Czech Prime Minister Andrei Babisz came on Wednesday with a two-day visit to Budapest, where the 4th Budapest Demographic Summit is taking place on Thursday. The head of the Czech government and his wife were personally welcomed at the airport by Hungarian Prime Minister Wiktor Orban. Commentators point out that this is a rare situation that proves exceptionally good relations on the Budapest-Prague line. At the same time, Polish-Czech relations remain in deep crisis due to the dispute over the Turów mines.
Babisz’s visit to Hungary and his extremely hospitable welcome by the host are – as Euroactiv writes – an expression of Orban’s support for the Czech prime minister and his ANO party ahead of the parliamentary elections in the Czech Republic, which are scheduled for October 8-9.
Euroactiv points out that Hungarian and Czech politicians have been the closest allies for years. “Babisz even devoted a whole chapter to Orban in his recently published book” – points out the portal. So far, the Czech prime minister has not obtained the support of any other European leader other than Orban. Even the Renew Europe group in the European Parliament, to which the ANO party is affiliated, did not officially endorse Babisz’s candidacy, notes Euroactiv.
With a common voice against the Union
The Czech and Hungarian prime ministers together on Wednesday visited the Hungarian-Serbian border near the Roszke crossing that Hungary built in 2015 at the height of the migration crisis. During a joint inspection on the Hungarian-Serbian border, Orban warned that Hungary would soon face increasing migratory pressure once again. He pointed out that it is through his country that many Afghans are trying to join the European Union.
In 2015, Orban’s government built a 175-kilometer barbed wire fence on the Serbian border to stem the unprecedented influx of migrants into the country. That year, over 400,000 people entered Europe via Hungary. The Hungarian authorities built a similar “wall” on the border with Croatia.
Orban stressed on Wednesday that while Hungarian fences are effective, more officers may be needed to protect borders effectively. The Hungarian prime minister said that Brussels, which encourages member states to accept refugees from Afghanistan, is a “weak link” in Hungarian border protection policy. “Brussels is betraying Hungary and the Europeans,” said Orban. He stated that Hungary protects all of Europe and expressed hope that the EU plan to bring people from Afghanistan will be thwarted. He also argued that aid should be provided on the spot, and not bring more trouble to Hungary, the Czech Republic and other EU countries. Orban also expressed his gratitude for the support Hungary received in terms of border protection from the Czech Republic and other Visegrad Group countries, “at the worst times”.
The Czech Prime Minister stated that the European Union is dealing with “many nonsensical things”, such as the resettlement of migrants, while it should take action against human smugglers and try to stem the flow of migrants from outside Europe. Babisz concluded that, since 2015, the Hungarian border was the only well-functioning border of the Schengen area.
Elections in the Czech Republic
Representatives of 22 parties, movements and coalitions will take part in the October parliamentary elections in the Czech Republic. All the groups that have a chance of winning seats again have applied for the election. The ruling ANO movement of Prime Minister Andrej Babisz, the extreme anti-European party Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD), the co-ruling Social Democratic Party of the Czech Republic (CZSSD) and the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSCzM) are running on their own.
Three right-wing and conservative parties: Civic Democratic Party (ODS), Christian Democratic Union – Czechoslovak People’s Party (KDU-CzSL) and Tradition Responsibility Prosperity 09 (TOP09) are running under the banner of Together (Spolu) coalition. A similar coalition was formed by the liberal formations: the Czech Pirate Party (Pirates) and Mayors and Independents (STAN). They are running as a coalition of Pirates and Mayors.
Euroactiv, Hungary Today, Ceske Noviny, PAP
Main photo source: Twitter / @ strakovka