At a plenary session of the European Parliament on Tuesday, during the debate on the so-called “Sargentini Report” on the state of the rule of law in Hungary, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán told MEPs that “you want to denounce Hungary because the Hungarian people have decided that our homeland will not become an immigrant country.”
“I reject the threats, the blackmail, the slander and fraudulent accusations levelled against Hungary and the Hungarian people by the European Parliament’s pro-immigration and pro-migrant forces ”, he declared.
“Every nation and Member State has the right to decide on how to organise its life in its own country,” he said, adding: “We shall defend our borders, and we alone shall decide who we want to live with. We have built a fence and have stopped the entry of hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants; we have defended Hungary, and we have defended Europe. Today, for the first time in the history of the European Union, we see a community denouncing its own border guards.”
The Prime Minister vowed that “Hungary shall not bow to blackmail: Hungary shall continue to defend its borders, stop illegal immigration and defend its rights – against you, too, if necessary.”
“We Hungarians stand ready for the elections next May, when the people will finally have the chance to decide the future of Europe”, Mr. Orbán emphasised.
“I stand here now and defend my homeland, because to Hungarians freedom, democracy, independence and Europe are matters of honour,” he declared, adding that “This is why I say that the report before you is an affront to the honour of Hungary and the Hungarian people.”
Mr. Orbán reminded the Parliament that Hungary’s decisions are made by the voters in parliamentary elections, and: “What you are claiming is no less than saying that the Hungarian people are not sufficiently capable of being trusted to judge what is in their own interests. You think that you know the needs of the Hungarian people better than the Hungarian people themselves.”
The report does not show respect for the Hungarian people
He noted that the report does not show respect for the Hungarian people, that it applies double standards, is an abuse of power, oversteps the limits on spheres of competence, and the method of its adoption is a treaty violation.
“To us in Hungary, democracy and freedom are not political questions, but moral questions. You now seek to pass moral judgement and stigmatise a country and a people on the basis of a numerical majority. You are assuming a grave responsibility when – for the first time in the history of the European Union – you seek to exclude a people from decision-making in Europe.”
The Prime Minister said that there are – and will continue to be – disputes: on Europe’s Christian character, and the role of nations and national cultures; on the essence and mission of the family; and “we have diametrically opposed views on migration”. He stated, however, that differences cannot be cause for the stigmatisation of any country, or for excluding it from the opportunity of engaging in joint decision-making.
The Prime Minister added that “We would never sink so low as to silence those with whom we disagree.”
The Prime Minister noted that the European Parliament wants to exclude a country that also made clear decisions at previous European Parliament elections. He observed that in 2009 a 56 per cent majority voted for the Government, and in 2014 that majority was 52 per cent, adding that “We are the most successful party in the European Parliament”.
He continued by saying that “Our socialist and liberal opponents are understandably unhappy with our success, but to take revenge on the Hungarians for not voting for them is unfair and un-European.”
In his opinion, the Sargentini Report was written by people who are not even aware of the basic facts: “The report admits that it failed to send a delegation to Hungary, meaning you will be voting without there having been an adequate examination of the facts [and it] includes thirty-seven major factual errors.”
According to the Prime Minister, “Our union is held together by the fact that disputes are resolved within a regulated framework. On behalf of Hungary I, too, have made compromises and concluded agreements with the Commission on the Media Act, on the justice system, and even on certain passages in the Constitution. This report disregards agreements that were concluded years ago. But if you are free to do this and can disregard agreements at will, then what is the point of coming to an agreement with any European institution in the first place? What you are doing strikes a blow against both the European Union and the principle of constructive dialogue.”
The Prime Minister said that in his opinion MEPs had already formed their opinions – with the majority probably voting in favour of the report – and so his speech would not sway them.
Mr. Orbán said that still he went to Strasbourg, because “you are not about to denounce a government, but a country and a people. You will denounce the Hungary which has been a member of the family of Europe’s Christian peoples for a thousand years; the Hungary which has contributed to the history of our great continent of Europe with its work and – when needed – with its blood. You will denounce the Hungary which rose and took up arms against the world’s largest army, against the Soviets, which made the highest sacrifice for freedom and democracy, and – when it was needed – opened its borders to its East German brothers and sisters in distress.”
Hungary has fought for its freedom and democracy, he said, while those who are now accusing Hungary “inherited” democracy and did not have to assume any kind of personal risk to attain freedom. Yet now, the Hungarian prime minister stated, these are the people who want to denounce “the anti-communist Hungarian freedom fighters of Hungary’s democratic resistance.”
(MTI, photo: Balázs Szecsődi)