this is bbc news. we will have the headlines and all the main news stories for you at the top of the hour as newsday continues straight after hardtalk. welcome to hardtalk. i'm stephen sackur. hungary's prime minister victor orban seems to regard his increasingly toxic relationship with the eu's brussels institutions as a badge of honour and a political asset. on a range of issues from press freedom to lgbt rights,
hungary routinely ignores the collective interpretation of eu values. but at what cost? my guest is hungary's foreign minister, peter szijjarto. is there room for a authoritarian, illiberal government inside the eu? peter szijjarto in budapest, welcome to hardtalk. good afternoon, thank you for the invitation. it's a pleasure to have you on the show. foreign minister, the relationship between your country and the european union,
the institutions of the eu, appears ever more dysfunctional. how concerned are you about that? well, what i would say is that we definitely have debates with the institutions in brussels. actually, we are under continuous attack, whatever we decide, european institutions find a way to put some pressure on us and try to blackmail us in order to change our decisions and do not take advantage of the national competencies. i think the major issue is that the european union's future is under debate now. i mean, how we can make the european union stronger in the future? and there are two major approaches in this regard: a federalistic—type of approach, which is represented by the institution themselves, which would like to build kind of a united states of europe,
which we definitely oppose. and there's another approach which is now in the minority, i have to admit, and this is represented by hungary as well. and this approach says we need strong european union, but a strong european union must be based on strong member states. and that's why we do not support any other competencies to be brought to brussels from the member states. and this is the core of the issue, this is core of the debate. we do have among ourselves, but i would like to underline again the goal is to make the european union stronger and definitely brussels thinks differently in this regard. yes, i mean, the philosophical debate about the future of europe is something that's been going on for decades. and i dare say, it will go on for decades more. but there is a much more day—to—day problem here, which you as foreign minister, as chief diplomat of your country, you have to wrestle with. and that is that many eu leaders, that is heads of state
as well as the institutions themselves, see hungary as acting in a way that is completely antithetic to the values of the eu. and that is concerning specific policy decisions made in hungary. are you prepared to consider changing your approach? no, definitely we are not going to change our approach. and i don't agree with those whom you have quoted here. we act according to the common european values. the common european regulations. these are all perceptions, these are all politically—motivated perceptions. we are a conservative, christian, democratic, patriotic government with a very stable background in parliament and in society. which gives a very, very minor, very small room for external interference in the country. i think this is the biggest problem of those who are attacking us.
we are always happy to discuss concrete issues, issue by issue, regulation by regulation. we are ready for the debate, we are ready for dialogue but putting forward perceptions, i think, simply does not make any kind of sense. we will go through it issue by issue. but before we get to specific issues would you acknowledge, this is going to cost hungary? this has become plainer in the last week but it's going to cost you potentially billions of euros because the eu is not releasing its special covid, post—covid recovery funds, 7 billion of euros of which hungary has applied for. it's not going to release those funds for you unless you comply with the so—called �*rule of law�* values of the eu. and in the latest report, just came out from brussels, the eu sees quote, "insufficient safeguards against political influence in your system, risks and favouritism, nepotism in public administration, risk arising from the link
between business and political actors.. " is it going to cost you money? steve, let me give you answers in three different points. i promise i'll be short. first, it is just being simply ridiculous, what you have quoted from this report. and please do not take it personally, because it is not you, it is a report what i am speaking about. this is a politically—motivated biased, unbalanced, unfair blackmailing type of document. you... the second point i want to make... let's start with that. you can say that, you talk about attacks. you just now issued your own, very a grave attack on the conclusions of an eu body. you can do that but it's not going to change their conclusions. i come back to the point, you're supposed to be the chief diplomat, you're supposed find way through these problems. all you're doing with me is ratcheting up the rhetoric.
look, i am not going to be ready to give up the national interest. and i will never be shy to protect my country. and i never be shy to stand up against lies against my country. because this, what you are quoted and once again, steve, it's not you, it's the report, it's being based on lies. these are simply not true. these are politically—motivated against — politically—motivated attacks against my country. this has been the case since we have taken office 11 years ago here in hungary. a conservative, patriotic, christian, democratic government which definitely goes against the international liberal mainstream and that is the consequence. then all i can say to you, foreign minister, is that you shouldn't have signed up to the club. because the club has rules and you have to accept those rules as long as you're in the club. and the latest rule which you accepted last year, was that there would be conditionality on the release
of these very important recovery funds. you signed up to that, you're going to have to accept it. no. look, we are members of the european union, we act according to the european values and we act according to the european regulations as well. well, you don't act according to the values, as we know from this report. we do, we do. but this report is simply a bunch of lies, i have to tell you. we act according to the common values, we act according to the common regulations and what the european commission makes is the following, steve: that they use european funds for blackmailing. they use the european funds to interfere into domestic political issues, which are being based purely on national competence. and this is absolutely unacceptable. because, look, this is what i am telling you, the hungarian people and hungary itself has been
contributing to the european economic achievement. european funds are based on the european political achievements. we are contributing to that. and european funds are not matters of generosity of ourfriends in brussels, these are not humanitarian donations, these are the money — this is the money of the european taxpayers, including the hungarian people. they are blackmailing us. they are not releasing financialfunds, based on political issues and it is simply unacceptable. and even more than that, it goes against that european values and european regulation. you can call it "blackmail" but ultimately, the money sits in brussels, not with you, and you won't get the money unless you change course. there is another point to what you say, that is you draw this distinction between national competencies and the business of the eu. but the truth is again, because you signed up to the club you have to adhere to core european values, as adjudicated by the european court ofjustice. in one very important area right now the europeans believe you are again flagrantly
violating their standards. and that comes with your new law which bans what you call the "promotion" of homosexuality and information about lgbt issues in your schools. the way it seen is in europe is it's a flagrant violation of european values. stephen, you know in the european union there is a very, very clear division of competencies. there are competencies which are the ones of brussels, so—called �*community competencies�* and there are competencies that are purely national. this is being written in the european regulations, it's crystal clear, it's black—and—white. if i can come back to one sentence, into the money, i can tell you that even without the releasing of these funds we will be able to significantly increase the achievement of the hungarian economy,
we will have a very significant gdp growth at the end of the year even without these funds. now, regarding the law, what you were kind enough to mention, stephen. here the fact is the following, that the hungarian parliament has modified some already existing laws. now, this has two consequences: the first consequence is, crimes committed in the relationship of paedophilia are being penalised, sanctioned, in a very, very hard, very severe, serious way. the second part, the second part of the law says that it is the exclusive right of the parents, of the parents, to conduct the education of their children regarding sexual orientation as long as they are under the age of 18. this is what the law says.
it says that it is being prohibited to present explicit pornographic content to these children, to represent the changing of gender for the kids and to promote homosexuality for the kids under the age of 18. once again i want to say... let's try to be simple and clear here, simple question, is sex education happening in hungarian schools and will it continue to happen? look, the children study biology. and in biology you do have... i'm asking you a simple question, i'm asking you set a simple question. yeah, and i'm asking you... not biology, i know you teach biology. i'm talking about sex education, which includes education, about relationships, giving kids positive information about the diverse nature of sexual relationships. does that happen
in hungary schools? look, the education regarding sexual orientation can definitely take place by professional staff, by authorised staff. what we ban, what we ban is that activists of certain ngos enter the schools and kindergartens and talk to our children without the permission and the knowledge of ours, about sexual orientation. i can tell you steve... with respect, with respect... if i can finish. you always put forward some fake news about my country about regulations here, you quote some biased report and then when we try to explain, we never have the opportunity. because i really do believe that no ngo, no ngo knows my kids, my sons, better than i do. and i definitely stick to my right to conduct
their education regarding the sexual orientation and not an ngo in the school or in the kindergarten. well, as you mention, as you mentioned your kids... i don't understand why there are attacks on that. as you mention your kids, foreign minister, i think it's only fair for me to ask you that if one of your kids, i don't know if your kids have reached teenage years yet, but as and when your kids reach teenage, who knows, one of them might be gay, who knows, we don't know? but would you, if you had a gay child in school, not want them to receive an inclusive, positive, affirming set of information about homosexuality? what i know is a following: i have two sons, the age of seven and the age of ten. and i can talk to them about basically anything. when i see that they've reach that kind of level of development, when
their circle of interest is reaching there. that's not the question i asked you. i asked her about the messages they are to receive in school. it's going to be me. it's gonna be me who is going to talk to them about such kind of issues, i stick to it. no lgbt activist in the school, but me. i will talk to them about these issues whenever i think it's necessary and whenever i think the situation is appropriate for them. so here we have, here we have. crosstalk ok, you've been very plain with me, thank you. here we have another issue which we are clearly heading for a car crash between your government and the eu. the european commission president ursula von der leyen has described the law which we've just discussed as quote,"shameful." we know the eu has already launched legal proceedings against you in your government because of this law. because they are quite clear that it violates european values and laws in several respects.
this could end up in the european court ofjustice. is that what you want? look, i think what is shameful is what the president of the european commission has done. you know, because last time it was in communism that the judgment took place before the trial. so the european commission thinks, thinks that this law could go against some common european regulations. that's why they have launched a procedure against us. during this procedure we will give our arguments, we will discuss, we will debate. if we cannot convince each other then the issue will go to the european court. but, but announcing thejudgment even before the trial would be started, this is how it was in communism in hungary. so it is shameful what the president of the european commission has done in this regard. with respect, you've describe various things the eu has done as more than shameful.
so her expressing her opinion, i'm hardly understanding why you're so upset about that. you are very opinionated about all sorts of things. the bottom line is, your prime minister mr orban has now announced that there will be a referendum. he says and i'm quoting him, with the pressure, he means the pressure from brussels on hungary is so strong only the people's will can protect hungary. that's classic populism but again doesn't follow the law, does it? because whatever you might vote in a referendum, you still have to accept authority of the european court ofjustice unless you are no longer prepared to do that. you say populism, i respect you and i respect your opinion but i think this is democracy. because democracy is about the fulfilment of the will of the people. and now the people will have a chance to make their will very clear. but real democracy is also about respecting the rule of law.
but in this case respecting the european court ofjustice. frankly, your referendum doesn't mean anything. what really matters is the ruling of the european court. no, come on, considering the will of the people which means nothing, this is very anti—democratic, i think. i am still sure about the fact that the law which the hungarian parliament has passed is absolutely in line with the european regulations. the european charter of fundamental right that the parents do have the right to ensure the education of their kids is in conformity to with their social, pedagogical and psychological aspects. so what we have done here is absolutely within the european regulation. and even more than that, issues of education are falling within the national competencies. so a referendum will definitely count, we are ready to give
the chance to the people to announce their opinion very clearly and everybody will have to respect. i'm sure you saw, foreign ministerfrom last year freedom house, the democracy watchdog group, they said that hungary could no longer be considered as a full, free democracy. they describe you now is partly free. and one of their biggest concerns was press freedom in your country and the fact that 80% of the media in hungary is in one way or another closely linked or associated with the ruling party and the prime minister. it's not healthy, is it? you know, i don't really care what freedom house says about my country because it's really unserious about what they do. saying that 80% of hungarian media is somehow attached to the government is just simply a huge, huge, fake news. if you spoke hungarian as you do not you would be aware that this is absolutely not true. if you look at the internet,
you look at what kind of views are being circulated on a daily basis, you will see a huge majority of articles being against the government and the minority of them which are kind of pro what we have been doing. you cannot name, steve one sector of hungarian media where the market leaders would not be very heavily anti—government. so this is what freedom house says is a simple lie in this regard as well, unfortunately, i have to say. let's talk about the specific revelations we've learned in recent days from a group of international investigative journalists, the so—called pegasus revelations about the use of new spyware developed in israel. it apparently has been used to hack into the phones and even the encrypted messaging services of individuals around the world. what is fascinating is that the leak show that 300 at least hungarian phone
numbers, mostly connected to journalists, lawyers, some business leaders have been hacked. and a former nso employee speaking to the washington post says that the hungarian government was a client. why have you been doing this? i'm sorry, but who says that? a former employee of this company nso that developed the spyware says your government was a client. yeah, but who is he? i mean, this is someone who says something in a secret or a hidden way or has any kind of evidence or did he show any kind of documentation about that? i don't know, you are building a huge international campaign on someone who makes a statement with no evidence, what are we speaking about? well, what are you speaking about, you denying it, yes or no? did the hungarian government use the spyware?
look, don't go into a soviet type of propaganda. don't. .. minister, it's a very simple question. this is nothing to do a soviet propaganda, is a very simple question. did you use spyware? it is because you paint a portrait of the situation as there are no secret services in every state and the secret services would not use a different kind of technology in order to protect national security. as far as i understood from this report which i guess you referred to said that there were 45 countries on the globe, 45 governments and like 65, i don't remember the exact number secret services who have bought this technology. my question is, is it a crime that a secret service buys a technology through which the secret service can protect national security interest? is that a crime? or why...
well, let me quote the words of one of 36 journalists who we know it is been, his phone is been analysed, he was hacked in this way, he was surveilled, the spyware was put on his phone. he says, i am being treated as a threat, like a russian spy or a terrorist or a mobster. this is a hungarianjournalist who happens to be not a friend of your government who has been surveilled. and you won't even tell me whether your government is responsible. what i can tell you the following, you can be absolutely sure that since we had taken office here in hungary, which was 2010, we have not monitored, we have not wire tapped anybody and in an illegal way. you can be absolutely sure about it. no one was wiretapped just because of being journalists or no one was wiretapped just because of not being friendly to the government. you can be absolutely sure about that, steve. we must end. i'm going to leave you with these comments
from the dutch prime minister, at the last eu summit. he said quote "for me, hungary has no place in the eu any more, if you don't like it he said, directing his comments at hungary, there is an alternative, leave the union. would you share that sentiment? yeah... would you consider it? no, this dutch prime minister hates the hungarians. he is kind of hungary—phobic. i could tell you that hungary has been in the european union and will be in the european union, will be working for a strong european union in the future as well. foreign minister of hungary, peter szijjarto, i thank you very much indeed for being on hardtalk. i appreciate it, i appreciate it. bye— bye.
the heatwave is coming to an end, it may not feel like it right away because it's been so hot for so long. and in northern ireland on thursday, we beat the all—time high record once again, 31.4 celsius, that's three times in the space of a week that northern ireland has beaten its all—time high temperature record. and the amber warning from the met office of extreme heat is still in force for friday, that's because the temperatures will remain high during the night and during the daytime. you can see clear skies across many through the early hours in some areas, temperature is still around 20 degrees celsius. but it is quiet on the weather front, at least for now. areas, but through the evening and into afternoon, some coastal towns and cities along the north sea coasts will probably stay cloudy, fairly cool as well, relatively speaking, but with a breeze blowing out of the east and that heat still travelling towards
the west, this is where we are going to have the higher temperatures. so once again, 30 degrees is just about possible in northern ireland, high 20s, across in wales, maybe the midlands. look at that, only 2a degrees expected in london. lots of sunshine, the possibility of a thunderstorm during the afternoon, and then in the evening, clouds are increasing in the southwest of the country. so friday night, we could see some thunderstorms, and that heralds a really thundery weekend for many of us with slow—moving downpours brought by this area of low pressure on saturday and on sunday. the best of the weather will actually be across scotland and northern ireland, so this is where the sunshine will be. where it's further south, you can see from morning onwards, we've got cloud, outbreaks of rain, some thunderstorms, and remember, these are slow—moving storms, so a lot of rainfall in a relatively small area, in a short space of time, leading to potential flash floods.
temperatures quite a bit lower, mostly in the low 20s. similar weather expected on sunday, if anything, the storms could be even more severe across some southern and southeastern areas. again, the best of the weather out towards the northwest. glasgow could be the warm spot, possibly northern ireland as well, around 2a celsius. and the cool weather is expected next week with a low pressure close by, bringing fresher conditions. that's it from me.
welcome to newsday — reporting live from singapore, i'm karishma vaswani. the headlines. the final countdown to tokyo's delayed olympics. anticipation rises but so do the covid cases and controversies. the opening ceremony is just hours away. i'm sarah mulkerrins live in tokyo as the city is waking up on the morning of the start of the games with organisers hoping the sporting action on offer will boost the mood of the nation. the devastating aftermath of catastrophic flooding in china that's claimed at least 33 lives. we speak to one woman who was trapped in her own home. also on the programme,