Government Spokesperson Zoltán Kovács has replied to a recent critical editorial on Hungarian politics and the EU’s sanctioning opportunities published in British weekly The Economist.

In his letter of reply published on Friday, Mr. Kovács writes that much has changed in the world since the heroic speech of Viktor Orbán in 1989, but the Prime Minister’s cause remains the same: a strong and independent Hungary at home in a strong Europe.

Contrary to the narrative of The Economist, democracy is doing just fine. Elections remain free and fair. The laundry list of old issues was all put to rest long ago in our conversations with the European Commission.

According to Mr. Kovács, the problem is that since taking office again in 2010, Prime Minister Orbán has dared to defend Hungary’s national interest, ruffling some feathers. When the European troika advised us to take severe austerity measures, Hungary sent them packing and instead pursued its own reform path. It was dismissed as “unorthodox” then, but today Hungary’s GDP growth is one of the best in Europe. The deficit is under control, debt is on the decline and unemployment is at record lows.

Hungary’s relationship with Russia is based on the pragmatic position that our economy benefits from normal relations with Europe’s eastern neighbour. Meanwhile, Hungary stands with the European Council on sanctions.

Prime Minister Orbán has dared to oppose the European Union on migration, challenging the compulsory resettlement quota. Hungary has insisted on tough border security, opposed policies that would encourage migrants to come to Europe, and proposed asylum-processing centres in hotspots outside Europe. The fence we built on the southern border is defending Europe’s Schengen area, reducing illegal entries along that border to practically zero. Europe should be thankful, Mr. Kovács writes.

He further writes that many of Hungary’s European allies in fact are thankful, which is why we won’t be seeing the EU taking the kind of action suggested in the editorial of the Economist.

Hungary holds dear its national independence. In 1989 the issue was independence from the Soviet Union. Today, the threat to our national sovereignty takes on a much different, more benign shape. It’s about defending a strong EU based on strong nation states, limiting the overreach of an unelected, central bureaucracy in Brussels. In that regard, it’s not Prime Minister Orbán who has changed. Perhaps it’s Europe, Mr. Kovács concluded.