All types of political initiative and action that take power away from the nation state must be stopped, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in a keynote address on Saturday at the 27th Baile Tusnad (Tusnádfürdő) summer university in Romania. Orbán added that the suppression of national sovereignty in favour of European powers is one of the biggest dangers in today’s Europe.
He said it is time to abandon false self-assessments. Britain’s decision to withdraw from the European Union had put a full stop at the end of an era in which the bloc had been a global player. The EU is now a regional player; in a positive-case scenario it will be capable of influencing events taking place in its vicinity but otherwise it will gradually lose even this ability, he said.
It is time to stop idealising Europe, Orbán said, adding that Europe’s leaders have failed. They are incapable of protecting their own citizens or their own external borders, he said. Increasing the role of the European Parliament and accepting decisions based on a two-thirds majority of EU member states instead of a consensus, on national vital issues, had been a mistake.
Orbán also slammed the practice of the European Commission acting as a political body and deciding on policy directions in place of the council of heads of government and state.
Referring to the tragic events in Munich, he said: “We have to preoccupy ourselves more and more and increasingly forcefully with security matters.”
Orbán said he could not have put it better than the US Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump, when Trump identified what kind of steps are needed to be taken in the fight against terrorism. The prime minister said national security agencies in Europe must co-operate and undertake to create the best possible secret-services system in the world.
Migration was not something that should be slowed down, “as Brussels would like to do”, but halted completely. “We must stop with a fence those who enter illegally and lock them up in prison; no form of protection that is friendlier exists.”
In a question-and-answer session, Orbán said NATO membership is “a good thing” and brought security for Hungarians, and from the point of view of providing a security umbrella for Central and Eastern Europe, it is vital. At the same time, as the British step away from the EU, the military strength of the bloc will drastically weaken, he said.
“We cannot remain militarily in this vulnerable position.” For this reason a European armed forces should be established, providing a “genuine joint force, with real joint interests, a common language and a common structure”. National budgets should be reconsidered, and military industry must be incorporated into the economic-policy thinking.
Orbán said the “export of democracy” must be stopped. “If we continue to put the export of democracy to the forefront in place of stability in regions where the success of this outcome is extremely doubtful, then we will not build democracy but we will cause instability”.
He added that Hungary has the greatest expectation of stability as opposed to Turkey. “If Turkey also becomes unstable then many tens of millions of people will descend on Europe from that region without limit.” He insisted that there was a crisis of the elites and a crisis of democracy in Europe and the Western world.
Europe’s right- and left-wing leaders, over 50-60 years, always came from the same circles, schools and elites, and everyone thought this was natural while they competed against each other and exchanged roles while guaranteeing the growing prosperity of Europe, he said. In light of the economic crisis, however, there have appeared political interest representations, radical and populist, that go beyond the elite, he said, referring to Trump.
“The problem is that today’s crisis of the elite has turned into a crisis of democracy. The vast masses of people obviously and visibly want something other than the traditional elite propose and do,” Orbán said.
Speaking about European immigration policy and the future of Hungary, he said the US elections had significance. In Hungary today one of the main supporters of migration pressure on Hungary was the United States. Partly this comes from official policy, he said, referring to a statement by President Barack Obama at the recent NATO summit.
The Americans thought that whoever did not regard immigration as a positive and to be encouraged, summoned up the worst of the spirit of the 20th century. This was the standpoint of the Democrats, and given that the Democrats were in power, this was official US policy, and it was not a matter of indifference as to what the next US president thought about migration.
On the topic of the Visegrád grouping, Orbán said expanding the V4 would entail risks and therefore it is better to maintain concentric circles with countries “which can give the V4 strength in such a way that they do not break its homogeneity”. He supported the Polish proposal to set up a V4 parliamentary assembly and to work on establishing a joint V4 armed forces that is distinguishable from a European joint military force.
Orbán concluded his speech by saying that everything the government embarked on in 2010 – a new Constitution based on Christian foundations, the policy of national unity and policies favourable to families – served the goal of Hungary remaining “a safe point in an uncertain world”.
Opposition puts the boot in
Socialist Party president Gyula Molnár said Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s speech in Baile Tusnad was further evidence that the migrant quota referendum scheduled for October was really about preparing the ground for Hungary to withdraw from the European Union.
Molnár accused Orbán of “excessive nationalism”. He said it should be made clear that there is no future for Hungary outside of the EU even if there is room for improvement in the way the bloc operates. The Socialist Party was calling on people to boycott the October 2 vote and so send the message that they wish to remain in Europe.
He also criticised Orbán for allying himself with Donald Trump, the US Republican Party’s presidential candidate. Such a foreign policy could harm ethnic Hungarians in Transylvania, and the Hungarian government’s policy of rejecting the Romanian Social Democrat government had cooled relations between the two countries.
The leftist Democratic Coalition said Orbán had “declared war” on the European community as well as Hungarians hoping for freedom, democracy and prosperity. Party spokesman Zsolt Gréczy said the prime minister was unwilling to talk about anything but fear, immigrants and the alleged crisis in the EU, while ignoring that “hundreds of thousands of Hungarian young people are fleeing his dictatorship” and heading for Western Europe, which Orbán claims has lost its significance.
The Együtt party accused the prime minister of hypocrisy. “While betraying the rule of law and European values, Viktor Orbán is sanctimoniously concerned for Europe, while as a troll of Russian President Putin is the one trying to weaken the global role of the European Union,” the party said.
The radical nationalist Jobbik party said he should take his share of the responsibility for the current state of Europe. The ruling Fidesz party and the Socialists are both part of the same political elite that the prime minister claims has failed, party leader Gábor Vona said. The failure of the elites and the strengthening of anti-elite political parties in Europe would soon reach Hungary.