Minister of Justice László Trócsányi gave an interview to the Diplomata Diplomatic Magazine, which appeared in its July-August edition.

Not long ago the Minister of Justice in the newly elected Orbán Government represented Hungary as the Ambassador in Paris. László Trócsányi, who has significant academic work as well, has already worked as a lawyer, Hungarian Ambassador to Belgium and between 2007 and 2010 he was a member of the Constitutional Court. The Minister with special career was interviewed by Diplomatic Magazine.

– In a first interview you said as a diplomat you were a legal expert, and in your new position as a legal expert you will be a diplomat.

– The main task for both a legal expert and a diplomat is the representation of interests and the efficient arrangement of controversial issues through negotiations. The difference is if you represent the interests of a person, a group or a whole state. In each case it is important to stand by Your opinion firmly, and to have accurate and well built argumentation. But equally important is the endeavour for constructive dialogues and cooperation. As a member of the government I would like to represent my country as the leader of the Ministry of Justice in the same spirit. It is no secret I consider this ministry as a ‘legal expert ministry’. I am proud that I can be the leader of the Ministry of Justice that has become an independent ministry again, and being so can participate in legislation, I can keep the contact with the legal society and I can represent the interests of the country in incidental legal arguments between the European institutions and Hungary.

– Now you have become a Minister, will you continue teaching at the Szeged University, where you are not only a professor, but a main contributor to international academic cooperation?

– Although in Hungary the third most important foreign language is French, I think francophone issues don’t get enough attention. The Faculty of Law at the Szeged University has significant experience in scientific and academic cooperation with francophone universities. The latest and closest cooperation we have is with a renowned University of Political Sciences, the Institut d’EtudesPolitiques de Lille in Lille, France. The two universities set up a mutual education of European studies in French. Within its framework Hungarian and international students spend three terms in Szeged and another three in Lille. I think it is a great opportunity. The international atmosphere of the faculty accepting both Hungarian an international students, and the mobility term abroad enables the students to get to know the cultures of more countries in close up. Their view will be broadened, because in addition to Hungarian university methodology they will meet the methods of Western European higher education as well. All that certainly requires more effort from the students, but the investments will pay off, since after two years they will get the MA degree from both the Hungarian and the French university. In order to expand the francophone relations of the university, we are planning to start a specialization in Africa studies in French in close cooperation with the Senghor University. The above mentioned education, the spiritual capital of the Szeged University and the geographical location of Szeged – the closeness of the Hungarian-Serbian-Romanian triple border – all support the setting up the Francophone University Centre here, which will manage the university studies related to French culture.

– One day before your Office Oath you held a lecture about the forms of national autonomy in Palics, Serbia. It suggests you set a high value on that issue.

– Being an expert dealing with public law I certainly follow the rights of the national minorities in different countries with special interest. In Palics I was talking about the experiences I gained in Brussels as an ambassador, and about the autonomy of the German language community in Belgium. Their solution can be an example for the Hungarians in Central Europe and in Vojvodina. Our region is very diverse in terms of ethnicity and culture, and that alone means value. The aim is that neighbouring countries would look at the nationalities living on each other’s territories as they connect and do not divide them. That is why I emphasised in Vojvodina that those who want autonomy wouldn’t want to get separated from a country, since autonomy is not built against a country, but within a country in close cooperation.

– At the beginning of this interview you mentioned the European Union. Recently it has been said that the EU is developing towards federalism. How do you see this question? Will the member state competencies gradually cease to exist?

– The issue is much more complex than that. The thought of federation has been there in European development since the beginning of the integration, which was in the middle of the 20th century. Following the example of the United States of America people usually talk about the United States of Europe, and this notion regularly returns in public speech. On the other hand, you must see that Europe is not America. The events in the past decades in Europe and the development of the EU proved that you cannot have a track of development in Europe like in the case of the USA. Europe has a different starting point, which you must never forget. So the question is not why there is no European Federation yet. The question is if there can be a European federation at all. I think there cannot be. Supranational and federal features will always be present in the EU as well as the most common solutions similar to intergovernmental cooperation in national-states. We, Europeans are like that, and I don’t think it is a problem. The European variety, cultural diversity and historical definiteness are all factors that are in the way of federation, but contribute to Europe’s and Europeans’ richness. All that can be translated into the language of law as well. Recently more member state constitutional courts have dealt with the question of so-called constitutional identity. It discusses the same question with the means of constitutional law, i.e. how the member state constitutions based on the traditions, culture and customs of the member states would limit the ‘infinite’integration and the establishment of Federal Europe. Examinations show they do set a limit, and integration cannot be pushed beyond a certain point without strengthening the forces against integration. It is because people feel they are bereft from values that are important for them. So there is a legitimating debate as well.

– So the nation-states still have the pivotal role?

– According to the contracts regulating the function of the EU, inevitably, since the power of the EU comes from the member states. On the other hand, this issue is a bit more complicated, so I’d rather say the principle of subsidiarity, which means that every decision has to be made at the level where the required effect can be measured most efficiently, is getting more important. It is have to be decided what belongs to the level of the EU, and what can be implemented more efficiently with a member state regulation. Efficiency means creating and implementing such rules that the citizens can identify themselves with.

– As a Minister of Justice what can you do to enforce these thoughts at the level of the EU?

– As the Minister of Justice I have many tasks that are related to the EU and its decision making process. I participate in the Council of the Ministers of Justice and I supervise the areas within the framework of cooperation in justice. I particularly feel responsible to ensure the dialogues in cases when there are arguments because of the differences in the EU and Hungarian regulations. These tasks enable me to represent even the above mentioned thoughts in Brussels. I think I will be able to discuss these matters with my European fellow ministers and I can use the European cooperation in justice in order to make the EU be more attentive to the citizens’ interests.

(Diplomata Magazin)