Discussion

“The Dominant Role of The West Is Over”

In a controversial debate with Austria’s former chancellor, Wolfgang Schüssel, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán argues against EU and NATO membership of Ukraine, warns of a security deal between Russia and the U.S.A., and outlines his vision for the EU.

Wolfgang Schüssel and Viktor Orbán in the Library of the Carmelite monastery, home to the Prime Minister’s Office in Budapest.
Wolfgang Schüssel and Viktor Orbán in the Library of the Carmelite monastery, home to the Prime Minister’s Office in Budapest.Zoltán Fischer

Wolfgang Schüssel: In the coming ten years, Central Europe, our home, will become one of the continent’s most important regions. Further enlargement, the need for enhanced military security, the distribution of net receivers and net payers, the structural reform of the European Union, the quality of democracy, and the rule of law — all these questions will need to be focused on. What is your assessment for the next 10 years?

Viktor Orbán: I do not doubt the positive evolution in Central Europe, including Austria. But I have more doubts concerning the prosperity of the Western part of Europe. The big question is: Are we able to keep the whole continent together in one Union? Because dynamism and performance in Central Europe will be far stronger than in the Western and Southern countries of the European Union. First: The welfare state model is obsolete. If the Western part of the continent wants to keep its high level of welfare without making sure that people are working, the system is over and done with. That’s why we have to provide jobs for everybody. People should get access to welfare only through achievement. The second is security. In Western societies, freedom and security are regarded as two contradictory concepts. Therefore, public security is poor, especially in the major cities. A better reconciliation of freedom and security on the street is necessary. The third point is migration. If the Western countries are not strong enough to control their own borders and illegal migration continues at the current pace, this will have a lot of unpleasant consequences, like parallel societies and cultural uncertainties. 

„The Ukrainians are dying for their European dream. 
We cannot let that dream die.“

Wolfgang Schüssel

Former chancellor of Austria

„The Russians will never accept a EU and NATO member at their doorstep like Ukraine.“

Viktor Orbán

Hungarian Prime Minister

Let’s talk about security first. With the war in Ukraine, and the Russian invasion, we face a terrible danger in our neighbourhood. You had so many contacts with Vladimir Putin. Did you expect this aggression?

For long, long months I did not. But two weeks prior to the eruption of the conflict, I was in Moscow and saw that it could happen. When I made my report back to the NATO secretary general after my visit, I told him that we are in trouble because the Russians think that sooner or later they have to manage the conflict with Ukraine by force if Ukraine wants to join NATO.

Wolfgang Schüssel,

born in Vienna in 1945, served as federal chancellor of Austria between 2000 and 2007 and was chairman of the Austrian People’s Party from 1995 to 2007. He was also minister of economic affairs and minister for foreign affairs. He is president of the Foreign Policy and United Nations Association of Austria and since 2015, chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation.

Viktor Orbán,

born in Alcsútdoboz in 1963, has been prime minister of Hungary since 2010, previously holding the office from 1998 to 2002. He has presided over his party, Fidesz, since 1993, with a break between 2000 and 2003.After its suspension Fidesz left the European Peole’s Party (EPP) in 2021. Orbán’s controversial constitutional and legislative reforms have resulted in several clashes with the EU.

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