Judit Varga – Photo: BZT / Nóra Halász

Justice Minister: Government working for Christian Europe

Hungary's government works each day for a Christian Europe, Justice Minister Judit Varga told a conference on the lessons of the history of the European Union on Monday.

In her speech at the event organised by the National University of Public Service (NKE), Varga referred to the words of Robert Schuman, one of the “founding fathers” of the EU, who said that “Europe will be Christian or it will not be at all.”

Hungary’s government stands by conservative values because things that prove successful after being tried in Hungary could also be successful “on a large scale in Europe”, the minister said.

Varga said respect for unity and diversity was a guiding principle in her daily EU-related work.

Meanwhile, she noted that the European parliamentary elections next spring will be followed by Hungary’s presidency of the Council of the EU in the second half of the year. Because Hungary only gets to hold the rotating presidency every 13.5 years, it must make use of the opportunity and demonstrate its aptitude and creativity, she said.

Varga said Hungary’s task during its presidency would be to present a “liveable alternative”.

She emphasised that Hungary had joined an EU in which the culture of consensus had been considered the most important fundamental principle of the treaties. The government believes that member states cannot always give up their independence, and have the right to implement many EU policies through their own means, the minister said.

NKE rector Gergely Deli noted that May 9 marked the celebration of European peace and unity, as well as the anniversary of the historic Schuman declaration which led to the establishment of the EU.

Schuman envisioned a form of cooperation among European countries which made wars avoidable, he said, adding that the fighting in Ukraine meant that the importance of peace was felt up close in Hungary.

Tibor Navracsics, the minister for regional development, spoke about the enlargement of the EU and said “we cannot afford to prevent the Balkans or, in a given situation, the post-Soviet region from joining the EU”. He insisted the EU could survive as long as it can fulfill its “peace project, which includes enlargement”. The community must allow Serbia, Montenegro, and Albania to join and give those countries a perspective, Navracsics said. He also added that the accession of those countries would “essentially change” the operations of the EU, adding that the idea of a “multi-speed Europe” would be “no disaster” as long as there was an opportunity for members “to change gear”.

Referring to the UK quitting the EU, Navracsics said Brexit was “proof that now you cannot be better off if you leave the EU”.

Concerning the “sharp debates within the EU, with the Hungarian government and the European Commission involved”, Navracsics said they were triggered because “a new political system is evolving … but it is not supported by a political community”. “There is no uniform, European demos … which could lend legitimacy, strength, visibility to the European institutions,” he insisted.

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