Viktor Orbán’s answers to questions from audience members after his speech at the Bálványos Summer Open University and Student Camp
22 July 2017, Tusnádfürdő (Băile Tuşnad)
I’ll answer your questions very briefly and in a necessarily sketchy manner, for which I apologise in advance. On autonomy, I’d like to make my own personal position clear. The Government’s position is widely known: the Government supports autonomy. I’d now like to make my personal position clear. This consists of two sentences. I support autonomy. For want of a better alternative.
As regards the questions relating to Romanian politics and the internal politics of the Hungarian community in Romania, I feel that you’re asking me questions to which you know the answers better than I do, and that in fact you’re testing me. If you don’t mind, I’d rather not take that test now. I’d like to answer just one question, and that concerns our relationship with the RMDSZ [the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania]. I’d like to make it clear that we can think long and hard about philosophical precepts, political principles and ideals, we can think long and hard about the right strategy and political tactics. But there’s one thing that we don’t need to spend time thinking about – and that is who the people vote for. As Prime Minister of Hungary, I can’t ignore the need to always respect the decision of the Hungarian community in Transylvania when they choose from among the political forces on offer. As the overwhelming majority of them choose the RMDSZ, we must also form a fair, honest and reasonable relationship with that political party.
As regards your question concerning artists living in Transylvania, I’d like to point out that the Hungarian Academy of Arts was established in Hungary, and I believe that this also provides the opportunity, the scope and prospects for artists living in Transylvania.
On Brexit, I’d like to tell you that I don’t share the negativity which is prevalent in Brussels today, and that sees the United Kingdom as an enemy. Many people think that we must now prove that a country can only be worse off outside the European Union than inside it. I believe that this idea is complete nonsense. It is for every nation itself to decide how it can best serve its own interests: inside or outside. And if they decide that it would be better for them outside the EU, they must be allowed to pursue their interests outside. And so I reject the linguistic dichotomy that’s been offered to us: that there should be either a soft Brexit or a hard Brexit. The withdrawal process and agreement we need should be a fair and just one. Even when it’s no longer a member of the European Union, the United Kingdom will still be our friend.
There was another question, in several parts, which was whether the social and economic measures introduced in Hungary can be extended to Hungarians living beyond the borders. The starting point for my answer is “yes”. The question is one of timing: when and how it should be done. We can only make movements – we can only extend this Hungarian policy to become a pan-Hungarian policy – in a way that doesn’t provoke any negative reactions at home. You should think back to the referendum on dual citizenship; in Hungary there are good-for-nothing political forces which are capable of using even the most important national causes to provoke conflicts among the Hungarian people. So I’m moving ahead on this cautiously. I believe that the ice has been broken, because we’ve adopted a decision, on the basis of which we’ve also made available to every Hungarian family beyond Hungary’s borders one of the most important elements of our family support system: the financial allowance provided to a family when a child is born. In this sense, we have extended our family policy to embrace a national dimension. We must proceed step by step, and I’d like to ask for everyone’s support, patience and understanding in this respect. This also true of CSOK – that is the housing support system linked to the number of children in a family – that we’ve now launched at home. I’m not fully satisfied with it, because, as far as I can see, it doesn’t quite work for those living in villages in Hungary. It works fine in the city. But it’s not yet attractive enough for those living in villages. We must introduce a housing support programme that serves to sustain village populations, and then after the experience gained from that programme we can consider extension of the system across the Carpathian Basin.
As for judicial reform in Poland, here we are faced with a typical case of double standards. The Poles have done nothing, they have not implemented any changes in their judicial system that fall outside the principles and ideals approved and shared by the European Union. So the action Brussels is taking against the Poles today is unfair and unjust: a typical manifestation of double standards. A decent human being cannot accept anything like this – so we’re not saying this just because we’re Hungarian, but because we’re decent human beings. At times like this one must side with the party under attack. My message to Comrade Schulz is that we stand by Poland in solidarity.
The Reformation: I’d like to say two things on this. The first one is that the church is always in need of reform. This is the most important conclusion. This is a clear link between the ideals of the Reformation and our political work. Secondly, the history of the Reformation and Hungarian Reformed Church leaders is a good example of why we should delete the word “impossible” from our lexicon. The fact that, after five hundred years, we’ve survived and we’re still here justifies seeing ourselves as capable of anything and suitable for anything. As for the personal side of the matter, I’m constantly struggling with a philosophical, a strategic problem – perhaps “wrestling” is a better word than “struggling”. Zsolt Semjén and I have regular discussions about how in our line of work the problem of justice relates to a political majority. Don’t be alarmed, I’m not going to deliver an Open University lecture about this now – I just want to say that in politics, if you don’t have a majority, you can’t act in the interest of justice. And if you have a majority, but you don’t use it to promote justice, then what’s the point of your majority and your power? And we must solve this problem in a world in which ever more people in the modern era are abandoning Christianity. So the question is how, on a Christian democratic basis, one can balance the majority needed to exercise political power and the conviction needed to promote Christian justice. This is what I’ve been wrestling with for a very long time. The history and teachings of the Reformation and the Bible itself provide a great deal of advice and guidance, but I’d say to everyone that it contains no explicit answers. So we must continue to consider how justice and a political majority can be balanced in work serving the nation. And one further remark, perhaps: we wish to thank our Catholic brothers and sisters for tolerating so well the celebrations of the five-hundredth anniversary of the Reformation.
Why aren’t we tougher with the representatives of the Soros Empire in Hungary? First of all, we still can be – we shouldn’t rule this out. But secondly, in European politics there are limits to the measures that one can use in political battles, and we’ve never violated those limits. Our opponents regularly do so, however. I could give you examples now, but the vigorous government of such a strong country shouldn’t complain, so let’s just put those aside, let’s forget about them. But it is true that as long as our disputes centred on philosophical, cultural and political ideals, or for that matter issues of business philosophy, in line with European cultural norms we were happy living in the same country and “under the same roof” as even George Soros and his associates; though perhaps I should say that we accepted it rather than we were happy about it Even though we may be worlds apart, we can talk about these issues in a reasonable manner. In that sense there’s no need for legislation or a resort to the use of executive power. The red line, however, was when this Soros Empire ventured into the territory of national security: that was unforgiveable. George Soros began using his money, people and institutions to transport migrants into Europe. He himself entered the arena of national security policy and announced his programme: it is contrary to the Hungarian people’s security, to Hungary’s short-, medium- and long-term interests, and it undermines the national security of the Hungarian people and Hungary. In situations like this there can be no compromise, and at times like this we must take firm and decisive action by turning to the law, legislation and law enforcement. This is not about George Soros, but about our security: about the security of every Hungarian, a life safe from terrorism, and the preservation of our cultural identity. So this is no longer a philosophical debate: we must ensure that the laws on national security are observed by everyone – including the person whose name is George Soros. Neither he nor his people can claim or enjoy any sort of extraterritorial status in the territory of the Republic of Hungary.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
A typical question: Putin or Trump? Back in the communist era, a Pole was once asked who he would have chosen in a given period of history, if he had had the choice: Hitler or Stalin? “Marlene Dietrich”, he replied. With this what I want to say is that you can’t give a good answer to a bad question. Now let’s take a look at this question seriously. What is it that Hungarian foreign policy at any time should use as its guide, what should its guiding star be? Trump? Putin? Or Merkel? What should it be? The guiding star of Hungarian foreign policy is the Hungarian interest. We have a single duty: to shape Hungary’s foreign relations in a way that serves the interests of Hungary. I’m not a fan of the kind of policy which picks someone and joins them. This policy cannot succeed in the modern world. We’ve done that in the past, Hungary has experience of that, and I have to tell you that it didn’t work. What we must do is perhaps more complicated, more difficult, but not impossible: with each and every country that is important in terms of our existence we must develop relations which will give them an interest in our success. This is an art.
I can say today that we have developed relations with Russia which gives that country an interest in Hungary being successful. We have relations with the United States which give the United States an interest in our success, as we are allies. As a country that cooperates with the EU, China – if it notices us, because there’s the problem of size, the problem of the difference in our sizes – can quite confidently say that they have an interest in Hungary being strong in the European Union. And this is also the situation with the State of Israel. If we look at the position of the Jewish State, we can say that it also has a vested interest in Hungary being a strong country. Or let’s take the Turks, who are also down there, in the South. Today Turkish-Hungarian relations are such that if a Turkish political leader thinks about Hungary, they see a country in whose success they also have an interest. This is how we put things together. For seven years I’ve been working to build a foreign policy based on our national interests, rather than on the mentality and logic of a reluctant ally. We have devoted years of our lives to achieving this – and not without success. We’re doing well, but there’s one piece of the puzzle that’s not yet in the place: it’s called Brussels. This is a task to be solved after the next election. It’s not impossible, I can see opportunities, an agreement will be reached. All it needs is time.
In answer to a journalist’s question, I’d say that I wasn’t only talking about journalists and politicians when I said that we’re happy to give them the opportunity to lead a peaceful, calm Christian life in Hungary, but I was talking about all Western people. All I wanted to say was that when Hungary is accused of not taking in outsiders, these statements are worded inaccurately. The fact of the matter is that Hungary will not take in people who raise the concern in us that they will change our cultural identity. In fact Hungary has always taken in and has always welcomed people who did not want to change us, but wanted to live together with us, who loved our culture and were able to work with us towards common goals. We don’t know what the future holds, and we don’t wish the dark prophecies about Western Europe to be fulfilled. I also don’t want Western Europe to experience first-hand the demographic future that can be deduced today with simple mathematical formulae – however likely that prospect seems at the moment. I don’t wish that on them, but I can tell you one thing for certain: as long as we have a decision in the matter, Hungary will always be a Christian country with national leanings, where Western European Christians will always find security and well-being, provided that they integrate into the Hungarian community and accept our national goals.
Whether there’s a global plan, or whether Hungary has a contribution of any kind to make to a global plan through which we could eliminate the root causes of the mass population movement, I can tell you that I’m convinced that help must be taken to where the trouble is, rather than bringing the trouble under our roof. There’s something we don’t talk about enough, but it’s a mistake not to. There is a Hungarian agency called “Hungary Helps”. And we invest a great deal of energy into this programme – and millions, or tens of millions, of euros – in order to help the countries from which migrants are currently setting out for Europe. It’s a mistake that we don’t talk about this; the Hungarians are not good at that. For about 150 years the Hungarians have been legendarily bad in the field of boasting or self-promotion. This is how I feel when I talk about ourselves, and when I get to the point of praising ourselves: I also find it hard. One somehow feels embarrassed, because if the work that we do and the things that we have accomplished don’t speak for themselves, I feel that trying to convince anyone is pointless. So in Hungary, so-called modern communication, PR or marketing skills are extremely under-developed, and this is why today we allow our opponents to portray us as heartless people. When our opponents in the West report on our entire stance on migration, they depict us a heartless people. This is despite the fact that, proportionate to our population, the size of our national community and our economic strength, I’m convinced that we spend far more than many other countries on helping people who are in trouble today, and those troubled countries which are becoming the source of migrants. We are not only helping Christians, but also Muslim communities – with a great deal of money, a great deal of financial sacrifice. We should present these efforts much more effectively; perhaps one day there will be people among us who don’t find that an embarrassing thing to do, and who can promote us sincerely, with a smile, and without inhibitions. I haven’t yet found any such individuals in Fidesz, and I stand no chance of finding them among the Christian Democrats. So we’ll have to import these skills from somewhere else. This is quite apart from the fact that we provide hundreds of scholarships for students from those countries, the countries from which refugees – or, to be precise, migrants – are coming to Europe. There’s no other country in Europe that provides as many scholarships, Hungarian state scholarships, for students from the Muslim world who want to study as Hungary does. And we can all be proud of this.
Finally, I received words of encouragement from you. As we don’t see each other like this very often, I could perhaps strike a more personal tone, and I’d like to say that these words of acknowledgement give me heart, so thank you for your words of encouragement. The situation – and the Honourable Bishop can testify to this, because he himself has already been on this pilgrimage – is this: in my line of business one is often required to create the impression of at least being made of wood – but preferably of steel. I’m not bad at that, but the truth is that it is a lie. Because I’m not made of wood or steel. I’m also human, and I also need acknowledgement and support. I’m grateful to you for giving me this year after year.
Thank you very much for your attention.