European countries cannot be successful together if they are not successful on their own, Orbán said. (Photo: MTI / PMO)

Prime minister attends international foreign policy forum in Slovenia

Orbán: Europe in trouble

Europe "is in trouble" as it has still not managed to define its new place in the global economy, the Hungarian prime minister said at an international foreign policy forum at Lake Bled, in Slovenia, on Monday.

Europe has a hard time understanding that, unlike the United States and China, it is incapable of “fundamentally changing the rules of the game”, Viktor Orbán told the 15th annual Bled Strategic Forum.

One reason for this is that Europe still does not have a joint military supported by science and innovation hubs that could serve as “the engines of technological advancement”, he said.

Answering a question, the prime minister said Hungary’s political scene was characterised by a “battle for intellectual sovereignty”, adding that his government was fighting to enforce its Christian Democratic and conservative approach to democracy as against liberalist views. “We’re fighting so that European institutions and politics can be looked at from more than one point of view and so that we can engage in debates on ideas such as family, nation, cultural traditions, religion and migration,” Orbán said. Hungarian democracy “is at least as good as German or Italian democracy”, and it complies with European norms, the prime minister added.

Concluding his address, Orbán said that solidarity led to shared success, but European countries could not be successful together if they were not successful on their own. The economic and political success of individual European nations is not the antithesis of shared European success but rather one of its preconditions and building blocks, he insisted.

Orbán said the key elements to the European Union’s future success would be its capacity to form a joint military, the accession of Serbia to the bloc and the creation of a competitive economy spearheaded by central Europe.

Polish PM Mateusz Morawiecki said that central Europe was “under attack” because the region was rising and its competitiveness sharpening. He said that the region’s position, “so different” from the rest of Europe, did not mean that central Europe would be working against the other members, just that they had their own challenges to focus on.

Janez Jansa, the Slovenian head of government, and Aleksandar Vucic, the Serbian prime minister, criticised the EU for applying different standards to the West as opposed to the rest of the community. Czech PM Andrej Babis said that the EU’s reactions to challenges were too slow, demonstrated by the community’s handling the novel coronavirus epidemic. Boyko Borisov, the Bulgarian prime minister, said that the world had “failed” to address the pandemic as countries lacked solidarity or preparedness, each trying to save itself alone.

Croatia’s Andrej Plenkovic said it was crucial to find the right balance between a national and a European approach before the arrival of a second wave of the pandemic. Giuseppe Conte, the Italian PM, said he trusted that the EU would in future get closer to its citizens and start to meet their needs rather than “continuing to occupy an elitist Utopia”.

International Monetary Fund chief Kristalina Georgieva said that 170 countries in the world will be worse off at the end of the year than when they started 2020, but she welcomed joint efforts to unleash liquidity. Otherwise, she said, a large number of countries could have gone bankrupt with soaring unemployment.

The forum in Bled, in north-western Slovenia, is a major foreign policy event bringing together the heads of state and government and foreign ministers of several countries. The main topics on this year’s agenda are the challenges and opportunities faced by Europe in light of the novel coronavirus pandemic and Brexit.

Leave a Reply