In his address, the prime minister reminded the MEPs that Hungary, whenever debates arose with the EU, always “tried to resolve the conflicts of the past years through dialogue and negotiations.” And, he continued, “we have been able to conclude – by mutual consent – such complicated issues as media regulation, the new Hungarian constitution, the transformation of the judicial system, or the development of nuclear energy.” In so doing, he noted, it helps to have a fact-based, mutually respectful discussion, free of double standards.
Prime Minister Orbán said that the current subject of debate, partly with certain members of the European Parliament and “partly with an American financial speculator,” George Soros, boils down to two issues: migration and the distribution of power between member states and EU institutions.
“George Soros and his NGOs want to transport one million migrants to the EU per year. He has personally, publicly announced this program and provides a financial loan for it,” the prime minister said. “You could read this yourselves. We reject this.”
He added that mass migration should be stopped, asylum requests should be considered on territory outside the EU and aid should be given to the areas where the humanitarian problems originate. When Hungary is enforcing the current regulations, it is protecting western Europe, “Germany, Austria and Switzerland,” from undocumented migrants.
PM Viktor Orbán said that accusations about Hungary closing down Soros-founded Central European University are absurd as the CEU rector himself admitted that the university is not threatened by anything. “It is like someone is accused of murder and convicted, while the victim of the alleged crime is alive and well. And pointing and shouting “murderer” at the convict himself.” The legislation in question, according to the prime minister, is about taking away the unfair privileges that some universities have enjoyed at the expense of Hungarian and European universities.
On Hungary’s proposal to increase the transparency of non-governmental organizations, the prime minister addressed critics head on while highlighting a choice example of the double standards. Hungary’s proposal, he said
“follows the American example. Many countries of the Union and, if I am correct, even this Parliament, in the framework of the Pieper Report are dealing with the complicated question of how we can make the operations of financially strong foreign external lobbies, willing to influence democratic decision-making, transparent to everyone. The Hungarian legislation builds on the principal of clarity and transparency. We want nothing else but to be able to know of NGOs what kind of money and what kind of interests are behind them. This does not undermine their constitutional rights to have their voices heard, represent their interests and be able to organise themselves freely.”
When Hungary criticizes Brussels, Prime Minister Orbán said, it is because it wants to protect Europe’s achievements or wants to improve its operations. He emphasized that the government of Hungary is staunchly pro-EU, a proponent of a strong Europe of strong member states. However, he said, it’s strange that “George Soros, who is now attacking Hungary and who – despite ruining the lives of millions of European people with his financial speculations, and being penalized in Hungary for speculations, and who is an openly admitted enemy of the euro – is so highly praised that he is received by the EU’s top leaders.”
Prime Minister Orbán also responded to the threats that would take away Hungary’s EU funds to punish the country for having its own opinion, adding that the structural funds are part of a different deal. In exchange “we deconstructed our customs, opened our markets and made the free flow of capital possible, while we were so poor after communism, as lacking in capital as the church mouse,” he said. “So, you cannot ask us, esteemed representatives, ladies and gentlemen, to keep our mouth shut and cannot talk to us as if you were giving us gifts and we should be indebted to you.”
The prime minister closed by asking that Europe always apply the same standards and to stick to the facts in a manner of mutual respect. “Only this way, he said, “can we be worthy of being called Europeans.”