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We need a strong EU

In his statement, which he made in the company of the prime ministers of Ukraine and the other three V4 nations (the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia), Mr. Orbán said that while today the EU is rich, it is also weak – and this is the worst possible combination. This is what “has brought all the troubles upon us” – such as migration, which is a process that is happening in an uncontrolled manner.

We must put an end to this, he said: we are Christian countries and we know what moral imperatives spring from our principles, but help must be taken to where it is needed, rather than bringing the problems here. He added that defence initiatives against uncontrolled migration must be taken as far south as possible, and that Bulgaria must therefore be given help.

Fotó: Szecsődi Balázs
Photo: Balázs Szecsődi

Speaking after the meeting of prime ministers, Mr. Orbán said that when Ukraine decided to change its history and follow a new direction, all the voices coming from the EU were voices of encouragement and support. The country received a promise that the Member States of the EU were ready to gradually integrate Ukraine as a Central European country into the natural community in which it belongs: the EU. But over the past two years, he said, no progress has been made whatsoever – and whatever has happened should not have happened. This was a reference to the referendum in the Netherlands, which rejected the Association Agreement between the European Union and Ukraine.

In Mr. Orbán’s opinion, the situation is extremely difficult: the EU is struggling with its own internal problems, Europe is in a state of torpor as far as enlargement is concerned, and the number of EU countries which continue to support Ukraine’s accession aspirations is diminishing. The members of the V4, however, have remained friends of Ukraine, as countries which support its integration into the EU within the shortest possible time, he said. He added that the EU’s difficulties are no reason for not granting Ukrainian citizens visa-free travel. The EU must keep its promise on this matter, and the V4 are committed to this.

The Prime Minister said that the consultation the leaders engaged in was successful in preparing for the summit being held in Bratislava. The members of the V4 agree that Brexit is an enormous opportunity: it is a chance to face up to our mistakes and weaknesses, and at the same time it also highlights the pressing need to correct those mistakes, Mr. Orbán explained.

Summarising the meeting, Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydło pointed out that the Visegrád 4 is the European Union’s most dynamically developing group, and one which is capable of determining the future of Europe. She said that the countries of the V4 are convinced that, after the British referendum in June which decided in favour of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union, it is possible and necessary to implement reforms which serve to improve the EU’s external position and competitiveness on the world market.

Fotó: Szecsődi Balázs
Photo: Balázs Szecsődi

 

The Polish prime minister said that the V4 nations have specific proposals on the content of the reforms, one of which is that “the European Commission should not concern itself with politics, but with the implementation of specific drafts and plans”.

Slovak prime minister Robert Fico said that at the informal summit in Bratislava in September it will be necessary to determine where the European Union now stands, and the community’s health problems must be diagnosed. On behalf of Slovakia, which currently holds the Presidency of the European Union, Mr. Fico said that the Bratislava summit of the European Council will be successful “if we have the courage to answer the question of where the EU stands after Brexit, and to diagnose its health problems”, and if solutions are conceived which “lead to its recovery”.

He pointed out that the V4 wants to shape the EU’s policy proactively, as it is composed of states which “are successful countries within the EU, and which do not want to be mere passive observers” of the processes that are taking place within the organisation.

At the press conference Czech prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka said that a joint European army would help with the management of international crises, including the protection of the borders. In Mr. Sobotka’s opinion the European Union should concentrate on changes which “the inhabitants of Europe can actually perceive”, such as the preservation of security and the improvement of living standards.

He said that the Visegrád 4 has a vested interest in “taking a coordinated stance” at the informal summit of the European Council being held in Bratislava on 16 September.