In Prague on Thursday, after attending a summit of the V4 and the Western Balkans states, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán stated that the allocation of posts in the European Commission suggest that the strength of the Visegrád Four (V4) has grown.

Mr. Orbán pointed out that two representatives from the V4 can receive positions as vice-presidents of the European Commission. He noted that László Trócsányi, Hungary’s candidate for the Commission, will be given the “fine, wide-ranging” responsibility of managing the enlargement of the European Union. The Prime Minister stressed Mr. Trócsányi’s understanding of the complex aspects of enlargement, and he expressed the hope that his candidacy will receive the necessary support.

Speaking about the EU’s enlargement, the Prime Minister said that if the EU had not “fallen asleep”, but had admitted North Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia as members, then today there would not be millions of migrants in Western Europe.

He said that “Together we would have been able to defend the Balkans route”, but the area between Greece and Hungary was “left to its own devices”, which was unacceptable. Therefore, he declared, “that space must be filled, the countries in that region must be admitted to the EU, and then the EU will be able to defend itself”. He observed that no migrants had arrived in the EU via the EU Member State of Romania: “they came through the territories of countries which are not Member States”, and then had to be detained at Hungary’s border.

Mr. Orbán concluded that the history of the past few years clearly shows that as well as the countries themselves, the EU has an interest in the membership of North Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia – “and, now that we are where we are, Albania too”.

He stressed that the accession of the Balkans countries will not be a burden, but an opportunity for the EU, which will be stronger with their accession. He reassured these countries of Hungary’s support.

Outlining the Hungarian position on the EU’s next budget, the Prime Minister said that new joint policies can be launched, but the funds for older policies must under no circumstances be reduced to fund them.

He added that Hungary is not rejecting the idea of new joint sources of revenue if the EU wishes to finance new policies in addition to maintaining existing ones.

He also said that Member States need much more flexibility in the utilisation of funds.

Addressing the summit’s host, Czech prime minister Andrej Babiš, Mr. Orbán said that Hungarians regard the Czech Republic as “a benchmark country”, and “Hungarians are upset when the Czechs are doing better than we are. But rather than undermining their performance, we want to catch up with them.” At this point in time, he observed, the Czechs are still doing better than the Hungarians; Hungary, he said, would like “to beat” the Czechs – particularly in terms of unemployment, as the Czech Republic has the lowest unemployment rate in the EU.

The Serbian press asked the Prime Minister about László Trócsányi’s prospective role as Commissioner for EU Enlargement. Mr. Orbán replied that “if I were Serbian, I would be happy”. He noted that Hungary’s presidency of the EU had provided good management of the difficult issues emerging in the final phase of Croatia’s accession talks. “The fact that the Croatians don’t always remember this is another matter,” he added.

“I have no doubt that Serbia will contribute to the EU’s economic performance with enormous strength”, he stated, concluding that if the issue of Serbia’s integration is resolved, then integration of the entire region will accelerate and reach a resolution. Although Serbia’s accession will mean that a great many issues will have to be settled, such as the issue of Kosovo, these are all manageable, Mr. Orbán said.

Replying to another question, the Prime Minister said that while in Western Europe “multicultural immigrant societies” are being built, in Central Europe this is not the case, and “our countries are not immigrant societies”. The question, he said, is how these two worlds with their two different compositions will coexist.

He said that to date the European Commission’s answer has been “to force the Central Europeans to follow suit and become like them. […] We have resisted.” He expressed the hope, however, that in Brussels a new Commission will emerge which will realise that there are two distinctly different mentalities, and that the focus will have to shift to managing their coexistence.

The Prime Minister said: “We trust that the Commission will accord us more respect […] and if, rather than forcing things upon us, this is the tone they strike, seeking compromises, then the EU has a future, and we will have a fantastic five years ahead of us. But if the policy of coercion continues, then we will have to resist, and once again we will be where we are today.”

At the beginning of the summit in Prague Castle the V4 prime ministers had a separate meeting, followed by a working lunch which included talks with the leaders of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia.

(Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister/MTI)