Budapest, Hungary – Britain’s decision to leave the European Union was “brave”, but Hungary will not follow the Brexit path, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said in an interview with Reuters on Friday.
According to the Hungarian Premier, “we consider [Brexit] as evidence of the greatness of the British” and the 2016 vote to leave the EU safeguarded “the good reputation” of the British people.
According to Orban, “Brexit was mainly a mistake of the European Union”.
But he assured Hungary had no intention to leave the EU, despite some “outrageous predictions” it could exit the bloc as soon as this year.
“We can’t afford to follow that track”, he told Reuters, pointing to the high level of support for the EU among the Hungarian population, and the fact that the Hungarian economy was too closely integrated with the rest of the bloc. “It’s reasonable for Hungary to be part of the European Union,” he added, despite praising Brexit as a “brave decision”.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban, in power since 2010, has long been accused of fueling anti-EU sentiment and undermining the bloc’s fundamental democratic values. Critics have also argued that Orban’s lukewarm and ambiguous support for the EU is purely opportunistic, and conditioned to the reception of billions of euros in structural funds.
Hungary – along with V4 ally Poland – is currently subject to the so-called Article 7 of the European treaties, a procedure launched for serious breach of the EU’s core values that could (theoretically) strip a member state of its voting rights.
In the interview, Orban also made the case for the EU to reverse its sanctions against Russia, introduced over the 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, and resume trade with Moscow.