Daily News | Apr 18, 2019 | 0
Europe At A Crossroads, Says Orban In Berlin
Berlin, May 8 (MTI) – Hungary’s premier has warned that unless Europe considers policies such as pushing energy prices down and getting the jobless off benefits and into work it will face a rocky future and low competitiveness.
The energy sector is the most important issue as far as the future of European competitiveness is concerned, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said in Berlin on Thursday.
Participating in a conference organised by WDR public radio, Orban said:
“Today’s system is destined to defeat us … energy prices must be kept radically low in order to secure Europe’s future.”
Other regulatory matters are secondary to this goal, he added. Also in his wide-ranging lecture followed by questions, Orban assessed the state of Europe and his own election win, which he characterised as a sweeping victory for the European centre. The general election in Hungary last month was a victory for the European centre, he said. Neither the left- nor the right-wing extremists got authorisation from the voters; rather “the centre has a two-thirds in parliament” to govern Hungary, Orban added.
“Water levels keep changing, and in politics the question is never about how high … the tide is for extremists are but how tall the dykes are. In Hungary, tall dykes have been built with the help of politics based on European cooperation, human dignity and economic rationality, so Hungary is stable.”
Addressing Europe’s crisis, he said jobs were key. “We in Europe can’t live on other people’s money,” he said, adding that it was only through job-creation that the bloc could develop.
In his 20-minute lecture, “Europe at a crossroads”, Orban told the audience of several hundred that no one could hope to sort out his economic woes using someone else’s money, adding that this is the reason that Hungary had paid back its IMF loan early and had put a brake on debt, as well as reducing the public debt and preventing the budget deficit from pushing above the European threshold.
Orban said the labour market must be supported, and if the private sector is unable to provide jobs for everyone then it is the role of the state to endeavour for full employment. In Hungary, “instead of benefits …. the state strives to ensure workplaces,” he said.
Speaking on the demographic situation of Europe, he said this could not be solved through mass immigration, which threatened conflict. “History has shown that civilisations unable to sustain themselves biologically will disappear,” he said. Europe should therefore prioritise a natural treatment of its demographic problem, he added. European policies should better respect nations and the Christian culture, he argued. He said that in a Christian Europe the family relationship between a man and a woman was the bedrock of coexistence.
Hungary has undergone a deep transformation over the past four years, and, thanks to these efforts, has come of age, he said.
Ten years ago, “we asked the west to help central Europe re-join the West … Today, we expect the West to accept that … central Europe, including Hungary, has its own recommendations and proposals for the whole of Europe,” Orbán said. “We expect the west to accept that what we represent is not nonsense and not unorthodoxy but the thinking of central Europe,” he added. Time has proven that the EU accession of central European states has been a joint success story, and central Europe is not an intermediary Europe anymore but a deservedly respected region of the continent that will become the engine of growth for European economy, he added.
“I’m not saying that the actions of central Europe, including Hungary, are worth following for others … but I’m saying that the actions of central Europe, including Hungary, are worth studying for others,” he said concluding his presentation.
In response to a question about whether an election system can be democratic which enables a two-thirds majority in parliament with 44 percent of the vote, Orban said his party had also received two-thirds majority in 2010 in an election system that was very different from the current one. Also, when the Socialists won in 1994, the situation was “exactly the same” in terms of figures as at this year’s election. If Hungary had the UK-type election system, then the ruling parties would have 92 percent majority in parliament, he added.
Asked whether the rejection of western examples also involved relativisation and the questioning of western principles, including the separation of branches of power, the independence of the judiciary, the freedom of the press and respect for minorities, including sexual minorities, Orban replied in English, highlighting the differences between political models and policies. Copying western European policies could bring unfavourable results in central Europe, so whereas political models must stay within the framework of international agreements, policies can differ from those followed in the West, he argued. It is not a question of different political models but whether different approaches can exist within the same model and whether different policies can be pursued, he added.
Central European states must be given a greater space for manoeuvre to allow them to adapt the most suitable policies and solutions for various regions and countries, he added.
Photo: Prime Minister’s Office