State Secretary: This is not the kind of European Union we dreamt about

Twenty years ago, EU membership came with the promise of greater prosperity.

State Secretary Csaba Dömötör said Hungary’s twenty years of EU membership can be summed up by saying that “this is not the kind of European Union we dreamt about.”

Marking the 20th anniversary of Hungary’s accession to the bloc, Dömötör said in a video on Facebook that 20 years ago many had felt that after a 20th century beset by tragedies, EU membership could play a key role in having the 21st century be “the century of the Hungarian people”. Back then EU membership came with the promise of greater prosperity, the state secretary said, adding that after centuries of others deciding on Hungary’s fate, “we could finally feel that we could be an equal member”. He said the old motto of “unity in diversity” had since disappeared, with many now questioning the right of nations to exist, while minority opinions were being persecuted.
Dömötör said they had thought that the EU would continue to build on the Christian traditions that had helped Europe survive, but today there were “barely any signs of Christian Democratic policies”. He said they had also hoped that EU enlargement would end the divide in Europe, “but instead we got a large dose of double standards, as well as a lot of experience about how a given measure is perfectly acceptable if it comes from a large member state, but is destructive to democracy if it comes from us”. It had also been naïve to think, he said, that decision-makers in Brussels would have accountability. Instead, he added, harmful decisions barely had any consequences. Europe by today had also forgotten about the importance of peace, Dömötör said, arguing that “instead of hearing voices of peace, we’re now seeing preparations for war, with Brussels at the centre.” Hungary’s EU membership is a national interest, and the Hungarian government believes in European cooperation, the state secretary said. “But Brussels today, in the political sense, is not synonymous with Europe, so criticising its decisions does not go against the confidence in European cooperation,” he added. “The reason the Hungarian government raises its voice is exactly because what’s being done in Brussels today endangers not just Hungary, but all of Europe,” he said. Dömötör said change was needed in the EU.

Meanwhile, Barna Pál Zsigmond, parliamentary state secretary of the European affairs ministry, also called for change in Brussels, saying that at stake in the June EP election was whether there would be war or peace. Marking the 20th anniversary of Hungary’s EU accession, Zsigmond said in a Facebook video that the question after two decades in the EU was not whether or not Hungary wanted to remain a part of Europe, but rather whether Europe wanted to remain what it was and what kind of a Europe the people wanted. “We Hungarians want neither a war-torn continent, nor a continent of immigrants,” he said. “We want a peaceful Europe where nations and our families live in peace, a Europe which doesn’t go to war irresponsibly, doesn’t take in tens of millions of immigrants, one which believes in the power of nation states and stands up in defence of Judeo-Christian culture.” Zsigmond said Brussels had sought out to “wind up” what Europe had been up until now without receiving a mandate to do so from the people. Change is needed in Europe, “but it is us who have to make it happen; we must preserve our national sovereignty”, he said.