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Interview with Prime Minister Viktor Orbán on Transylvanian Hungarian Television

Orsolya Jakab: I welcome Viktor Orbán, Prime Minister of Hungary. Prime Minister, “a strong Europe, a developing Transylvania”. Europe is on the threshold of changes and sweeping reforms are required. So my first question is what you think the chances are of the framework legislation protecting autochthonous minorities becoming part of that reform process, and being adopted.

We can indeed expect major changes in European politics. I think that Hungarians living in Transylvania, Hungarians living in Romania can benefit from these changes, just as Hungarians in Hungary can. I believe that the chances of this are good. It won’t happen tomorrow morning, but we can expect major changes in legislation related to autochthonous minorities, in the attention they receive, and in the quality of the policy supporting them. The collection of signatures was very successful, and I believe that the RMDSZ put up an excellent fight. Hungarians beyond the borders really gave their all for this cause, and it’s absolutely clear that legislation in Europe relating to autochthonous minorities must change for the better. The second important thing is what life will bring economically: I believe that in the period ahead of us those living in Hungary and in Romania – both Romanians and Hungarians – will be winners. Unless Brussels wrecks economic policy – and now we want good candidates to prevent that from happening – in the coming period both Hungary and Romania will develop well. This also assumes, of course, that we in Bucharest and Budapest don’t wreck things. But why would we? The third important change is the issue of immigration: let’s not forget that we are on the borderlands of the European continent; on their way into Europe immigrants from the Muslim world could cross both Romania and Hungary. So far the Romanian authorities have mounted a strong defence of the borders, and they’ve managed to curb the threat posed by mass population movement. I must say that in general the Orthodox Christian world takes a very clear and straightforward stance on every form of movement against Christian culture, and stands up very firmly for Christian Europe. This is good for Romania, and also good for Hungary. I believe that our voice will become louder. So in summary, I expect a promising four or five years for Romanians, Hungarians in Romania, and Hungarians in Hungary.

There will be elections to the European Parliament on 26 May. In these elections what is at stake for Hungary, and what do you think is at stake for Hungarians in Transylvania?

We – Romanians and Hungarians – decided to become part of the European Union. I don’t think any of us believe that it is the European Union that gives meaning to our lives. We – both Romanians and Hungarians – think that we have national goals, and that we are able to achieve our national goals better within the European Union than if we had we decided to remain outside. But we Romanians and Hungarians want to see our own lives improve, and the European Union can be a good vehicle for achieving this. I think that this is the case; but for this we must obtain more influence. The purpose, the meaning and what is at stake in the upcoming elections is whether or not the influence within European decision-making of the Central Europeans – including Romania – will increase. In the areas of the economy, culture, science or research, will we be able to more effectively represent our viewpoints than we have done so far? I think that we have a good chance of doing so; but for this to happen we need the support of our own voters. So there is significance in the turnout at the elections in both Romania and Hungary. The turnout among Hungarians in Romania is of particularly significance for the Hungarian minority living in Romania. So I’d like to encourage everyone in Hungary and Romania – Romanians and Hungarians alike – to vote and produce the largest possible turnout; because by doing this they will lend weight to the influence of Central European heads of state and government in their discussions in Brussels.

On Election Day in Romania there will also be a referendum, and so there’s a great likelihood of a very high turnout among Romanian citizens. Why do you think it is important that we Hungarians in Transylvania also vote in very large numbers?

When I read that there will also be a referendum, I realised it was a clever strategy: a person from Budapest would just say that this is a shrewd move. It’s a good way of increasing voter turnout. As voters will not only be deciding on the EU, but also on a domestic political issue, I think that in Romania now there is a good chance of a higher turnout; and as a result Romania will gain more influence in European decision-making. Looking at it professionally – if I can put it like that – this is a splendid idea from Romanian politicians for increasing voter participation. The question is whether the Hungarians who live here are prepared for this: this also presents us with a task. If Hungarians living in Romania don’t want the strength and influence of their voice to decrease, then their turnout in the elections to the European Parliament must be at least as high in percentage terms as that of Romanians. Otherwise in terms of representation the relative Romanian to Hungarian ratio will change. I think that in recent years the RMDSZ has worked well in order to send representatives to the European Parliament, and this is an important aim; and if we want to be represented and want politicians on the RMDSZ list to do so in Brussels, then we must go to the polls and vote for them. So without interfering in Romanian domestic politics, I’d like to encourage every Hungarian to vote in the election. This is important from a Hungarian point of view: important both from the viewpoint of Central Europe and of Hungary. Go to your local polling station and cast your vote for the Hungarian candidates, so that after many long decades – after more than a century – Hungarians in Transylvania and Hungarians in Hungary can have joint Hungarian representation once more and have a common voice and joint representation somewhere in the world, in the European Parliament. This is a historic opportunity: let’s not see it slip away!

Thank you very much.