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May 15, 2019

PM Orbán's 2015 speech is probably the most important by a Western statesman this century, says academic

Christopher Caldwell points out that the speech PM Orbán made before an annual picnic for his party’s intellectual leaders in the late summer of 2015 is probably the most important by a Western statesman this century

Christopher Caldwell points out that although no English-language newspaper reported on it at the time, nor has any cited it since, the speech Prime Minister Viktor Orbán made before an annual picnic for his party’s intellectual leaders in the late summer of 2015 is probably the most important by a Western statesman this century.

Caldwell highlights that when PM Orbán spoke in the village of Kötcse, by Lake Balaton, hundreds of thousands of migrants from across the Muslim world, most of them young men, were marching northwestwards out of Asia Minor, across the Balkan countries and into the heart of Europe.

“PM Orbán urges his aides to take one day a week off to devote to their reading and writing. He does so himself, clearing his Thursdays when he can,” Caldwell writes. “His ideas are powerful, raw, and unsettled.”

Caldwell says when PM Orbán’s conservative Fidesz came back to power in 2010, it inherited a country which was almost in as bad a situation as Greece: heavily indebted, with an unemployment rate of 12 percent and economy that shrunk by 6.6 percent in the previous year.

Since then Hungary fully repaid its loans to the International Monetary Fund by 2013 and currently the country has an economic growth of four (to five) percent, an unemployment rate of about three percent while public debt has fallen from 85 percent to 71 percent.

“Hungary must protect its ethnic and cultural composition,” Caldwell cites from the speech. “I am convinced that Hungary has the right—and every nation has the right—to say that it does not want its country to change.”

Caldwell, in addition to agreeing with PM Orbán’s idea of a strong state, has everything but praise for him.

“PM Orbán is more than the bohunk version of Donald Trump that he is often portrayed as. He is blessed with almost every political gift—brave, shrewd with his enemies and trustworthy with his friends, detail-oriented, hilarious,” he writes.

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Photo credit: origo.hu