PM Viktor Orbán’s press conference after an extraordinary meeting of the European Council [full text in English]
September 16, 2016, Bratislava
Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen.
We have had a tough day. Everyone is asking whether we achieved success at this summit, which can barely be described as even informal, as Britain – which is still a member of the EU – didn’t attend. So perhaps the term “discussion” best sums up the time we spent here together. Was it successful? That depends who expected what from it. From a Hungarian viewpoint, we got a positive answer to our most important question. As far as we were concerned, the most important question was whether, now that the United Kingdom has decided to leave, there will be others who follow suit: whether the process of disintegration, the shrinking, the erosion of the European Union will continue or not. This is the most important question in the post-Brexit period. Today everyone made their statements, and we learnt that none of us intends to leave the EU. We decided to continue together and, instead of going our separate ways, to try to repair the functioning of the EU’s institutional mechanism. If anyone had expected the outcome from today’s meeting – which perhaps many in Hungary secretly did – that here in Bratislava we could change Brussels’ immigration policy, then this summit, or discussion, was unsuccessful. Because Brussels’ immigration policy has not been changed today. Indeed, I am afraid – and I’ll try to put this politely – that its pre-existing self-destructive and naive immigration policy continues to prevail. In fact there was more focus on speeding up the mechanism for distributing migrants around Europe than on stopping them at the Schengen border. It has also become clear that Greece is still the key country; over the past year the situation has not changed at all in that respect. Everyone is enduring hardships, everyone is facing serious difficulties because – even with our assistance – the Greeks cannot protect their border, which is also the external border of the European Union and the Schengen Area. Earlier the European Union, the European Council, took a decision which is seen as meaning “back to Schengen”; in other words, this means that protection of the external borders must be restored and the area’s internal border controls – which had been temporarily reinstated – must be removed. We also set a deadline for this: it must take place some time at the end of November or the beginning of December.
If we have failed to change the EU’s immigration policy now, when is the next opportunity to do so? This is the next question we must answer. Our next meeting will be in Vienna on 24 September. It will not be a full European Council meeting, so not all the prime ministers of the EU Member States will be there – but there will be prime ministers of non-EU states. The countries lying on the Balkans route will be represented, as will Germany – which is at the end of the route – and Austria. We shall make yet another attempt to change the current misguided immigration policy, and to switch from a naive policy to a policy of self-defence. At this point in time we have no way of knowing whether this will happen in Vienna, and so if we want to change the policy, there is only one thing we Hungarians can do. If we really want to change Brussels’ immigration policy, we must do so with a successful referendum.
In addition to these issues, I also pointed out that Bulgaria must be given unconditional support. Anyone who came to this meeting today wanting to strengthen Bulgaria’s position left in a positive frame of mind, with a sense of success, as we have indeed strengthened Bulgaria’s position. We have adopted specific decisions on the assistance to be provided for Bulgaria, given that migration pressure on the Bulgarian border is increasing, and the costs of their defence efforts are significant. In the debate on the future of Europe, I proposed that we develop a new policy for Balkan countries outside the European Union. Tensions in the region are rising, and the European Union’s material influence over events there is continuously declining, while the influence of others is continuously increasing.
I said that if we stop migrants at the border, we need to set up migrant or immigrant camps outside the European Union. These are called “hotspots”. If we want to set these up outside the territory of the EU, this can only be done with military security forces. We need a military force. We do not have this military force at present. This is an important reason – but not the only one – for Hungary being one of the countries pressing for the creation of a joint European army. As you know, I have already tabled this proposal. Today a number of countries clearly indicated their support. Large countries also agree that military cooperation must be enhanced, which will then lead to a common army.
And I also spoke about the need to strengthen the role of national parliaments. For us as Hungarians the most important development and the best news from this meeting was that the Visegrád 4 proved to be the only group of countries which came to this summit not only stating that they do not wish to leave the European Union, but making specific proposals on the nature of a new European Union which everyone can benefit from and which will be more successful than it is today. We submitted this document to the meeting. I think that you also have access to it. Please study it carefully, because it proves that the meetings of V4 prime ministers over the last few months have been worthwhile. After all, in the debate on the future of Europe a document was conceived which we could present here to the other prime ministers. The Polish prime minister presented it on our behalf, and I want to take this opportunity to thank her for that.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
This is what we have accomplished today, and now we are preparing for the meeting in Vienna on September 24 and the Hungarian referendum on October 2.
Thank you for your attention.