Budapest, January 13 (MTI) – Further clashes with Brussels are expected this year on issues concerning migration and economic management, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in an interview to public radio on Friday. Hungarians should have access to information about all public personalities and their sources of financing, he said.
“We’ll have to defend the country’s sovereignty,” the prime minister said.
Attempts by Brussels to curb national competencies on migration issues should be stopped, Orbán said.
Hungary has reinstated the detention of asylum seekers, a step which clearly conflicts with EU policy but necessary due to heightened terror threat in Europe, he said. Laws that make terrorism easier to carry out should be changed for reasons of self defense, he added.
Of the second “battle”, Orbán said Brussels was increasingly interfering in economic management. Citing matters such as energy prices, taxes and wages, he insisted this tendency must be stopped.
Orbán highlighted measures to cut household utility fees, saying the scheme must be protected in light of EU plans to harmonise energy fees, thereby taking price-setting out of the hands of national governments. This would put an end to Hungary’s centralised measures to cut utility fees, he warned.
Orbán dubbed 2017 the “year of revolt”. EU member states will openly and unrelentingly oppose EU policies which “covertly or overtly” deprive them of their competencies, Orbán said. French presidential candidate Francois Fillon’s programme is “revolutionary” and opposed to EU immigration policies, among others, Orbán said.
This year will bring serious strain between policies aiming to protect national policymaking and the EU tendency to curb it, he said.
“Western reasoning is defined by frustration,” Orbán added. The West has been used to setting norms for eastern European countries in terms of modernising and democracy. “And now, they are failing: their indices are bad and ours are good because we do not do things their way. They do not want to admit our way works better”, he said. Instead of facing reality, western countries “keep on playing the same old record”, he added.
Commenting on Visegrad Four cooperation, he said that during the Hungarian presidency starting in July he would attempt to further deepen cooperation within the group. Referring to Hungarian-Polish relations, he said “solidarity is working well”, citing Hungary’s stand in the European Union on the issue of coal mining in Poland’s favour and Warsaw’s backing for Hungary in efforts to have the VAT on internet services reduced to 5 percent.
Orbán said government economic policies were bearing fruit and “a change is slowly happening in people’s lives resulting from the work-based economy”. Everybody has the opportunity to work, unemployment is rapidly falling, wages are growing and taxes and contribution payments are being cut, Orbán said. Commenting on the shortage of labour, he said this showed that investment in Hungary was continually expanding.
Referring to the extreme cold weather currently experienced in Hungary, he asked homeless people to use the available shelters. He added that more places are available than the number of homeless.
The prime minister said Hungary’s energy reserves were sufficient to guarantee the country’s operation, adding that the scheme to cut household utility fees meant that energy bills were now “tolerable”.
Orbán: Sources of financing for public personalities should be made transparent
In response to a question about NGOs, Orbán said in an interview to public radio Kossuth that “we live in a world today” where attempts to influence are frequent in all countries and by almost all countries.
He cited the example of the US during the presidency of Barack Obama which had developed many varied methods for trying to exert influence around the world.
“I could tell you about it in length … we have seen it all in the recent period, including the most primitive methods to exert influence,” Orbán said. He added that since the US was an ally he would not focus on the past. Orbán said he trusted that such attempts by the US would not be made in the future.
The opportunity should be given to all Hungarian citizens to find out where public personalities receive funding from, whether from Hungary or abroad, the prime minister said. In the case of foreigners, it is also important to know whether they are subject to certain expectations.
“We want transparency,” Orbán said, adding that Hungarians have the right to understand “the system of manipulation that attempts to exert influence on our everyday political life.”
Commenting on President-elect Donald Trump, he said a new style of US leadership is about to start. While the outgoing Obama administration has been “globalist”, the next one would not prevaricate or overcomplicate, Orbán said. The Europeans will need to readjust to the new attitude and new system of relations, he added.
In response to a question about a future US visit, Orbán said no concrete details are as yet publicly available.