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Mar 11, 2017

PM Viktor Orbán’s doorstep statement before the meeting of the European Council

9 March 2017, Brussels

What issue do you expect to generate most debate today?

Well, from a Hungarian point of view the main debate will be on the issues of asylum, migration and immigration. Hungary has finally passed a law, which people have been advocating for some time, which will answer the need to separate genuine asylum-seekers from migrants at locations outside the territory of the EU. We have now created this legislation, and a major campaign has been launched against Hungary. So here right now we are under attack – or under siege. Today and tomorrow this is something that I shall need to fend off, but I hope that I’ll be able to smooth ruffled feathers, and show that the regulations which we’ve adopted back home are in harmony with European law, and serve the self-same goal which we have laid down in a number of documents here – and which the Germans and the Austrians are also pushing for. So from a Hungarian point of view this will be the most important issue. From a European viewpoint, there is a question of personnel, and such issues are best understood by those with an interest in the matter. This personnel question is the identity of the President of the European Council.

It’s about the President of the European Council.

Yes, yes, yes.

And who will it be?

We’ll see. It’ll be Donald Tusk.

Have many people asked you whom Hungary is backing?

I’m dealing with a situation in which European politics is organised along party lines, and the Hungarian governing parties – both the Christian Democrats and Fidesz – belong to the European People’s Party. The People’s Party has a joint candidate: a single joint candidate. And as we belong to this party, clearly we’ll support that candidate.

Thank you very much.

We’ll leave the other debates related to this matter to those involved in Polish domestic political life.

Do you support Donald Tusk?

We support the candidate of the EPP, up to now this is the case.

Previously you have spoken about Donald Trump. What is your opinion of the changes Donald Trump has done in the immigration policy, the changes in visas?

It is not easy to be a good European if you are a Central European as well. Europeans have different historical experiences, different basic instincts in basic issues, traditional values. So we try to be good Europeans, but at the same time also we would like to stay Polish, Hungarians, Czechs and so on. Up to now we have proved to be good Central Europeans and Europeans at the same time. And of course that difference is obvious in the issue of the migration. Now the Central European approach is getting more and more common, may I say. Originally the Westerners opposed very much what we have done, but now I think we are getting closer and closer to the reality.

We are getting closer to the elections in the Netherlands and France, with big populists. Does it pose a major challenge to Europe?

In Europe we don’t use that phrase so easily as you do – I mean populist – because in Europe people elect what they would like to elect; and, whatever they are, if they are elected by the people they become the leaders.

Here in Brussels leaders said that if Le Pen wins, the EU may end as we know it.

The elite has a different approach than the people. The elite likes to speak about populists, and people like to speak about people they elect.

What do you think of Le Pen’s message?

Which one?

What do you think of her odds to win?

It is a complicated issue; she has a complicated programme so it deserves more than one sentence here.

What do you think of Donald Tusk?

He was not evaluated as a person at all. The European politics is organized on a party basis and the EPP has a candidate: the EPP party supports the EPP candidate. We will see what will happen if there is new candidate – and up to now there has not been a new candidate. There was one, Saryusz-Wolski is a great friend of mine, but he has stepped back. I invested a lot of energy to find a compromise, a peaceful arrangement of the situation, because we will elect someone who is not supported by his own government. It is a very complicated issue, so we tried to find a way to reconcile the positions, but we were not successful.