Mar 05, 2016 - Zoltán Kovács

‘None of Us Wants a Europe That Surrenders,’ Says PM Orbán

“As I see today,” Prime Minister Orbán said, “there are so many problems – and you know it too, that problems don’t just mean trouble, they mean an opportunity as well – within the European Union that many countries have taken up with or are taking up with the idea of creating a deeper form of integration after the common currency. And that puts us, every country, which is not a part of the Eurozone, up to a challenge.”

The prime minister was addressing an annual gathering on Monday of Hungary’s diplomats who serve in missions around the world. The speech came one day after the prime minister’s annual State of the Nation address, and that particular remark served as both a cautionary alert as well as a call to Hungary’s leading diplomats to step up to the challenge.

“So, there is a way of thinking in the European Union,” the prime minister continued, “that there is nothing devilish in building up a United States of Europe. It is a realistic goal, why shouldn’t we follow that direction?...There is also an approach, which [says] be cautious, let’s build on what we know, what we are aware of, on what we can firmly stand.”

According to PM Orbán, the “unionist” or “core Europe” member states seek a deeper integration to support the common monetary policy. Deeper integration could mean a common tax system, a common system for managing state debt, a common pension system, and a common social benefits system. If that were to happen, “what is going to make us a sovereign state?” he asked. “One can feel how the decision-making power slips out from the capitol of the given state to somewhere else. And it is understandable that in a continent, which is after all a continent of sovereign and proud nations, very few countries are willing to step down this path.”

“The biggest dilemma of the unionists and European leaders and intellectuals trying to create a core-Europe today,” the prime minister said, “is answering the question: While the goal of integration is to strengthen nations, improve their economic performance, their potential and output, why is it that the economic growth of the countries in the Eurozone significantly lags behind the economic growth of the countries which are not members of the Eurozone? And that applies from Great Britain to central Europe.”

Economic performance in the past few years in Hungary, the stability provided by the cooperation of the Visegrád Four, and a carefully measured foreign policy strategy have won, according to PM Orbán, respect for Hungarian diplomacy. “Being respected in foreign politics,” he added, “doesn’t mean that they say only nice things about you. That’d be a sign a not being respected. Instead, [it means] that they say a lot of bad things [about you].”

Such criticism is not necessarily ideal, he said, but the world must now reckon to some degree with a country of ten million within a Europe of 500 million, must take into consideration its position, ideas and recommendations. That is in itself “a serious achievement.”

On Sunday, in his annual State of the Nation speech, the prime minister referred to the handling of the migration crisis as another clash point between “unionists and sovereignists.” Regarding the EU approach, which would require member states to accept mandatory resettlement of migrants, the prime minister insisted that “Brussels must be stopped.”

Quoting the former president of France, Charles de Gaulle, PM Orbán spoke frankly about how “Europe must face realities,” that politics that go against reality will only lead to “political delirium.”

“The second and third decades of the twenty-first century will be the decades of mass migration. An era is upon us that we were not prepared for,” the prime minister said. “We thought that something like this could only happen in the distant past or was confined to the pages of history books. In fact, however, over the next few years more people than ever – multitudes outnumbering the entire population of some European countries – could set out for Europe. It is time to face reality. It is time to separate that which exists from that which we would like to exist. It is time to discard illusions, sophisticated theories, ideologies and utopian dreams.”

Then he drew a stark picture of the reality that Europe now faces.

“[F]or a long time a world of parallel societies has been evolving with steady persistence, deep beneath the surface in a number of European countries. The reality is that, according to the natural order of things, this is forcing back our world – and with it, us, our children and grandchildren. The reality is that those coming here have no intention whatsoever of adopting our way of life, because they see their own as more valuable, stronger and more viable than ours. And why, indeed, would they give it up? The reality is that they will not provide the supply of labour needed by the factories of western Europe. Facts show that, across entire generations, the unemployment rate is much higher – sometimes several times higher –among those born outside Europe. The reality is that the European nations have been unable to integrate even the masses who arrived from Asia and Africa gradually, over a number of decades. How could they succeed in doing so now, so rapidly and for such large numbers? The reality is that we are unable to use the Muslim world to solve the demographic problems of an undeniably shrinking and aging Europe, without losing our way of life, our security and ourselves. The reality is that unless we put our foot down very soon, we will see an unmanageable level of tension between an aging Europe and a young Muslim world, between a secular and faithless Europe and an increasingly fervent Islamic world, between a Europe that is unable to employ its own trained young people and an under-qualified Muslim world. This is not happening in a remote part of the world which is therefore no threat to us, but here, in the heart of Europe.”

PM Orbán cautioned, however, that it is not the migrants who should be blamed for all of this, but ourselves, as Europeans. “The majority of them are also victims: victims of their countries’ collapsing governments, victims of bad international decisions, victims of people smugglers. They are doing what they see as being in their own interests. The problem is that we Europeans are not doing that which would be in our own interests,” he said, adding that the EU’s migrant quota proposal sounds “as if, instead of repairing the leaking hull, we are arguing about how much water should flood into which cabins.”

Instead, the Orbán Government proposes to help these people where their problem arises. “We do not have hearts of stone, either. It is also true that we do not have heads of stone. We keep in mind the most important rule when offering help: if we help them here, they will come here; if we help them there, they will stay there. Instead of heeding this rule, Brussels has started to encourage those living in the poorer and less fortunate parts of the world to come to Europe and to change their lives for something different.”

So what’s the solution? According to the prime minister, the Brussels plan could be stopped by European democracy, “the will of the people.”

“If it is true,” he said, “that the people do not want the current, insane immigration policy from Brussels – and indeed they oppose it – we should make room for their voice, and listen to what they have to say. After all, the European Union is based on the foundations of democracy. This means that we must not make decisions that will dramatically change people’s lives without consulting people and against their will.”

Hungarian diplomats will continue to be busy. Much is at stake, not only in Hungary but in all of Europe, and Hungary will continue to be on the side of a surviving Europe. “There are those who believe in the ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity, and there are those who believe in the trinity of God, homeland and family, and the kingdom to come of faith, hope and love,” Prime Minister Orbán said in concluding his State of the Nation Address. “But whatever our personal beliefs

“none of us can want our Europe to submit when faced with a torrent of people deliberately channeled toward us, and when faced with aggressive demands for the assertion of different morals and different customs. We do not believe that Europe is doomed to this fate, we do not believe that Europe will choose to surrender the values of a millennium.”