Budapest, May 1 (MTI) – Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó on Monday hit back at EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn’s recent criticism of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s Europe policy.
Hahn told Austrian news agency APA on Saturday that Orban’s policies showed signs of “populism” at the expense of European values. He said the message of this past weekend’s meeting of the European People’s Party in Brussels was that Orbán had to “change his behaviour” or “face the appropriate consequences”. He argued that Orbán had pledged to strengthen the bloc at an EU summit in Rome in March, but at the same time had initiated a campaign entitled “Stop Brussels!”. Hahn said these two moves were contradictory.
Szijjártó told MTI in reaction to Hahn’s remarks that Orbán had said both at last week’s European Parliament plenary session and the EPP meeting that Hungary stands ready to negotiate with the EU on the disputes between itself and the bloc. Hungary, however, is not interested in “condescending remarks from Brussels,” the foreign minister added.
“We expect to get the respect Hungarians deserve and we would like to remind the Brussels bureaucrats that while they are preoccupied with our country, Hungary is protecting the European Union’s borders against illegal migration,” Szijjártó said.
Szijjártó said that contrary to Hahn’s remarks, “the Hungarian government is pro-European”, as are the Hungarian people. Hungary, however, is interested in a Europe of strong nations and reserves itself the right to voice its opinion, the minister said.
The EU as it stands is in need of reform, Szijjártó said. “It is foolish to deny this.” He said one of the most important steps towards reforming the bloc was to comply with the rules that EU member states had approved together. He cited the protection of the EU’s borders as an example of such rules, and said Hungary was in full compliance with this regulation. It is thanks to Hungary that fewer illegal migrants are entering Europe today, he said.
Hungary will not change its migration policy and will not allow Brussels to take over more powers from member states, thereby “pushing the continent towards uncertainty”, Szijjártó said.
“It’s time to favour facts over opinions in Brussels and … for illegal migration to be treated as the most important challenge,” the minister said.