Orbán, who was speaking at an international press conference in Budapest, said the European parliamentary elections in May would be "historic" because Europeans would finally get to have their say on the issue of migration. Hungary so far has been the only member state where the people have been given the chance to express their views on this, he said. His Fidesz party's aim for the elections was "to be the most successful party" in Europe and in the European People's Party.

Migration is not simply an issue that will be in the focus of the European parliamentary elections but one that is profoundly transforming European policies, Orbán said.

The traditional division of parties into left wing and right wing is being replaced by a new division based on either being pro-migration or anti-migration, he said. The migration debate also had bearing on attitudes to Christianity, making the protection of Christian culture a political duty. It also had a bearing on the debate about sovereignty because migration advocates disrespected the decisions of those against taking in migrants.

The prime minister said that migration would be Europe's defining issue in the next 15-20 years, arguing that the population growth rates of Africa and Asia were higher than their population retention rates.

Hungary can be proud that it was the first country to prove that migration can be stopped on land, and for a long time not even countries with maritime borders attempted to achieve such a feat, the prime minister said. Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini was the first to say that this could be done, Orbán said, making Salvini a "hero" in his eyes.

Orbán said the Polish-Italian axis was "one of the best things to happen" and great hope was set in store for this development. "This means for us that the governing and anti-immigration forces to the right of the European People’s Party are looking for forms of cooperation. It is good news because the EPP is looking for pro-immigration allies."

Orbán noted that Fidesz is a member of the EPP and added that "loyalty in Hungary is a political value … As long as we are [in the EPP] – hopefully for a long time – we will always be loyal to our party family". At the same time, the issue of migration "does not recognise party borders" and required the cooperation of governments. He said he was always ready to meet Salvini if the migration issue justified doing so and as long as Salvini was responsible for migration issues in Italy.

Migration has already brought about significant changes in terms of Europe's future, Orbán said. In some countries it was already clear that their civilisations would be mixed going forward, and it was only a question of how the people would coexist. Migration in western Europe was a question of coexistence. But in central Europe the debate was centred on "how we can prevent a situation like the one that can already be seen in western Europe".

Orbán said migration had driven western and central Europe far apart, and the question was how they can remain united "now that they've chosen such different futures". A homogeneous European civilisation was being replaced by two civilisations: one that built its future on the coexistence of Islam and Christianity, and the central European model which continue to conceive Europe "as a Christian civilisation". The issue of migration was dismantling the EU's structure and was also behind Brexit. All liberal democrats were pro-migration.

Commenting on the European parliamentary elections, Orbán said "the Hungarian version of the Spitzenkandidat system" was being realised, given that the top official on the Fidesz-KDNP list was Hungary's nominee for European commissioner [LászlóTrócsányi, the current minister of justice] and would thereby enjoy democratic legitimacy with the backing of the Hungarian people. Members of the European Commission would not be appointed until September-October at the earliest, he said, and Trócsányi's replacement was not yet on the agenda.

Orbán noted that Manfred Weber, the EPP leader who is the party family's candidate to replace Jean-Claude Juncker as Commission president, had voted to approve the Sargentini report due to the issue of the "Soros [Central European] university". Orbán said he had read on the CEU's website that the university "does not carry out any educational activities as a Hungarian institution in any another country". This, he said, was the opposite of the Hungarian regulations and "Manfred Weber was duped" and so there had been no reason for Weber to vote to approve the Sargentini report.

Asked about the opposition's intention to field a joint list for the European parliamentary elections, the prime minister said that if "they take this path, they will be digging their own grave". It was not his job to prevent them.

Orbán was asked to comment on a recent opposition demonstration in Brussels with the participation of Dutch Green MEP Judith Sargentini. He replied: "This is yet more proof that migration is the key issue of the EP elections." Sargentini was "a pro-migration politician, so it is not odd that she is demonstrating against the Hungarian government alongside pro-migration Hungarians".

And queried about similar protests against right-wing anti-migration governments in Belgrade, Vienna, Warsaw and Rome, he said pro-migration forces backed by George Soros were preparing for the EP elections and would demonstrate everywhere. "But this is the rule of the game … The campaign has started, there are demonstrations, people compile petitions ... we are in campaign mode and it's guaranteed to be like this until May."

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Regarding Liberal EP party leader Guy Verhofstadt's statement that Hungary's prime minister was neither a Democrat nor a Christian, Orbán said: "Liberal thinking in Europe has gone so far that the liberals, today's number one enemies of freedom, want to define not only who they are but also who the Christian Democrats are."

On the recent amendment to the labour code, Orbán said the amendment on overtime was needed because companies, mainly small- and medium-sized ventures, were forced to look for loopholes to fill overtime. The new measures "will give employees freedom" to manoeuvre. Employees would be paid accordingly, and if they wanted to do overtime they would be able to clarify the conditions in advance. "This change in the law provides an opportunity, There'll be those who take advantage and those who don't, but it's a good law."

A media representative asked about the enrichment of his family members and friends. Orbán said he would not comment since the separation of politics and business was an important first principle of Hungarian politics. "If a businessman wants to get into politics even he'll have little chance of doing so."

Answering a journalist's question about corruption in Hungary, Orbán said there was no acceptable level of corruption and there was zero tolerance. "The fact that Hungary is performing better each year" belied the assertion that corruption in Hungary was above the European average. The most stringent law on lawmakers' asset declarations in Europe was in force in Hungary.

Asked about the new right-wing media foundation operating in Hungary, Orbán insisted that it was a "fact" that the dominant media in the country today was controlled by leftist, liberal, anti-government forces. He insisted that the biggest television station, the largest-circulation weekly, the largest internet platform and "perhaps even the largest national political newspaper" were critical of the government and left-wing or liberal. "There are more of you against me than with me," he told the journalist.

Commenting on the move to the Buda Castle district of the cabinet office, he said the housing of the executive in the building of the legislature in Hungary was a legacy of the communist regime and "it's good to finally rid ourselves of it". The symbol of the thousand-year-old Hungarian statehood was in the Castle and the symbol of Hungarian democracy was Kossuth Square.

In reply to another question that Europe's political values were liberal in spirit, he said this era had come to an end and a whole range of issues had come to the fore and many people disagreed with the media's representation of them. "Hopefully, power relations will change within the media, too."


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