No major decisions should be made before the European parliamentary elections “when European citizens will make their choice”, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said at a meeting of Visegrad Group prime ministers and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday.
Cooperation between the Visegrad Four and Germany must continue after the EP elections in May, Orbán told the press after the summit. The talks were characterised by “a positive and sincere tone,” he added.
Orbán said participants in the meeting had been the EU’s “core states”, countries that “stand out with their performance”.
Based on their public debt, budget deficit, exports, unemployment rate and structural reforms, they constitute Europe’s core states and, complemented by Germany, the economic engine of Europe, Orbán said. Participants in the meeting agreed on the need for a strong Europe and pledged to cooperate to that end, the prime minister added.
The European Union “will not be the same as it was before” once the elections have taken place, he said. Orbán insisted that “we want a democratic EU” and added that “its character and directions will be decided upon by the people”.
“We can discuss whether democracy should be liberal, illiberal or Christian, but the people cannot be omitted from its formula,” Orbán said, and argued that “should we neglect the will of European citizens, we would not be building a European Union but an empire and would go back to where we started off 30 years ago when we revolted against having to act on instructions from that empire’s headquarters.”
Answering a question, Orbán said that
“EU members have different positions on the world and it was mostly migration that brought those differences to the surface”. “But it is good,” he added, “because variety is an asset for the EU”.
To another question, Orbán said that “80 percent of the EU funds Hungary receives will go back to those countries where they come from, therefore we cannot accept any reprisals”. He went on to say that European bids were open to any European business.
Orbán said that he would meet US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for talks in Budapest on Monday, with “military and security issues on the agenda” with special regard to Ukraine. He said Ukraine was an “important neighbour” but added that “Hungary’s position is causing difficulties in cooperation between Ukraine and NATO”. He also said that “while Hungary has a pro-Ukraine government, the Ukrainian government is anti-Hungarian, which generates conflicts.”