In a lengthy, carefully scripted speech delivered to Fidesz party faithful Friday afternoon, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán presented Hungary’s new foreign policy and explained why it had abandoned “neoliberal principles” and was behaving in a manner considered by others to be “politically incorrect.”
Orbán delivered his speech in the indoor auditorium section of the recently renovated Castle Garden Market, whose restoration after decades of neglect he said was symbolic of Hungary’s renewal and his Fidesz party. (True to form, Orbán failed to mention that the renovation was paid for almost entirely be German, Dutch, and Scandinavian taxpayers in the form of EU development grants.-ed.)
Standing at a podium featuring the slogan “Hungary is getting stronger!”, Orbán began his speech by refuting accusations that neither he nor Fidesz have any real core values, but rather are in the habit of telling the electorate precisely what they thought it wanted to hear in the interest of gaining and retaining power. Orbán did so by reaffirming his party’s populist, Christian, conservative, nationalist credentials.
“Our flag is flying high. Everyone can see that we are a people’s party community-based on Christian democracy whose ideal of the guiding star is a middle-class (polgári) Hungary.” Orbán, who recast his originally liberal party as a conservative, nationalist party after its defeat in 1994 general elections, added “I don’t think there would be any changes to this in the next 100 years.”
He then touched briefly on the sensitive subject of corruption, namely that prominent Fidesz politicians, himself included, have abused their positions to promote their own economic interests as well as those of their friends and supporters.
The Prime Minister assured Fidesz supporters that his party was committed to “promoting the country’s interests before that of individuals or groups, saying:
“But for all the frailty and imperfection we cannot err in one respect: neither individual ambition, nor individual or group interests should come before the interest and service of our country. This is more than respect for law, stronger than oaths taken on the Fundamental law”, adding that it was “a matter of personal honor and the political foundation of Christian democracy.” Orbán concluded the introductory part of his speech by offering the following quote to “every Christian democratic politician”:
“Don’t worry yourself over whether God is on our side, but rather whether we are on the side of God.”
At this point, Orbán pointed out that he was giving his speech in the recently renovated Castle Garden Market (Várkert Bazár) which he said could be a symbol of his government, having been neglected for decades before being restored to its former glory (to which he might have added “at great expense to European taxpayers”-ed). However, true to form, Orbán neglected to mention that the monumental project was funded entirely with EU development grants.
He then proceeded to talk about “towering issues facing European civilization, European people and especially the European leaders.” On this subject, Orbán said:
“As I see the the light of European political life, not only do I sense the lack of reassuring answers, I am not even sure they understand the questions at all.”
Europe is falling behind in the big world footrace
Could we have hoped that this is only the age of crisis whose passing restores European life to the pre-crisis condition to what appears to us today to be an order of peace? Or do we have to accept the fact that this is now a new world that is seriously unfriendly, and if we don’t do something urgently it would painfully devalue the old continent? And if this is the situation, then the free roominess of European life is in vain, as is its attractive and coveted way of life, as well as the incredible cultural storehouse, and our Europe will immeasurably fall behind in the big world footrace.
Terrorists recruiting fighters among immigrants living in Europe
25 years after the miracle of 1990 weapons are discharging in the eastern half of Europe. To the south anarchy and antipathy towards the EU is growing as the result of an eviscerating economic rescue package. I could list the disquieting (proliferation of) radical parties. On the western half of the continent, terror organizations are recruiting fighters among immigrants living there. And meanwhile on the southern border of the European Union, including ourselves, we are besieged by a new period of waves of migration, in the face of which increasingly frustrated states and governments stand helplessly.
The failure of liberal multiculturalism
All of this is happening in an economic situation in which many millions of Western Europeans feel they need to work more and more for less and less money, if they are even capable of retaining their jobs. Europe is confronted with questions which are impossible to answer within the framework of liberal multiculturalism. Should we take in those people who will never be willing to accept, or originally came with the intention of destroying, European culture? How did we lose this and how can be get back our collective European home that every nation of the union, even the Greeks and the Germans, can say ‘yes’ to? Can we prevent the spirit of the Cold War from returning and Russia, drifting away from Europe, again becoming our enemy? And can we Hungarians support Ukrainian independence, the security of Subcarpathian Hungarians, Hungary’s energy security and Europe’s economic interests all at the same time?
Hungary’s sovereign and innovative foreign policy
Our jobs as elected leaders is to give our own answers as a committed member of NATO and the European Union. We are adjusting the steps of Hungary to ensure we can remain in a secure and certain place in an uncertain world. We are giving answers in such a way so as to protect the results achieved with your sweat and toil and to create for even more Hungarians the opportunity to realize themselves. For this we need a sovereign and innovative foreign policy. A sovereign foreign policy has conditions. Either serious military or economic success is needed for it. The best, of course, is if both are at hand.
“The size and arms of our military is not suitable to serve as the basis for a sovereign Hungarian foreign policy, although we should acknowledge that a new rearmament is taking place here in Central Europe.
In 2010 we fought for economic survival, and getting back on our own feet required all of our strength (and some EUR 20 billion worth of EU grants.-ed.). For this reason in 2010 we only pursued an accommodating and following foreign policy. All we could expect was to defend from foreign attacks our economic independence, the country’s renewal and our work restructuring things. The mission took place under (former foreign minister) János Martonyi’s direction. We thank him for that.
Hungary’s new foreign policy
Between 2010 and 2014 the situation changed. Hungary became an economic success story, which Europe is starting to recognize. We can no longer watch from the coastline while others write our future in place of us. For this reason we announced a new foreign policy doctrine and started a new foreign policy initiative
After making the necessary organizational and personnel changes (i.e. recalling all ambassadors and firing virtually everyone who had served at the Foreign Ministry under Martonyi-ed.), we put foreign trade in the center. We threw young, talented, ambitious people into the deep end (by which Orbán means they hired a bunch of untrained, inexperienced people whose only qualification is their complete loyalty to Fidesz and Viktor Orbán –ed.). The old advise, the young fight.
For many, of course,the sovereign foreign policy and foreign initiatives was astounding. Astounding was our new and independent European politics, astounding that we reached the end of the period of a foreign policy that was disconnecting (sic) and defensive in nature.
Naturally, moderation is important in foreign affairs as well. In fact, it is especially important there. It does not hurt us to know where our limits are, so that we don’t end up like Tigger in Winnie the Pooh and end up jumping into the fire.
I noticed that previously we often either feared or looked down on foreign countries. For that, Hungary, that will soon once again be a leader of Central Europe, and which can more and more be considered the success story of an independent and brave economic policy, is no longer worthy of this mode of thinking and sensibilities.
The time has come for us to regard and feel ourselves as equal in rank to foreign countries. We musn’t fear to fight for our own truth. Believe me that the world respects and recognizes this. Only this month a head of state, three prime ministers and nine foreign ministers visited us. They had cause to come here because we put Hungary on the political map. This is what socialists and liberals call ‘political isolation.’
“We have chosen the future.”
“In 2010 Hungary gave its own answer to the most important European questions. Since 2010 we have been living in that future for which most are only not departing or eventually will try to. Europe today still entrenches itself in political correctness and encircles itself with walls of taboos and dogma. Unlike them, we see that the old pre-crisis world is not returning. There are things which are worth retaining from a previous period, such as democracy, the one without the adjective (by which Orbán presumably means ‘liberal’-ed). But we have to let go everything that does not work, or even failed. Let it go before it buries us underneath itself. We have chosen the future. Who does not choose has things chosen for him. Who does not decide, life decides for him. For this reason we let go of the neoliberal economic policies, albeit at the 24th hour. We let go of the policies of austerity, just before we would have followed Greece’s fate. We let go of the erroneous theory of multicultural society, just before Hungary was turned into a refugee camp. And we abandoned the liberal social policies that do not recognize the public good and reject Christian culture as the natural, perhaps only natural, basis for organizing European societies.
Abandoning the “dogma of political correctness”
‘We shouldered unworthy attacks and accusations and abandoned the dogma of political correctness. As I see it, the Hungarian people are by nature politically incorrect, or have not yet lost their commonsense. Nobody is interested in talk but rather deeds, results rather than theories, they want work and cheap utility costs (rezsi). They do not swallow the jimson weed that unemployment is a natural part of modern economies. They want to free themselves from the modern age’s servitude of debt created by the foreign exchange loans. They do not want to see masses of people of a different culture in their country who are incapable of adapting, who represent a threat to public order and their jobs and their survival.
The end of “liberal policies”
“Of course we should not be unjust with regard to liberal principles considering that after 1990 they brought many good things to Hungary for which we ourselves struggled. But times change, and we cannot remain blind. We already learned from György Bencze what we daily experience with our own skin. He told us that liberals are very tolerant but are unforgiving or fascists. Does that mean that everyone other than themselves are fascist? They cannot help that. Yes, we have to understand that liberal politics only knows two kinds of opinion: its own and the wrong one. Well, certainly you also remember that it happened this way, and those ideas led to Hungary taking a new direction in 2010 with the beginning of the age of national politics.
Every people tries to custom tailor to their bodies a social and economic model from the canvas of history. We know the Finn model, the Austrian and Bavarian models as well. We are also attempting to do so. Whether all we have done qualifies as the Hungarian model remains to be seen. The future will determine this when the time comes. However, there are facts, important facts, results, results worthy of reflection, and struggles that further encourage us in our work. In the modern world economic facts are considered decisive. And perhaps they are right.
Dear friends, Hungarian life surprises even the most optimistic with surprising facts. Last year more children were born than at any time during the previous five years. The so-called natural fertility rate, or how many children are born per family, in 2014 was 1.41, the highest since 1997 but still not enough. Since 2010 the number of marriages is continuously growing. Just in 2014 they increased 9 percent. By way of reminding you, between 2002 and 2010 the number of marriages in Hungary decreased 23 percent.
Dear friends, the number of divorces between 2010 and 2013 decreased 15 percent. The number of abortions, continuously decreasing since 2010, decreased 20 percent. Not since 1954 has the number of abortions been so low, although the truth is that even this is high. And on top of that is the fact that the number of deceased has not been this low since 1974. In comparison to 2010 we lost 4,300 fewer people in 2014. Behind this is the family tax discount, the extra maternity benefit and the home creation discount, the 25 percent increase in nursery school capacity and the workplace protection action plans. Of course there are those who believe the government has nothing to do with this. We’re used to this by now. If Hungarian life deteriorates, then we’re responsible. But if it starts to improve, for that, of course, we’re not. But that isn’t the point. After all, government is not a question of vanity. For those for whom it is, they need to keep their hubris on a leash. The point is that we can finally hope that the Hungarians are more confident in the future, and it appears the value of life is increasing in their eyes.