Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in an interview to public radio that western Europe had tired of EU enlargement and explained away their own political and economic failure by blaming it on the previous round of enlargement. Had the EU integrated Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia, illegal migrants would not have reached Germany in 2015, he argued, adding that he sought to convince EU leaders of the importance of enlargement, noting a joint statement by the Visegrád group’s prime ministers at their recent Prague summit in its favour.
Commenting on the post of commissioner for the protection of the European way of life, Orbán said it was “sad” that some people were attacking the portfolio. The chief responsibility of every politician, he insisted, was to protect people’s way of life. He added that the debate was over nature of migration and most Europeans saw it as a threat.
Asked about outgoing commission president Jean-Claude Juncker’s description of Orbán in a recent interview as a nationalist rather than a European politician, Orbán said: “I’m European because I’m Hungarian; if I were not Hungarian I wouldn’t be able to be European.” The EU, he added, must be built on nations, their identities and their pride.
He said the starting point of Hungary’s strategy was to create stability, and this involved strengthening the Visegrad Group and its strong relationship with other neighbouring countries. Further, alliances must be made with “old” EU member states in order to achieve goals such as border protection. Austria, he added, had been just such a country and “hopefully after the Austrian election the old situation will be restored”.
He said Italy was also a key player in protecting the bloc’s maritime borders. He said Matteo Salvini, the former interior minister, was “a great friend of Hungary” who had been forced out of his position, but his absence was keenly felt since Italy had returned to “a dangerous leftist policy of taking in migrants and demanding their relocation”.
Asked about graft in Hungary, Orbán said that “if there were corruption there would be no economic development”. He added that whereas “corruption is everywhere”, the problem was not decisive.
On family policy, the prime minister said he was considering the details of a second and third family protection action plans.