Oct 22, 2016 - Zoltán Kovács

‘Protecting European Freedom’: PM Orbán’s interview with Passauer Neue Presse

Hungary’s stance on immigration has been labeled one of the “destroyers of Europe”, however these sentiments couldn’t be further from the truth. Hungary’s border policy does in fact protect European freedom.

In a recent interview with Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, in the German newspaper Passauer Neue Presse, the publication delved deep into the migrant crisis and Hungary’s relationship with Germany.

Hungary will continue to protect its borders, according to the prime minister, and will do all it can to help its allies do the same. “International law, the Schengen Agreement and the Dublin Regulations are clear: Europe’s external borders must be protected by the respective countries. This is the basis of free movement within Europe. Hungary does nothing but observes the provisions of international and European law,” the prime minister said.

’We live in an absurd political world if those who fulfill their obligations are attacked, and those who fail to do so are excused. If the Greeks had protected their external borders, there would be no migrant crisis today. This is the truth – unpleasant, but true,” he added.

However, contrary to popular belief, we have not turned our backs on the plight of the illegal immigrants that knock on our door. We are, however, adamant that all the necessary checks are undertaken, and each situation is assessed properly before asylum is granted.

The root of the left’s hatred toward Hungary is in the migrant crisis, the prime minister said, and reared its ugly head in the problems we faced with Germany.

“The people who arrived in Hungary considered themselves invitees of Germany. They had the impression that Germany is waiting for them, welcoming them. These people wanted to go to Germany, and did not understand why we, Hungarians are not letting them through. They called us heartless. It would have been pointless to try and explain to a Syrian refugee that there is a Schengen and Dublin regime in Europe. They did not understand the whole thing, and refused to cooperate with the Hungarian authorities,” the prime minister said.

It must be made clear here that Hungary does not discriminate against any race or religion, we are a very tolerant society. Hungary has a healthy view of Muslims. However, there are many different factors that should be taken into account, according to the PM.

‘The civilization that stems from Christianity and the civilization that stems from Islam are not compatible. They cannot mingle, but can only exist side-by-side. This is the situation in the Middle East, and also in Europe. Our perceptions of the world are so different that they lead to parallel worlds. This is not a political issue, but the reality of life,” the prime minister stressed.

Hungary has been criticized in the past for taking money from the EU but not abiding by its principles and laws, but blaming Hungary for only accepting the money is untrue and very much hurting its self-esteem because this approach only shows one side of the argument.

“In order to be able to endure the burden of the huge capital influx from the other EU member countries we receive money from the EU’s Cohesion Fund so that at least a part of the money be recovered and we could develop our country. The cohesion policy is very reasonable. We are only in the middle of this process. In 10-15 years’ time, we shall be on the same level of advancement, and we shall have a genuine common market. Politically, however, I believe it is rather unfortunate that these funds are now called into question as instead of the common goals contradictions are put in the focus, and additionally, there is not one concluded agreement where Cohesion Funds and asylum policy would be interconnected. Thirdly, I have to be perfectly clear about this: Hungary spends a very large sum of money on the protection of the external European border, by Hungarian standards, at least as much as what Germany spends on refugees,” the prime minister said.

Despite the migrant crisis, Hungary’s EU membership is unquestioned, unshakeable and firm. “For centuries, we have been stuck amidst three worlds: Europe, the Russians and the Muslims. Hungary is a Christian country with a western mindset. For this reason, our natural place is in Europe, in the world’s most beautiful part,” the prime minister said.

However, the European Union is by no means perfect, there are many things that could be done to improve its standing on the world stage. One main point is that we should pursue policies with which we render the world’s great powers interested in Europe’s success.

“We need a smart, carefully considered cooperation with Russia, and also Vladimir Putin. This mentality is in the minority in Europe today, I could also say that I am in the opposition in Europe at present. I, however, call this a reform opposition: we keep arguing, and are confident that we can turn this minority into a majority,” the prime minister said.

Europe has ten very difficult years behind it. Financial crisis, mass migration, economic decline of the southern countries, a stuck Euro, conflict with Russia in the Ukraine. This has been a very difficult period and we must move forward to improve not only the way in which the EU is governed but also by how each Member State fits within the bigger picture.

“Without the Chancellor [of Germany], Europe would not have been able to give good answers, Europe would have been weaker without her. It does not matter what political dispute we are engaged in at present: this fact must be recognized. German Chancellors always play a key role in European unity. Hungary is lucky in this respect because we have found the common voice with every Chancellor. We respect Helmut Kohl as we respect our own parents, we greatly appreciated Gerhard Schröder, and Angela Merkel, too, enjoys a great deal of respect in Hungary. I wish the Chancellor good luck in the next elections. This is the case even if I would describe my party today – which joined the European People’s Party as the “Hungarian CDU” during Helmut Kohl’s administration – more like the Hungarian CSU,” the prime minister concluded.

Read the entire interview in English here.