At a joint press conference held with Mr. Salvini – who is also head of the Italian government party Lega – Mr. Orbán said they both believe the following: that there will be no strong Europe without strong and successful nation states; that on the continent priority must be given to European culture based on Christian values; and that “Europe’s borders must be defended against the migrant invasion”.
Speaking about Italy’s response to migration, the Prime Minister praised Mr. Salvini for “his efforts in achieving on the sea what we have done on land”. He said that the success of these efforts is of crucial importance.
The Prime Minister described Matteo Salvini’s visit to Budapest as an honour, adding that cooperation between the governments of the two countries has reached its highest point so far. He said that “the citizens of Europe will benefit from listening to Italy and Hungary rather than President Macron.”
He said that at the village of Röszke on Thursday morning he had shown the Deputy Prime Minister of Italy the Hungarian border fence. In relation to this, he told Mr. Salvini that the defence of its borders has so far cost Hungary more than one billion euros, but Brussels has not relieved Hungary of any part of this burden.
The Prime Minister also outlined the Hungarian proposal for the establishment of a new body comprising the interior ministers of the Schengen Area countries. He stated that powers related to migration should be taken away from the European Commission and delegated to such a body.
Mr. Orbán was asked several questions about interparty cooperation, replying to which he said that Europe will be led either by pro-immigration or anti-immigration forces. He observed that in the European People’s Party (EPP) there are both pro-immigration and anti-immigration forces: the left of the EPP is solely composed of pro-immigration forces, while to the right of the EPP there are only anti-immigration forces. He indicated that Fidesz would like the EPP to cooperate with anti-immigration forces, but that in the EPP party family this is a minority view.
On the question of whether Fidesz will remain a member of the EPP, the Prime Minister said that this depends on the party grouping’s future direction: if the EPP “ties itself” to the Left –which has a vision for Europe which is harmful, and which is continuously losing people’s support – then it will be difficult for Fidesz to find a place in such cooperation. He urged the EPP to be open to cooperation with parties to the right of it, including Lega. He stressed that Europe needs an alliance of anti-immigration political forces.
He added that “we’re tired of parties with support so small it can be barely seen with the naked eye lecturing parties in other countries which have significant electoral support”. He noted that this is exactly what has happened to Fidesz in the EPP, and that in the Netherlands, for instance, the party of the Socialists’ Spitzenkandidat Frans Timmermans “has effectively ceased to exist as a serious party”. He stressed that positions in European institutions are not “beds in hospices” for politicians who have failed in their own countries.
Asked whether Fidesz will join the “Salvini alliance”, the Prime Minister said that Hungarians themselves will choose what form of cooperation to take part in. In response to a German statement criticising Mr. Salvini’s visit to Budapest on Thursday, he said that this was a meeting between the Prime Minister of Hungary and the Deputy Prime Minister of Italy, and therefore “we expect more respect”.
“We shall seek conspicuous, avowed and open cooperation with Federal Secretary Salvini”, he said, adding that before the European Parliament elections he cannot answer questions on the precise form of cooperation between Fidesz and Lega.
Mr. Orbán said that he wants to cooperate with vigorous and ambitious people in Europe who want to take action, “instead of the Brussels bubble” which has lost contact with real life.
He also highlighted four problems which he said can only be resolved with a new European leadership: Europe is not defending itself; it does not respect the Member States; the incumbent leadership is not listening to the people; and Europe’s economic performance is continuously declining. He said that he agrees with Mr Salvini that a new chapter must be opened in Europe.
In answer to a question on illiberal democracy, he said that liberals claim that people who are not liberal are therefore not democrats. In Hungary, he said, “we have had enough” of an equivalence being drawn between democracy and liberalism, adding that the Hungarian government describes its politics with the term “Christian democracy”.
Regarding the issue of solidarity, he confirmed his position that help must be taken to where there are problems, rather than bringing the problems here.
Responding to another question, he urged the Italian government to create a tax system incentivising businesses which both leaves more money with individuals and contributes more to the central budget.