Prime Minister Viktor Orbán - Photo: PMO

Orbán: EP election ‘slowed train hurtling towards war’

The European parliamentary elections have won time for Europe, "we have slowed the train hurtling towards war", Prime Minister Viktor Orbán told public radio on Friday.

Orbán said in the interview that people’s opinion must not be ignored in European democracies. “If governments see they could be toppled as a consequence of their [pro-war] stance, they get an extra motivation to think about peace.”

The French and Belgian governments had “failed” at the election, and the German Chancellor’s party came in third, he said. “The will of the people is a clear signal for European leadership that they will be toppled unless they stand on the side of peace.”

Hungary’s government has received the strongest confirmation at the elections on June 9, Hungarians voted for peace, which was a decisive argument at the negotiations with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Orbán said.

Orbán said Hungary’s ruling parties had won the European parliamentary and local elections, which were about “whether Hungarian parties should stand on the side of war or peace”. Pro-peace parties had won, he said, adding: “Brussels and Washington grasped immediately that no matter how they try, Hungary’s government will not budge because it was strengthened and mandated by the voters.”

Three days after the vote, the elections brought a concrete result, Orbán said, adding he could use the results to keep Hungary away from NATO’s Ukraine mission.

“We have struck a very important and very favourable agreement” with NATO, Orbán said, citing a deal under which Hungary would not participate in the Ukraine mission.

He said there was a basic difference in opinion within NATO, with 31 of the 32 member countries “wanting to defeat the Russians”. Since Ukraine alone is unable to achieve this, they support Ukraine, believing that there was a solution in the battlefield, Orbán said. Hungary’s position is that this was a mistake and instead of supporting either side, they should be forced to sign an immediate ceasefire, he added.

Hungary belongs among the “accepted, appreciated, loyal, and cooperative, very cooperative countries” in NATO, with 1,300 Hungarian soldiers serving in foreign missions, defence spending being above 2 percent of GDP, air police activies being carried out by Hungarian aircraft above neighbouring countries and the Baltic countries, and Hungary fulfilling NATO liaison roles in central Asian and African states, he said.

“NATO is our home,” Orbán added. At the same time, “NATO is supporting the war, and we are on the side of peace.”

NATO’s Ukrainian mission will be set up, with three bases coordinating weapon deliveries. Hungary has rejected to take part, because weapon tranfers could make the countries a target of the enemy, he said.

“I don’t want to risk Hungary’s security and Hungarians’ peace by turning even a square centimeter of the country into a Russian military target.”

Besides coordinating weapon deliveries, NATO member states are “putting money together” and taking direct role in the training of troops, he said.

“Hungary is under huge pressure: 31 countries are pushing us to defect from the side of peace to that of war, or rather … the side that thinks peace can be won by war and by winning the war.”

Orbán said Hungary had set clear requests to NATO, including the statement that “we wouldn’t give a farthing” for the mission or allow Hungarian soil to be used to prepare military action; nor will Hungary deliver weapons or take part in action outside NATO territory, he said.

Regarding the stance of Ukraine’s other neighbours, Orbán said Romania and Poland saw themselves in a position where they could be of the most help to Ukraine, as they are the closest to the front lines. “The Slovaks are cautious, the Hungarians unequivocal,” he said.

Regarding the Peace March held on the eve of the elections in Budapest, Orbán said the protest had been the “greatest expression of public will” in recent period and had demonstrated that “Hungary must remain an island of peace”. Peace should not come under threat from outside or inside, he said, adding that European experience had shown that “there is no peaceful life if there are migrants”. Orbán said the other threat was war.

The ruling fining Hungary to 80 billion forints (EUR 200m) for breaching European Union immigration policies “was made by the court of [American financier] George Soros”, Orbán said.

The “Brussels bubble”, be it the European Parliament, the Commission or the judiciary, “is full of Soros’s people”, Orbán said in the interview.

Orbán said Soros’s plan was to bring in one million migrants every year, to “create a mixed-population continent” out of Europe. He added that Soros’s Brussels leader had been the first to welcome the ruling.

“This is an old war that started in 2015-2016, when Hungary built a fence in the face of an invasion-like influx of hundreds of thousands of immigrants. We spent two billion euros to protect Hungary, to keep Hungary Hungary,” Orbán said.

“Brussels has no right to tell us who we must live together with,” he added. Brussels demands that Hungary lets in migrants, gives them money and allows them to live together with Hungarians, he added.

“We insist that only Hungarians have the right to say who we must live together with,” he said.

Orbán said this was the subject of the dispute, with Hungary having to pay a large fine, and he was trying to find a solution so that “it hurts them more than it hurts us”.

He said it was a large sum and this money could be distributed among families, given to pensioners or spent on child protection. He added that it was an “outrageous, shocking and nonsensical” decision.

Orbán said there was a “checkmate situation” because if Hungary does not pay, then monies due to the country will be held back. Hungary has so far received 12 billion of 22 billion euros due from cohesion funding, but if Hungary does not pay, the fine will be deducted from that amount, he added. “We will also have a response to that,” Orbán said.

Asked what the message could be behind the publication of the European Court ruling only four days after the election, he said “they are from Brussels, they are sneaky”. While dishonesty, unclear talk and the use of jargon were condemned in Hungarian politics, “in Brussels that’s the only way they talk”, he added. People who say what they want straightforwardly and clearly do not fit in in Brussels, Orbán said, adding that this was the reason why they were considered radicals there.

“That’s just how it is, we do not shape the way of the world, but we must protect our own values and interests in an environment that is culturally alien and hostile,” he said.

Orbán said the decision had been announced after Sunday’s elections because otherwise “Hungarian parties on Brussels’ payroll would have received a slap from voters, an even greater one than what they did”. “It would have opened the eyes of even more Hungarians to see that the opposition and the left wing are actually being paid from Brussels,” he added.

Orbán also said that the right wing could become the second largest group in the European Parliament if winning French and Italian right-wing leaders were to come to an agreement and Fidesz also joined.

Orbán said Marine Le Pen, who had achieved a strong lead at the French EP election, and Giorgia Meloni, the leader of the right wing in Italy, should come to an agreement.

“If those two can strike a deal and Fidesz joins them, we could set up the second largest group in the European Parliament,” he said. “What’s more, some parties could be brought over from the European People’s Party and then the right wing could easily have the largest parliamentary group within half a year,” he added.

“That’s what we often dream about but then when we wake up we find that the two ladies cannot come to an agreement,” he said. He added that Hungary was making efforts to help this progress “but our opportunities are limited due to the size of the country”.

The Italian right wing will have twenty-some MEPs and the French some thirty, so they will decide the outcome “but if we add our own 11 to their cooperation, then the right wing turn is achieved in Europe,” he said. “That’s what we are waiting for, that’s what we are working on,” he added.

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