Dávid Heiter: Prime Minister, what is your opinion of the election results, specifically those in Budapest?
Well, as a brief summary I can tell you that overall we won the municipal elections; but we sustained some painful losses, particularly in Budapest, but also in some other large cities – including cities which are especially close to our hearts. For the Government the most important consequence is that we received a total of around 1.8 million votes, while the opposition received substantially fewer. Therefore in the period ahead I’d like to see a courageous and confident phase of government, like that we’ve seen over the past nine years, because the Government’s programme enjoys the support needed for good governance. As regards Budapest, we must accept the people’s decision. In Budapest there was a [Gábor] Demszky era, and then there was a Tarlós era. Now the people have decided that there should be something different. Clearly they voted for Gergely Karácsony in the hope that he will govern the capital better than István Tarlós did. My only job is to give him the chance to do that, and to provide the necessary conditions. This means that we’ll keep the agreements that we’ve concluded with István Tarlós valid, in force and unchanged. In other words, everything that István Tarlós received from the Government can also be expected by the capital’s new leadership. Operating conditions will remain unchanged, and we wish him success in his attempt to administer the capital better than it has been administered over the past few years.
So will you be able to cooperate with Gergely Karácsony?
That is my duty. Hungary is a democracy. The people expect their leaders to cooperate in the interest of the people. Over the past few years Hungary’s government has developed a fair relationship with every municipality, and this will also be the case in the future. The party governing any particular municipality will have no bearing on that.
Do you think the Borkai affair affected the election results?
It’s difficult to tell. We should ask all the voters who cast their votes; but I believe that something like that affects everyone, something like that shocks and upsets everyone. So it certainly had some impact. It’s not my duty to pass judgement on the private life of any particular Hungarian citizen, or any one politician. But – as President of Fidesz and therefore the leader of this community – it was and is my duty to make it clear that certain things are not acceptable in our community, and lead to certain consequences. Therefore Zsolt Borkai has left our political community.
Is it enough that Zsolt Borkai has left Fidesz? Shouldn’t he have been forced to resign?
We weren’t able to force anyone to resign before the elections, because if Zsolt Borkai hadn’t run in the Győr mayoral election, then the people of Győr wouldn’t have had a choice: there would only have been one candidate left. Therefore we had to wait for the people of Győr to decide what they wanted. The people of Győr stated their opinion, and then we – and I as Party President – had to take action. And that’s what I did. In a situation like this I did what I had to do, and what was obvious.
Prime Minister, what will you be talking about here at the parliamentary group meeting?
At the group meeting I’ll talk about the tasks facing the Government and our parliamentary group in the period ahead. The political activities of the coming months will have three important focal points. The first will be implementation of the Family Protection Action Plan, and the possible introduction of new supplementary elements. The second will be the maintenance of economic growth; employment and the size of wage increases depend on economic growth. So these two things are our main priorities. And as there are clouds on the European economic horizon, in the months ahead we must create and launch economy protection action plans. The third fine task will be the strengthening of the Hungarian Villages Programme, because there is enormous interest in these programmes. Therefore in the remaining months of the autumn I would like to reinforce the financial possibilities and forms of the Hungarian Villages Programme; and I will seek authorisation for this from Parliament.
There is a tense international political situation: Syria and Turkey. Why does the Hungarian position differ from that of Brussels?
I advise everyone to consider Hungary’s national interests. This is not a geographically distant conflict with no bearing on Hungary, in which we can choose one side or the other on the basis of our liking for them. This is not such a conflict. The situation is that more than three million people – migrants and refugees – have moved from Syria into Turkey. And in the weeks to come we will find out what Turkey is going to do with these people. They can move them in one of two directions: either they’ll take them back to Syria, or they’ll move them towards Europe. If Turkey chooses to do the latter, then these people will arrive in enormous numbers on Hungary’s southern borders. The Hungarian national interest is that the Turks should not decide to open the gates towards Europe, but instead decide to take these people back to Syria. Therefore, while it’s possible to criticise the Turks, at the end of the day I advise the European Union to instead give money to Turkey so that it can build cities in the territory of Syria: cities to which it can take back those Syrians who have fled to Turkey. Otherwise these people will end up in Europe. Hungary’s situation is different from that of other EU Member States: they don’t neighbour the Balkan migrant route. They’re safe because we’re protecting them. But we are a border country. What’s happening in Syria now could have consequences for Hungary within moments. Few people are aware of it, but perhaps now I can say that there are currently some ninety thousand people in transit on the Balkans migration route. Their numbers are increasing, and soon they will reach one hundred thousand. If the Turks let further hundreds of thousands leave their country, we will have to use force to defend the Hungarian border on the Hungarian-Serbian section. Our having to do this is something that I don’t wish upon anyone.
Thank you very much.