Orbán was joking when he said he doesn't want Hungary to stay in EU – American journalist claims

January 30. 2023. – 09:40 AM



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Viktor Orbán was simply joking when he answered with a "definite no" to the question about whether he would like Hungary to stay in the European Union, according to a letter sent to Népszava by US journalist Rod Dreher. The senior editor of The American Conservative was among 15 foreign journalists who met with the Hungarian prime minister last Thursday while attending a media conference hosted by Mathias Corvinus Collegium.

Dreher’s article in which he reported on Orbán’s answers given to journalists’ questions caused quite a stir due to what Orbán reportedly said about the EU.

The article originally quoted Orbán as saying:

"Someone asked the Prime Minister if he would like Hungary to stay in the EU. "Absolutely not!" – he said, adding that Hungary had no other choice because 85 percent of its exports were directed to the EU."

This was later amended, and the journalist subsequently tweeted that the Prime Minister's words had been distorted.

When Népszava asked Dreher about the reason for the change, he wrote: "In the original post, I did not adequately explain the context in which the prime minister made his comment."

"He was clearly joking when he said he would 'definitely not' stay in the European Union. A smile flashed across his face".

Dreher added that "it's something he has to put up with because of his job. Hungary's economy depends on it." He added that Orbán went on to talk about the responsibility a politician has to his constituents. He said the prime minister understands perfectly well that the Hungarian people want to be in the EU, so he will act according to their will, frustrating as it is for him.

The ominous EU-related paragraph had disappeared without explanation – although Google cache and the Internet Archive preserved it anyway – and was replaced by this:

“Orbán said that it is painful for him personally to have Hungary in the EU, subject to its bullying, but there is no question that Hungary will remain in the EU, because its economic prosperity depends on it. Still, it is tough to take being pushed around from the EU leadership. Orban's point is that as difficult as it is personally to have to deal with the EU bureaucracy, it has to be done, because it is in Hungary's national interest.”

Other than the EU, the Prime Minister also spoke about the Russian-Ukrainian war, including his comment about Ukraine now being like Afghanistan, "a no-man's land" – a remark that caused a minor diplomatic scandal. In response to his statement, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry summoned the Hungarian Ambassador over Orbán's " completely unacceptable" statements on Ukraine.

Borys Filatov, the mayor of the Ukrainian city of Dnyipro, reacted to the Hungarian prime minister’s statement about Ukraine being “no man’s land” on Telegram:

"Orbán. In Russian. Without political correctness. First of all, bitchface, our land is not the one which is no man's land, it's yours. We've lived here for thousands of years, we didn't crawl out from beyond the Urals. Secondly, it takes a special talent to be hated everywhere from Romania and Slovakia to Serbia and Ukraine. The Treaty of Trianon was just punishment for your beastly historical deeds. Thirdly, your cruelties and your constant desire to please the tyrants in every world war have made you the pariahs of history. Fourthly, how despicable is it to forgive the Soviets and their successors for 1956? Fifthly, one has to be completely without morals to hide behind the skirts of the EU and NATO while stomping on everyone's neck. Get out from under those skirts and we will sweep you scumbags out in three days," Filatov wrote.

"You idiots. No, not the Hungarian people. But those who are in power there," the Dnyipro mayor added.

Early Saturday afternoon, the Hungarian Foreign Ministry responded to the Hungarian ambassador’s summoning, although not directly to the Ukrainians, but in a statement to pro-government Mandiner:

“As a consequence of this war, thousands of people are dying and entire regions of Ukraine are becoming desolate. This is why Hungary wants peace and an immediate ceasefire instead of arms deliveries. This has been Hungary's clear position since the beginning of the war. Hungary does not want to get involved in the war, neither in word nor by actions.”

Update: Orbán expects the deepening of the rift between the EU and Hungary in the coming years

On Monday, another report on the conversation between Viktor Orbán and foreign journalists attending the Mathias Corvinus Collegium media conference last Thursday was published – this time on the German website pleiteticker.de, by journalist Ralf Schuler.

According to Schuler, the Hungarian prime minister said he "expects tensions between Hungary and the rest of the European Union to deepen in the coming years". He believes this would be the case because there's a difference of opinions about three fundamental issues between him and the other EU member states. These are migration, the LGBTQ+ movement and the plan for a United States of Europe.

"On migration, for example, Germany and France want migrants and the indigenous population to live together. But I want to avoid coexistence and I don't want it in the first place,"

he said.

Schuler also concludes in his report that Viktor Orbán is clearly distancing himself from the EU's approach in his assessment of the war in Ukraine.

For example, the Hungarian prime minister said that "time is not on NATO's side" and that he doesn't see any indication "of us being on a winning track".

Orbán believes that Russia is not afraid of isolation the way the West imagines it would be, as it has been isolated many times in the past.

Orbán said that none of the 27 EU heads of government had yet been able to explain to him what the French, German or European strategy was in the conflict. They only spoke about the defense of Western values in general, but he said

his job was to stand up for the security and future of the Hungarian people and families, so he was "working to freeze the conflict by any means possible", the report said.

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