but one that needs to be further expanded.

During times of crisis, he said, sober solutions are needed and solidarity should be expressed towards those in need. The fact that people wanted to come to Europe was a "positive problem" because it showed that Europe was still attractive.

British journalist and editor Douglas Murray said the migration crisis of 2015 needs to be examined and some painful questions must be asked in order to understand mass migration. One such question was whether Europe could be a home to all who wanted to come here. It was necessary to draw the line and politicians must tell not only who could come to Europe but also who was not allowed to enter. Referring to Brexit and the Hungarian election that confirmed Fidesz in government for the third consecutive term, Murray said members of the European political elite tend to say that people voted wrongly, instead of accepting their decision.

Gergely Gulyás, head of the Prime Minister's Office, told the conference that freedom is under threat by globalisation and the business interests behind it, resulting in a "stone-hard culture war". The fight is not between two cultures but the values of the free world standing against "deconstruction", he added.


Orbán under attack as 'world political figure': Bannon

# Steve Bannon

Europeans have grown tired of being dictated to by people from Brussels, Steve Bannon, the former chief strategist and campaign advisor of US President Donald Trump, said in an interview with public news channel M1, adding that Prime Minister Viktor Orbán had become “a world political figure”, and this is the reason why he had come under attack.

"Viktor Orbán's victory and the scale of it -- and particularly that he was so far out there and up front saying this is to defend the Judea-Christian west -- is looked at ... in America, England and the rest of western Europe as really a revolutionary moment," Bannon said. "Orbán is now a world political figure and he is going to be under fierce assault."

Commenting on the fence on Hungary's southern border, he said: "You guys built the wall before we did, we'd like to have your wall … If you can't defend your borders you don't have sovereignty." Bannon said "the southern border of the US is a total joke and President Trump knows that it is imperative that he has to build a southern wall". He said the rejection of the elite seen in the US had been already under way in Europe.

"The working class, blue-collar workers in the US and the middle class were completely abused by the globalist elite that ran the country for the last 20 or 30 years and Trump's victory was a complete rejection of that," Bannon said. "Brexit was a foreshadow of the 2016 Trump victory and the populist nationalist revolt is about a year ahead in Europe than in the United States."

He noted that in Italy "what they've done today and the last couple of days is they had a right-wing populist party and a left-wing populist party, and they put aside their differences on economics, the old traditional left-right divide and they said we'll come to form one unity government ... and leave aside the traditional left-right paradigm." That is a major moment in European history, he said.

#

Bannon said "people are tired of being dictated to by people from Brussels, by a kind of managerial, scientific, engineering elite that's going to tell them what's the best way to live their lives".


Islam threat to civilisation: Yiannopoulos

A few days after the conference British alt-right journalist Milo Yiannopoulos gave a speech on the same topic noting that Islam is one of the greatest threats to civilisation, but not in its radical form connected to terrorism but as a mainstream Muslim society.

Yiannopoulos, a former editor of right-wing American news portal Breitbart News, spoke at an event organised by the 21st Century Institution.

#

Islam is not like other religions, he said, but a political ideology demanding the oppression of women and the murder of LGBT people. Such a world view had no place in Europe.

In his speech, he called on his audience to stand by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán who "single-handedly stood up against George Soros, and basically banned him from the country." Hungarians will "win" if they follow Orbán, he said.


Orbán meets participants

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán met several people who spoke at the Future of Europe conference. Orbán spent an hour each with British conservative author and journalist Douglas Murray and with Steve Bannon, US President Donald Trump's former chief strategist, in his office in Parliament. He also talked with American economist and author David Goldman.


CEE citizens back regional unity

Two-thirds of citizens in Central and Eastern Europe want to see regional cooperation further strengthened, the head of the Nezopont Institute said at a separate conference about central European cooperation in Budapest.

Csaba Fodor said that of the 1000 respondents each surveyed in nine countries, 80 percent had heard of the Visegrad Group, and 65 percent saw the forum as important. Only 20 percent had heard of the Three Seas Initiative – a forum of CEE countries belonging to the EU around the Baltics, Adriatic and Black Sea – but 64 percent viewed that as important, too, he said.

The countries involved in the survey were Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Romania and Bulgaria.

Fully 75 percent of respondents said they supported their countries' EU membership, with the Polish and Romanian support the highest (84 percent). Czech and Slovak citizens were the most critical, where 24 and 28 percent, respectively, wanted a divorce from the bloc. In Hungary, 68 percent said they backed the country's EU membership.

Asked about the EU leadership, 53 percent said they were dissatisfied.

Fully 74 percent of respondents rejected migration from outside the continent, and 65 percent were in favour of preserving Europe's Christian culture, Fodor cited the survey as saying.

Speaking at the conference, Speaker of Parliament László Kövér (ruling Fidesz) said political elites in Western and Central and Eastern Europe had given different answers to the challenges of preserving a secure democracy on the continent. They agree that the rule of law and the welfare state are assets, Kövér said. But on the need to preserve the "steadiest cornerstones of our identity", such as sexual, family, religious and national identity, they could not see eye to eye. This was the biggest rift within the EU. In the coming years, citizens of Western European countries will have to stand ready to reject a policy devoid of the concept of identity within the framework of democracy, Kover said.

Cooperation of Central and Eastern European countries could strengthen all partners, thereby strengthening the "democratic order" of the region. Defining common goals could also save these countries from becoming pawns in other countries' power games.


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