FM: Liberal mainstream to blame for EU's failings

The foreign minister said the EU’s strategy had failed in handling the war in Ukraine, illegal migration and economic challenges.

Péter Szijjártó, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, said the European Union’s failure to handle the main challenges of recent times was due to the pervasive presence of the liberal mainstream.

Speaking at an event of the New York Young Republicans Club, Minister Szijjártó said Europe was facing “a package of challenges consisting of three major parts”. The EU’s strategy had failed in handling the war in Ukraine, illegal migration and economic challenges, he said. “The major reason for failing to address any of these challenges is the liberal mainstream.” The liberal mainstream was making “rational, thorough, respect-based debate” impossible, Szijjártó said. He said anyone in Europe suggesting that promoting peace in Ukraine would be better than weapon deliveries was branded a Russian spy, Putin’s friend or a Kremlin propagandist, he said. “Or if you say that the only way foreigners can enter your country is the legal way … then you are [this] close to being a fascist.” Minister Szijjártó said the EU had manoeuvred itself into a crisis because the liberal mainstream was attempting “to construct an absolute hegemony of opinion”. Liberal forces saw themselves as the only progressive and democratic ideology in politics, and branded those unwilling to align with liberal values autocratic and anti-democratic, he said.

At the same time, “the liberal mainstream is the most intolerant ideology that has been ruling over Europe” in the past decades, he said. “They do not tolerate any alternative opinions, they are not ready to respect the rights of non-liberals.” Hungary’s government had been using the phrase “illiberal democracy” to signal that a political regime can remain a democracy as well as conservative, Christian and patriotic, he said. Patriotic, Christian Democrat parties are seen as populists as the liberal mainstream is “ruling NGOs and civil organisations”, he said. While most governments in Europe are governing in coalition with a slim majority, they are easy to put under pressure, he said. “I am one of the very few in the European Union … who feels that I can say what I feel”, thanks to the stable political system in Hungary, he said.

Minister Szijjártó said Hungary’s media landscape was varied, and around half of the outlets were supportive of the government. According to current European standards, that is a “media dictatorship in Europe … because liberals do not have a 99.9% share.” Regarding the war in Ukraine, Szijjártó said the European strategy and sanctions had failed to achieve their goals. Hungary is urging peace talks, especially since there is a sizeable Hungarian community living in Ukraine, he said. Hungary is also maintaining its stance on illegal migration: “we stick to our sovereign right to tell whom we allow into the country and with whom we are ready to live together.” No external force can dictate Hungarians’ decisions on that issue, he said. In 2022, Hungary detained 275,000 illegal migrants, and 200,000 in 2023. The government will keep its strategy in place, and maintain rigorous border checks and the fence, he said. Szijjártó said that the different approach in Western Europe had resulted in anti-Israel protests and parallel societies.

Europe was losing its competitiveness and its share in global GDP has slipped to third place behind China, he said. Meanwhile, Hungary had survived the crises and “is now extremely successful”, he said. The Fidesz-Christian Democrat government has won four consecutive terms, creating a stable political foundation to that success, he said. Foreign investors had channelled “tens of millions of dollars” into Hungary in 2022, hoping to forge a united opposition, he said. “The attack against the government was coordinated from the United States, from the network of [American financier] George Soros, and from organisations not too far from your current government.” Szijjártó said Hungary’s vision for the future could be summed up as “no war, no migration, no gender”. “We want peace in Ukraine … we are not ready to receive any illegal migrants … and society is based on family: mother, father, child.” The solution to peace and the improving ties between the US and Hungary would be the return of former President Donald Trump to power, he said.