Hungary has a vested interest in a strong and successful Europe, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó told a conference on Wednesday.
“It’s natural to debate how to achieve these aims,” he said. This debate should, however, remain rational instead of emotional rhetoric branding unorthodox ideas, he said.
Speaking at The Future of Europe event in Budapest, Szijjártó said free competition within the bloc was necessary for a strong Europe. Further, he said Europeans’ sense of security should be restored and Europe’s Christian identity “preserved”.
He called for a “fair debate” over the next 7-year budget.
Szijjarto also said that “European democracy must not be further eroded”. He also called for fast EU enlargement.
Hungarians made a clear decision at the last election, voting for parties that prioritise the security of Hungarians. They want Hungary to remain Hungarian, and the government will represent this view in European talks, he added.
Some see weakened member states with rights to certain decisions transferred to a central institution as the way forward, Szijjártó said. Hungary, however, thinks that only strong member states can form a robust EU.
Unhampered competition between member states and restoring security to the bloc is part of that process, he said.
Commenting on the situation of ethnic Hungarians in Ukraine on which Hungary published a memo on Tuesday, Szijjártó said war was ongoing there while the Ukrainian government “is taking inexplicable measures” that breach its international obligations and the rights of ethnic minorities there.
Brexit is another challenge, he said, adding that the EU “is by and by losing one seventh of its economic output” and the terms of the agreement were up in the air.
British sociologist and writer Frank Füredi said that anyone who still believed in borders and nations was easily branded a populist, as were thinkers who questioned federalism. Those who do not identify as a cosmopolitan are called fascist and accused of chasing the ideals of the 19th century, he told the conference.
Prime Minister’s Office state secretary Balázs Orbán said it should be declared that the European political elite is suffering from cognitive dissonance when it comes to assessing migration.
This is the only possible reason why there is such a great difference between reality and the statements they made. The optimism expressed by European leaders over the current situation is directly opposed to the facts. And they increasingly represent a position that is impossible to maintain, the state secretary said. The message of central Europe does not fit into the image presented by the European political elite and “they turn their frustration against us”, he added.
Jan Figel, the European Union’s Special Envoy for promotion of freedom of religion or belief outside the EU, said that his country, Slovakia, never had an alternative for the EU and the EU is not a finished project but one that needs to be further expanded.
During times of crisis, he said, sober solutions are needed and solidarity should be expressed towards those in need.
The fact that people want to come to Europe is a “positive problem” because it shows that Europe is still an attractive place, Figel said.
British journalist and editor Douglas Murray said the migration crisis of 2015 needs to be examined and some painful questions must be asked in order to understand mass migration. One such question is whether Europe can be a home to all who want to come here. It is necessary to draw the line and politicians must tell not only who can come to Europe but also who is not allowed to enter. Referring to Brexit and the Hungarian election that confirmed Fidesz in government for the third consecutive term, he said members of the European political elite tend to say that people voted wrongly, instead of accepting their decision.
Gergely Gulyás, head of the Prime Minister’s Office, told the conference that freedom is under threat by globalisation and the business interests behind it, resulting in a “stone-hard culture war”. The fight is not between two cultures but the values of the free world standing against “deconstruction”, he added.
Stephen K. Bannon, former campaign chief and chief strategist of US President Donald Trump, said it was a fundamental question of the age whether “we have the courage to protect our civilisation from those that want to destroy it”.
The Hungarian people answered this question in the April general election by voting in support of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán staying in office, he said.
Featured image: MTI