Best of Századvég Sovereignty Conference: Important thoughts from key speakers

Besides Prime Minister Orbán’s keynote, several other influential speakers also took the stage at yesterday’s Századvég Sovereignty Conference in Budapest. The following is a summary of their most important statements.

(Read the summary of PM Orbán’s speech here.)

Minister Navracsics: The European Commission is not only confused about its role, but also exceeds its powers.

Tibor Navracsics, Hungary's minister for regional development, critiqued the European Commission, accusing it of "overstepping its authority" and engaging in political role-playing. He emphasized that EU funds should not be politically allocated, warning against a multi-speed Europe shaped by Brussels.

Highlighting Europe's long-term global decline, Navracsics noted the EU's inability to assert a coherent foreign policy and the widespread hopelessness among Europeans. He criticized EU leadership for its flawed perception of its role and for imposing a uniform interpretation of rule of law, which is seen as inapplicable by member states.

Navracsics stated that "if this approach continues, the European integration process could face a severe crisis." He condemned the European Commission for categorizing member states and creating disparities in the allocation of EU funding. Navracsics called for local decision-making in fund distributions, acknowledging Europe's developmental diversity.

Navracsics also touched upon Hungary's receipt of 23 billion euros from the EU over 19 years, criticizing an uneven distribution favoring Western and Southern states. He also opposed the reallocation of funds to Southern European economies post-COVID at Central Europe's expense.

Minister Nagy: 10 points on retaining economic sovereignty

In his speech, Minister of Economic Development Márton Nagy outlined 10 key pillars essential for maintaining economic sovereignty. Nagy emphasized the government's successful economic strategies, insisting on the importance of fine-tuning rather than deviating from the current path. He highlighted the significance of economic independence, stating that "money is the basis of many things, and it matters whether we are economically dependent on someone else."

Minister Nagy's 10 points for economic sovereignty include:

  • Political stability
  • Family-based economy
  • Workfare society
  • Investments and export-oriented economy
  • Stable and diversified foreign direct investment (FDI)
  • Strong export activity
  • Complex export structure
  • Developed road network
  • Self-financing
  • Innovative financial system

Márton Nagy also mentioned the high investment rate in Hungary within the EU and the government's confidence in continued economic growth, emphasizing the importance of full employment, the role of public work schemes, and the high percentage of state debt financed by the Hungarian people, unique within the EU. Additionally, Nagy stressed the need for continued improvement in productivity and the potential increase in the logistics sector's contribution to GDP.

MEP Tamás Deutsch: Hungarian sovereignty must face four threats

In his address, Fidesz MEP Tamás Deutsch emphasized Hungary's role as the voice of European people, advocating for their actual participation in discourse. He credited the Hungarian right wing with dismantling the "deaf rooms" created by the left, suggesting this approach should be applied across Europe. Deutsch outlined four threats to Hungarian sovereignty:

  • EU legal primacy vs. national law: Initially, debates surrounding EU and national law primacy dominated, but current attacks are more politically charged and ideologically driven, involving accusations of Brussels' overreaching
  • Internal sanctions policy: He referred to the EU's declining global influence in military and economic terms. He also criticized the EU's shift from the Lisbon Strategy to the Horizon program for not adequately supporting developing countries, accusing EU institutions of using rule-of-law proceedings as a form of political attack and economic coercion.
  • Marginalization of Central Europe: Deutsch discussed the changing dynamics within the EU, particularly after the UK's exit, and how the German-French axis has started taking sovereignty-eroding measures.
  • EU restructuring plans: He mentioned proposals by Guy Verhofstadt and others for EU treaty amendments, which he viewed as undermining national sovereignty. These include granting Interpol more investigative powers without notifying member states and altering procedures related to Article 7, which could suspend a member state's EU voting rights.

Deutsch proposed strategies to counter these threats, emphasizing the need for a victory in the 2024 EP elections, not just in Hungary but across Europe. He called for laws to protect sovereignty, particularly against foreign funding of opposition parties, and highlighted the importance of organizing the Western Balkans and strengthening the Visegrád Group.

In conclusion, Deutsch reasserted the significance of Hungary as the voice of European people and the need for their genuine involvement in European politics, underscoring the ongoing battle for Hungarian sovereignty.

Judit Varga: Brussels will do everything to end Hungarian sovereignty

Judit Varga, Fidesz-KDNP's lead candidate in the EP elections, spoke about the ongoing challenges to Hungarian sovereignty. She warned of potential attacks and emphasized the need for resilience. Varga concurred with Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s view that dark forces are continuously targeting Hungarian sovereignty and the concept of the nation-state.

She highlighted Hungary's vulnerability to attacks disguised as rule-of-law procedures, implicating foreign-funded NGOs as participants in these challenges. Varga emphasized the importance of maintaining Hungarian stability and representing the expectations of the Hungarian people.

Varga criticized EU leadership for being in a crisis, attributing this to the dominance of “woke” ideology and the liberal mainstream, which have overshadowed MEPs with conservative values. She stressed the right and duty to fight for these values.

Furthermore, Varga expressed her view that Europe's challenges can only be addressed by strong nations. She raised concerns about Brussels potentially dragging countries into wars and the necessity for change in Europe. She also portrayed Hungarians as the conscience of Europe and mentioned efforts to provide viable alternatives for the people through right-wing parties.

Máté Kocsis: Four steps to defend Hungarian sovereignty

Máté Kocsis, the Fidesz parliamentary group leader, outlined four key steps to protect Hungarian sovereignty. He emphasized the need for these measures due to the influence of foreign funding in the 2022 elections.

The four proposed steps are:

  • Amending the Constitution: Kocsis suggested supplementing the concept of sovereignty (constitutional self-identity) in the Fundamental Law of Hungary.
  • Revising the election procedure law: It's essential to clarify that civil organizations and their entities are subject to the same rules as election participants, i.e., political parties.
  • Amending the penal code: This involves the introduction of a penalty for the prohibited influence of voter will. Those participating in elections and accepting foreign support could face imprisonment ranging from 0 to 3 years.
  • Establishing an institution: There's a need for an institution to identify and address foreign interventions.

Kocsis argued that even larger countries protect their sovereignty, and Hungary must do the same, given recent events proving its necessity. He asserted that protecting political sovereignty, such as deciding on utility support or grain imports, is also a constitutional right that needs institutional backing.

Discussing the Sovereignty Protection Law, Kocsis anticipated opposition from the European Commission. He also noted the challenges posed by foreign funding of the media, stating that while they can make it difficult, they cannot stop the flow of money, especially to left-wing entities.

Kocsis also commented on the differing perceptions of democracy between Hungary and the West. He believes that Hungarian democracy is about letting the people decide, whereas the West sees change as essential to democracy. He argued that Hungary’s consistent national and sovereignist election victories clash with Western views, as long-term leadership by the same person is not well-received in the West.