Photo: MTI

Gulyas: ‘The goal is to preserve European unity’

Recent controversy in the European Union has shown that "if debates are based on feelings towards a country, rather than facts, that will dismantle the European Union," the prime minister's chief of staff said on Monday.

Speaking on The Bold Truth about Hungary, a podcast of state secretary Zoltan Kovacs, Gergely Gulyas said that the European Commission had launched its conditionality procedure against Hungary after the general elections there, “making political motivations all the more likely.”

Hungary, “trying to handle the situation on legal terms”, specified 17 requirements with the European Commission and subsequently fulfilled them, Gulyas said. A political debate ensued, which the EC couldn’t stay away from, he said.

“If issues like this are judged not by the facts but by whether a member state’s government is likeable, or whether they are close to the mainstream or not, that will sooner or later dismantle the EU,” Gulyas said.

The EU’s primary interest should be to preserve the unity needed for decision-making, he added.

Hungary has done more than enough to reach an agreement with the EC, “but it seem the body is unable to form an objective opinion, and so the European Council will be hopefully more reliable in the conditionality procedure,” Gulyas said.

Hungary’s stance on the war in Ukraine has also been represented falsely, he said. “Instead of political qualifications, we focus on facts.”

Russia’s attack on Ukraine was doubtless aggression, a breach of international law, Gulyas said. But the EU sanctions have put the European economy in an impossible situation, “or at least in a very difficult one”. Hungary and the EU are in disagreement on the latter point, he added.

As a result, the European press has cast Hungary as having “some sort of special relation with Russia, that [Russian President Vladimir] Putin and the prime minister have a special relationship, which is not true.”

Central European countries are generally more dependant on Russian energy sources than others, Gulyas said, insisting that “the Czechs and Slovaks, while failing to fight for exemptions [from the sanctions], were happy to get them thanks to our fight.”

Democracy, a common European value, should mean that Hungary’s government is respected as the one commanding the strongest mandate from voters since 1990 in Hungary, Gulyas said.

The European press, however, “can only speak in one voice and pushes a left-liberal green ideology everywhere.” Hungary’s multifaceted press allows more varied political opinions than anywhere else in Europe, and offers real alternatives for the people, he said.

Regarding the campaign financing of the opposition, Gulyas said that a party coalition had accepted billions of forints worth of funding from abroad during the election campaign. The goal of their financers was to topple the incumbent government, he said.

The scandal “would be all over the major news outlets of the world had it involved the government parties,” he said. Instead, the “clear and gross violation of the law” is being swept under the rug in the western press, he said.

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