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Nov 21, 2017 - Zoltán Kovács

PM Orbán on the future: From ‘learning to be small’ to making Hungary great again

All Hungarian individuals and communities wherever they may live, said Prime Minister Viktor Orbán recently, are part of one nation, and in an age when “national interests come first, even in the European Union,” Hungary aims to unite what is a global nation and make it stronger as a whole.

In a series of recent speeches and remarks, Prime Minister Orbán has laid out a vision for the Hungarian nation of the future, describing the importance – in a situation where one third of Hungarians live outside the borders of Hungary – of efforts to unify the nation and the work of nation-building.

“Our basic philosophy, enshrined in several laws, holds that all Hungarian individuals and communities – whatever state jurisdiction they are subject to – are part of a united Hungarian nation,” said the prime minister, speaking at the Seventh Plenary Session of the Hungarian Diaspora Council in Budapest and the 16th Plenary Session of the Hungarian Standing Conference (MÁÉRT), representing ethnic Hungarians in the Carpathian Basin and all over the world. Hungarians living in scattered communities around the world, he said, are a source of national pride and strength.

Over the course of the last seven years, Hungary has granted more than one million, new citizenships. That did not happen on it’s own, the prime minister said. “[W]ithout a strong mother country, no effective, successful, lasting and beneficial foreign policy affecting Hungarians abroad can be carried out,” he said. That strength includes economic stability.

“[W]e have created a work-based society,” the prime minister said, pointing to the success of “not the government but the whole of the country.” Since 2010, the number of employed in Hungary has risen from 3.7 to 4.4 million – all of whom pay income tax. Moreover, “in international wage rankings, Hungary’s minimum wage is the third highest among the European Union’s 28 Member States,” he said, and taxes levied on enterprises have been significantly lowered to attract investors. Furthermore, the government has endeavored to return some of the country’s most strategic sectors – like energy and banking – to national hands. Today, Hungary has significantly more room for maneuver as an international actor, influence worthy of a medium-sized European state.

The government strategy for the “diaspora,” the group of Hungarians outside the Carpathian Basin, includes four directions: “the development of education in the diaspora; the enhanced use of diplomacy throughout the diaspora; the establishment of a Hungarian emigration and diaspora center; and the strengthening of economic relations between the motherland and diaspora communities,” Prime Minister Orbán said.

“[P]ursuing a family-friendly policy agenda is for us a matter of necessity,” he said, “a matter of national life and death.” Hungary has not yet totally escaped from catastrophic population decline, but we see promising trends. In 2010, Hungary’s fertility rate was the lowest in Europe, at 1.25. By 2016, the rate had risen to 1.49. “[O]ur population grew without any immigration, relocation or resettlement,” the prime minister said.

The results we’ve achieved should be a source of pride, but they also must be protected. Opposition to the path and policies Hungary has followed can be found in the ongoing debate between globalists and nations, as Europe has decided to set out on a post-Christian and post-national era, the policy of the “United States of Europe”. “[N]ational interests come first,” said Prime Minister Orbán, “even in the European Union.”

When talking about the future of Europe in Passau, Germany a few weeks ago, he raised similar concerns. He added that keeping the external Schengen borders strong remains essential to defending our own free movement within the EU. Hungarians in the homeland as well as in Serbia made sacrifices to prove what others said was impossible: that the wave of illegal migration can be halted. “[T]oday,” he said, “Hungary is one of the safest countries in Europe.”

Since Viktor Orbán’s return to government in 2010, Hungary has focused considerable effort on uniting the Hungarian nation, with the citizenship drive forming a major part of that project. The next steps, said the prime minister, should see the continuation of nation building, which does not mean only defending our values but also contributing to the discussion about the future of the Carpathian Basin.

Prime Minister Orbán also asked for support to the “Minority SafePack” initiative launched jointly with the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania, aiming to gather one million signatures from a sufficient number of countries to persuade the EU to take specific measures for indigenous minority rights in Europe.

A former communist leader in Hungary, László Kovács, speaking about the country’s place in the world, once infamously said, “Let’s learn to be small.” It was the vision of a national leadership that had given up on Hungary’s future, the vision of losers. And “learning to be small” was characteristic of so much of that communist era.

Prime Minister Orbán sees a different future for the Hungarian nation, one of growth and prosperity, one where Hungary is not small in its influence and the weight it carries in Europe, and that vision sees all Hungarians playing an active part in making the country strong again.