Brussels, April 26 (MTI) – The Hungarian government’s dedication to the European Union is “unquestionable” but in many respects, the government is dissatisfied with the operations of the EU, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán told a plenary session of the European Parliament on Wednesday.
Orbán told the session focusing on fundamental rights in Hungary that his government is critical of the EU because it wants to correct existing faults and reform the EU.
The only way to restore citizens’ trust is by making every effort to correct mistakes and this also requires clearly identifying them, Orbán said. He called for a “fair, open debate” and asked members of the EP “to give a critical approach to prejudices against Hungary”, and apply “equal standards” in matters concerning the country.
The Hungarian government is fully aware that EU membership goes not only with rights but with responsibilities, Orbán said, adding that the level of support towards the EU is high in Hungary.
EU First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said in the debate that the Hungarian government’s campaign dubbed “Let’s Stop Brussels” included false and misleading facts. The European Commission wants to clarify these issues “on the basis of hard facts” he added.
Orbán said Hungary complies with the Dublin agreement, the EU rule that a migrant’s claim must be processed in the country they first arrive in, for which he said the country deserved recognition rather than criticism. In his rebuttal to remarks by MEPs, Orbán said that by fulfilling its international obligations, Hungary was protecting Germany, Austria and Sweden, arguing that migrants crossing Hungary’s border only wanted to pass through and move on towards western Europe.
He said Hungary’s stance on migration was clear: illegal migration needs to be stopped and refugees need to be separated from economic migrants outside the EU’s borders. The EU should help those in need by providing help at the point where it is needed, the prime minister argued. He said the plan to redistribute migrants across Europe on the basis of mandatory quotas had failed, adding that such a rule had not been implemented by countries that do not go against the EU’s policies, either. The quota plan was a bad idea that needs to be ditched and a new solution must be found, Orbán insisted.
Speaking about EU funding given to Hungary, Orbán said all European Union member countries benefit from the bloc’s cohesion policy, arguing that the money Hungary receives from the EU is not a donation. Therefore, the EU must not expect Hungary “to keep our mouth shut”, Orbán said.
Even the net contributors are benefactors of cohesion policy, Orbán insisted.
“We have abolished duties and opened our markets, giving way to the free flow of capital,” despite still suffering from a lack of capital after the Communist era, Orbán said.
Orbán told MEPs that they must not treat Hungarians as if “you were giving us presents and we were indebted to you”.
Allegations suggesting that recent Hungarian legislation is aimed at closing down Budapest’s Central European University are unfounded, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in the European Parliament on Wednesday and argued that the law was designed to introduce uniform laws for all universities in the country.
Orbán spoke in a plenary focusing on fundamental rights in Hungary, and insisted that the new rules eliminate an opportunity for “speculation or abuse”; they ensure transparency and remove “privileges enjoyed so far”.
Orbán said that as the leader of an EU member state, he was obliged to ensure that “European and Hungarian universities suffer no drawbacks compared to their competitors”.
Manfred Weber, group leader of the European People’s Party, asked Orbán to consider changes as recommended by the European Commission concerning the contested legislation. He argued that Hungarian students have enjoyed the benefits of the CEU’s dual degrees over the past 25 years and expressed incomprehension at the Hungarian government’s aiming to remove that advantage. Academic freedom is a fundamental European value, which should be retained and preserved, Weber said, and added that the CEU was doing nothing other than its job.
Soros is a “speculator” who “destroyed the lives of tens of millions of people” when he “broke” the British pound and attacked other currencies, Orbán said.
“He made a profit from millions of people becoming poor”, he added.
Not long ago, Soros was fined several hundred million forints because he speculated against the largest Hungarian financial institution and “he was within an ace of succeeding”, Orbán said.
He said it was unfortunate that the top leaders of the European Union hold talks with a speculator as if it was the most natural thing.
“That is unworthy of the institutions of the European Union,” he said.
Photo: MTI/Prime Minister Press Office / Balázs Szecsõdi