London, May 26 (MTI) – Parliamentary Speaker László Kövér attended a series of events held in honour of Saint Thomas Becket (1118-1170) and held talks on European Union matters in London on Wednesday.
Kövér met, among others, Commons Speaker John Bercow and Speaker of the House of Lords Frances D’Souza.
Kövér told MTI that his meetings touched on Britain’s June 23 referendum on European Union membership. The house speaker’s overall impression was that the disagreement between those who want to see the UK leave the bloc and those who want to stay is not about how they view the EU’s internal problems but about which decision they think would best serve the country’s long-term future.
Hungary’s interest lies in Britain remaining in the EU, Kövér said. Like British politicians, the Hungarian government believes the EU is in need of fundamental reforms. But if one of the member states most in favour of these reforms quits the bloc, the other member states campaigning against a more centralised, federalist political union will find themselves in a much weaker position, he said.
Whatever the result of Britain’s referendum, the future of the EU has to be discussed, Kövér insisted. The mere fact that the UK is holding a referendum on its membership has to be taken as a sign by Brussels that the bloc is facing problems that “can no longer be swept under the rug”.
These are not just Britain’s problems, Kövér said. The EU must look deeper into matters such as the recent Dutch vote on Ukraine’s association agreement and the reasons as to why the presidential election in Austria was as close as it was. European citizens have sent a very clear message that they are not in the least bit satisfied with what “is currently going on in the EU”, Kövér said.
Asked if he still thought there was a chance that the western Balkan countries could join the EU, the house speaker said the accession of those countries was still on the agenda, adding, however that the bloc’s enlargement process had already slowed even before the EU’s financial and political crisis.
In his speech at a reception honouring Saint Thomas Becket, Kövér said the presentation in Britain of the Becket relic kept in Esztergom represents the “deep historical and cultural relationship” between Hungary and the UK.