With the EU on the verge of flushing Schengen, Viktor Orbán smells gunpowder

December 4, 2015

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Prime Minister Viktor Orbán delivered his weekly radio address today. He announced that Visegrad 4 (V4) countries of Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary met up in Prague yesterday to start a club called “Friends of Schengen” to ensure the Central Europeans are not locked out of the passport-free Schengen zone. The V4 countries hope other countries will join their club because Schengen is very important to them. He also said Western European leaders are crazy, Brussels is crazy, everyone is jealous that Hungary was able to defend Europe’s borders, Hungary will fight against the mandatory quota in EU courts, and stupid people cannot solve problems.

EU member states are meeting to discuss the future of Schengen

“It’s true, there’s gunpowder in the air,” Orbán said. “There are indeed countries which came to the conclusion during the refugee crisis and modern mass migration that the European Union’s area designated for freedom of movement needs to be narrowed down. These countries are trying to defend themselves from their own poor immigration policies by reinstating the protection of borders between countries which are not considered external borders of Europe.

“So what we’re talking about is several countries – we don’t know the precise number, but it can be six or seven, but primarily the founders [of the European Union] – want those Central European countries through which the migrants entered the European Union separated from them.

“That’s why Hungary has always said that if we want to protect the rights of Hungarians to travel, work and trade without having to get stuck at border controls inside the European Union, then we Hungarians have to protect – in accordance with our responsibilities – the European Union’s outside border. That is, the Hungary-Serbia and Hungary-Croatia borders. And we’ve done that, we’ve defended it. So any arrangement is completely unacceptable from the Hungarian point of view, which seeks to toss the Hungarians out of having the opportunity to move freely. We were the only ones out of all of the Schengen member states who really did protect Schengen.

“There’s always been a style of thinking in the European Union which says that things would be a lot better if there were fewer member states. This is a kind of ‘sweeping under the rug’ style of thinking. Whenever there’s a crisis, like the financial crisis or the migrant crisis, then these voices come out from under the rug. We alone can’t provide a good answer for this, and that’s why we decided yesterday in Prague, together with the Czechs, Poles and Slovaks, to organize and stand up together to protect our own freedom of movement. We founded a group called the “Friends of Schengen”. So far, there’s only four of us. Our ambassadors and ministers are working on this. We’re going to be calling on European Union member states to join our group. The purpose of the group is to defend the freedom of movement within the Schengen border and to protect Schengen’s external border.”

Hungary’s lawsuit against the quota system

Orbán says the European courts are “independent” but “[Hungary’s] problem is that the [European courts] see the world differently. They belong to part of Europe which represents the life that transcends the nation-state and we are below them because we live the lives of nation-states.

“The lawsuit isn’t symbolic,” says Orbán. The prime minister believes the Hungarian government’s position has standing in the court.

“We want to invalidate the decision made by the European Council, the European Commission, because our lawyers say the decision goes against foundations of the European Union treaty and European laws.

“My advice to the Hungarians is that we stick to our position. Our position is that nobody can tell the Hungarians, or any other European nation, who we should have to live with. We are the only ones who can make that decision: the Hungarian parliament, the Hungarian government, Hungarian municipalities, and those who have the legal authority to make that decision. This is something that needs to be decided by us. They can’t tell us in Brussels who we have to live with. Brussels has absolutely no authority to forcefully settle people here, people we don’t even want to live with. Whether [Hungarians] make a good or bad decision, whether our decision stands up morally, whether it’s professional, whether it’s a wise decision — all of this is the responsibility of the Hungarians to work out. But we won’t accept outside pressure.”

How to deal with the refugee crisis

Orbán says the world needs to stabilize the region from which the refugees have come so that they can go back and rebuild their country.

“Everyone has the right to live their lives in the place they were born. This is why the Syrian conflict needs to be resolved and then everyone who came [to Europe] from that region needs to be sent back there. They need to be offered the opportunity to go back, and, in my opinion, they need to be legally required to go back to start rebuilding the world from which they came.”

The EU’s agreement with Turkey

Orbán says the EU summit with Turkey was all about European superpowers trying to come to an agreement with Turkey because they felt too weak to protect their own interests.

“Now, they’re trying to get the Turks to protect Europe and the interests of the European superpowers. From our point of view, this is flawed logic. I even said this at the European Council summit. We [Hungarians] support the agreement with the Turks but we have a precondition. We can’t show up at the Turks’ doorstep as beggars. We can’t beg for security. We can’t buy security. We have to show ourselves, our citizens and the Turks that we ourselves are capable of dealing with the refugee or migrant crisis.

“Those who aren’t capable of defending themselves put themselves at the mercy of others, even at the negotiating table,” Orbán said.

“That’s why we [Hungarians] recommended that we first need to protect our outside borders, let’s prove that we can stop the mass migration, and only after that should we negotiate with the Turks. This was the Hungarian proposal. The superpowers dismissed this. The superpowers said that an agreement needs to be reached as soon as possible and at any cost. That’s why they went for this agreement. We, because we’re a smaller country, could have vetoed the decision, but I didn’t think it would be wise – from the perspective of the Hungarian people and Europe – if Hungary would veto the superpowers when they all agreed they wanted an agreement.

“I recommended [Europe be able to protect itself] because it comes down a question of will. It’s not true that Europe can’t protect itself from the mass migration. The Hungarian example, the Hungarian border fence construction, the Central European collaboration – the Czechs, Slovaks and Poles together, and the cooperation with the Slovenes shows that if there is will, then there is a way.  The problem is that there is no will. Instead of trying to develop our own will, we are trying to come to an agreement with the Turks. I think this puts Europe in a bad position, but that doesn’t matter any more. This is the road we’ve chosen and let’s cheer on the superpowers and hope their calculations are right and provide a solution.”

Orbán is against what he says is the “superpowers’” intention to enter into an agreement with Turkey which would result in Turkey sending more refugees to the EU, which, in turn, the EU would want to impose onto EU member states, presumably through the quota system.

Orbán thinks Western Europe’s leaders are crazy

“We have to believe what they say. The situation today is that when we hear them, the leaders of Western European superpowers, when they are talking about letting in the refugees, that immigration is a good thing, that it will fix Germany, then we think they are up to some political manoeuvring, because we think they have the same opinion we have – that immigration is a bad thing, that it needs to be stopped, that it brings with it the risk of terrorism, it comprises our security, it changes our culture. We [Hungarians] think this is something that is obvious to them too, but that for some secret reason they aren’t saying this. I think we are seeing this all wrong. We need to believe them when they say what they say. They really do believe what they’re saying. They actually believe that European life will be happier, brighter and more desirable if we let these people in by the millions….I think this is absolutely crazy, but they actually believe this.”

Commission approves petition against Hungarian government

“It’s retaliation. What this is about is that the way we Hungarians and Central Europeans managed the crisis is successful. Furthermore, it turns out the people living in the Western European countries prefer our type of solution. They support this kind of solution. There are leaders in Europe, business circles, human rights activists, who are fussy toward the Hungarians because we proved their ideology to be wrong. The Hungarians were able to prove that the continent could be defended democratically and in a way that aligns with the wishes of European people. Now, these people are retaliating against us. There’s nothing new about this….Let’s not forget that there are two competing ideas here. There’s George Soros, his foundations and its activists, the vast majority of European bureaucrats in Brussels, and a good number of European leaders – especially those on the left and those in the left-liberal world – who believe that the nation-states represent the bad in Europe. They believe nations are bad things. They believe that nations started the world wars, that nations start conflicts. They believe that if nations didn’t exist in Europe, then life here would be happier. We are the ones who are opposed to this. We say that without nations there is no Europe because the nations give a purpose to Europe. We want to strengthen the nations, while they want to make nations insignificant. They want nations to disappear. In their heads, the European Union should be used to supercede the nations. In our heads, the European Union exists to strengthen the nations. These are the two competing ideologies. On the other side, they have big money and big power, they are sitting in Brussels, and they have a broad network of activists.”

But if all of this is obvious then why does the Hungarian government need propaganda?

The Kossuth Radio host asked Orbán why the “information campaign”, or propaganda campaign, is necessary if all of what Orbán says is so obvious.

“These issues have a lot of moving parts. There are new developments every day. The reason I am paid and the reason why I was hired by the Hungarian citizens is so that I can deal with these questions all day and all night. And it’s not easy for me to work this out either. When I think about how Hungarians are supposed to deal with the waves of news falling on them and how they have to put it all together in a logical manner to understand it better, then I think that they aren’t in an easy situation. The job of the government is to put the important information together for the people and inform them of what the situation is, what the important issues are, where the battles are being fought, which issues were we able to deal with, which questions still need answers, and, if the people have opinions, we need to give them an opportunity to voice those opinions.”

Providing high quality education a big challenge in the coming decades

“Satisfied isn’t a word that exists in my dictionary,” Orbán says.

“What I see is that following the First World War we lost all those lands that were home to our natural resources, except our agricultural lands. We lost our mines, our energy resources, and our raw materials. We were left with what we have now. Our only fortune is that the Hungarians are a brainy nation. We have fast minds. Some would say that this is true for all nations, but it isn’t. We’re a brainy nation and we’re capable of turning nothing into something. That’s why I’m a believer in creating a work-based society and that’s why I believe in connecting our intellectual knowledge with the economy. We have the opportunity to do this. Hungary is a successful nation. If you look at the world’s 200 countries, then we’re somewhere between 45th and 50th place in the rankings. This means that there are at least 150 countries that are doing worse than us. And our history hasn’t been easy at all, it’s pulled us down instead of helping us. This shows well that our work and intellectual performance is enough to give us a good life, a happy life, a balanced life. This is enough to bring us a good quality life. This is what we’re working on. But the precondition for this is that the education and science be connected to the economy, that is, that education and science turn into economic power. If we continue with what we’ve been doing, that is, that international tests show that Hungarian young people perform worse than the generations before them, if we see that the academic performance, comprehension, problem-solving, isn’t improving but getting worse, then there’s a problem. It’s not only irresponsible of us towards our children, it’s also bad for the future of the economy because you can’t solve problems with stupid people, unskilled people, or people incapable of thinking well….The key to Hungary’s economic success is to provide high quality education for our kids, but that education needs to reflect real life and be able to connect to the economy. I’m not saying that everything is bad because I don’t want to fall onto the other side of the horse, but I can’t say that everything is good. In fact, there are alarming signs. That’s why I think that this will be a big challenge in the coming decades.”