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Mar 24, 2016 - Zoltán Kovács

Speaking plainly about the nature of the threat

First reactions are often the same: grief, condolences, sympathy, words to remember the victims and to comfort the families. Hungary’s highest representatives, President Áder and Prime Minister Orbán, were among the first European leaders to express their condolences through letters to their Belgian counterparts.

Next come details and technicalities. According to protocol, Hungary’s terror alert ticked upward as the first news of the terror attacks in Brussels arrived. Reports emerged about the number of Hungarian victims and their condition.

And that’s where it seems to stop. But after attacks in Paris and unrest in Cologne, after Istanbul, Ankara, after Madrid, London, and now Brussels, what is Europe prepared to do next to confront this threat and take meaningful steps to prevent future attacks?

“We Europeans number five hundred million,” said Prime Minister Orbán in a radio interview earlier this month, “and this means that there are more of us than the Russians and the Americans combined. We are one of the world’s most developed economic regions. Our technological means, state of development and financial strength enable us to defend ourselves.”

The prime minister has long been an outspoken proponent of strengthened European cooperation among domestic security services and a more determined, robust protection of European borders.

So why are we not doing it? Because many, cowed by political correctness, have become reluctant to speak frankly about the threat. And as political correctness takes away our ability to speak openly about the very real threats to Europe’s security, the link between mass migration and the threat of terror, it is denying our freedom and frustrating our ability to take proper action.

A propos, it was with bitter irony that I read a piece in the Financial Times earlier this week, published just before the attacks in Brussels, an article that paints Hungary in an unfavorable light for prosecuting those accused of crossing the border illegally – not just Hungary’s border, mind you, but the southern border of Europe’s Schengen Area. Strong evidence indicates that the perpetrators of these recent acts of terror have very purposefully exploited the Western Balkan migration route to move unfettered across unprotected borders into Europe. Yet when Hungary mounts a strong response, sending a clear signal to all who would cross the border illegally, our government is criticized.

“[T]oday not a single people – including the Hungarian people – can be free if Europe is not free,” said Prime Minister Orbán speaking on the March 15th national holiday that commemorates the anniversary of the 1848 Hungarian revolution.

“Europe is not free because freedom begins with speaking the truth. In Europe today it is forbidden to speak the truth. A muzzle is a muzzle – even if it is made of silk,” the prime minister said. “It is forbidden to say that today we are not witnessing the arrival of refugees but watching a Europe being threatened by mass migration. It is forbidden to say that tens of millions are ready to set out in our direction. It is forbidden to say that immigration brings crime and terrorism to our countries. It is forbidden to say that the masses of people coming from different civilizations pose a threat to our way of life, our culture, our customs, and our Christian traditions. It is forbidden to say that, instead of integrating, those who arrived here earlier have built a world of their own, with their own laws and ideals, which is forcing apart the thousand-year-old structure of Europe. It is forbidden to say that this is not accidental and not a chain of unintentional consequences, but a planned, orchestrated campaign, a mass of people directed towards us.”

Prime Minister Orbán and the Hungarian government have endured sharp criticism for speaking openly about these issues since the Charlie Hebdo shootings more than a year ago. In the name of a politically correct dictatorship, we were demonized for mentioning that uncontrolled and unmanaged migration was a threat, for denouncing the mandatory resettlement of migrants, for showing our European fellow member states that a border – a European border on the south side of Hungary – can be protected, and finally for putting security first, instead of fearing taboos.

The fact that terrorists were able to carry out these bombings at one of Europe’s busiest airports and only a few steps from the European Commission and the European Parliament, while Brussels was under a high terror alert for months, only a few days after a terrorist leader was arrested, and only a few months after the Paris attack, speaks volumes. The real problem comes if Europe – a mighty continent, a strong continent – once again fails to speak up about the real issues and acts accordingly. We, Europeans, can and should stand up and protect ourselves. And this all starts by speaking honestly.