Jan 16, 2018 - Zoltán Kovács

PM Orbán in Welt am Sonntag: ‘We cannot help the world while destroying our own people’

Syrians running for their lives have every right to enter the first safe state they reach, but the EU shouldn’t let them march through Europe. Schengen, one of the EU’s greatest achievements has to be protected because if we fail to defend our external borders then the internal ones will have to be closed again. Prime Minister Orbán in Welt am Sonntag on migration, Europe, Germany and the mutual lack of understanding between East and West.

The prime minister said that he agrees with Pope Francis that the European Union should help refugees based on the Christian teaching of love thy neighbor, but the difficult question is how to do so without jeopardizing the safety of our own people. In an interview with the German Welt am Sonntag, Prime Minister Orbán argued that many of these people are not coming from war zones, but are migrants who “just want to live better lives here than they could in Africa or Asia.” In that case, he said, help should be sent there rather than bringing the trouble here.

Hungary is more sensitive to migration than Germany, the prime minister said, because it lies in the danger zone. This is why when “masses of people enter the country, the alarm bell goes off here.” And this alarm has an impact on the Hungarian people, who, coming from a dictatorship, value freedom above anything else. After waiting so long to return to Europe and becoming a member of the EU, Hungarians take seriously the threat of losing the kind of freedom we enjoy in Schengen, one of the greatest achievements of the EU. As PM Orbán put it, “If we cannot protect the external borders, then our internal borders must be closed.”

“We are showing solidarity,” he continued. Since 2015, Hungary has spent more than one billion euros on protecting the Schengen border, yet Brussels refused to pay us a cent. Europe is not in Brussels, but in Budapest, Berlin, Warsaw and Paris. Brussels bureaucrats and politicians need to understand that they are not the center of an empire.

Instead, what Hungary wants is a European Parliament with limited powers, a strong European Council of heads of government, and a Commission that stops pushing its own agenda and simply remains a guardian of the EU treaties.

On the question of what is considered ‘liberal’ and what is ‘in line with the rule of law’, Prime Minister Orbán said that there is a “mutual lack of understanding” between the East and the West. Hungary, he said, speaks a “traditional and direct language,” while western states refer to themselves as ‘post-national’ and ‘post-Christian’. Hungary stands firmly in opposition on this point, he said. Hungary wants to preserve its national and Christian identity.

On the economy, the prime minister underlined that Hungarian GDP growth is in the interest of Europe. From 2030, he said, Germany and the Visegrad countries will be the determining economic axis of the European Union.