PM Orbán: Deciding as to who can enter a country should remain a national competence

At the 21st Session of the Hungarian Standing Conference (MÁÉRT), PM Orbán discussed the situation of Hungarians beyond the border and the importance of ethnic-based politics, as well as the migration crisis and the decline of the EU’s influence.

Two armed hotspots have formed recently in the world, the prime minister warned, adding that a quarter of the world's population lives in areas directly affected by armed conflict. On the situation in Ukraine, he stressed that humanitarian aid is being given to our neighboring country, but Hungary is not going to be involved in the war. “The Western strategy has collapsed,” he said, recalling that at the last EU summit he had proposed that a Plan B should be drawn up, which would be better for the Ukrainians, the Hungarians of Transcarpathia, and all of Europe.

In the context of the failure of the Hungarian party to enter parliament in the Slovak elections, PM Orbán mentioned the dilemma of whether ethnic politics has a future in a deteriorating demographic context. He affirmed that “as long as there is an ethnic basis, ethnic politics makes sense.” Four elections are coming up in Romania, all of them a serious test for Hungarians, he said, adding that the most painful arena of Hungarian life is Transcarpathia and promising full support to the Hungarians living there.

The prime minister also welcomed Croatia's accession to Schengen, as that would facilitate the local Hungarian community's relations with the mother country. He praised Serbia-Hungary relations as well, highlighting the role of the recently deceased István Pásztor in deepening these. 

PM Orbán additionally touched upon the decline of European influence. China is shaping the new world with the United States, and this is very unfavorable for Europe, he pointed out. He also emphasized that in 1990, six of the ten largest economies in the world were European, while in 2030 only Germany will be among them. Some in Europe would build on the fact that we compete and trade in order to become stronger, and that is what we represent, he said. Others, on the other hand, would close themselves off and cut economic ties with other powers, he added, stressing that given its potential, Hungary must cooperate with the whole world, because this is the only way to raise our standard of living.

The prime minister also touched on two significant debates we are facing within the EU. One is whether to maintain the principle of unanimity in the EU or to move to majority voting, underlining that for Hungary, the main guarantee for the protection of national interests is unanimity. He mentioned that this debate would not have arisen if the pro-sovereignty British had not left the EU. The cooperation between the UK and the V4 in the EU had struck a fine balance, but with no British, there is no blocking minority in the EU, he said. The other key issue is enlargement policy: We are witnessing attempts to enlarge the EU to 36 members, including Ukraine, which would justify a replacement of the EU's internal structure. What needs to be changed, however, is trade policy, not the structure, PM Orbán said, saying that “this is not the time for fresh ideas in European politics.”

On migration, the prime minister said that it is not a “rational import of labor,” but a cultural transformation. Deciding as to who can enter a country should remain a national competence, he said. The Hungarian position should be maintained, a new immigration law should be drafted, and the rules for staying here should be tightened considerably, he added. Brussels still wants to distribute migrants, which would create migrant ghettos, but Hungary rejects and will not implement this.

Finally, discussing what to do in an era of disintegration, Prime Minister Orbán said we must strengthen the forms of Hungarian cooperation and maintain national policy institutions. In 2024-2025, we must return to growth, and the Hungarian economy will have the financial resources to do so, he concluded.

The following declaration has been adopted at the conference:

Closing Declaration of the 21st Session of the Hungarian Standing Conference (MÁÉRT)

On 17 November 2023, at the 21st Plenary Session of the Hungarian Standing Conference, the member organizations adopted the following closing declaration:

They support the efforts of the Hungarian government to protect Hungary, the Hungarian nation, and the security of Hungarian families.

The preservation and further strengthening of the unity of the Hungarian nation is a strategic goal that shall not be abandoned under any circumstances. National cohesion and strengthening shall be achieved through joint efforts made together with our fellow Hungarians in the Carpathian Basin and the diaspora. 

Support extending beyond borders for the established and strengthened Hungarian system of institutions and programs abroad shall continue. With a sense of shared responsibility, every effort shall be made to ensure that Hungarians remain and prosper in their homelands, and that the cultural and natural treasures of those territories are preserved, so that every Hungarian family can raise the future generation of Hungarians in their homeland in safety.

The member organizations affirm that Hungarian communities abroad can only survive if they have strong Hungarian representation of interests, which can be maintained and further strengthened by the broad-based unity of the Hungarian nation. In 2023 and 2024 the members of the Hungarian nation will be presented with many such contests. All voters are urged to play an active role in these elections.

Hungarians living beyond the borders have the right to autonomy, and in achieving it they can count on the support of the motherland and all their fellow Hungarians. The member organizations shall continue to actively stand by initiatives to ensure linguistic, cultural and economic equality for indigenous European minorities, including Hungarian minorities.

They express their solidarity with the Hungarians of Transcarpathia, who can continue to count on their fellow Hungarians.

They welcome the creation of the National Virtual Space and the launch of the Homecoming Programme to help those moving to Hungary from the diaspora. 

In addition to strengthening the Hungarian national system of institutions, one of the most important achievements of policy on Hungarian communities abroad over the past thirteen years has been the creation of strong communities in all walks of life – in education, culture, the economy, churches, the media and sport.

In addition to further strengthening the institutional and community networks that have been built, as part of policy on Hungarian communities abroad they propose assisting and supporting these communities by making 2024 the Year of the Cooperating Nation.

Budapest, 17 November 2023