Hungarian foreign minister calls for strong EU member states
Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó has called for “a strong European Union and a European community whose strength is founded on strong member states.”
Speaking at an economic forum in Krynica-Zdroj, in southern Poland, on Wednesday, Szijjártó said Europe had achieved its great success thanks to Christian values.
“The more we grow apart from these values, the less chance we have to restore a competitive and strong Europe,” he said. “In central Europe we cannot understand why western Europe wants to get rid of its Christian heritage.” Hungarians and Poles find it baffling that decisions are being made in other countries to remove Christian symbols from public areas and public buildings, he added.
“It is not our task to protect Christianity as a religion in Europe, but we must protect Christians in Europe and in other places,” he said.
Among the challenges the EU is facing he highlighted migration, energy policy, terrorism and Brexit.
Szijjártó said he respected different opinions but insisted that “it would be anti-European to say that those who hold opinions that go against the mainstream in Europe are the enemies of Europe”.
The minister called the concept of a federal union a “dead end”. Member states would be weakened if EU institutions were to take away their national competencies, he said. “How can integration based on weak links be implemented?” Successful integration hinges on EU dialogue being freed from hypocrisy, political correctness and double standards against certain member states, he added.
Szijjártó cited criticism against Hungary and Poland by EU institutions as the main example of hypocrisy. Warsaw has been criticised for solutions already in use in western Europe, he insisted.
Political correctness has also been demonstrated in terms of migration, he said.
“No EU leader has ever described migration as a security challenge … if we do not call it a security challenge we will be unable to maintain the continent’s security,” he said.
Szijjártó also said that the economy of central Europe is increasingly competitive and criticised EU measures that threaten this, including tax harmonisation.
On another subject, he said that ministers of the Visegrád Group countries agreed to prepare by next autumn a feasibility study on building a high-speed rail link between their countries. The planned service is to connect Budapest with Bratislava, Brno and Warsaw and it will operate at speeds up to 250 kms per hour, he added.
The Hungarian government has set aside 1.5 billion forints (EUR 4.6m) for the study and a public procurement tender will be invited this autumn, Szijjártó said.
Szijjártó said he had held talks with Poland’s Minister of Infrastructure and Construction Andrzej Adamczyk, Slovakia’s Transport Minister Arpad Ersek, Poland’s Minister of Labour and Social Policy Elzbieta Rafalska, as well as the management of Polish state airlines LOT.
Featured image: MTI