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Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in an interview to public radio that plans to extend Frontex were fine in principle but the devil, he added, was in the detail. Under the related plans, the whole of Europe would be protected by 10,000 people, while control along Hungary’s southern borders alone required 8,000 armed guards. Europe was not up to the task of establishing a border force able to protect the external borders along their entire length, Orbán said, insisting that the borders could not be protected without the participation of member states. He mentioned Hungary’s request to the EU for reimbursement of “at least half” of the country’s border control costs, noting that the EU “hasn’t given a cent despite pledges”.

In defence of the government’s recent billboard campaign, Orbán said “all seven points are supported by facts”. “Brussels has not contested actual facts”. He welcomed a decision by the European People’s Party to hold a special group meeting to discuss the government’s billboard campaign. “Great, it’s really good because we can at least discuss the seven points that we think are real, while they just argue … Let’s go for it; we are ready.” Orbán said “Europe’s elite is no longer accustomed to being criticised”. Europe’s institutions, he added, were responsible for Brexit and for allowing “millions of migrants” to enter Europe. New leaders must be elected in the upcoming European elections “who won’t make the same mistakes of the past five years”. “We cannot sweep those mistakes under the carpet; there is no carpet big enough that would cover those two massive mistakes alone.”

On the topic of the government’s family protection action plan, Orbán said most Europeans lived their lives in a traditional way, putting a premium on the family. “But strange people who choose a strange lifestyle reject the current government proposals,” he said, adding such people should “keep their opinions to themselves” rather than attacking the government. He said “the vast majority of people” backed measures to help families and added that this was a matter of a national consensus.

Commenting on government plans to help villagers, Orbán said the very existence of rural life was in danger, so in the 2,000 villages where the decline in population exceeds the national average, people will be given the chance to get subsidies to buy, expand and refurbish homes that are not new-builds. “The village does not belong to the past but to the future, and I believe it’s possible to lead a quality life in the village,” he said.

In connection with the family protection plan, the prime minister praised Mihály Varga, the finance minister, as “a calm man” who is not captive to his emotions. He said he always accepted Varga’s opinion because finances must be in good working order. The country’s ratings upgrade is a great testament to Varga’s work, he added. Varga has a large family and knows exactly what this involves. “And he’s a Karcag man — not from New York; not from the world’s metropolis — so he knows country life.”