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Jan 27, 2017

PM Orbán: We can make Europe great again

The prime minister said Europe was focusing its strengths on the wrong goals, arguing that it had failed to achieve any of its plans and had become a “slave” to the “Utopian idea” of a “supranational” Europe. It's time for change.

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has said that Europe is going in the wrong direction but there is still an opportunity to “make Europe great again”.

PM Orbán made the remarks during an event in Brussels organized by Hungary’s Antall József Knowledge Centre and Germany’s Konrad Adenauer Foundation, MTI reports today..

PM Orbán said the primary question is to what extent Europe and the European Union are ready to adapt to this new era. Instead of open societies, people want democratic societies in the new era that is “knocking on Europe’s door”, he said  “Things are going badly in Brussels and in the wrong direction," PM Orbán insisted. He said that just 20 years ago, Europe had ambitious goals but none of those objectives have been met.

He mentioned, for example, plans to create a European-Asian economic space and to set up an independent European security policy, adding that both those schemes had failed. “The number one principle in politics is whatever exists is possible,” he said. “Unfortunately many leaders in Europe do not accept that fact,” he said. Instead of learning from the economic successes of China and other Asian countries, Europe is trying to convince itself that “what exists in China and Asia is not really there, or is temporary and lacks foundations.”

It is also time to take the new president of the United States seriously, PM Orbán stressed in his speech in Brussels. Britain decided last year to leave the European Union and the world’s biggest military power elected a new president, yet efforts have been made to try to convince the public that things are not as they actually are. Donald Trump made a historic statement that it is every country’s right to put itself first, PM Orbán said. Change, he added, will happen soon and the era of multilateralism will come to an end.

After the 2008 economic crisis, a paradigm shift took place in world politics, PM Orbán said. Whereas the world had been unipolar, it is now becoming multipolar. This shift is unprecedented and there is no consensus on what the new global political structure will look like, he said. Preparations must be made for a multipolar world, he said in his speech entitled Europe in 2017. “There is no single model of salvation,” he said, arguing that instead of multilateral agreements bilateral relations would receive greater emphasis.

Europe is hit by a competitiveness, demographic, security and foreignpolicy crisis, PM Orbán added. As for the foreign policy aspect of the crisis, Europe is barely capable of influencing events taking place in the region, Orbán said, noting the conflicts in Syria and Ukraine. Orbán insisted that Europe’s economic growth would not exceed 1-2% in the next few years, adding that Europe had once been globally relevant before becoming a regional power. “Europe will lose its status as a global player and become a regional player, and it will soon struggle to remain a regional power,” PM Orbán said.

MTI reports that the prime minister said Europe was focusing its strengths on the wrong goals, arguing that it had failed to achieve any of its plans and had become a “slave” to the “Utopian idea” of a “supranational” Europe. He said there was no single European people, only European peoples, adding that Europe had only been strong when it had strong multiple centres of power.

Europe needs more self-confidence, PM Orbán said. Europe must state that it is capable of protecting itself without outside help, he said, adding that a joint European defence alliance would enable Europe to negotiate with everybody, including Russia, as equal partners. He urged a new agreement with the US to replace stalled trade talks. In addition, opportunities need to be found to make a deal with China, and the issue of Russia should be put back on the agenda, he added.