In his press conference the Prime Minister stressed that if a European army is eventually formed, today’s summit will be written into the history books as its moment of conception.
He said that strengthening the EU’s defence is important, as military strength can underpin the continent’s economic and political strength, and it would bring about consistency and a rationality in military procurement, according to the principle of balance.
Mr. Orbán said that on this occasion also the European Council meeting was dominated by the agenda item related to migration, but the participants focused on cooperation rather than disagreement.
He said that this time there was no discussion of issues on which agreement is almost unimaginable, for example “what we should do with migrants who have been allowed entry for no good reason”.
The Hungarian government regards the issue of refugee quotas as a question of identity
Unlike some states, the Prime Minister said, Hungary does not consider the distribution of migrants who have entered the European Union as a technical matter expressing solidarity, but as an issue of identity. In this connection he stated that it is out of the question for anyone else to determine who Hungarians should live alongside – in other words, the identity of Hungary.
“We won’t conceal the fact that we have no intention whatsoever of changing our identity”, he said, adding that “We understand that this change has already happened in a number of countries […] but we have the right to act otherwise”. He stated that “We are ready to provide help locally, to build fences, and to protect the heartlands of the European Union; we are prepared to do a great many things, but not to change our identity”.
Regarding the expected ruling on the Hungarian and Slovak petition against the EU refugee quotas, the Prime Minister emphatically asserted that even a verdict against the Government’s position would not force it to acquiesce.
“We shall find a way of achieving our goal”, he declared.
Mr. Orbán said that at the meeting the primary focus was on the external aspects of the migration crisis. There was agreement that the EU’s external borders must be protected, that illegal immigration must be stopped, and that Member States must cooperate with countries of origin and of transit.
Friendship with Emmanuel Macron began on a “man-to-man” basis
In reply to a question, the Prime Minister said that his friendship with the new French president Emmanuel Macron had begun on a “man-to-man” basis, and they agreed that the basis of their cooperation should be mutual respect. Mr. Macron had earlier criticised the Central European countries – and implicitly Hungary – for not complying with EU regulations. In response to this, on Thursday Mr. Orbán had said that the new president’s entry on the scene was “not too promising […] This is not how we do things around here, but he too will learn the ropes eventually”.
The Prime Minister said that at the Friday morning meeting between the leaders of the Visegrád countries and Mr. Macron, there was identification of the matters on which pragmatic cooperation between the parties could be established.
He added that in the meeting the French president made it clear that he considered it desirable to increase the effectiveness of the European Union, and he would do everything possible to ensure this. In this regard the Prime Minister said that major efforts at reforming the EU can be expected after the election in Germany in the autumn.
Issues related to posted workers can be resolved
The Prime Minister was also asked about the debate concerning the legal status of posted workers. He replied that the distance between the opposing positions is not insurmountable. He said that this was also discussed with President Macron, with whom it was agreed that over the next few months their respective specialist advisors will work hard to reach an agreement.
“Hungary will do everything in order to protect the interests of Hungarian workers”, he said.
At the end of the press conference, Bertalan Havasi, head of the Prime Minister’s Press Office, told the press that the Prime Minister would attend the official swearing-in ceremony for Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić in Belgrade on Friday evening.