Prime Minister Viktor Orbán on the Kossuth Radio programme “Good Morning Hungary”

21 June 2024, Berlin

Zsolt Törőcsik: Hello, I’m welcoming the listeners from the Hungarian Embassy in Berlin. And I welcome Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. Good morning. 

Good morning.

As we heard in the introduction, today you’re meeting German chancellor Olaf Scholz. This is one of the reasons we’re speaking here. And with him we’ll be reviewing the plans and programmes of Hungary’s EU presidency, which starts on 1 July. What’s the significance of your meeting with the Chancellor?

Before meeting the Chancellor, yesterday I met the entire board of Mercedes, and in Budapest a few days ago I had a meeting with the heads of major European companies. On Monday I’m meeting the Italian prime minister in Rome and on Wednesday I’m meeting the French president in Paris. Now, in a German context, Mercedes is a good example which helps us to understand the importance of German-Hungarian relations – because, of course, first of all I want to discuss Hungarian issues with the Chancellor. Mercedes is now creating an investment in Hungary that will create 3,800–4,200 new jobs in Kecskemét. For now they’re keeping under wraps the new models that haven’t been presented yet. But, under strict armed guard and sworn to secrecy, I was allowed in to see the new models, some of which – so several of them – will be produced in Kecskemét, as will some of the parts for them. So I’m saying that the whole of German industry is undergoing a major transformation. I’ve only talked about cars, but this is also true in every other respect – Deutsche Telekom, and so on. These are huge German companies, serious companies that provide jobs for several hundreds of thousands of people in Hungary. They’re going through a great technological transformation. The question is whether or not there is and will be a place for Hungarians in this great German technological transformation. And the answer is that there will be. This is why I’ve also held talks with the big company bosses, and I’ve now also held talks with Mercedes; because the Germans are implementing a considerable part of these major technological developments in Hungary. They’ll be creating several thousand new jobs and will be involved in training engineers and skilled workers. So they’ll remain part of the Hungarian economy and we’ll gain a lot of economic benefit. First of all I must confirm this with the Chancellor. I was able to confirm this with the previous Chancellor, Angela Merkel. There will be elections here next year, and I wouldn’t say that the Chancellor and his party are doing very well. In the recent European elections they came third, but who knows what the future will bring. So, to put it colourfully, German-Hungarian economic cooperation needs to have the “kosher” label placed on it here in Berlin with the help of the German chancellor of the day. This must be done every single time, and Hungarian participation in German economic development must be guaranteed. This is the primary objective. The second is that there’s a danger that threatens us in Europe, and this is the danger of isolation from the rest of the world economy. In Europe we have all kinds of problems, and we’re essentially suffering from deteriorating economic performance. Some people want to respond to this by saying that we should shut ourselves off. In the language used here this is called protectionism, and it means that we’re starting to reduce our share of world trade. This would be tragic for Hungary, because Hungary cannot live at its current standard of living if we can only rely on an economic market of ten million Hungarians. If we don’t have a very large market, with the whole world available to us, we won’t be able to sell products produced in Hungary, we won’t get paid for them, and we won’t be able to live as we do now, but much worse. So for us the openness of the world economy is crucial. This isn’t because we’re a world trading nation. There are countries for which the key issue is the free market and the openness of the world economy. This is because they’re trading countries. Of course there are Hungarian trading companies, but I wouldn’t say that there’s a centuries-old tradition of major national capital in trade. But there is in manufacturing. So we manufacture for the world, from electronics to cars, chemicals, food and so on. So for me, and for Hungary, the German chancellor is our ally, because his country is in the same boat. Germany is also a country which is poor in terms of raw materials. It only has coal, it’s a producing country like Hungary, and it has to sell its products in the world. So Hungary and Germany are in the same boat. It’s in our interest to keep the world economy open, and in Europe we must push back the forces that want the opposite. And of course there are major European issues, because from 1 July Hungary will hold the presidency [of the Council of the European Union] and determine its agenda: what issues we’ll deal with, what issues Hungary will put on the table, and how far it wants to take them – starting, for example, with Serbia’s membership of the European Union, tax cuts and family allowances, and the competitiveness of the European economy in general. These are the three big packages that will be on the table.

Speaking of European issues, this week there was also an informal meeting of EU heads of state and government, which in the end didn’t elect the main Brussels officials: the President of the European Council, the President of the Commission and the High Representative for Foreign Affairs. What obstructed agreement on this?

There was a very simple formal obstacle: it was a dinner, an informal dinner; and at a dinner you don’t make legally binding decisions on positions – for that you need a formal, duly convened Council meeting. That will take place at the end of next week, by the way. But there, at this dinner, where we couldn’t make a legal decision, the left-wing parties announced that they’d reached an agreement with one another. The European People’s Party, which calls itself right-wing but always moves to the Left when it comes to making alliances, announced that it’s joining the Left, that it’s maintaining the coalition that’s existed in Brussels, and that it’s sharing out the positions and naming the people. Well, we can call that game over.

Is this – the way they have divided up these positions – acceptable to Hungary?

Well, the question isn’t whether it’s acceptable, but what one has the strength to do. So this isn’t a charity gala or social gathering. This is the very core of politics. This is where decisions related to power have to be made. This is a tough discipline. It’s a question of how many votes you have, how many allies you have, what you want, and who you can agree with. The situation now is that we’re thinking about a Europe that’s very different from the one that these parties have now agreed on. The coalition that’s been formed is between the Liberals, the Left, and the People’s Party – the latter led by Manfred Weber, who has such a Beelzebub role here in the failure, the degrading or the undermining of politics in Brussels. So they’ve also agreed on a programme that isn’t good for Hungary, and which is different from the way the Hungarian people think. This is a pro-war coalition. So those who want to continue – and even accelerate – the process of taking Europe into the war have come together. They’re openly talking about it. Here in Germany – since this is where we are – this is a particular curiosity, which I haven’t ever experienced before. So I’ve been involved in German politics – or German-Hungarian relations – since the 1990s. In Germany, which lost the Second World War, it used to be unthinkable – even three years ago – that a militaristic atmosphere would prevail, in which Germany would militarise, and that in Germany, from the German media, there would be an outpouring of argumentation, of arguments that Germany should participate in a war, or at least support a belligerent as openly as possible, with the most money, the most assistance and the most effective weapons possible. And anyone here who doesn’t support the war isn’t accepted as part of society. So serious militarisation is taking place in this country. Those are my parenthetical thoughts. So here a pro-war coalition has been formed. This coalition’s second programme is the pro-migration coalition of European liberals, leftists and People’s Party people – the Weberians, so to speak. So they’re the implementers of the Soros Plan. Already in 2015 George Soros was writing publicly about what he wanted – in an honest Hungarian way I’d say, the way we do politics. He has written what he wants: every year one million migrants would have to be brought into Europe. Of course this would cost money, which we don’t have. He’s happy to lend money to the Europeans to finance this, because “God helps those who help themselves” – regardless of how good they are. So we’re seeing the implementation of a programme. Population replacement is in progress in Europe. The number of white people is in decline, and the number of what we could call traditional Christian Europeans is in decline. The number of migrants being brought in is increasing, and the number of migrants born here – basically in the Muslim community – is increasing dramatically. This is everyday reality here in Germany. And the third issue for that coalition is competitiveness: how to strengthen European industry, how to produce more, how to provide more jobs, higher wages, better lives for people. On this issue they’re more on the side of raising taxes; so we’re not talking about market-friendly forces, and therefore this won’t be good for the European economy either. So in the European Union there’s a pro-war, anti-economy and pro-migration coalition. This will be announced soon. It will also be led by the Germans: not the Chancellor, but Mr. Manfred Weber of the People’s Party, who’s a long-standing enemy and opponent of Hungary, who wishes us ill. Compared to him, Von der Leyen is an altar girl.

Now, this coalition that you’ve been talking about has existed for the last five years. The power relations, however, show that in the elections conservative forces and voices have been strengthened. How can this electoral will be given a hearing – if it can at all – in the period ahead?

The poor European Right has been struggling with a serious dilemma for at least two or three European elections: for fifteen years. It’s that a significant proportion of them don’t want to vote for parties that are strongly right-wing, even though these parties are growing in influence – like ours, or Le Pen’s, or Prime Minister Meloni’s in Italy. So in Europe the influence of these parties and voices – including Hungary’s – is growing continuously. But there are those who want a more moderate right-wing politics. They would like to vote for traditional Christian democracy, and this is what the European People’s Party has traditionally represented. Now the European People’s Party is doing what it’s done before: it wins the support of moderate right-wing voters; and then, instead of forming a coalition on the Right, because it could form a coalition with us, it goes and forms a coalition with the Left. I’d say that it steals or shifts voters from the Right to the Left. This is the inglorious role that the European People’s Party is playing, and this is why the shift to the Right in public opinion cannot be directly enforced in Brussels at the moment. But it can be enforced indirectly, because we’re organising, we’re forging alliances, we’re concluding agreements, and with every step we take the Right is getting stronger. The European elections were nationally based, we voted for Hungarian parties in Hungary, and this was also the case elsewhere; and so in almost all European countries governments which are not of the Right have been weakened or shaken. On the day of the European elections there was a parliamentary election in Belgium, in which the left-wing governing party was practically wiped off the face of the earth. But in France, too, the situation is that European public opinion has moved significantly to the Right, with an anti-migration climate of opinion and widespread anti-war sentiment. The French people are now also trying to find their way out of the French economy’s difficulties, and the French president has had to call a new parliamentary election. So there’s been a shift to the Right, but it hasn’t resulted in a shift of power, because the People’s Party – which should be a traditional, classic, moderate, conservative, Christian Democratic party – always takes its voters to the Left. And so what’s being created in Europe isn’t a right-wing majority, but a left-wing majority.

At the EU summit you also had an important meeting with outgoing Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte, who’s also a candidate for the post of NATO Secretary General. For a long time the Hungarian government didn’t support him, but finally you received guarantees from him that Hungarians won’t be involved in NATO activity in Ukraine, and that Hungarian funds won’t be used to support such activity. Why was it important for Hungary to receive these guarantees from him? After all, you’d already managed to obtain them from the current Secretary General.

What’s the situation? The situation is that the Western world – led by the Americans and with Germany in a minor supporting role – wants to defeat Russia. They want to defeat Russia without getting into a direct war with it, but by leaving the war to the Ukrainians. Putin attacked Ukraine, in violation of all the principles of international law, because he wants to prevent Ukraine from becoming a member of NATO, and this is the situation that’s arisen. The West responded by seeing this as an opportunity to weaken or defeat Russia. We Hungarians proposed what Chancellor Merkel has always advocated: that in such a conflict the task must be to isolate the war, to reduce its effect, to localise it. But instead of this, the Western world said, “Here’s an opportunity, through Ukrainian soldiers; true, at the cost of many victims, many hundreds of thousands of lives, but now the Russians can be defeated.” In the end, the question is whether or not Ukraine will become a member of NATO. This is what this war is about. Will Sevastopol – a port there on the Black Sea – be under a NATO flag or a Russian flag? The Russians are saying that there’s a Russian flag there, and they don’t want to see it changed for a NATO flag; and they don’t want to live right next to a Ukraine that’s a fully armed NATO country with an army possessing the most modern equipment. This is what the war is about. And the West wants to win it. I think this is hopeless. First of all, there will be a terrible price to pay. Even if it were to succeed, something which I cannot see the realistic contours of, it would be at a price that’s simply not worth it. So many hundreds of thousands of Europeans – Ukrainians and Russians – have died so far. Soon more than one million children will be growing up in the eastern part of Europe without fathers, or with fathers who are unable to work because of their injuries from the war. A generation will be growing up in a hopeless situation because, despite the promises of reconstruction, the standard of living that can be created there on the ruins will be decades behind anything we call a European life. Horrendous devastation, orphaned children, millions of widows and millions of lives lost. At the moment we’re somewhere here – and not only are we not at the end, but the Western countries are moving ever closer to the front line, and are getting ever more directly involved in this war. The question is what Hungary should do in this situation. This is what the European Parliament elections were about. In the past, referendums on major political issues have been held in Hungary. So when I argue against migration here in Europe, in Germany and in Brussels, I have the backing of a referendum on migration. The same is true when it comes to defending the traditional family model, supporting young people, supporting families, and wanting to make the family way of life as appealing as possible, and not wanting to weaken it with all kinds of nonsense; because it’s just a matter of time before it will become possible to marry the chair – or the armchair – that I’m sitting on. So, thank you very much – I don’t know when animals will come into the equation. So this madness doesn’t end here. We want to forget about all that, we don’t want to be involved in it, and we certainly don’t want our children being told by others what’s good and bad, right and wrong on these issues. So we don’t want to give up parents’ rights over the education – including the sex education – of our own children. When I fight in this debate, when I fight in this battle, I’m supported by the referendum that we had in Hungary on the question of gender. There was no referendum on the war, but there was a European election, and this was the issue. Now there’s been this election. Throughout the campaign I always said that this was about war and peace. People have made it clear that they don’t want Hungary to be involved in the war. I’ve said that there’s a minimum goal that we can achieve. Now this train – this European train – is heading towards war. If we have enough support, if the people support the Government, and we won this election by a huge margin, so they supported the Government, then I can pull the emergency cord, the train will stop, and we Hungarians will get off this train. And if we’re very strong and if the stars are aligned, we’ll convince the driver not only to let the Hungarians off the train, but also to stop the train going any further. We’ve now reached our minimum target. The emergency cord has been pulled, I’ve reached an agreement with the NATO Secretary General, and Hungary has got off the train. NATO will have a military mission in Ukraine, but Hungary won’t participate in it – with either money, weapons or soldiers. We’ve also talked to the driver, but we haven’t been able to convince him. This is a strong driver, and only Donald Trump, the prospective US president, can remove him from the cab. This could happen in November, and then the whole Western train, which is hurtling towards war, could come to a halt. We’ll let that train go on, and we’ll stay out of this war as we promised – as I personally promised. Hungary will remain an island of peace, in terms of public security, public order, societal security and war. So the possibility of a calm, peaceful, balanced life based on work has been preserved. This has been achieved. And not only have I concluded an agreement with the outgoing Secretary General – the NATO Secretary General – for a few months, but we’ve also concluded an agreement with the incoming NATO Secretary General. So it’s not just that we can do this, but there will be no pressure from anyone in NATO for Hungary to join later. At the moment the pressure for war isn’t coming from NATO, because we’ve managed to deal with that now. The pressure for war is coming from Europe – because here, of course, they still want to squeeze Hungary into the community of European countries that want to go to war, or that are heading towards war. Here, too, we must stay out of it. This battle must be fought not in NATO, but in Brussels, in the European Union.

There’s another battle going on between Hungary and the European Union, and this is on the issue of migration. Last week we talked about the penalty that Hungary has received from the Court of Justice of the European Union for not complying with the migration rules. We’d have to pay 80 billion forints, plus an additional penalty of 400 million forints a day. What message does this penalty send? Bearing in mind that the Migration Pact came into force after the elections, and before the elections politicians from the People’s Party also said many times that migration policy should be changed. Can these two things – or three things – be reconciled?

Well, no matter what the parties in the People’s Party say, as long as Manfred Weber is leading the People’s Party in Brussels, it’s all an act. So there’s a very clear direction over there. Manfred Weber certainly has other goals, but the single goal that’s really close to his heart is to harm Hungary. We prevented him from becoming President of the Commission in 2019. Why did we prevent him? Because Mr. Manfred Weber found it in his heart to say that he did not want to be the President of the Commission by relying on the vote of the Hungarians, and if his presidency depended on the vote of the Hungarians, then he’d rather not be President. I remind everyone that Mrs. Von der Leyen won the confidence of the European Parliament by a majority of nine votes, and she received thirteen votes from us. So Fidesz’s vote on who should lead the Commission was indeed decisive. And of course Von der Leyen is problematic, but as I said, she’s deferential in comparison with Mr. Weber, who suffers from Hungarophobia. So, as long as he’s there, we know for sure that there’s an anti-Hungarian leader at the helm of the European People’s Party – and we can’t expect anything good to come of that. We won the general election in 2018. And I’d remind everyone that the Hungarians decided the direction they wanted to go in, and a few days later, with the effective support of Mr. Weber, an Article 7 procedure was launched against Hungary. Of course, if the Left had won in Hungary, Hungary would have been a “vibrant democracy”. But when the Hungarian people decided otherwise, suddenly there were problems with the rule of law. The same thing has happened now: we won the European elections, the peace party won in Hungary, and the pro-war people in Brussels immediately slapped us with an unprecedented fine. There’s a close link between the migration fine and the question of war and peace. Anti-war, pro-peace Hungary is being punished with a migration fine. We’re working on this. The other day I was incensed, because the stab we’d received was still fresh. But since then the working groups we’ve set up to counter this have made progress. I won’t say that the sun is shining down on us, but it is rising. So I can see solutions for ensuring that ultimately this fine is paid by those who make the most money from migration and the war – because there are always speculators who make money from war, there are always those who lend money in order to fund war. So we’ll make those who profit from migration and war pay this fine. The main lines of the legal framework for this are already in place. There are still details to be worked out in the coming days, and I also think that we’ll be able to defend ourselves against this Weberian attack that’s now being launched against Hungary. We’re strong enough to continue ensuring that not a single migrant is allowed into Hungary. We’re sitting here in Germany, so if I compare this Germany with the Germany of ten years ago, it doesn’t look the same, it doesn’t taste the same, it doesn’t smell the same. Taken as a whole, this Germany isn’t the Germany that our grandparents and our parents used to set before us as an example, saying, “Son, if you want to see a hard-working person, go to Germany, if you want to see well-organised work, go to Germany. If you want to see order, go there, where there’s order. Maybe the way things are ordered there is too ‘tüchtig’ for Hungarians, but if you want a world like that, go to Germany.” Now this Germany is no longer that one. It’s a colourful, transformed, multicultural world in which the migrants coming in are no longer guests of the country. This is a very big change, which isn’t about Germans taking in migrants, but about left-wing governments granting fast-track citizenship, arranging family reunification and whatever else for hundreds of thousands of them. And from that point on, whoever gets citizenship becomes part of the German nation. So they’re not here as guests of the native Germans, but they’re here in their own right. This is now their country too, and it’s increasingly becoming theirs. This is what I see. And this has all kinds of repercussions, because now a specific cultural milieu has emerged here in Germany. And in 2015, when I saw this world – thousands of people – at Budapest’s Keleti railway station, I came to a decision: I said “no”. We shall not let them in unless the Hungarian people demand that we let them in; because otherwise Hungary will no longer be a Hungarian country. And if we make such a mistake only once, if you make a mistake in migration policy once, you cannot undo it later. In politics there are mistakes that can be corrected – economic decisions, foreign policy decisions, social policy decisions; but migration is one of the few areas in which, once you’ve made a mistake, you can never put it right again. This is why I’ve always advised the Hungarians – and I’m still asking them – to say “no” to migration, not to give in to this pressure, to resist it, to preserve our country as an island of peace.

In the past half hour I’ve been asking Prime Minister Viktor Orbán about the future of the European Union, the Russo–Ukrainian war and migration.