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Hungary today is having to fight battles with the European Union that do not help its development, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán told a meeting of the Hungarian Permanent Conference in Budapest. He said he expected major disputes in the EU in the coming months, “the outcome of which will determine Hungary’s room for manoeuvre in the coming decades”. One is whether the EU will pivot from unanimous decision-making to majority decisions, as promoted by larger countries, he said. That move would require an amendment of the EU treaties, which would be possible only with unanimous vote, he added. “That won’t happen as long as there is a single country against [majority voting].” Hungary, Orbán said, saw unanimous voting as the “last guarantee for protecting national interests”, and so such a decision was “out of the question”.
“Hungary won’t have a parliament in the next 120 years that would vote for that, regardless of party affiliation,” he said. The EU’s basic power structure, he said, had been balanced between federalists and supporters of sovereignty until Brexit. Concepts such as the rule of law procedure, conditionality and economic governance would not have emerged with the UK still on board, he said, adding that without the British, central European countries had no blocking ability.
Meanwhile, Orbán said Europe had been squeezed out of a new global power and economic structure, and has been devalued as a result. Europe’s opinion was now considered a “sidebar” rather than an important factor influencing outcomes, he added. “There are two suns in the sky, neither of them European,” he said. The prime minister said that agreements were now being shaped by the US and China, with the latter “producing economic growth that is slowly but surely leaving that of the western world behind”. He said one “school of thought” promoted competition, trade and “trying to strengthen ourselves” as a solution, while the other suggested protectionism and isolationism, he said. The latter “is of the opinion that preserving what we’ve got is already an achievement.” Given Hungary’s historical legacy and industrial structure, it must cooperate and trade with “the whole world”, he said. Instead of shutting itself off, he said, “it’s better to take our place among those countries that support connectivity”. In 1990, six of the world’s ten largest economies were Western, while forecasts for 2030 indicate that England and France “will drop out of the world’s ten largest economies, and only one European country will remain: Germany — in tenth place.”
Referring to Hungarians living in Croatia, Orbán said that along with the country’s accession to the Schengen zone, they had become part of “a success story”, opening up “new opportunities and vistas”. It was hopeful that joining the single currency would also fulfil the hopes of Croatia and its Hungarian community, he added. Regarding Serbia’s northern most Vojvodina, Orbán hailed the achievements the late István Pásztor, the former leader of the Association of Vojvodina Hungarians, and he wished his son Bálint “good luck”, noting elections to be held in December. He said the Alliance could rely on the Hungarian government for help in the campaign. Orbán said the Serbian government, too, could rely on Hungary’s help, adding that the two governments were engaged in strategic cooperation which provided “hope for the future”.