Katalin Novak - Photo: Facebook

Novak: ‘No future for Hungary’ without Europe

"There is no future for Hungary without Europe just as there would be no future for Europe without Hungary," President Katalin Novak said in an interview published by economic portal Portfolio.hu on Saturday.

“We are an independent, sovereign, grown-up nation with its own values and interests,” she said.

Hungary is “not just west-oriented but has been an integral and unalienable part of the West for at least a thousand years”, Novak said. She added she was “not happy with the fast and loose” between the European Commission and the Hungarian government, but said that “the country’s sovereignty must be protected”. “We demand the same full-fledged membership and respect as the citizens of any founder (of the EU) or later entrant are entitled to; a regular place at the table in Brussels,” she said.

“It would be good to return to cooperation based on mutual respect, and that indeed requires compromises,” Novak said.

According to Novak, the EU has weakened rather than strengthened during the past decade, and is now “lagging behind the United States and Asia in terms of its ability to promote diplomatic interests, demography, and competitiveness”, the president said. Europe has “forgotten about common strategic policy making and has placed ideological issues in the focus”, she said, adding “we must wake up”.

On another subject, Novak said the values of the countries in the Balkans were European values and “their culture is European culture”. Stability in the region could be promoted by “preserving the sovereignty of each country but by co-opting them to our alliance”, she said.

On the subject of the war in Ukraine, Novak said Russian President Vladimir Putin “crossed the Rubicon” when it invaded Ukraine and “the so-called western world shouted ‘not any further!’ as one person”, the president said. The goal, she added, was “to make Europe an independent, self-sustainable, economically strong, secure, and peaceful area with its own defence”.

Further escalation of the war, the use of nuclear weapons, and the outbreak of a third world war must be prevented, she insisted, and called for immediate ceasefire and peace. “Some say peace is not possible unless one side defeats the other, so armament and the war should go on,” she said. The Hungarian position, however, is that a ceasefire should come first to be followed by talks on the basic conditions for a long-term peace, she added.

“As a president, a Christian, and a mother, I vote for a ceasefire as soon as possible,” she said.

Concerning Hungary-Russia ties, Novak said “Russia has not been Hungary’s most important partner and will not be in future”. The Hungarian government is reducing the country’s dependence on Russian energy and is looking for good business opportunities worldwide while promoting Hungary as an attractive destination for foreign investments, she said. “We have not created but inherited dependence on Russian energy,” she said, adding that that dependence “could and should be decreased”. The government seeks to increase the role of nuclear energy and renewables, while working to diversify gas supply sources, Novak said.

Referring to her recent talks in Italy, Novak said Hungary and Italy “look into the same directions” in terms of fighting illegal migration, the European integration of the Western Balkans, protecting Christians and promoting family values.

Concerning ties with the United States and China, the president called for “restoring a pragmatic cooperation”. “It is in our interest to be in agreement with America, an ally, as well as China; with both West and East,” Novak said in the interview.

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