Viktor Orbán’s address at the Congress of the Federation of Christian Intellectuals
16 September 2017, Budapest
Reverend Cardinal, Honourable Church and Secular Leaders, Honourable President, Ladies and Gentlemen, Leaders of the Federation of Christian Intellectuals,
If in the twilight of yesterday evening the Cardinal and I had got together in a corner to plot how today’s two presentations could reinforce each other, we could hardly have produced a better outcome than this – which was achieved without resort to any such conspiracy. In other words, I’m telling you that I’d like to continue where His Eminence left off. Most likely such concurrences of thought are not mere coincidences, but stem much more from an identical understanding of the spirit of the age, or the questions bedevilling our lives. His Eminence sought to tell us how deeply the roots of Christianity are embedded in the soil: the soil of European society. Citing the ill-fated French Revolutionary Calendar, he told us that neither axes nor saws managed to cut Christianity away from the lives of the European people; on the contrary, as the fate of that calendar also demonstrates, the axe stuck fast and the blade lost its edge. I would like to speak about how today we are no longer faced with a threat from the axe – which, as His Eminence mentioned, Christianity has successfully overcome many times – but with a situation in which our opponents have realised that the essence of the social power of Christianity is that it is deeply rooted in the human society that it serves. Therefore the goal of today’s anti-Christian European programme is to replace the subsoil. The goal is the creation of a subsoil in which the roots of Christianity – no matter how strong and thick they are – cannot find anchorage. Thus the enormous tree will simply loosen its grip and fall to the ground. Then the woodcutters can arrive on the scene. This is how Christianity in Europe can be fatally weakened. This is what I’d like to talk about, when I reach that part in my written presentation.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I’ve been asked to deliver a presentation, and a presentation is a specific genre. As we have heard, it requires the use of precise wording, a well-defined topic, and the restrained mode of delivery which befits a professor. Here today, however, I cannot meet these conditions, and therefore the style I shall adopt will be more of a welcome address, rather than a presentation.
I wish to extend a warm welcome to those who have invited me here. I would like to greet friends, allies and comrades-in-arms. Those of us gathered here in this chamber today are people who want to be what they are. We are the people, the members of Hungarian society, who perceive ourselves as that which God created us to be: in my own case, for instance, a Christian Hungarian man. We are the people who are not interested in changing what we are. We are not interested in ways of opposing the will of the Creator, or of how to avoid our duties arising from our created condition, as you put it. Instead of this, what we’re interested in, what we’re excited about, what animates us, is how to meet this duty of ours. When we gather together, meet and talk, we examine and search for the exact essence and mission of our duty – and even the ways in which it could be improved. It is this shared spiritual disposition that creates among us an intellectual bond and friendly feelings – and, we can confidently state, a political alliance. The bond that ties us together is strong, enduring and tested.
We only need to recall that, after 2002, the civic circles which we all remember so well originated in the sphere of the Christian intelligentsia. We also recall that it was in these circles that the country learnt its lesson in the subject known as “How to conquer the returning post-communists”. After 2002, together we developed the ability to both serve our motherland and to stand up against the return of a political leadership opposed to religion, nation and family. You may remember this notion: “the motherland cannot be in opposition”. I remember the joint nationwide tours which laid the foundations for the current situation, in which the support in society for the Christian, national, civic right – its social embeddedness, to borrow a socialist term – has proved to be much more solid than that of our rivals. Who would have thought this fifteen years ago, Dear Federation of Christian Intellectuals? And I also remember that in 2009 we together sensed the possibility of a successful constitutional revolution, and then through hard work this intuitive prevision was turned into a two-thirds parliamentary majority. From this there followed a new Constitution, but – if you’ll forgive me – I shall not repeat the merits of this, as we’ve spoken about it so many times, and you’d find it boring. But I do remember when, at our joint meetings in 2013, together – and for the first time in the history of modern Hungarian democracy – we found the key which enabled the Christian right to win an election from a governing position: in other words, to build a societal majority as well as a political one. And I also remember that in 2015, at a joint conference entitled “Signs of the Times”, of which you were co-organisers, we discussed the Government’s performance, situation and possibilities. I sincerely hope that in a year or two we can perhaps look back on that 2015 conference as the one that cleared our path to another victory in 2018: the third in a triple victory.
I’d like to make it clear, Ladies and Gentlemen, that the Government greatly appreciates the work of Christian churches and the civic communities organised around them. We greatly appreciate it, and I also greatly appreciate it. The first sentence of my political credo is that in politics and the country’s leadership one can never be smart enough on one’s own: one always needs a place where one can discuss and consider with others the things one sees fit to think and act upon. This is another reason why the Government welcomes the work of the Christian churches and the civil organisations organised around them. And I am also convinced, Ladies and Gentlemen – and the Government shares this conviction – that what is good for Hungarian Christians is also good for Hungary.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Here I would like to digress. We never beat about the bush, and we have always been open in revealing our goals. In your case this is something natural, and this is the least one can expect of a faith community; but it’s also a legitimate expectation in the world of politics – though it can’t always be fully met. If there’s something we can cite as an argument in favour of the current Government, it is that whenever possible it has stated its case in an open, straightforward and sincere manner. With regard to its intentions it has never beaten about the bush, and I don’t want to do that today. We should openly express and profess our goals: we want a Hungarian Hungary and a European Europe. This is only possible if we likewise openly profess that we want a Christian Hungary in a Christian Europe. We are convinced that this is not just an acceptance of the past. We believe in the concept which József Antall left us: that this alone has a future.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I shall make a brief digression on a single point involved in the relationship between Christianity and politics. Political parties inspired by Christian thinking are often criticised on the grounds that they have no right to claim for themselves the duty and mission of defending Christianity. I have thought a great deal about this criticism, which is sometimes levelled at us – even from within the churches. And at the bottom of it I’ve found something which we would do well to consider, because if we think about it carefully, defending Christianity is indeed not the duty of politics. Defending Christianity is the duty of others playing their roles in modern society. But then how should we define the duty of Christian politics? I’m convinced that it is the duty, the mission of political parties, Christian-inspired political parties, to defend the human foundations for life which have their origins in Christianity. We do not need to engage in theological and dogmatic struggles, but we must defend the foundations for life which have their origins in Christianity. One such foundation for life, for instance, is the individual and their dignity: the human being, as we envisage him or her. Another foundation for life that we must defend is the family. The nation is likewise a foundation for life that we must defend, and we must also defend our faith communities, our churches. We are not trying to defend Christianity in a theological and dogmatic sense, but in Hungary – as well as in Europe – we are seeking to protect the foundations for life that have their origins in Christianity. This therefore enables Christian-inspired political parties to win more votes and support than the number of practising Christians in a given society, as the person and personal dignity are not only important for believers. The family is important not only for those who have strong links with God. The nation is promoted and cherished not only by those who find a link between its existence and the will of the Creator, but also by those who are unable or unwilling to make this intellectual or spiritual link. This clearly indicates that Christian-inspired politics – if it defines its role well and sets out to defend the social foundations for life originating in Christianity – can rightly lay claim to the support of a community which is wider than that of practising Christians.
This leads us back to what the Cardinal said about it being next to impossible in modern European politics, in the world of politics and public life, to act without the support of the majority of society. This belies the fact that there are countries where – to put it mildly, and with optimism – Christian believers are not in the majority. Yet their parties engage in the political struggle and hope to be able to gain the support of the majority in society. The topic of my presentation is not the precise situation in Hungary today, but in any event it’s also important for us to bear in mind that, regardless of how many believers there are, political parties in Hungary following Christian democratic social teachings may have the chance – and will always have the chance – to gain the trust and support of the majority in society. Therefore you do not ally yourselves with us in order to represent your values within those narrower circles in which they are already represented. On the contrary, if you enter into alliance with us Christian-inspired political parties in order that the values that are important to you are realised in wide circles through government policy. This is the meaning of our alliance.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Hungary cannot exist without human dignity, healthy families, strong national bonds and stable faith communities. This is a law which has held for a thousand years, and which will hold far into the future.
Therefore we all ask ourselves the following question: Will there be a Christian Hungary, and will there be a Christian Europe? This is the question that we are all asking ourselves. As regards Hungary, an answer is simpler to give, as it depends exclusively on us Hungarians. There will be a Christian Hungary if the Hungarian people so desire. We believe that in essence our methods, our power of persuasion, our influence and our potential in this area depend solely on our own performance, commitment and talent. But will there be a Christian Europe? That is a more difficult question. And on this I’d now like to share a few gloomy thoughts with you.
If you look at Europe’s internal structure – particularly if you also consider this in historical terms – you can see that there has always been a kind of internal tension within the European Union and the community of European peoples: the system of relations has always had a kind of dynamism which had to be repeatedly resolved through compromises and agreements. According to some historians, Europe’s diversity caused internal tension and dynamism, which in turn led to competition; and eventually it was this which for many centuries made Christian Europe the world’s leading continent. I agree with this interpretation. So there have always been such internal differences: between the groups of Northern and Southern countries, the groups of Western and Eastern countries; between the rich countries, which are referred to as net contributors, and the poorer countries, which are referred to as the beneficiaries. Then there’s the eurozone, which doesn’t include all of the European’s twenty-eight Member States, so there’s also a group outside the eurozone. And one can find a number of other structures as well. What I’m talking about now is the fact that we’re living through a period in which a completely new, previously unknown dynamism – a new kind of internal tension – is developing, and the community of European peoples is wracked by an unresolved internal conflict of a completely new nature that is dramatically different from anything we’ve seen before. This conflict, this internal tension, has emerged between the immigrant countries – the countries with immigrant populations – and the non-immigrant countries. To openly state this is still taboo in European politics, but János Latorcai’s spirited, swashbuckling opening presentation perhaps allows me to try to fracture this taboo; I may not have the strength needed to shatter it, but at least I can fracture it.
Europe’s overriding tension is about whether Europe will be Christian, and whether there will be a Christian Europe: a number of countries form a group of what have become immigrant countries, which have taken in people from non-Christian civilisations; and there are countries forming a group which have not yet become immigrant countries, or never want to become immigrant countries. The great task facing European leaders today – I could call it the historic challenge – is to find a way of co-existing, to develop a means by which these two very different groups of countries can cooperate. If they fail to do so, then this tension could cause a fracture in the European continent's political history which is far greater than at present, and which could even be catastrophic in effect. We therefore have an interest in resolving this internal tension through wise policy that accommodates this dissimilarity. As we belong to the group of non-immigrant countries, we believe that the immigrant countries are pursuing wrong-headed foreign policy, have lost control over their borders, and, by placing themselves at the mercy of modern-day mass population movement, have committed themselves to a completely new path of development. We have not done this: we abide by the ancient law. This ancient law of politics states that a country without borders is like an egg without a shell. What we’re observing in politics today is a strange phenomenon. I’d like to quote former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who shared the following thought with us: In Europe we are witnessing a very rare historical event, in which a region is not defending its external borders, but has instead opened them. The like of this has not happened in several thousand years.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is obvious that in the immigrant countries today the rights associated with the admission of migrants take priority over the rights of the individual states to defend their external borders. We simply do not accept this proposition. We assign the highest priority to the right to defend our external borders. In the West, we see the human rights of illegal immigrants taking precedence over the will of European citizens who don’t want to let them into their countries. This then raises the issue of democracy. What we’re faced with is a problem of democracy in the Western countries. They are applying principles which the great majority of people within their societies clearly no longer follow; or, if they have ever followed them, they’re beginning to abandon them – indeed, they are renouncing them. We’re not involved in this problem of democracy, as on this very difficult issue – whether we should become an immigrant country – we’ve opted for a solution which, through national consultations, continuously involves those citizens who are prepared to state their opinion in the process of decision-making by the political leadership.
Naturally this problem leads us to a moral dilemma which regularly recurs in today’s debates about Christianity in Europe: who is a good person? Speaking in support of the attitude of the countries taking in migrants, many people argue that a good person is one who lets in those in distress. In this context, I hardly need to say that the roots of this idea are rather deeply embedded in the teachings that we all follow. The situation is different, however, in the case of a mass population movement of the kind that we’re talking about. In the case of a mass population movement, I’m convinced that we must send help to where the trouble is in crisis-afflicted countries, nations or regions within nations, rather than relocating them here, to us; because by doing so we don’t solve the problem, but we also saddle ourselves with the problem. This is not a wise, intelligent or rational policy. So when we say that we must take assistance there, rather than bringing the trouble here, we are representing a morally sound policy, the policy of good people. Assistance must be taken there.
If we look at today’s European politics from this angle, we have nothing to boast about. Because if we are honest and place our hand on our heart, over the past ten years, instead of taking assistance there, Europeans have only taken trouble there. After all, Libya – which had previously held back the waves of population movement – was extensively bombed with the involvement of European states, large European states. Likewise Syria wasn’t destroyed by the Syrians, Ladies and Gentlemen, but by Western intervention. So if we take a closer look, those who today adopt an air of moral superiority when talking about countries such as us, which don’t want to become immigrant countries, owe it to themselves to engage in some thorough self-examination: they should consider how much they have contributed to creating the trouble, the consequences of which they now wish to impose on us.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I simply want to say that the policy which refuses to allow Hungary to become an immigrant country is not only a rational policy, but also a morally well-founded and a morally tenable one. Recently I read a sentence in a study of European politics, an analysis of the political system, which I’d very much like to share with you, because I believe that it really hits the nail on the head. This sentence runs thus: “Some politicians are like bad riders, who are so preoccupied with the effort of remaining in the saddle that they’re unable to focus on the direction they should be heading in”. If we look at Europe today, this is the feeling one has.
The question, Ladies and Gentlemen, is what this will lead to. This is the other question that intrigues us. According to the laws of mathematics and what we know of the history and experiences of European civilisation, mixed populations will come into being in the countries which are already immigrant countries. In the nations that have made themselves immigrant countries I see no evidence of the strength, ability or knowledge that would enable them to revert to being non-immigrant countries. But if they are unable to do this, they will become countries with mixed populations, with a Christian element and a non-Christian element which has a strong religious identity. And if I judge the laws of biology and mathematics correctly, the ratio between these two elements will continuously shift away from Christianity and towards the non-Christian religious communities. The end of this process is unforeseeable – or only foreseeable mathematically; but in that sense it is rather easily foreseeable, and this answers our question. It is true that it only answers it mathematically, and luckily human history and politics are more complex than mathematics: this is the only ray of hope for us. But how this will end is mathematically foreseeable.
Paradoxically, while the group of immigrant countries with mixed populations which has come into being within the European Union presumes its own moral superiority in relation to us, today it is in fact those countries that pose the greatest threat to European values. It is in those countries with mixed populations that, day by day, the values which constitute the foundations of Christian European life are called into question and come under threat. Freedom of religion – the notion that every creature of God has the right to find the way which leads to Him – is under threat. There are religions which do not permit this to those who are born into their communities. The other day I read that a major reform now achieved in one country in the Arab world is the concession that women born into Muslim communities are no longer forbidden by law from marrying non-Muslim men. In a country in that region this is a rare and enormous achievement. So it’s clear that other faith communities think differently about freedom of religion than we Christians do. So we have every reason to say that if in mixed-population countries the Christian population finds itself in decline, their freedom of religion will be in danger. Similarly, equality between the sexes, which in our world is a fundamental starting point, will also be in danger in a Europe with an increasingly dominant number of people who don’t accept the notion of that equality. All this is aside from the fact that the fight against anti-Semitism in Western Europe will also be compromised: as whatever we may think of the migrants flowing into those countries, we can be certain that under no circumstances will they see the people of the Old Testament as their allies. So in the immigrant countries the European values of freedom of religion, the fight against anti-Semitism and equality between the sexes are all equally under threat.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
For our part, we do not wish to pursue that path. And we shall not forget that when we built the border fence, the Germans, the Austrians and the Western media passed judgement on us with morally imperialistic, presumptuous arrogance. We have not forgotten that they launched a worldwide smear campaign against us, with fake photographs and bogus horror stories. Everyone could see, everyone with an ounce of sense realised, that this was a centrally commissioned, centrally directed and centrally orchestrated offensive against Hungary. This was born of revenge, because we closed the Balkans route, which had been used by the migrants up to that point in time.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
When I refer back to all this now, I do not do so out of a sense of grievance. It’s important to recall these things not in order to sit back now and to say with self-satisfaction: “We were right”. It’s important to recall all this because it demonstrates that the immigrant countries have not yet found a way – as far as I can see – to live together with the non-immigrant countries in a single political community. If we want to live together – the immigrant countries and we non-immigrant countries – we cannot speak to each other like this, and we cannot treat each other like this. Our lives will not be peaceful, balanced and friendly within a community like this.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Nowadays the Westerners have a single thought: by legal, political or economic means they want to induce us – not just Hungary, but also the other the countries of Central Europe – to become countries like they are. In other words, they think that the peoples and countries of Central Europe should also become immigrant countries. We don’t want this, and therefore everyone in Brussels will have to accept that we shall not be an immigrant country. It is precisely for this reason that the future of Europe depends on how we can resolve this conflict and difference.
If you will allow me, I’d like to make one last remark of an intellectual or ideological nature. The ideology of the immigrant countries can be easily identified, and I’m convinced that, in the final analysis, this is what turned them into immigrant countries: in these countries, the prevailing ideology is liberalism. In the case of the non-immigrant countries, however, our guiding ideal is not international liberalism, but sovereignty and Christian social teaching. The adoption of today’s Western European liberalism by the Central Europeans would simply be suicide – or, more precisely, for the Central European countries it would become the ideology of suicide. In turn, this would mean that in the end we, too, would become immigrant countries: we, too, would suffer from terrorism; we, too, would see public security compromised; we, too, would be unable to protect our borders. And we, too, would no longer believe that the dangerous demographic decline plaguing us could be halted and reversed with family support measures: we, too, would import populations from outside our borders in order to offset demographic decline, just and they do.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
For Central Europe, all this would mean that within the not-too-distant future, we, too, would become countries with mixed cultures, and within our own lifetimes our national and Christian identity would be irrevocably undermined. This in turn would mean that, as clearly pointed out by His Eminence, we would lose everything that we have worked for and all that which has given meaning to the lives of so many Hungarians here in the Carpathian Basin since the very beginning – for one thousand years, for thirty-six generations. So we must oppose all such plans.
The programme to turn our country into an immigrant country is a plan commonly referred to as the Soros Plan. This is an action plan which details, step by step, how the obstinate non-immigrant Central European countries must be turned into immigrant countries. Naturally, we know what to do: we must pull together. We must take united action, and there must be no gaps in our defences. Or, more sardonically, as in that pearl of wisdom from the period of the Soviet occupation: “Take that grin off your face Ivan, this won’t last forever – not even 150 years turned us into Turks”. This is what we must keep saying to ourselves. And it will help. Honourable Congress of Christian Intellectuals, we do not have to hold out for 150 years, but only until the next election. To reference the work of Géza Gárdonyi: the traitorous Lieutenant Hegedűs et al – those who want to dismantle the border, dismantle the fence from within – must be kept away from power. And it would be wise to give a stronger, clearer mandate than ever before to those who stand ready to defend the future of Christian Hungary.
Honourable Christian Intellectuals,
I hereby report that the Government stands ready for action.