Prime Minister Viktor Orbán - Photo: PMO

Orbán: ‘Europe treats me as a black sheep for representing freedom, peace’

Hungary's government is democratic and is acting in line with the will of the people, while Brussels exercises "Soviet-style leadership", Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in an interview with Italian daily Libero.

Hungary is “a black sheep in the eyes of the European Union, but this isn’t a problem for us Hungarians”, Orbán said in the interview published on Friday. “We’ve always been outside the choir, even when we were behind the Iron Curtain during the time of the Soviet Union and were the first ones fighting for freedom”, he said.

Orbán, who gave the interview to Libero on the sidelines of former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s memorial service earlier this week, told the paper that he wanted to use the interview to defend his friend from “attacks from the left after his death”.

Orbán said he had been friends with Berlusconi since the autumn of 1993 when the businessman reached out to him because he wanted to enter politics. He noted that Berlusconi established relationships with the political leaders he found most interesting so he could learn from them.

“At first I had my reservations, but he threw me a gourmet bait by inviting me to AC Milan’s sports centre in Milanello, promising me lunch with Van Baten and Capello,” the prime minister said.

He recalled that Berlusconi had told him that he wanted to learn from politicians who “think outside the box”.

Orbán said he and Berlusconi had shared similar opinions about the war in Ukraine and Europe, which he said had brought down Berlusconi’s government “because he refused to bow to the German and Dutch rules…”

He said anyone whose opinion on the Ukraine war differed from that of US President Joe Biden was branded a “Putinist”. Orbán added that he viewed the situation like Pope Francis, “but our word is in the minority in Europe”.

While Italy is far from the Ukrainian border “and can only feel the heat of the bombings from a distance, Hungary can burn”, Orbán said.

He said there was little chance for peace because the West, “or I should say the United States wants to defeat Russia, and considers Ukraine a tool to accomplish that”. Meanwhile, Europe, with the exception of Hungary, is silent because no one wants to challenge Washington, he insisted. “Nevertheless, the silent majority agrees with me, and I am convinced that the mood will change within a few months,” Orbán said. “I can already see the first signs of that.”

“Europe sees me as a black sheep because I represent freedom and peace,” Orbán said. Budapest is a democracy, and the government adheres to the will of the people, while Brussels is characterised by “Soviet-style leadership”, he added.

The prime minister warned that Europe would be a loser if it refused to change.

Berlusconi tried to change Europe but failed against Brussels, “against which everyone fails, with the exception of Berlin and The Hague”, he said.

“I’m also trying [to change Europe], and perhaps I’ll have more luck,” Orbán said.

The prime minister vowed to stay in Europe because “I believe in the dream and want to make it a reality, ending the current nightmare”.

Orbán said that instead of the way the current European Parliament operates, national delegations should represent the member states, while the European Commission, which, he said exercised “too much power”, should keep in line with the decisions of the European Council that represents the votes of European citizens.

“In a year’s time, the composition of the European majority will have changed,” he said, referring to the EP elections in 2024.

On the topic of migration, Orbán said the Hungarian government wanted Europe to reject illegal migration and each member state should be free to decide on its own migration policy.

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