“We need a strong European Union, and the strength of the European Community is founded on strong member states”, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó underlined at an economic forum in the Lesser Polish town of Krynica-Zdrój.

The Minister gave a speech during a podium discussion entitled: “A Europe of common values or common interests?”

Referring to the title of the discussion, Mr. Szijjártó underlined: By European values, he - similarly to the founding fathers - means Christian values. “Europe achieved its great successes thanks to the system of Christian values”, he pointed out, adding: “The more we distance ourselves from these values, the smaller the chance that we can restore a competitive and strong European Union”.

“Here in Central Europe we find it impossible to comprehend why Western Europe wants to do away with its Christian heritage”, Mr. Szijjártó declared. “The Poles and Hungarians cannot fathom when decisions are made in other countries to remove Christian symbols from public spaces and public buildings”, he added.

“It is not our duty to protect Christianity in Europe (as a religion), but we must protect Christians in Europe and in other locations, who in many places are paying for their faith with their lives”, he said.

The Hungarian Foreign Minister said the EU is facing major challenges, highlighting migration, energy policy, terrorism and Brexit, drawing attention to the importance of the debate on the future of Europe within this context.

As he explained, he respects those who are of a different opinion with regard to these issues, but asked: “Would we be anti-European if we regarded those whose opinions differ from the current EU mainstream as the enemies of the EU?”

Mr. Szijjártó called the federalist concept of Europe a dead end, arguing that the removal of national spheres of competence weakens member states. “How can an integration be realised based on weak links?”, he asked.

“Successful integration requires the shaking off of three phenomena, which can currently be recognised in all EU disputes”, he explained, citing hypocrisy, political correctness and the use of double standards with respect to member states.

As an example of hypocrisy, he cited the criticism of Hungary and Poland on the part of EU institutions, pointing out that Warsaw has been criticised for solutions that are also being applied in Western Europe.

The Minister said that in his opinion political correctness is also being manifested with relation to migration. “Not a single EU leader has called migration a security challenge to date”, he underlined. “But if we do not call migration a danger to security, we will be incapable of preserving the security of our continent”, he warned.

Mr. Szijjártó spoke about the fact that there are currently two approaches at odds within the European Union: one supports multicultural societies at EU-level, while the other would entrust the decision on whether they want to become a multicultural society to member states.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade also spoke about the Central European economy within the context of the EU, declaring that it is becoming increasingly competitive and has “always been based on common sense”. He criticised EU measures that could endanger the region’s competitiveness, including plans for tax harmonisation.

Mr. Szijjártó also spoke about the topic of enlargement, pointing out that next year the number of member states will be reduced for the first time in its history (because of Brexit), with relation to which he called for the continuation of the enlargement process and for the EU to conclude “a fair agreement that facilitates the closest possible cooperation” with the United Kingdom.