Gyöngyösi: Jobbik has successfully become a people’s party that is accepted across the board

MEP Márton Gyöngyösi, Jobbik’s executive vice president hosted the representatives of the Hungarian media on the occasion of opening his new EP office in Budapest. He gave a brief analysis of Jobbik’s post-election situation, the organization’s transition into a people’s party and he answered the journalists’ questions on foreign affairs and EU issues.

Jobbik’s executive vice president noted that people had a lot of misconceptions about the European Union, which many politicians are ready to exploit in the European arena so he wanted to do his best the help citizens understand how mechanisms work in Brussels. Jobbik is a key and inevitable force within the Hungarian opposition

He explained how the results of the EP elections on 26 May “upset” the status quo within the Hungarian opposition. In his view, the parties that were able to form a markedly oppositionary pole to the Orbán government’s politics (e.g.: sovereignism vs. federalism) could also position themselves efficiently in the campaign (Mr Gyöngyösi named these parties: Democratic Coalition and Momentum). He admitted that the public showed less affinity to Jobbik and the party’s key campaign theme, i.e., the programme for a European Wage Union was not easy for voters to understand. However, the politician believes it would be a mistake to draw long-term conclusions from the EP election results.

“Jobbik did not collapse,” he asserted, adding that Jobbik was a key and inevitable force within the opposition. The outcome of the local elections clearly demonstrated that Jobbik retained its leading position within the opposition. “There is an alternative to Fidesz, we can indeed break them,” he declared. Talking about Jobbik’s transition into a people’s party, Mr Gyöngyösi said the opposition organization “has reached the port, the process was successful and the party has become accepted”.

Várhelyi’s hearing is going to be a difficult match

The hearing of the Orbán government’s second EU Commissioner candidate Olivér Várhelyi will he held on 14 November by the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee (AFET). He is nominated for the position of Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations. Referring to “corridor conversations”, he said it was going to be a difficult match and if Mr Várhelyi is also rejected after László Trócsányi, it would negatively affect Hungary’s reputation, too.

Jobbik’s MEP also told the media that he was going to address this matter during the hearing in the AFET as well. The EP’s committees hold three-hour Q&A sessions to assess the candidate’s competency for the job. The applicants’ 15-minute speech will be followed by 25 questions from the MPs. On Tuesday, the EP’s legal committee (JURI) found no conflict of interest in terms of Olivér Várhelyi.

The goal is to reduce wage inequalities across the EU

Talking about the EU’s key challenges, Jobbik’s MEP said the huge gap between the peripheral and the core states needs to be eliminated. “Countries joining the European Union typically expect the improvement of their living standards and a certain kind of convergence to the west. That’s exactly what happened in Hungary, too,” Mr Gyöngyösi noted. He emphasized that Hungary tends to compare its living standards to Austria but we dropped to the bottom of Eastern Central Europe and our country is now lagging more and more behind, almost at the level of Romania and Bulgaria. In Mr Gyöngyösi opinion, the European Union should give priority to creating the social pillar.

The most important question is how we could effectively reform the cohesion policy (in cooperation with the EU’s anti-corruption European Public Prosecutor’s Office) to increase competitiveness and reduce the wage gap across the European Union before Hungary collapses under the economic consequences of the mistaken policy of keeping wages low, the MEP explained.

Let’s not keep sending messages to Turkey from Hungary

In reference to Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Budapest visit, Alfahír asked Mr Gyöngyösi to help us interpret his position on Turkey, which he posted on Facebook on 6 November after the joint meeting of the EP’s AFET and Development Committees on the aid to Turkey and the situation of the Syrian refugees: “I believe it’s important to separate the justified criticism on Turkey’s Syrian intervention from the aid to be given to Turkey to manage the refugees staying in Turkish territory. It is our common interest to prevent another migration wave. And Turkey has a major role in that. As Jobbik’s MEP, I stand for responsible policies and security.”

According to Mr Gyöngyösi, the Turkish president’s visit triggered a temper flare in Budapest because many people drew parallels between the Orbán regime and Erdogan’s system as there are significant similarities between the two countries in terms of leadership style and rule of law issues.

“The difference is that Hungary is part of the European Union and the European civilization, where there are certain written and unwritten rules to regulate what you can do in a democracy and what you cannot. However, Turkey is not part of the European Union. In that regard, it does not need to meet these criteria even though it has been a candidate country since the 1960s,” Jobbik’s politician said. In his view, “it’s the Turkish citizens’ concern who they vote for and why”. He doesn’t subscribe to the idea of people from Hungary sending messages to Turkish citizens on who they should vote for or what they should or shouldn’t do.

“Being at the front line of different civilizations, Turkey has gone along a different path of development,” Mr Gyöngyösi added. He said Turkey was apparently striving to become a leading power within the Muslim world, even if it means getting farther and farther from Europe. There’s no problem with that at all, Turkey has the right to make its own sovereign decisions, he noted. However, he also said that while he understood Turkey’s security interests, he considered the Syrian intervention a mistake. Unilateral military campaigns provide no solution for anything, in fact they even intensify the migration problem, he suggested.

Hungary’s western orientation is beyond any doubt

Alfahir also asked the MEP whether Jobbik maintained its earlier foreign policy triangle principle (which was “adopted” by the Orbán government), i.e., that Hungary’s interests need to be represented within the Berlin-Moscow-Ankara triangle. Mr Gyöngyösi said when Jobbik’s former president Gábor Vona, a qualified historian, talked about this matter, he wanted to call the public’s attention to a historical and geopolitical reality: Hungary has always been trying to survive in the clash zone of Berlin, Moscow and Ankara. We have always had to find our diplomatic leverage under the pressure of this triangle, and it has never changed. However, this is not an issue of pragmatism or values because, as the politician emphasized, this idea can never lead to questioning whether Hungary is part of the western civilization. But that’s exactly what Orbán is doing now, he said. We have to make our western orientation very clear and strive to develop pragmatic relations within this ideological framework, Mr Gyöngyösi asserted.

The cooperation of the Hungarian opposition will continue in the EP, too

Last July we published a report on Socialist MEP István Ujhelyi’s initiative to bring together an opposition roundtable of Hungarian MEPs. Today we asked MEP Gyöngyösi if he had any meetings with the other MEPs since then, and if there were any issues where they expect to coordinate their efforts. Jobbik’s politician answered that no such meetings had been held, they were all kept busy in the local elections but he was certain that the July initiative was going to be followed up. Recalling his address to the EP’s inaugural meeting, Mr Gyöngyösi said he hoped Hungary’s political culture would reach the level where the governing party and its opposition could identify such common themes and causes where they could work together and set aside their ideological differences. “It’s not realistic at the moment but it doesn’t depend on me”, he concluded.


Alfahí -