Hungary is being condemned by the European Parliament because its people have decided “that we won’t become a country of immigrants”, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in a European parliamentary debate in Strasbourg on Tuesday.
“I reject that the pro-migration forces threaten, blackmail and slander Hungary and the Hungarian people,” Orbán said in the debate on a report criticising the state of the rule of law in Hungary prepared by the EP’s civil liberties committee.
The report, authored by Green MEP Judith Sargentini, says “there is a clear risk of a serious breach by Hungary of the values of the EU”, and calls for launching the Article 7 procedure which suspends a member state’s rights.
Orbán said all nations and EU member states had the right to determine their way of life in their own country.
“We protect our borders and we alone will decide whom we want to live together with. We’ve built a border fence and stopped hundreds of thousands of illegal migrants,” he added.
“We protected Hungary and we protected Europe,” Orbán said, adding that this was the first time in the EU’s history for a community to “condemn its own border guards”.
“Hungary will not give in to blackmail. Hungary will defend its borders, stop illegal migration and defend its rights. Even from you, if necessary,” he added.
“We, Hungarians are ready for the [European parliamentary] elections next May when the people will finally have their say on the future of Europe,” the prime minister said.
“I am standing in front of you and defending my country because freedom, democracy and independence and Europe are matters of decency for Hungarians. As a result, the report in front of you dishonours Hungary and the Hungarian people,” Orbán said.
Hungary’s decisions are made by voters, in parliamentary elections, he argued.
“What you are saying is nothing less than that the Hungarian people cannot be trusted to decide what is in their best interests. What you believe is that you know better what the Hungarian people want,” he told MEPs.
The prime minister also said that the report does not grant respect to Hungarians and applies double standards. He said the report constituted “an abuse of power”, overstepped authority and that the manner of its approval violated the EU’s founding treaty.
“Democracy and freedom for us in Hungary are not political but moral issues,” he said. “You want to pass moral judgement on and stigmatise a country and its people based on a quantitative majority,” Orbán told the EP.
“You shoulder a serious responsibility when wanting to exclude a nation from the European decision-making process. You would strip Hungary of its right to represent its interests in the European family to which it belongs,” he said.
Orbán said Hungary and the EU have had and would continue to have disagreements. He said they disagreed on the continent’s “Christian nature”, the role of nations and national cultures, the essence and function of the family and held “diametrically opposing views” on migration. But these differences cannot give cause for stigmatising and excluding a country from participating in decisions, the prime minister argued.
“We would never resort to silencing those who disagree with us,” Orbán said.
“You want to exclude a country which made clear decisions in EP elections, too. In 2009, the Fidesz-Christian Democrat alliance captured 56 percent of the vote and in 2014 it won with 52 percent of the vote,” he argued, adding that “we are the EP’s most successful party.”
“Our Socialist and liberal opponents are understandably unhappy about these successes,” he said. “But taking revenge on Hungarians for not choosing them is not fair and not European.”
He said the report had been “prepared by those who are unaware of even the most basic facts.”
It contains 37 serious factual errors and even the admission that they had failed to send an official delegation to Hungary.
“Our union is held together because we settle disputes under the arrangements of a regulated framework,” Orbán said, noting that he had struck compromises with the EC about the media law, the judiciary and even certain elements of the constitution. However, the current report goes against some agreements signed already years ago.
“If you are allowed to do that and can violate an agreement, then what sense does it make to sign an agreement with any European institution,” Orbán asked.
“What you are doing is an attack against the EU and on constructive dialogue,” he added.
Orbán said he was aware that most MEPs had probably already finalised their positions and the majority would vote in support of the report, regardless of his speech. He said the reason that he had still decided to participate in the debate was to state that MEPs were actually passing judgment not over a government but over a country and a nation. He said they would condemn a country that rebelled and fought against a large Soviet army and made serious sacrifice for freedom and democracy, and also opened its borders to east Germans.
Hungary has successfully fought for democracy and freedom, and those that now plan to pass judgement on it “inherited” democracy and did not have to take personal risks.
The EP is about to condemn the freedom fighters of the anti-Communist and democratic Hungarian opposition, Orbán said.
The report will be put to an EP vote on Wednesday. To pass, it will need the backing of a majority of MEPs and will have to secure a two-thirds majority of votes cast.
Featured image: MTI