Sep 20, 2016

The EU must listen to central European countries

The Bratislava summit was supposed to build EU cohesion but it ended with a solidification of seemingly ever-growing divisions

European Council President Donald Tusk, as well as Angela Merkel and Jean Claude Juncker, begged for greater unity to be shown by senior EU leaders, but it appears their pleas have fallen on deaf ears.

According to the UK's Daily Express newspaper today, Zoltán Kovács, government spokesperson for Hungary, on behalf of the government and Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, said “why should we? Has the Commission started to act conciliatory?”

It comes as senior EU bosses fail to get a handle on growing Euroscepticism from central European nations who are highly critical of both the bloc’s migration policy and perceived lack of respect toward member states.

An informal meeting of 27 nations in Bratislava was supposed to build cohesion, but it ended with a solidification of seemingly ever-growing divisions.

Hungary’s criticism comes as the nation prepares to hold a referendum October 2 in which Hungarians are expected to vote against the EU’s plan for mandatory relocation of refugees across Europe using a quota system.

Hungary has taken a hard-line approach to the migrant crisis, including building a second border fence, and it has drawn raging criticism from EU executives.

Luxembourg’s foreign affairs minister, Jean Asselborn, said Hungary should be kicked out of the EU because it had treated migrants like “wild animals".

However, Xavier Bettel, the prime minister of Luxembourg, later disavowed the comment, saying it did not represent the country’s official position.

Zoltán Kovács said Hungary was growing tired of such criticism.

“We have always been, you know, called anti-European or non-European or threatened with being expelled from the community, but that’s nonsense,” Kovács said, listing actions taken by Hungary that had prompted criticism, including the adoption of a new media law, enactment of a new constitution, and the implementation of an economic reform plan.

“When are you going to stop that argumentation, that’s my first question,” Kovács said. “Wouldn’t it be time to listen to central European countries, including Hungary?”

He said the EU had “cheated” Hungary on migration deals in the past and described the upcoming October 2 referendum as “a big deal”.