PM Orbán: ‘Our goal is that opponents of immigration become a majority in the institutions of the EU’

The upcoming European Parliamentary elections will be decisive, said Prime Minister Orbán at the government’s first press conference of the year in an opening statement before an extended and free-wheeling Q&A session with domestic and international press. As Hungary remains the only EU state that has asked its citizens directly about migration, these EP elections present an opportunity for the people of Europe to decide about the continent’s future.

The governing party’s goal, the prime minister said, is twofold: gradually reach an anti-immigration majority in all EU institutions and that Fidesz – together with the EPP – remain the largest political family in the European Parliament.

“Today, instead of [Minister] Gulyás, you’ll have to take me,” Prime Minister Orbán wrote on his Facebook page shortly before taking the mic at 10:30 this morning – making good on a promise he made last year – to host the Government’s first official press conference (also known as Kormányinfó) in 2019.

The prime minister opened by citing last year’s key economic indicators. GDP growth is expected to reach 4.6 percent in 2018, he said, while national consumption grew by 6 percent and Hungary’s public debt dropped to 71 percent, adding that “the economy is now stable.”

Turning to the outcome of the latest national consultation on family policy and demographics Prime Minister Orbán highlighted that almost 1.4 million Hungarians have returned the questionnaire, affirming that the condition of families is not just important to the government but also to the whole country. “People can expect further family support measures,” which he plans to reveal in his State of the Nation speech on February 10th.

“These are critical EP elections,” the prime minister said. “They will be decisive.” Hungary is still the only EU state that has asked the voters directly about the question of migration. With that in mind, these elections offer a great possibility for the citizens of Europe to express their opinion on the issue of migration, he said.

Speaking about goals for the May vote, the prime minister said that the government wants to reach an anti-immigration majority in all EU institutions and to maintain the EPP as the largest political family in the European Parliament. “We don’t support quotas. We do not want a permanent immigration mechanism or migrant visas, and we want to devote our money not to immigration but to our own goals,” he said. 

“I called Matteo Salvini a personal hero,” Prime Minister said in response to a question from the Financial Times about possible plans for an alliance with the leaders of Italy and Poland. “And that’s how I consider him. He was the first politician to say that migration across the sea can also be stopped.”

“The Warsaw-Rome axis is a great development,” he said, “great hopes are tied to it,” adding while the governing Fidesz-KDNP remain loyal memberd of the EPP, he would like to see “Europe have a political force that is to the right of the EPP, a Rome-Warsaw axis, that is capable of governing, capable of taking responsibility and opposed to immigration.”

Migration will be not only the most important issue in these EP elections, the prime minister said, but it’s a topic that has the potential to re-shape the depths of European politics. This decisive political process in Europe means that traditional left-right political divisions give themselves over to another important dimension, a confrontation between those parties who support immigration and those parties who oppose immigration.

If we are not careful, Prime Minister Orbán said toward the end of his remarks, in place of a unified civilization, we may get two different civilizations in Europe, but “we here in Central Europe are those who picture the future of Europe as a Christian civilization.” 

Following his opening remarks, Prime Minister Orbán took questions for well over 90 minutes from both domestic and international press. 

When asked by 444.hu, a staunch critic of the Orbán Government, about press freedom in Hungary, Prime Minister Orbán responded by reminding that the biggest online portal, the biggest commercial tv station, and perhaps the biggest current affairs daily is in liberal hands, pushing strong anti-government narratives. “If I look at the internet platforms, I see that there are more against me than with me,” he said.

Responding to a question from conservative news portal Pesti Srácok whether he sees any connection between the recent protests in Belgrade, Warsaw, Rome and Budapest, PM Orbán said that “pro-immigration parties, supported by George Soros, are demonstrating everywhere.”

On a question about corruption, PM Orbán said that the only policy a responsible government can follow is a policy of zero-tolerance, adding that “corrupt countries are poor. Hungary may not be a rich country yet, but we’re performing better and better each year.” 

Commenting on the Hungarian left-wing cozying up to far-right, anti-Semitic Jobbik, Prime Minister Orbán said that left-liberals should take to heart the question of whether it’s alright, regardless of the short-term political objective, to join forces with a far-Right, anti-Semitic force.