Orbán: I could call Putin at any time

June 28. 2023. – 10:30 AM



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The second part of Viktor Orbán's interview with Bild was published on the Hungarian Prime Minister's website on Tuesday evening. In the first part of the interview published Tuesday morning, the most widely read German daily asked Orbán mainly about the Russian-Ukrainian war and the Hungarian leadership's views on it, while the second part of the interview focuses more on the future of the EU and migration.

Orbán's main argument against migration is the need to protect European values such as

“the equal treatment of women, the rejection of homophobia, the rejection of anti-Semitism.”

According to him, migrant groups "do not have a particularly good attitude towards these values".

Orbán said the problem with the EU's compromise on migration is that it's an "incentive" for immigration, as it "sends a message to the people smugglers that they can continue their activities in peace. We will deal with the situation here, we will distribute them, just keep them coming".

He said that Hungary would not be willing to pay the amount it would be required to pay for not receiving migrants under the quota, because Hungary has already spent "more than €2 billion to protect the Schengen area from illegal migrants". The Hungarian PM doesn't regret any of his statements made during the 2015 migration crisis, and claims that the only thing he is annoyed about is that he was "too slow" in building the fence on Hungary's southern border, which he said could have been completed sooner.

Orbán said it would be "very simple" to prevent tragedies like the one that recently occurred off the Greek coast, which led to hundreds of people drowning. "It must be made clear to all migrants and all people smugglers that they are not allowed to enter the territory of the European Union before their application has been evaluated," Orbán said, solving the problem in a single stroke.

The reporter asked the Prime Minister whether he was angry that some European newspapers were going so far as to call him a dictator, and what his approach was to this. Orbán said he was not angry ("no, no, no – you know, it's politics"), that he didn't care about those comments at all, as they were not made by his constituents. The Hungarian PM called the European Parliament's call for EU member states to block Hungary's rotating presidency a "political joke", and said he was preparing for this period with a wide range of issues: neighbourhood policy, enlargement with Balkan states, and boosting the competitiveness of the European economy.

The end of the interview turned back to Russia, Putin and the war. On the one hand, it revealed new elements of the Orbánian characterisation of a nation ('Russians do not live their lives on the basis that anyone can convince them of anything. They are a power-based people"), and we also learned that Orbán could call Putin on the phone at any time, except he doesn't want to.

Bild: (...) If you had the chance to talk to Vladimir Putin this week, what would you say to him?

Orbán: I COULD call him.

Bild: But will you call him?

Orbán: No. I have no reason to. But I could call him any time. And I think he would be willing to talk to me at any time (...)

Orbán said that there would be no point for a conversation right now, because he currently has no offer to make to Putin or idea of what he could say to him, and Hungary is "not strong enough in Europe to steer events towards peace".

The reporter also asked whether Orbán was confident that Putin would remain Russia's president in the long term, in light of the past year and a half. He said he was not sure of anything, but added confidently:

"So far – looking at things from a historical perspective – all my positions have proved to be correct later: regarding the fall of the Berlin Wall, and regarding migration. And I think it will be the same with peace."

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