President Novák: Hungary will have no future unless the birth rate can be raised

The president said the number of children born in Hungary is falling each year, and the number of women of childbearing age has fallen by 20% in the past 20 years.

President Katalin Novák said Hungary will have no future, and the nation cannot be preserved unless the birth rate can be raised.

In an interview published in Mandiner on Thursday, the president said the number of children born in Hungary is falling each year, and the number of women of childbearing age has fallen by 20% in the past 20 years. The state has a role in ensuring that raising children does not come with financial setbacks and that families with children don’t live in worse conditions than those without children, she said. Hungary maintains its commitment to supporting families even amid the economic difficulties resulting from the war in Ukraine. Hungary is “spending on the verge of its capacities” to fulfil that commitment, she said. “That is not an expense but the best investment,” she said. Commenting on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s statement that he is ready to provide all rights to Hungarians living in Ukraine that Ukrainians in Hungary enjoy, Novák said that step would be “an important step forward”. “Reliability is an important characteristic of countries aspiring to become European Union member states. I trust that the Ukrainian president is a serious man and meant what he said,” she added. Regarding Sweden’s NATO accession, Novák said: “I definitely think that we should support Sweden’s NATO integration.” The decision is with Hungary’s parliament, she added.

Meanwhile, in her address at the 5th Demographic Summit in Budapest on Thursday, President Novák said being pro-family should be a “national minimum”. “We are here today as allies of each other and families,” she said, adding: “Today we are fighting the freedom fight of families.” The “demographic winter” faced by the developed world is currently turning into “an ice age”, but without children, there is no future, Novák said. “We are increasingly defenceless against the demographic ice age,” she said. “The pillars of our lives, the foundations of our Christian culture are beginning to crack, and if we don’t protect the values we believe to be impermeable, we will voluntarily sacrifice ourselves before we become victims of the coming ice age.” As the heirs to their freedom-fighting ancestors, Hungarians have learned that freedom does not come for free, and it is something they have to fight for again and again, she said. Modelled on the 1848 revolution, Novák listed twelve demands of Hungarian families. The first demand concerns the freedom to raise children, meaning it should be the exclusive right, responsibility and obligation of parents without the interference of any ideology, she said. “We won’t allow our children to be deprived of the sense of safety stemming from their identity,” Novák said. “Someone who is born a girl should be allowed to grow up as one, and a boy should grow up as a boy.”

The president said Hungarian families demand “pro-family” decision-makers who do not agitate against families. Being pro-family should be a “national minimum”, she added. Also, families do not want Hungary to approve decisions that go against the family, she said. Kindergartens, schools, the country and its borders should be safe for children and ageing parents, she said. Parenthood should not be a poverty risk factor, she said, stressing that those who have children should not be worse off than those who do not. Novák also noted the need to respect the elderly and that women should not have to sacrifice motherhood for their work and vice-versa. The president underscored the need to help young people to buy their own homes. She also called for competitive public, vocational and higher education, modern health care, supporting those who live in more difficult conditions and devoting greater attention to Hungarian families beyond the border. She said that after years of “anti-family” measures in the 2000s, Hungarian families stood up for a more secure future, putting together civil movements and family organisations along with the Demography Roundtable. The “freedom fight” waged by families was not in vain, Novák said, noting that Hungary had seen a “pro-family turnaround”. The number of marriages doubled and the number of abortions halved over a ten-year period. The number of divorces has gone down, and more couples want children than anywhere else in Europe, she said, adding that the number of large families and living standards had both gone up. But the freedom fight is not over, Novák said. Families will not back down, they will not give up the churches or the schools and will take back everything that is theirs, she added.

Photo credit: MTI