Orbán: Hungary prepared to help Romania deter migrants
Hungary would prefer to help Romania protect its eastern border against migration than build a fence on the Hungarian-Romanian border, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has said.
“Sooner or later an effective border seal will be needed on [Romania’s] eastern borders,
otherwise Romania will be overwhelmed by migrants and we Hungarians would then have to build a fence on the Romanian border.
We certainly want to avoid that, and if it comes to it we will gladly help Romania protect its eastern borders,” Orbán said in an interview to Hungarian-language daily Bihari Napló published in Oradea/Nagyvárad on Wednesday.
He said he had high hopes for the Orthodox church and the Romanian political leadership and trusts that they also believe Romania’s future and its Christian future are at stake. Romania and Hungary can have a successful cooperation on this basis in the years ahead, Orbán said.
Orbán added that he expects “central Europe’s great decades” to be starting now.
“Poles, Czechs, Hungarians and Slovaks will certainly score serious successes together and I could even add the Slovenes.
We’ll need to settle certain issues with the Croats at first. The Serbs clearly want to join in the central European success story. It is obvious that ethnic Hungarians in Romania have a place in this upswing,” Orbán said. “It is up to Romanians to decide whether they can join the central European success story in cooperation with Hungarians, launching joint economic projects and setting common goals”, Orbán said.
“We could find a form of cooperation under the arrangements of V4 plus Romania
which would eventually result in higher living standards, greater security and better perspectives also for Romanians in Romania. We’ll keep that gate open,” Orbán added.
At the same time, he said it was the task of the Hungarian government to protect the interests of ethnic minority Hungarians at international forums and in bilateral relations. He cited the relaunch of the Roman Catholic Secondary School in Targu Mures (Marosvásárhely) as a concrete issue that needs to be resolved and also the speeding up of the restitution of nationalised former church property which he said currently proceeds “at a snail’s pace”. Hungary’s policy for ethnic minorities abroad must not be limited to rights protection, he added.
“We must discuss these issues with Romanians and at the same time, open the gate with our other hand to enable Romanians enter the central European economic area.
We have managed to establish a form of cooperation with Serbia which benefits Serbs and also ethnic Hungarians living there. We are progressing well with Slovenia and cooperation is excellent also with the Slovaks. We expect to be able to hold hands with Romanians in the framework of mutually beneficial economic cooperation,” he said and cited Hungary’s economic development schemes.
Orbán said he had formed a “promising personal relationship” with Liviu Dragnea, the leader of the ruling Social Democrats, during talks about the closure of a school in Targu Mures (Marosvásárhely) attended mostly by Hungarian students. Hungary had said it would not support Romania’s OECD membership until the issue was resolved, a decision that was revoked after promises from Dragnea to take steps on the issue.
‘I would like to forge such ties between our respective ruling parties themselves, our different party persuasions notwithstanding”, he said.
Commenting on marking Romania’s centenary in 2018, Orbán said “the Romanians deserve honesty from us and vice versa. We have to survive 2018 with both communities feeling they have pulled through an emotionally complicated period without harm to their dignities”, he said.
On the topic of autonomy of the Transylvanian region in light of recent developments in Catalonia, Orbán said the Hungarian government was not commenting on Catalonia, as it considered them to be Spain’s internal issue. Broaching the topic of autonomy raises a lot of mistrust, Orbán noted.
“In regions where we focus on pragmatic help instead of theoretical questions, such as Vojvodina, the Serbs have understood that they can come to agreements with us … ” Orbán said.
“We are not quite there yet with Romania”, he added.
In Romania, the Hungarian government has managed to bridge old grievances with the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (RMDSZ), Orbán said. The Hungarian government is bound to cooperate with parties that Hungarians in the region trust, he said. The last election results showed the preferences of Hungarians in Transylvania, he said, adding,
“I like working” with RMDSZ-head Hunor Kelemen.
Orbán asked ethnic Hungarians to register to vote in Hungary’s general election in spring 2018.