Prime minister Viktor Orbán (r) with Budapester Zeitung owner/publisher Jan Mainka - Photo: BZ

Orbán: Government complying with EC requests, but ‘more and more coming’

Hungary's government is complying with the European Commission's requests, but it has to assume that "there will always be more and more requests coming", Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in an interview published by the German-language Budapester Zeitung on Monday. Orbán accused his government's political opponents of weaponising the EU institutions. "They're punishing us and clearly blackmailing us with EU funds," he said. "There is no legal basis for any of this; it's simply blackmail."

The Hungarian government wants to cooperate rather than argue, Orbán said, adding that the government had no problem with implementing the 17 remedial measures it has agreed to.

“We will fulfil them all, but I bet that right after this there will be an 18th [request], and a 19th and so on,” Orbán said, adding that “I assume that after this there will always be more and more requests coming.”

Poland, too, had complied with every request but then “more and more demands were made”, Orbán said. “It is obviously about forcing a change of government in Poland,” he said, adding that “this could be the ultimate goal in the case of Hungary, too.”

The prime minister said he believed that Hungary would be given access to the monies it is entitled to at the end of the year, arguing that “we fully meet all the technical requirements that have been put forward”.

“I expect that we will be able to sign the agreements with the EU by the end of the year,” Orbán said. “But I can’t say whether we will actually receive money … still, Hungary cannot be cornered financially.”

Concerning Hungarian-German ties, Orbán said the two governments’ programmes were “a world apart”, adding that Germany’s ruling Social Democrats (SPD) were “the most anti-Hungarian party in Europe”.

Under such circumstances, “serious efforts are needed to bridge the differences between the two countries in an increasing number of areas”, the prime minister said.

Asked about the German nationalist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, Orbán said “interstate relations are more important than any relations between parties”, adding that his party was therefore “forced to sacrifice relations with the AfD on the altar of the best possible intergovernmental relations”. He said it was “a peculiarity of German democracy that if we were to take steps regarding the AfD, it would affect international relations”.

The prime minister added that “from a Hungarian perspective” the CDU and Bavaria’s CSU were now “left-wing” parties.

Concerning Hungarian-German relations, Orbán said Germany had “become a multicultural society”, adding that Hungarian society was “significantly more pluralistic, freer and more peaceful than German society”.

The prime minister said Germany was characterised by “liberal hegemony”, arguing that “there’s only room for one single narrative in public discourse” and “anyone who deviates from this no longer exists in the eyes of the public”. In Hungary, on the other hand, “public discourse has a pluralistic structure,” he added.

Orbán said double standards were applied in Germany and western Europe in general, which Hungarians did not tolerate. At the same time, he said, there was no point in adding to the existing “political tension” with Germany because “cooperation is far more important.”

Orbán also said he saw more and more western Europeans moving to Hungary in the next 10-20 years because Hungary was a safe Christian country that was proud of its traditions. He said that throughout European history, countries had benefited greatly from immigration from the West, adding that Hungary welcomed refugees “but only if they come from the West”.

Asked about the war in Ukraine, Orbán said Europe was supporting Ukraine in a way that was forcing the continent into “a spiral of escalation”, adding that “if we don’t stop this process, we’ll end up at war ourselves…”

Orbán said the EU’s present actions were “completely negating its rational and geopolitical interests”, adding that the decisions on the sanctions on Russia had been made “purely on a moral and emotional basis”. He said that during his recent visit to Berlin, he had failed to find the “rational core to German energy and sanctions policy”.

Asked what Europe should do, Orbán said that while wars could also be caused by “weak statesmen, strong statesmen are needed to initiate the peace process and end the wars”. He added that hopefully the German government would eventually live up to the role it is supposed to play commensurate with its weight in Europe. Another hope, he said, was that former US president Donald Trump and former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu would return to power.

Orbán said the war would not end with Ukrainian-Russian talks, arguing that talks between the United States and Russia were needed. However, as long as peace was in neither party’s clear interest, the war would continue, he added.

Meanwhile, Orbán said it was a conscious decision on the part of his government not to bring up the “attacks” against the ethnic Hungarian minority in Ukraine, adding, however, that this “doesn’t mean we suffer from amnesia”. After the war, a comprehensive agreement on Hungarian-Ukraine cooperation which also guarantees the rights of the Hungarian minority will be needed, he said.

Concerning the future role of the EU on the international stage, Orbán said “we need more EU” when it comes to security and defence policy, insisting that the bloc needed to do more militarily in the interest of its own sovereignty. Member states should also spend more on armaments and defence, he said, adding that this way the EU “could fill the geopolitical space that would be freed up after a US withdrawal”.

Leave a Reply