11/26/2020 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 11/26/2020 10:16
In 2015, the motto was that those who don't let migrants in shouldn't be given any money
In 2015, the motto was that those who don't let migrants in shouldn't be given any money, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in an interview given to Die Zeit which was published on the liberal German weekly's news portal on Wednesday.
Mr Orbán stressed that thirty years ago the Hungarian people 'did a great deal historically to make sure' that the principles of the rule of law are upheld also East of the former Iron Curtain, 'but on the basis of objective criteria'.
He said 'there was dictatorship here thirty years ago, and Hungary formed part of the Soviet Union's sphere of influence. My brothers in arms and I sacrificed years of our lives to change this.'
'We are the street fighters, the revolutionaries of the rule of law. […] This is not a political programme, this is our lives. How could I leave my own life?' he said in answer to the question as to whether he had ever considered the idea of terminating Hungary's EU membership.
He said 'in Western European politics, Otto Graf Lambsdorff was my political mentor. And after that I became a colleague and friend of Helmut Kohl. I learnt democracy, political competition and the market economy from them'.
He argued that in Kohl or Lambsdorff's mind, 'there was a balance between national sovereignty, one's own culture and the United States of Europe'. Therefore, 'in those days we thought that Western Europe was good, and it didn't even cross our minds that even this could be ruined,' but we have learnt that Europe can be both good and bad. It can be a social market economy with a sense of ecological responsibility which we Hungarians prefer, or […] a kind of impertinent, greedy casino capitalism.'
'When did the struggle within the EU become so keen? This is in actual fact the key question,' Mr Orbán said.
The answer is 2015, the issue of migration, he added.
'All of a sudden, what we saw was that someone wants to decide for us who is allowed to stay in Hungary […]. In fact, we got so far that it was actually stated: those who let migrants in are countries of the rule of law, while those who don't aren't countries of the rule of law, and 'those who don't let migrants in shouldn't be given any money'.
'Is this the ideal of equality?' he asked.
He also said 'Hungary provides maximum assistance for Muslim states finding themselves in difficult circumstances'.
'There isn't a grain of anti-Muslim sentiment in us. We only have an idea about our own lives,' Mr Orbán said, explaining that 'perhaps, in the Mediterranean, Arabs, Muslims and Christians can live together well. But we Hungarians belong to the Northern edge of this region, this is why history is so important for us. In our minds, what's happening in Western Europe today is what earlier failed, namely the Muslims occupying Vienna, or going even further.'
He added that 'for us Hungarians multicultural society is equal to self-surrender, while protecting Christian-Jewish culture is equal to survival'.
Regarding George Soros, he said 'I do accept that I criticise everyone for their political opinions, including Jews. Who cares that some people say that we are anti-Semitic? We aren't. We don't care whether George Soros is Jewish or not. George Soros wants something that is bad for Hungary. He was the one to first state that countries which don't let migrants in must be punished, and that EU funds should be taken away from them.'
'This is a purely political dispute with George Soros,' Mr Orbán stated.
He added that 'Soros has major merits in overthrowing communism in Hungary. In the second half of the eighties, he supported opposition groups which were anti-communist. There have always been political differences, but also here there was a moment when the nature of things changed. That was in 2015. With migration again. He wanted to tell us what we should do,' the Prime Minister explained.
Regarding the debate on the mechanism which ties the utilisation of EU funds to rule of law conditionality, he said 'there is a solution'.
He said if a situation is complex, we must go back to the underlying intentions. 'The countries in need want money quickly - let's give it to them. Other countries want new rules relating to the rule of law - fine, let's talk about it. The first thing we must do immediately, the second one is less urgent.'
'The rule of law is doing well, thank you very much, a new rule can wait for a few more months,' he said.
In response to the suggestion that refusal, due to the rule of law mechanism, to approve the EU budget and the recovery fund planned to compensate for the negative effects of the pandemic amounts to +a political atomic bomb+, he said 'if the Germans do something like this, they're atomic bombs; if we drop them, they're mere hand grenades'.
He said 'we have differences regarding interpretation. It is possible to create a new rule of law mechanism, but we must then supplement the Treaties. What's going on here is the gradual changing, the renegotiation of the Treaties, a process in which the parties concerned are not consulted. This is not right, and is contrary to the ideal of the rule of law,' he underlined.
'My little hand grenade is not enough; however, the Germans would be able to detach crisis management from the debate about the rule of law'.
In answer to the question as to what will happen if his proposal is not accepted, he said 'the problem must be solved by Germany' which at times seems like 'a kind of +mission impossible+, but the Germans hold the presidency, it is their responsibility.'
He highlighted that 'we don't receive grants from the EU; we regard these funds as compensation for the profits generated in our country by other Member States. This is why we're not upset when we are blackmailed with money'.
He said 'there is no fair and equal competition because we come from communism and dictatorship, and there are countries such as Germany that come from capitalism and freedom'.
Therefore, 'neither the Germans, nor those in Brussels can look upon the EU funds falling on Hungary as some kind of a gift' because these are only 'partial compensation for the advantage they have achieved in an unfair competition'.
Hungary receives net EUR 4.1 billion from the European Union, while German companies in the majority take EUR 6 billion out of the country annually, the Hungarian Prime Minister added.