Orbán calls agreement on defence greatest achievement of EU summit
Full agreement on the need to strengthen the European Union’s defence dimension, with all member states willing to participate in the system, is the greatest achievement of the Brussels summit, Viktor Orbán, Hungary’s prime minister, told a press conference.
If a European army is born one day, this recent summit will go down in history books as its “starting point”, he said, assessing the two-day meeting.
Orbán said that reinforcing the EU from the point of view of defence was vital since a common military force could be a significant contribution to strengthening the bloc’s economic and political power, too. Orbán said that migration was again in the foreground of the meeting, but on this occasion the participating member states focused on cooperation rather than differences of views.
Questions like “what should be done with the migrants unjustifiably allowed into Europe”, which are seen as impossible to reach an agreement on, were not raised during the meeting, he said.
Hungary views the redistribution scheme of migrants among EU member states as a matter of identity rather than a technical issue or a question of solidarity, he said, ruling out that others should determine whom Hungarians should live together with.
“We have no intention to change our identity. We understand that other countries have made that move but we have the right not to follow them. We are prepared to help those in need locally, build fences and defend the European Union’s internal territories. We are prepared for several things but not for changing our identity,” he said.
Not even a European Court ruling rejecting Hungary and Slovakia’s objections to the migrant quotas will force Hungary to give up its position, Orbán said.
“We will find means to achieve our goal,” he said.
The summit mainly focused on the external aspects of the migrant crisis. The summiteers agreed on the need to defend the EU’s external borders, halt illegal immigration and cooperate with the sending and transit countries, he said.
In reply to a question, Orbán said that, after a “forceful start”, French President Emmanuel Macron and the Visegrád Four leaders agreed that cooperation between the V4 countries and France should be based on mutual respect.
Earlier this week, Macron criticised the central European countries for what he called a failure to observe the EU rules. In response, Orbán said on Thursday: “Macron’s introduction isn’t too encouraging .
This isn’t how we do things around here, but he’ll soon get to know his way around.”
On Friday, Orbán said that Macron and the V4 leaders identified the fields with good chances of pragmatic cooperation. The French president made it clear that he would do all in his power to increase efficiency within the EU, Orbán said, adding that this may herald reform initiatives after this autumn’s German election. Asked about the dispute over the legal status of posted workers, Orbán said that the gap between the member states’ position is not “unbridgeable”.
“Hungary will take every possible step to defend the interests of Hungarian workers,” he said.
The prime minister’s press chief, Bertalan Havasi, said that Orbán would attend the official inauguration of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade on Friday evening.