In an online conference entitled “Europe Uncensored,” with Prime Minister of Slovenia Janez Janša, President of Serbia Aleksandar Vučić and French MEP François-Xavier Bellamy, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said that today we are living in a Europe that is in retreat. “Europe is performing worse than it was 30 years ago,” the PM said.
“This is a special club of freedom fighters; welcome, all of you,” Prime Minister Orbán began the online forum, “Europe Uncensored,” hosted by the Foundation for a Civic Hungary.
“Janez has always been considered in Hungary as one of the biggest anti-communist freedom fighters,” the PM said, adding that Serbian President Vučić is appreciated as the leader who “put Serbia back on the political map of Europe.”
Speaking about the lack of political experience among EU leaders, Prime Minister Orbán said that while in Western Europe, Angela Merkel remains the only politician who was there “when the continent changed,” the “old freedom fighters of Eastern Europe are still the ones on the frontlines of politics today.”
Illustrating how Europe is now doing worse than it was back in 1990, Prime Minister Orbán cited several facts. “The fertility rate in the EU in 1990 was 1.8; in 2008, it was 1.56, and in 2018, it was 1.5,” he said. Meanwhile, the number of marriages shows a similar pattern. If we look at defense spending, it is the same.
“We are paying much less attention to our safety than we did 30 years ago,” PM Orbán said.
Right now, there are two competing concepts about the future of Europe. According to PM Viktor Orbán, one of these concepts is coming from Western Europe and is a progressive, liberal-leftist, semi-Marxist concept. There is, however, another one, a concept of Europe based on Christian culture, pro-family policies and the understanding that national identity is a value that needs to be preserved.
“The question is: What can we do if we have inside the EU such a huge difference in concepts?” Orbán asked, saying that the West should not force its views on eastern countries, just like we, central Europeans, should not tell westerners how they should lead their countries.
“We should ask the westerners to please not tell us how we should live our lives,” he said.
In the last couple of decades, “Europe has moved from crisis to crisis,” the PM said. The first crisis was the financial crisis in 2008, then the migration crisis in 2015, then the coronavirus crisis now.
“None of these crises was dealt with properly; each of them was handled differently on the two sides of the continent,” PM Orbán observed. He added that, for example, the West wanted to solve the financial crisis by saving the so-called welfare state, while in Hungary, we embraced the idea of a “workfare” state.
Similarly, in 2015 when the migration crisis arrived, in western Europe, they wanted to solve their demographic problem by promoting migration. “In central Europe, however, we did not want to import the problems of other civilizations,” Prime Minister Orbán said.
“Managing our own problems is essential to regain the EU’s influence in international economic and political arenas,” PM Orbán concluded.
In his remarks, Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša came to a similar conclusion. He said that when the coronavirus epidemic hit, we faced a “massive failure of global institutions,” including the United Nations and the European Union.
“For a month, the European Union looked like the European Middle Ages: walls, barriers and restrictions, curfews, emergency situations, confiscation of medical and protective equipment,” the Slovenian PM said.
Janša added, “In Europe, we need stability, we need to find a new balance of power after Brexit, and we need realistic, pragmatic steps for stabilizing Europe.”
Highlighting the importance of trust and respect among the countries of Europe, Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić said, “What we need is mutual respect, mutual coordination and truthful, friendly cooperation between our countries.”
“We need to see what would be the best solution for all of us, and we need to respect all of our differences,” Vučić said.