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L. Kövér: “We would like to take the European Union in the opposite direction to the one the Commission wants for a few years now”

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Hungary – Interview with the Speaker of the Hungarian National Assembly, László Kövér: “We would like to take the European Union in the opposite direction to the one the Commission wants for few years now.”

On the occasion of an informal summit of Speakers of parliaments of the V4 countries to talk about cooperation with the European Parliament, EU enlargement, the quality of manufactured food products and the freedom of expression on the internet, Ferenc Almássy met the Hungarian Speaker of Parliament, László Kövér. Important figure of Fidesz and close to Viktor Orbán, Mr. Kövér answered some questions for the Visegrád Post.

Ferenc Almássy and László Kövér in the Hungarian Parliament, on 2017, December 1.

Ferenc Almássy: What is the purpose of these V4 meetings? It seems that there are more and more summits since the Hungarian Presidency started this July. We are also hearing more and more about the Visegrád group, which is becoming a real political force at a European level. To what extent does the V4 carry an alternative European project, especially as opposed to Macron’s Europe? What can you tell us about this?

László Kövér: The Visegrád Group is already a quarter century old. The first meeting of Speakers of Parliaments took place about 25 years ago. And since, with more or less intensity, this framework of cooperation has been maintained. But it is only in the recent past, in recent years, that we have really been able to come together and unite on certain issues, to clarify common interests, both at the governmental and parliamentary levels. And if this co-operation seems more intense at the moment, it is not because of the Hungarian presidency at the moment, nor of the Polish presidency just before, but because the current situation is different.

There are many more questions today about the future of the European Union and its current functioning, and we feel the need to clarify and make known our common points of view. In truth, I can not myself explain precisely what elements connect and differentiate these countries in the eyes of Macron, for example. What President Macron wants to do precisely in Europe is also unclear to us, and as Germany does not even have a government at the moment, we do not know what support he would get from Germany. We are therefore in a phase of significant uncertainties. However, our position is clear, and every Speaker of Parliament has recalled it here today: we would like a Europe of independent nations.

Our conviction is that only strong nations will constitute a strong European Union, and as the Senate Marshal Karczewski said, even the European Parliament would be strengthened by the influence of the national parliaments, since the cooperation between the European Parliament and the national parliaments would strengthen popular representation in Brussels. For the moment, the relatively low participation in the European elections proves that people do not see these elections as decisive, that is to say that they do not necessarily represent their interests in Brussels.

We would therefore like to take the European Union in the opposite direction to the one the Commission wants for few years now. Of course this is only possible by joining forces, if only it is possible to change the direction of the European Union. The Commission wants to arrogate more powers, centralize more power in Brussels, and it also means that we will diminish national powers. On the contrary, we should look at what we agree to, or can agree on, in order to find European solutions. And if we can not agree, as Milan Štěch, the President of the Czech Senate rightly recalled, then we must seek national solutions to solve the problems occurring on a European scale.

FA: But what if it is impossible to agree … it looks like Central Europe is sticking to its position, but it seems to be the same for the liberal elites of the EU and the West. Where could this deep disagreement lead us if it is to last?

László Kövér: If they respect the basic agreements concerning the European Union, as well as the clauses of the treaties, id est if the rule of law is respected at the European Union’s level, if Brussels respects the rules, so in my opinion, what the member states want is going to happen. This same rule of law that they use as a weapon, lamenting on the lack of it, to attack the national governments. It is nevertheless the European Council which is the main decision-making body of the European Union, where the supreme representatives of each member state make decisions following a consensus on the matters most affecting national interests. And if they give the institutions of the European Union the right to find a solution at Union level, then there will be a solution. If, on the other hand, they do not agree, as for example on the migration issue, then each nation-state must solve the problem with its own means.

I therefore think that it is not with manipulations, let alone with modifications of the texts, that it will be possible to settle the debate in favor of those who dream and already imagine the United States of Europe, which would be a federation headed from Brussels. And especially not now as we obviously see the ulterior motives behind all these proposals often solemnly and beautifully presented. Europe as it exists today, namely nation states, but above all a Europe of national cultures based on Christian roots, that is something they want to liquidate by allowing illegal migration, as well as with the systematic relocation of migrants. Mr Juncker said today that without immigration, Europe is lost. In my opinion, it is quite the opposite: massive immigration, the end of which we do not see, means precisely the end of Europe, at least in its thousand-year-old conception. But we would like to keep this Europe. We believe that those who set up this situation are demolishing Europe. The gap is already wide between the representatives of both points of views, and if they continue to impose this immigration policy, it is quite possible that we’d come to a point where all debate would become impossible.

FA: There will be talk today about the enlargement of the European Union, and Hungary, and even the V4, support this enlargement. What is the purpose, the reason? Maybe forming a stronger Central European bloc within the EU? We saw a few days ago this meeting of 16 + 1 between Central Europe and Balkan and China. Could this be the beginning of closer cooperation between the CEECs and the Balkans to gain greater political weight vis-à-vis Western Europe?

László Kövér: On this issue of enlargement of the European Union, the V4 speaks with one voice, and we all say that it is the common interest of Europe. We must finally end the reunification of Europe, we must not stop so close to the goal. It is true, however, that candidate states have very different internal situations. Some are closer to joining us, and in our opinion we must help them to finish as quickly as possible the path they have left to go, especially to set an example for those who are further from the goal. Although, some countries are in such a state of internal instability that it is difficult to predict when they could join the EU. But it must be understood that it is not only a question of a moral or cultural issue, but also of the fact that if a vacuum is created in this region, which has always been a powder keg for Europe, nothing good will come from it for Europe. If the European Union does not have a strategy to integrate Western Balkan countries, then others will implement their own strategy. It will be Turkey, Russia, the United States, the richest and most influential Islamic countries, and this is not a danger to foresee, or a fantasy, this is already happening in some countries as we can see.

And we can also see that nation-states are not the only ones trying to position themselves and increase their influence in the region. Various circles of informal influence and other soft power agencies are working to sometimes integrate the institutions of these countries, and thus, manipulating them, making it more difficult for a consolidated situation to develop, and therefore making it more difficult the integration of these countries. We must, therefore, and by us, I mean the EU, make efforts to resolve these issues. The V4’s mission is to convince other countries that are turning away from enlargement that this is in our interest.

But indeed, as your question mentioned, it is also in particular the interest of the countries of Central Europe. And not only because it is at our southern borders that lies this region full of uncertainties, but also because indeed it would increase the political weight of all the countries of our region which have with more or less similar pasts. I hope one day the European Union has integrated these countries into member states, a functional European Union, which will be a structure built on strong nation states and in which Central Europe will have a powerful voice based on its own particularities. Particularities that we must not be ashamed of or be proud of, but that come from the fact that we have not taken the same historic path of luck as Western Europe did. However, we are just as Europeans as Belgians, French or Germans.