Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s address in Parliament before the start of daily business [full text in English]
October 3, 2016, Budapest
Mr. Speaker, my fellow Members,
We held a referendum in Hungary yesterday. At such times itis appropriate for me to represent the Government in assessingthe referendum result. In my assessment, the referendum has achieved its goal. Hungary has made its decision. The goalwas to set the record straight and make it perfectly clear whatHungarians want in relation to the issue of mass migration. A total of 3,282,723 people rejected it.
Organised and controlled migrant resettlement has been ongoing in Europe for years. However, it first appeared in Hungary in its harsh reality in 2015. That was when hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants illegally, aggressively and intimidatingly trampled across Hungary, in defiance of the Hungarian authorities and the laws of Hungary. It was then that the Hungarian government decided to use all available resources to restore law and order, and to protect its citizens. We have built a triple defence system: a defence system comprising physical, legal and military elements. Sparing no effort, money or energy, in record time we built a fence on the Serbian-Hungarian and Croatian-Hungarian borders. We tightened our regulations – in particular our criminal law – and created new defence regulations. We directed military and police personnel to the southern border, and they performed in an exemplary fashion, even repelling attacks on them by organised criminals at the Röszke border station. They protected the security of the people living there, protected Hungary’s constitutional order, and protected Hungary’s sovereignty. We owe them our gratitude and appreciation. The Government and I acted on the premise that the Hungarian people approve of and support the country’s defence efforts. From the South, however, there is a continuing migrant threat. We take the view that the intense immigration pressure bearing on Europe – including at Hungary’s southern borders – will continue for many years to come, and will at times intensify. Therefore we have decided on the construction of further border protection barriers, and have set up border patrol units within the police. We have increased police personnel by three thousand, and have created a separate border surveillance system. In other words, we will be able to hold back a threat from the South, even if it numbers in the millions.
Hungary has, however, found itself caught between twin pincer jaws. A decision was made in Brussels to a use a quota mechanism to distribute among the Member States the illegal immigrants who have so far entered the European Union. This would even be enforced if the Member States concerned do not agree to it. We have lodged a legal challenge to this Brussels decision, which we consider anti-democratic and unlawful. Despite this, Brussels has continued. The European Commission approved and presented to the European Parliament a new migrant distribution scheme, which in the future every Member State will be required to apply with binding force, without an upper limit on numbers – even if they are in the millions. This is the Brussels jaw of the pincers. We can defend ourselves from the South all we like – this will not stop them sending to us those from the West who entered the European Union across a border not controlled by Hungary. What should Hungary do? Should it enter into battle with Brussels? Or should we resign ourselves to the fact that from now on we are not the ones who will decide on who we want to live together with and who we do not want to live together with? This was the question. It is also obvious that if we engage in this confrontation we shall find ourselves at the centre of major European disputes; and this may have some unpleasant consequences – in the form of attacks against Hungary, for instance. At the same time, we can even expect revenge and blackmail from the Commission. In this sense our assumption has been confirmed.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We must see clearly that the Brussels bureaucrats and the European left are pro-immigration. They label the migrants as refugees, despite the fact that they cross five safe countries before reaching Germany. The European left sees the arrival of migrants in Europe as something useful and proper. This is what the Hungarian left also stands for: DK and its leader do so openly, while the MSZP do so both sheepishly and sneakily. The parties which ran in the 2014 election did not say a word about this – and, indeed, they could not. As the issue of immigration could not be resolved in the parliamentary election, it was impossible to determine Hungary’s position on the matter from the result of the election. Therefore the only remaining fair solution was for Hungarians to decide what they want. Who should decide on who may stay and who may live in the territory of Hungary? Who should decide on this: Brussels or Budapest? This was the question which had to be answered in the referendum. The decision will determine Hungary’s fate for many years. If we acquiesce we shall have one future, one Hungary; but if we rise to the challenge of the fight, we shall have a different future, a different Hungary. The referendum has clarified the position of the Hungarian people. Hungary has decided! Among all those taking part, 92% said that the right to decide lies with Budapest; and if we discount invalid votes, this figure is 98%. We must fight for this right. This is the decision of the referendum.
The referendum has achieved its goal, because in Brusselsfrom today onwards we shall not be representing the will of the Hungarian government or its leader – or even the members of the Hungarian parliament sitting here – but the will of almost three million three hundred thousand Hungarian people. Is this a large number or a small number? When we decided to join the European Union, the votes of three million fifty thousand people were enough to join, and now three million three hundred thousand people have voted “no”. In other words, the votes of several thousand more people are surely enough to decide the issue of the migrant quota.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In all modesty and restraint, I can say that yesterday the Hungarian people made history. If it is true that history is written by the winners, yesterday’s overwhelming victory for the “no” vote means that Hungary was the winner. Hungary also made history by being the first Member State in the European Union – and so far the only one – in which voters have been asked the question which I think may well determine the very existence of the European Union.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In 2003 we decided in favour of Hungary’s EU membership, with three million Hungarian electors voting “yes”. We shared the idea of a common European future. We opened our markets, contributed what we were required to contribute, and did the tasks which were demanded of us.
Since 2010 we have had a responsible government here, and in this time we have effectively become a model Member State. We observe the fiscal discipline demanded by Brussels, and have incorporated into our Fundamental Law the European legal system and the European values laid down in the Charter of Fundamental Rights. We have honoured our obligations laid down in international conventions – including the duty to protect the external Schengen borders – and have harmonised our interests with those of the other Member States. We therefore have every right to make our voice heard on fundamental joint European issues.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Three million three hundred thousand people agreed with the proposal of Fidesz and the Christian Democratic People’s Party. Never in the history of Hungarian democracy since 1990 – including in parliamentary elections – has a single party or party alliance received support on such a scale. One million more Hungarian voters expressed confidence in the Government’s position than the number of people who gave us a second mandate to govern in 2014. I would like to take this opportunity to thank them for this confidence. This decision and this support imposes an obligation on us. I can see – but even if I could not see, I would hear – that there are some who try to downplay and disregard the will of three million three hundred thousand people. With due restraint I would say to you that we shall not let you cheat these three million three hundred thousand people. I shall not let you ignore the opinion of these three million three hundred thousand people. To my mind, not a single honest elected Member of Parliament in Hungary can allow anyone to override this will.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In a constitutional sense yesterday’s referendum does not force the Hungarian parliament to create any legislation. The question is whether we want to enforce the decision adopted by the people yesterday. If we want to, we may do so. The Christian Democratic People’s Party and Fidesz believe that the correct, fair and necessary measure is to assign constitutional weight to the people’s concerted will. I shall therefore initiate a constitutional amendment reflecting the spirit of the referendum result.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We must prepare for further struggles. Now the ball is in Brussels’ court. The question is whether Brussels – the democratic community of European States – can get away with imposing its will upon a Member State in opposition to more than ninety per cent of those who voted in a referendum; the question is also whether we Hungarian politicians will also be able to enforce the people’s decision in the European arena.
Honourable House, Mr. Speaker,
We are not alone in rejecting the mandatory resettlement quotas. We are perfectly aware that a considerable proportion of European citizens similarly do not support Brussels’ proposal on mandatory quotas – a proposal which is also inhumane. In the past year and a half we have already succeeded in recalibrating European politics. We should just remember the criticism that was levelled at us when we started building the southern border fence. Today more people in Europe argue in favour of protecting the borders than supporting immigration. I know – and I can hear, Ladies and Gentlemen – that also among us here there are faint-hearted people, but you can see that Hungary is also capable of winning battles in Brussels. We are able to protect our culture, our everyday security, and also our economic achievements.
Finally, Honourable House,
Ahead of us we still have a difficult path, filled with struggle. The political elite and their supporters – including their Hungarian supporters – have a vested interest in unlimited immigration and resettlement; and they have a powerful arsenal of weapons. They are loud, anti-democratic and aggressive. Even facing into this headwind, it is our duty, Honourable Members of Parliament, to enforce the clear and unambiguous will voiced yesterday by the Hungarian people. This is our duty, and we shall do just that.
Thank you for your attention.