Orban: ‘We were an inch away from quitting EPP’

Hungary’s ruling Fidesz party was “an inch away” from leaving the European People’s Party (EPP) on Thursday, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said in a radio interview.

Referring to the European Parliament resolution on the rule of law in Hungary and Poland and broad EPP support for it, Orban said the reason why Fidesz was so close to quitting was that the majority of the party family “betrayed us”. He said the French, Spanish and Italian MEPs in the EPP were “clearly on our side”, and in the debate they argued that the party family should stand up for Hungary.

Given this backing, the prime minister said there was hope for a change in the EPP. “Hope is dwindling but it’s still there. Otherwise we would not be members this morning,” he said, adding that he would meet the Austrian and German chancellors, as well as EPP leader Donald Tusk before making a decision. At the same time, this situation cannot remain as it is, he added. If the EPP does not stick up for Hungary, “we’ll have to launch a new European Christian-Democratic movement”. “We will have allies,” Orban said.

Orban said the outcome of the vote in Strasbourg had been unsurprising as the majority in favour of censuring Hungary were from the EP’s pro-migration wing. He added that the “Soros network” of groups allied to US financier George Soros was “very active in the EP and European politics”. He called Soros “the world’s number one oligarch” who “influences European political life via a mafia-like network.”

On the topic of the new Austrian government, Orban said that before the collapse of the first coalition government headed by Sebastian Kurz, he had anticipated a future in which parties to his right would work together on a Christian basis and that Austria would be quick to join such an initiative. But after the Austrian election, Kurz’s center-right party allied with the greens, reflecting two major challenges the world faces: migration and climate change.

Orban said that from Hungary’s point of view, it was positive that Austria’s hardline stance on migration and border protection would not change. Further, Kurz wants to boost competitiveness, which dovetails with the aspirations of the Visegrad Group. But, he added, Austrians are anti-nuclear, and this carries with it implications for Hungary due to its investment in the Paks nuclear power plant. Kurz signalled that this area would be a sticking point in the coming years, Orban said.

Meanwhile, on the subject of lawsuits launched by prisoners dissatisfied with prison conditions, Orban said they were being spearheaded by “clever, well-known groups of lawyers” who were taking advantage of “loose and absurd” European definitions of torture. He accused such lawyers of stiffing the state of billions of forints. He cited the example of a 33-year-old man who had received 8 million forints in compensation after spending eight and a half years as an inmate. The prime minister said this was an abuse of rights, so payments will be suspended and the government will submit a change of rules to parliament.

On the subject of school segregation of Roma children in Gyongyospata, Orban said: “Hungarians are not racist; they do not reject Gypsies by default.” But Hungarians “will never accept giving money for nothing.” Orban said the courts had delivered an “unfortunate ruling”, and he accused the litigators of being funded by “Soros organisations”. He called the case “a provocation” that harmed policymaking aimed at improving the situation of Gypsy-Hungarian cohabitation and lifting Gypsies out of poverty.

Source and photo: MTI

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