Member states of the European Union can no longer control the EU bureaucracy, “which is spreading like a cancerous tumour”, Speaker of Parliament László Kövér said in an interview published in weekly Mandiner.
On the matter of Sweden’s NATO accession, Kövér confirmed it was supported by both the government and President Katalin Novák. “If it were not so, its ratification would not be on parliament’s agenda,” he said, adding that the ruling Fidesz-led coalition were “a living political community, and its members can have different opinions”. “Many of us in the parliamentary group think it would be worthwhile to wait with the decision,” he said. He said Turkey had not even hinted that they had any expectations from Hungary on the matter. He said the accession of two traditionally neutral countries, Finland and Sweden, was an issue that should have warranted a more comprehensive, in-depth discussion. “This does not actually strengthen the security of Europe, but weakens it, as the contact surface between Russia and NATO is broadened.” Kövér noted that in Hungary a referendum had been held on NATO accession, whereas in the two northern countries people had not been consulted on the matter.
He emphasised that NATO membership was a priority national interest for Hungary after the post-communist change in political system, and for now he did not “consider it a historical mistake”. He reiterated that Hungary was not waiting for Türkiye’s decision concerning Sweden. “The sovereign parliament of a sovereign country will decide when it sees fit,” he added.
Commenting on the fact that leaders of Eastern states came to Budapest as guests for the celebration of the founding of the state on Aug 20, Kövér said the national holiday coincided with the first full competition day of the World Athletics Championships, and “we also hosted many of our central European friends”. State leaders were here whose participation in the energy supply of Hungary, central Europe and Europe will be essential in the future, he said.
Kövér said that Hungary was part of Western Christian culture. “We entered Europe and its political institutional system with the founding of the Christian state. This is also part of our national culture, and now those who reject this ideological and moral foundations of Europe want to force us to make an exclusive choice in the political and economic sense,” he said. Kövér also noted that Hungary, a country which has always been at the crossroads of imperial aspirations, could also act as a mediating link culturally. “Why shouldn’t there be value in this, why shouldn’t Hungary be one of the bridges that connect the West in the traditional sense with the diverse East,” he said.
On the issue of the war in Ukraine, Kövér said he saw no real difference between the positions of the government and that of the president. He pointed out that, similarly to government statements, President Novak spoke primarily about peace, which in itself distinguished her and Hungary from politicians from all other allied European and NATO member states. “No one can win; this war has already been lost by everyone,” Kövér said, adding that the United States and the military, energy and financial lobby there were the exception. “We always consider Hungarian interests and choose who we negotiate with, what we discuss and with what purpose accordingly”, he said. “We do not look for enemies, and we are happier with a fair partner than a false friend whose embrace is suffocating,” he added. Concerning Polish suggestions questioning Hungary’s actual dependence on Russian energy, Kövér said: “We should not give in to the hysteria-mongers who want to undermine Hungarian-Polish friendship.”
On the topic of US-Hungarian ties, he said it was not relations between Hungary and the US, but political relations between the two governments that were “at rock bottom”. In terms of the defence and military cooperation, “we are doing our job as a NATO member”. He said that in economic terms, the US government had taken one or two steps that worsened bilateral relations but US companies operating in Hungary felt comfortable here. When Donald Trump was president, he added, political relations were better than ever. He expressed hope that sooner or later there would be another change in the administration in Washington and things would “get back to normal”.
Speaking about the European Union, the speaker said it was currently still the best forum for Hungary to enforce its national interests, a forum of “voluntary cooperation” of equal member states with equal rights. “And as long as this alliance continues to exist and Hungary receives what it is entitled to while meeting all its obligations defined in EU treaties, this statement will remain true,” he said. In connection with EU funds, the speaker said the government had done all it could to meet EU expectations without harming “the honour of Hungarian constitutionality”. The government, however, had a duty towards Hungarians to make reasonable compromises and ensure that “the Brussels bureaucracy runs out of arguments as to why it wants to reduce Hungary’s room for manoeuvre through financial means”. “They want to intervene in [Hungary’s] political affairs by withholding funding…”
Speaking about the European Parliament, the speaker said he would be “satisfied” if the ruling Fidesz party could return to the European People’s Party (EPP), though this scenario was “impossible”. Fidesz, he said, was still in the same place politically where it had been 10-20 years ago and it was “the so-called centre right” that had shifted to the left. Kövér said he saw a right-wing turnaround possible in the EP only if the EPP and its major members such as the CDU-CSU made “a 90 degree turn “. He, however, anticipated a right-wing shift within the EP with the strengthening of the European Conservatives and Reformists and the Identity and Democracy party groups. Kövér called the scenario that right-wing parties could form a majority in the EP “unrealistic at the moment”.