"This is a madhouse"

Orbán wants to abolish direct elections to the EU Parliament

11.02.2024 16:08

Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orbán would like to return to the time before 1979, when the EU Parliament was not yet directly elected by EU citizens. "We should consider returning to the previous system in which national parliaments sent their representatives to the European Parliament instead of holding direct elections," explained the right-wing conservative head of government in a conversation with former Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel, excerpts of which have now been published.

"One of the reasons for our weakness is that the European Parliament does not work today. It is a madhouse", Orbán explained his proposal in the "Presse am Sonntag". In a joint interview with former Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel, the Hungarian head of government argued that the "initiative" in the European Union should come from the member states, "which means that the Council should be more active, more determined and more willing to take political action". In Orbán's view, the EU Commission should instead be a body led by the member states and not act politically.

Meeting room of the EU Parliament (Bild: AFP/Frederik FLORIN)
Meeting room of the EU Parliament

Western Balkans as one of the priorities of the Hungarian Presidency
When asked about the priorities of the Hungarian Presidency in the second half of 2024, Orbán named EU enlargement to the Western Balkans as "our top priority". "If we don't integrate Serbia as quickly as possible, we will lose it. Serbia has other options. It has just concluded a free trade agreement with China." Hungary will also work to improve the EU's competitiveness, he added. On Ukraine, he says: "We will do our best to at least achieve a ceasefire and create a situation in which we can negotiate."

"No danger of Russia attacking a NATO member"
Orbán sets out his well-known positions in this regard. The 60-year-old rejects Schüssel's comparison with the Hungarian uprising of 1956: "They are not defending Europe, unlike Hungary back then. Ukraine offers us Europeans no additional security, because most of us are already members of NATO, which is much stronger than Russia. There is no danger of Russia attacking a NATO member," explained Orbán.

Former Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel (Bild: APA/HANS PUNZ)
Former Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel

Ukraine should be a "buffer zone" between Russia and the West
Russia would never accept an EU and NATO member like Ukraine on its doorstep. Therefore, the "best perspective" for the war-torn country today is to form a "buffer zone between Russia and the West". "If this does not succeed, Ukraine will lose its country", predicts Orbán. The interview, excerpts of which were published by "Presse am Sonntag", was conducted for the new English-language debate magazine "European Voices", which will be published for the first time on Thursday.

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