We need a strong and more unified European Union

In recent years I have been asked a lot why I chose to stay in Hungary, why I entered politics and why I did not pursue a career abroad like many of my compatriots. Indeed, I could have a more comfortable life full of opportunities far away from the poisonous political climate of Hungary. I chose to stay because I care about people, I want to help them. Politics requires strong convictions; it is not a job you do; it is a calling, I answered.

Hungary has been turned into an illiberal democracy where there is no independent judiciary; there are constant attacks on the rule of law and corruption is “institutionalised”. What is less known is that more than half a million people have left Hungary, seeking a better future, since Fidesz got into power in 2010. This number is shocking, even more so if we think about the personal hardships and the families torn apart behind those numbers. Parents who miss a son, a daughter, grandparents who cannot see their grandkids growing up. I am determined to change that and to make Hungary a place where people can once again have a future. A country with possibilities that provides good education, healthcare and jobs where people can fulfil their dreams.

In the Balkans, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is expanding his political and economic influence through business deals in banking and construction. This is a main concern, given that the Balkans is a collision zone of Russian, American and European interests and Orbán has proved many times that he is ready to go against the EU if he thinks it helps his own interests at home, or those of Russia. He gave refugee status to the convicted former PM of Macedonia, Nikola Gruevski. The Hungarian government refused to extradite MOL’s CEO despite a European arrest warrant issued by Croatia. He also ensured commercial access to the Adriatic and Black Sea through Hungary’s investment in a rail line to the port of Koper in Slovenia. He is seeking to strengthen his position here for future fights in the European Union.

Orbán has aligned himself with Putin, Salvini and the like. These populists don’t shy away from risking the future of this planet or from weakening the EU, as long as it serves their political interests. They call climate change fake and according to them the problem is a bagatelle. They do not care about the scientific proof or reality. Iceland lost a 700-year old glacier this summer. There are uncontrollable forest fires in the Canary Islands, in Siberia, in the Amazon right now. In recent years Greece, Portugal and California were hit. But does Orbán care? No. He vetoed a move to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. We may be the last generation who can turn climate change around. I firmly believe that we must take the responsibility and act while we can and leave a liveable planet to our children.

I am convinced that we need a strong and more unified European Union to face the challenges of climate change and the rise of illiberal democracies. Unfortunately, the Orbán government is not interested in building such a Europe. All his actions are aimed at weakening the union. As the youngest elected Hungarian member of the European Parliament, I think it is my duty to do everything to prevent him from succeeding. He cannot be allowed to undermine the mutual trust between member states of the EU, and the trust in the European Union. That is the mandate my party, the Democratic Coalition, got from Hungary’s citizens in the 2019 European parliamentary elections and I intend to keep my promise.