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26th Sep 2020

Orban: EU needs 'strong' leaders, not institutions

  • Orban: 'Personal leadership isn’t respected in Europe' (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

Viktor Orban, the Hungarian PM, has said only “strong” leaders, not institutions, can create stability in Europe.

Speaking at Globsec, a security event in Bratislava, on Friday (19 June), he said: “We were educated, over the past one or two decades, that leadership means institutions … that the job of a leader is to manage the work of institutions”.

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“But when you’re in trouble … you need personal leadership, and personal leadership isn’t respected in Europe. It’s rather considered as a danger”.

He added that Europe’s big challenges - the Greece crisis, migration, Russia - need “strong leadership, even a personal one, and this leadership should be stable. Stability of leadership is the key to financial stability in Europe in future”.

His remarks come amid increasing EU concern over his authoritarian style.

In five years in power, he has extended political control over Hungarian courts, clamped down on NGOs, and tried to gag free media.

He has also voiced disregard for EU institutions and laws.

He recently told the European Parliament and the centre-right EPP group that EU treaties shouldn’t stop him from imposing the death penalty.

His rejection of European Commission ideas on migrants is linked to his views on leadership.

Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland, and Slovakia, in the margins of Globsec, signed a memo saying No to Commission proposals on asylum-seeker quotas.

They said one reason is because the Commission went against EU leaders, who decided, in April, on a voluntary scheme.

Meanwhile, Orban made light of Commission criticism of his anti-migrant fence.

He said national leaders, not EU institutions, are responsible for borders.

“Borders must be secure. They must be defended by the state. Full stop”, he noted.

“You can’t wait for a European solution … maybe they [EU institutions] will send you some money one day, maybe not. I don’t believe in a European solution”.

He added that foreigners are a threat to Hungary's identity.

“Big countries don’t understand us because they don’t have this feeling of danger. If you have 60 or 80 million people, instead of 10 million, there’s no danger, but for us it [migration] means there’s no more Hungarian world”, he said.

“We have a situation in which we’re saying: ‘Would the last Hungarian please switch off the light’.”

Referring to his country's ageing population, he said he wants a “biological” solution - for Hungarian couples to “have more kids” -- instead of migrant workers.

He defended his own record by noting the Hungarian economy grew more than three percent last year.

He said he did it by cutting welfare, but also by relaxing taxes, such as corporate tax and inheritance tax.

He said his model is “not a very 'fair' society - it’s a work-based society”.

“It’s hard to define. People ask: ‘What the hell is it?’ ... It’s like pornography. No one can define it, but everybody knows it when they see it”.

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