Hungary’s tetchy relations with the EU were again to the fore as Prime Minister Viktor Orbán was formally endorsed by parliament for a second consecutive term in office.
He was handed a European Union flag by opposition MP Tímea Szabó, who said she hoped he still believed in European values.
The incident was a reference to the fact that during his previous term, Orbán had replaced the EU flag in parliament with a Hungarian one.
Following his Fidesz party’s landslide victory in last month’s elections, the prime minister told the crowd outside parliament the country would stand up for its rights in the EU.
“At the European elections we have to send a message to Brussels loud and clear: we want respect for Hungarians,” he said. “Let’s send politicians there who are able to fight for the respect that Hungarians deserve.”
Orbán called for self-governance for minority Hungarians living in neighbouring countries. His previous government granted them citizenship after coming to power in 2010.
The issue was especially relevant in Ukraine, he said, home to some 200,000 ethnic Hungarians.
European policy would be conducted with “open dialogue and brave thinking”, he said. Hungary was and remained, beyond doubt, part of NATO and also the EU and his government regarded any programme that called for an exit from the EU a dangerous extremity.
“But we are members of these alliances and not hostages,” he added. “We want a Europe that respects its own roots, respects Christianity and also gives due respect to individual nations.”
Orbán has previously clashed with Brussels which accused him of expanding the state’s powers. In the recent parliamentary elections the monitoring group from Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) said Fidesz had enjoyed an unfair advantage in the recent election.
Normally the taking of the oath coincides with a presentation of the government’s programme. This time Fidesz simply said “we will continue”.
Euronews correspondent in Budapest, Andrea Hajagos, said:
“The prime minister can now exercise his power with full authority. He’ll name his new government after the European elections. Until then the members of the former government have only limited influence.”