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Hungarian-American political cooperation could change completely

Speaking on Kossuth Radio’s “180 Minutes” programme on Friday morning, the Prime Minister said the following: “Hungary has always maintained strong economic and security relations with the United States, but political cooperation with the Democratic Party administration in Washington regularly ran aground, because it lived in an artificial liberal world which was out of touch with reality and which it wanted to force on others – including Hungary. It followed the Democratic Party’s ideological mindset, it wanted to export democracy around the world in accordance with its own understanding of democracy, and it supported global immigration forces”, he said.

In reply to a question referring to the fact that the Democratic administration had “rarely patted the Hungarian government on the back”, and whether he expected any change in this, he replied that he envisages a 180-degree turnaround.

“The world will be a better place with the new American president – there is a serious chance of this”, Mr. Orbán declared, adding that “We have crossed the threshold into a new era”. Brexit was “the knock on the door, but now we have crossed the threshold” and “reality has won”, he said.

With regard to the political path Donald Trump is expected to pursue, the Prime Minister pointed out that the campaign and administration are two different things. “Hungary has an interest in a rational, composed and thoroughly-considered American foreign policy”, he added.

Replying to a comment about the fact that during his campaign Donald Trump said that he does not support the TTIP free trade agreement in its current form, Mr. Orbán said: “Neither do we – so this is something we agree on”.

The Prime Minister noted that European security will also be different in future, and “we will have to put more effort into protecting our own security”, because the newly-elected US president has made it clear that “he isn’t prepared to continue footing the bill to the extent that America has done so far”. Mr. Orbán explained that “It will also benefit us to take security more seriously, instead of seeing it as something which someone else from outside the continent guarantees with a huge American military, and we too must take action to assure European security”.

Talking about developments in US-Russian relations, Mr. Orbán said that he feels it is more difficult than many analysts seem to suggest. He said he thinks that describing the leaders of the world’s major powers as being members of a “testosterone club” is rather shallow. “Today there are difficult issues causing tensions between Russia and the West, but this situation can be improved; it is also in Hungary’s interests that the parties reject the current atmosphere of conflict, and return to the culture of peace and cooperation – but this is not something which can be achieved overnight”, he explained.

Brexit is a loss for Hungary

On the subject of his visit to the United Kingdom on Wednesday, and his meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May, Mr. Orbán said that “At the meeting we also discussed European migration policies, and the British agree that illegally crossing a state border is a crime”.

“Brexit, Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union, is a loss for Hungary, because the two nations have a very similar standpoint on most issues”, he added.

“With regard to Hungarians working in the United Kingdom, there was agreement that in future their situation must not deteriorate, providing that the same is true for British people working in Hungary”, he commented. He added that it was very easy for him to promise the latter, because the Hungarian government has no interest in worsening the situation of British people living here. “The debate is about whether people who want to go to England in the future can or cannot go”, he noted.

The Prime Minister also said that he always refers to Hungarians working abroad in the highest terms, because he has respect for someone taking the plunge and setting out to build a new life in a foreign land. He also highlighted the fact that every year Hungarians working abroad send home around one thousand billion forints, meaning that “they play a very important role in maintaining the Hungarian economy”.

“Everyone must decide for themselves when the time has come to continue life back home. The Government’s duty is to make Hungary an attractive place which provides a dependable living”, he declared.

The opposition has defected to the side of Brussels

“The opposition has defected to the side of Brussels”: this was Viktor Orbán’s reaction to the fact that the opposition parties did not give parliamentary support for the recent Bill on constitutional amendment.

“Over the coming weeks and months, in its battle in the European arena to stop immigration, the Government will only be able to count on the Fidesz-KDNP alliance; in this battle we cannot count on the opposition”, the Prime Minister said.

“Now that Jobbik’s former radicals have become such a collection of spoiled brats, they have clearly deserted to the side of Brussels and […] in Hungarian politics they are not representing the interests of the Hungarian people, but those of Brussels”, he said. He added that, despite this, the task must be completed, and immigration must be stopped.

In reply to a question on whether this means that there are no further plans for a constitutional amendment, Mr. Orbán replied that the battlefield is in Brussels: “at home we have done everything possible, so our conscience is clear”. Hungary held a national consultation, organised a referendum and then proposed a constitutional amendment, he said, but did not manage to attain it, because “the opposition defected to the side of Brussels”.

Hungary must now interpret the current text of the Constitution, which “is not clear with regard to migration”; and with that in its knapsack, it must fight its battle in Brussels, Mr. Orbán said. He mentioned that there will be a summit of EU prime ministers in Brussels on 15-16 December, and in the coming years the European Union’s attitude to immigration may be decided there.

The Prime Minister said that he regards the issue of migration as the most important issue in life today, and he expects this to remain the case for many years to come. Accordingly, politics must also treat this as the most important issue, which must be separated from the logic of party politics and placed before all other issues. However, he said, in his opinion “the opposition parties have been incapable of rising to the challenge”, because they think that anything which is bad for the Government is good for them.

The immigration treaty between the EU and Turkey was also mentioned during the radio interview, and on this the Prime Minister said that Hungary is according Turkey due respect, regarding the internal system of Turkish politics as something which is exclusively the business of the Turkish people: “they will decide what they want”. Hungary’s standpoint is that Turkey should remain a stable country, because the alternative “could pose a serious threat to us”, he said. Accordingly, “we must support those political forces in Turkey which are establishing order, peace, dependability and stability”, he declared.

Prime Minister Orbán said that Europe must strive “to make sure that we are still capable of protecting our own countries”, regardless of whether Turkey upholds the agreement or not.