The Sargentini report “is an attempt to punish Hungary” for its independent and sovereign migration policy, the head of the Prime Minister’s Office has said.
Whereas the report covers various other topics, these all concern issues that have already been concluded with agreements between Hungary and the European Commission, Gergely Gulyás told commercial Inforadio in an interview broadcast late on Tuesday.
He said the remaining issue was migration policy and what, in the eyes of Sargentini, “the Hungarian government is doing wrong”.
Hungary is “protecting the European Union’s external borders and making it clear that it is up to the citizens of every country to decide with whom they want to live,” he added.
Every time Hungary is on the agenda at the European Parliament it concerns an “attack on Hungary”, Gulyás said, adding that it was right that Hungary should be represented and defended at the highest level, referring to the fact that Prime Minister Viktor Orbán will participate in the upcoming EP debate on the Sargentini report.
Commenting on next year’s EP elections, he said migration would be the hot issue. He said that ever since 1979, when direct voting was introduced in the EU, this would be the first time that voters actually choose on the basis of a common European issue rather domestic political ones.
Gulyás said the campaign debate for and against migration would be “crucially important”. Hungary was the first country to prove that land borders can be protected, and Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini now wants to show that the sea borders can also be protected, he added.
He said that French President Emmanuel Macron was on the side of migrants and was the prime representative of left-liberal politics in Europe.
It added it was more and more likely that Macron would join the Liberals in the European Parliament. The Hungarian government, for its part, wants to ensure that the European People’s Party remains the biggest political force in the EP, he said.
Asked about the V4 cooperation, Gulyás said that over the past 3-4 years the Visegrád Four countries had coordinated their political actions more successfully than at any time since the region’s transition to democracy three decades ago.
Even if there are some disputes between them — mainly concerning ethnic minorities — the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia agree on an overwhelming majority of issues, he said, adding that the gaps between their positions had further narrowed in light of the EU’s draft financial framework.
The draft, he insisted, sought to “punish” central European countries for meeting their EU obligations in economic policy and producing considerable economic growth, he said, explaining that up to now cohesion policy was based on the standard of living rather than on the rate of economic growth. The draft budget, however, would take growth as the basis of access to cohesion funds and “thus help the rich to the detriment of the poor”, Gulyás said.
Featured image: Gergely Botár/kormany.hu