PM Orbán in La Stampa: Salvini is the most important person in Europe today

On the eve of Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini’s visit to Budapest tomorrow, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán sat for an interview with the popular Italian daily La Stampa. In the interview, the prime minister discusses migration, the future of the European People’s Party, nationalism and a perspective on “three Europes”. Here are some highlights:

“Tomorrow, [Salvini] will arrive in a country where people see him as a friend,” Prime Minister Orbán told La Stampa’s Alberto Simoni in the interview published today. “We share a common fate: both of us had to endure attacks,” PM Orbán said, calling the Italian Minister of Interior “the hero who was the first to stop migration by sea, while we did the same on land.”

On the future of the European People’s Party, PM Orbán said that “it’s preparing for suicide” as it makes ready to ally itself with the European left. “Let’s not tie ourselves to the left. Let’s find another path: cooperation with Europe’s political right,” the prime minister said.

When asked about the importance of the issue of migration, PM Orbán responded by stating that “migration is the most important question history has confronted us with.” According to the prime minister, Europe faces an alarming demographic fact: while Europeans continue to decrease in numbers, the populations of Sub-Saharan Africa, the Sahel region and the Arab world are rising.

“I call this the migration of people, the movement of large masses of people,” PM Orbán said adding that big emigrations should be foreseen and if it’s not possible to prevent them, they must be stopped. “This is why, I think Salvini is the most important person in Europe today,” he said.

On the distribution of immigrants between EU member states, PM Orbán said that instead of bringing the trouble here, we should offer help where it’s most needed. “Hungary is already doing it, we’re spending beyond our capacities on a program we call Hungary Helps,” the PM said about the country’s international aid program. In Orbán’s view, it’s not only the Dublin framework that is incapable of handling “gigantic population movements,” it’s Brussels itself. 

“Brussels, the Commission and the European Parliament, must withdraw [from dealing with the issue of migration] and make it possible for member states to take care of it,” Prime Minister Orbán said, reiterating his proposal for the establishment of an intergovernmental body made up of EU interior ministers.

Responding to a question on so-called multi-speed Europe, Prime Minister Orbán said that instead of one, unified Europe with multiple levels of cooperation, today “three different Europes” have emerged. “The first one is the Europe of money, the Eurozone, then there is the Europe of security, the Schengen countries. The third one is the Europe of the single market. These are all different,” he said.

On the role of nationalism, the prime minister said that though it’s often considered a swear word in today’s Europe, he doesn’t share the view that all wars, dictatorships and suffering were caused by nationalism. Instead, “these tragedies were caused by attempts to create different European empires,” he said, adding that he sees this danger in some of the policies of Brussels.