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Speaker: Member states no longer able to control EU bureaucracy

Member states can no longer control the EU bureaucracy, which is "spreading like a cancerous tumour", Speaker of Parliament Laszlo Kover said in an interview published in weekly Mandiner on Thursday.

On the matter of Sweden’s NATO accession, Kover confirmed it was supported by both the government and President Katalin Novak. “If it were not so, its ratification would not be on Parliament’s table,” he said. However, ruling Fidesz-KDNP are a living political community, and its members can have different opinions, he added. “Many of us in the parliamentary group think it would be worthwhile to wait with the decision, he said.

Kover said while Hungary was watching the dispute that Turkiye, which has the second strongest army in NATO, was having with Sweden, the government had not offered to adapt its position to theirs, and the Turks had not even hinted that they had any expectations from us on the matter.

He said the accession of two traditionally neutral countries, Finland and Sweden, is an issue that could have been reason for a more comprehensive, in-depth discussion. This does not actually strengthen, but weakens the security of Europe as it increases the contact surface between Russia and NATO, he added.

Kover noted that in Hungary a referendum had been held on NATO accession, whereas in the two northern countries people had not been consulted on the matter.

He emphasised that NATO membership was a priority national interest for Hungary after the system change, and for now, he “does not consider it a historical mistake”. He reiterated that Hungary was not waiting for Turkiye’s decision concerning Sweden. “The sovereign parliament of a sovereign country will decide when it sees fit,” he added.

Commenting on the fact that leaders of Eastern states came to Budapest as guests for the celebration of the founding of the state on Aug 20, Kover said the national holiday coincided with the first full competition day of the World Athletics Championships, and “we also hosted many of our Central European friends”. State leaders were here whose participation in the energy supply of Hungary, Central Europe and Europe will be essential in the future, he said.

Kover emphasised that Hungary is part of Western Christian culture, “we entered Europe and its political institutional system with the founding of the Christian state”. This is also part of our national culture, and now those who reject this ideological and moral basis of Europe want to force us to make an exclusive choice in the political and economic sense.

He also noted that Hungary, a country which has always been at the crossroads of imperial aspirations, can also be a kind of mediating link culturally. “Why shouldn’t there be value in this, why shouldn’t Hungary be one of the bridges that connect the West in the traditional sense with the diverse East,” he added.

On the issue of the war in Ukraine, Kover said he saw no real difference between the positions of the government and that of the president. He pointed out that similarly to government statements, President Novak spoke primarily about peace, which in itself distinguishes her and Hungary from politicians from all other allied European and NATO member states.

No one can win, this war has already been lost by everyone, Kover said, with the exception of the United States, or rather, the military, energy and financial lobby dominating there, he said.

“We always consider Hungarian interests and choose who we negotiate with, what we discuss and with what purpose accordingly”, he said. “We do not look for enemies, and we are happier with a fair partner than a false friend whose embrace is suffocating”, he added.

Concerning Polish suggestions questioning Hungary’s actual dependence on Russian energy, Kover said “we should not give in to the hysteria-mongers who want to undermine Hungarian-Polish friendship.”

On US-Hungarian ties, he said it was not relations between Hungary and the United States, but political relations between the two governments that are at rock bottom. In terms of the defence and military cooperation, “we are doing our job as a NATO member”. In economic terms, the US government has taken one or two steps that worsen bilateral relations but US companies operating in Hungary feel comfortable here, he added.

Kover said that when Donald Trump was president, political relations were perhaps better than ever. He expressed hope that sooner or later there would be another change in the administration in Washington and things would “get back to normal”.

Speaking about the European Union, the house speaker said it was currently still the best forum for Hungary to enforce its national interests, a forum for “a voluntary cooperation” of equal member states with equal rights. “And as long as this alliance continues to exist and Hungary receives what it is entitled to while meeting all its obligations defined in EU treaties, this statement will remain true,” he said. Among the advantages of membership for Hungary, he noted the free movement of persons across the borders and participation in the common European economy.

“However, there have been developments and trends over the past one or two years that go against and jeopardise the original objectives,” he said.

Kover said “it had practically paralysed Europe that the system of institutions established originally with the aim to guarantee cooperation had turned ‘as a Golem’ against its creators, the member states.”

“The member states today cannot keep control over the bureaucracy which is spreading like a tumorous cell.”

In connection with EU funds Hungary is entitled to, the house speaker said the government had done even more than what it could have done without harming “the honour of Hungarian constitutionality”.

The government, however, has a duty towards Hungarians, which is to make reasonable compromises and achieve that “the Brussels bureaucracy run out of arguments as to why it wants to reduce Hungary’s room for manoeuvre through financial means”. “They want to intervene in [Hungary’s] political affairs through withholding funding and even expect us to feel ashamed because of that,” said Kover, adding that what Brussels had communicated had nothing to do with reality.

Speaking about the European Parliament, the house speaker said he would be “satisfied” if his party, ruling Fidesz, could return to the European People’s Party (EPP). However, he called that scenario “impossible”, saying that Fidesz was still in the same place in politics where it had been ten to twenty years ago and it was “the so-called centre right” that had shifted to the left. Kover said he saw a right-wing turnaround possible in the EP only if the EPP and its major members such as the CDU-CSU make “a 90 degree turn back”. He, however, anticipated a right-wing shift within the EP with the strengthening of the European Conservatives and Reformists and the Identity and Democracy party groups. Kover called the scenario that right-wing parties could form a majority in the EP “unrealistic at the moment”.


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