At a joint press conference held with UK prime minister David Cameron in Budapest this afternoon, Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán had the following to say with regard to the former’s proposal that foreigners be required to live in the UK for a minimum of four years before qualifying for any social benefits.
“David recommends four baskets of reforms for consideration. Of those, we completely accept and support three of them. In fact, among them is one where we would go further. But for now this is not a germane.
“We are not the United Kingdom. Our size is not sufficient so that we can raise issues with the same gravity as David has. And in a sense we owe Great Britain our thanks because it is raising issues with appropriate gravity that we also think are important, but if we raise them, it does not have the same effect or result as when they raise them. So from this point of view there is an intellectual and strategic agreement between us, and I am happy that the United Kingdom has undertaken this task, which we support.
“The fourth basket . . . is a more difficult matter. For us it is very important that we not be considered migrants. Words count. The Hungarians are a nation defined by culture, and in this the language has a special role in our politics. We would like to make it clear that we are not migrants in the United Kingdom but citizens of EU member states who are free to work anywhere within the EU. And we are only exercising our rights. We are not going to the United Kingdom to take advantage of the system. We don’t want to take anything away from those living there. We don’t want to seek happiness at their expense. We want to work and in doing so are merely exercising our rights. And as I see, the Hungarians work well. And it is important that those good working people who contribute to the British economy be respected, and that they not be discriminated against. We cannot accept discrimination. But we are open to any reasonable solution that does away with the abuse of social benefits. We don’t allow this in Hungary either. And we agree that it is necessary to close off every potential avenue of abuse. And we are willing to give consideration to the issue of how, given the special nature of the British system of social supports, a system can be created without discrimination that is acceptable to the British as well. In that, we will be partners. And I would like for us not to conclude this agreement alone, but together with the Visegrad 4.
“According to the British statistical office’s latest data, I believe for 2014, 55,000 Hungarians worked in Great Britain and almost 800,000 Poles worked there. I believe that we together, the Visegrad 4 countries, will share the same attitudes towards this, and that we will be able to agree.”