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Prime Minister Viktor Orbán on Kossuth Radio’s “180 Minutes” programme

Gábor István Kiss: We have Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in the studio. Good morning,

Viktor Orbán: Good morning.

Speaking about the Hódmezővásárhely election in a television interview yesterday evening, you said that the candidate was good and he did his job, yet the result is an alarm bell. Who is this alarm bell intended for – who should it wake?

First of all, thank you to the citizens of Vásárhely [Hódmezővásárhely] for their votes. Thank you for supporting our candidate, who served the people of Vásárhely for a great many years and was the city’s deputy mayor – though he has since resigned from that post. In my view he was a good candidate and an excellent man. I think we conducted a decent, honest campaign, and the essence of our message was the story of Vásárhely’s development. So I wish to thank the citizens of Hódmezővásárhely – those who voted for us – for standing by us. This, however, was not enough to win the election. We were defeated, and this is something that we must now understand. Of course, there are very few things that we know for certain, because we can’t see inside people’s heads. There’s one thing I see, however: this functioned as a dress rehearsal for the parliamentary election. I see this election as an experiment, and I believe that it will be repeated in many constituencies around the country – perhaps even in every one. This means that in the end things will boil down to a single candidate on the opposition side: the others will disappear from the scene, one way or another. Whether they call this coordination or withdrawal of candidates, the end result will be the same. For a long time we didn’t think that this could happen, because we believed that it was beyond anyone’s wildest political fantasy that Jobbik – the most radical ever right-wing party – and, say, DK – led by a former prime minister whom the voters have sent packing a few times – would join forces and run together against a civic, national government. But the time has come for us to face up to this reality. There’s no point in deceiving ourselves: negotiations between them are ongoing – indeed, perhaps pacts have already been made in the background. So eventually in every constituency on one side there will be a single pro-immigration opposition candidate, and on the other side a single anti-immigration candidate standing for the national government.

If there is indeed a repetition of the situation in Hódmezővásárhely, will it be necessary for Fidesz-KDNP candidates to change tactics in their constituencies – in other words, remove their party logos from the ballot papers?

When people talk about politics, in my experience they tend to devise a great many complicated tactical solutions and suggestions; and I see that this is also a popular topic in the public sphere. I’ve never gone along with these complicated approaches. I was educated in a different political tradition: I’m a street fighter, if you like. When we established Fidesz in 1988 there were still tens of thousands of Workers’ Militia members, and the Communist Party we were up against also had some eight hundred thousand members. I learnt that in politics the sole aim should be effective, clear, straight talk. Whatever it is our opponents want, I can clearly see the hand of George Soros in the background. I can see his manoeuvring, and now also the only antidote to this is frank, open, straight talk. We must throw ourselves into this battle. And so I encourage each and every nationally-minded Hungarian to face up to the fact that here we have a major challenge. Hungary could face a future which is different to the one which we wish for, and for which we have worked so hard for up to now: Hungary could be turned into an immigrant country. There are people who are trying to achieve this. These people have already been selected as candidates; there’s a lot of money behind them, George Soros’s international money and NGOs, and a large part of the foreign-owned media operating in Hungary. This is a major force, and if we want to defend Hungary against it and don’t want to become an immigrant country, we’ll have to unite our efforts and fight this battle together.

So you expect to see nominally independent candidates? Is this what the Fidesz campaign is preparing for?

What they call them is a tactical question, but in the end they will agree to only run a single candidate. That is what we must prepare for.

We’ve sent twelve points to the UN, where a world migration pact is being prepared, together with a practical guide. What do you expect from these twelve points? If we look around at the 190-odd countries in the UN, it’s clear that for the vast majority of them – 80 per cent of them – migration means population outflow.

That’s right. But we shouldn’t forget about our allies. The worst thing that can happen to you in an election campaign is for you to allow the heat of battle and the enormity of what is at stake to put you in a prickly, irritable mood, and to turn you into a tortoise or a hedgehog in defence mode. We must avoid this. The most important thing is to remember that an election is a celebration. We have always wanted people to be able to decide on the future of Hungary. This is not something that should unnerve us; we should rather be happy, as this is what we wanted. And so in a campaign we should talk about positive things – or at least about positive things as well. The reason we do not want to become an immigrant country is not only because that would bring with it terrorism and crime, and would expose our womenfolk and daughters to danger, and because our cultural identity, too would weaken and gradually evaporate. We know all this. we also don’t want immigration because the future which the Hungarian people have worked so hard for over the past eight years, having finally placed Hungary on an upward course of development, will also vanish; and eventually we would be made to pay for all the consequences and all the costs of immigration. This is the nature of debates in countries which are much richer than us, and where immigrants are already present. And once they’ve entered, we cannot show them the door. Of course there are some who promise that, but I’ve yet to see a single successful example. What I see is that once it’s been squeezed out, no one can get toothpaste back into the tube. If the dam has burst and the water has flooded out, you can’t get it back in the river. So we must have our wits about us, because all it takes is a single mistake. What follows from this in relation to the UN? What follows is that even in the UN there is not only bad news, concerning the majority of countries which generate migration. There is also the good news that there are many of us in a similar situation, and we are strong. We shouldn’t only see the threat, but also the opportunity. The United States doesn’t want a world in which immigration and migration are recognised as a human right and in which fences are dismantled. I met the Foreign Minister of Australia the other day: her country doesn’t want such a world either. The Japanese don’t want such a world. This weekend there will be elections in Italy. Those who will win there – or are likely to win – don’t want such a world. In Austria a government has recently been elected which doesn’t want such a world; nor do the Bavarians; and then there are the countries of the V4. So the battle I’m talking about is not one in which Hungary is fighting alone. There are many countries – much more significant than us, and including the world’s most powerful country, the United States – which take a position similar to ours. So the Hungarian people must realise that while negative news reports always tend to be in the majority, we’re not alone in this fight: we have allies. And we shall win: I believe that if we persevere we shall be able to protect Hungary’s interests. It’s true, however, that the coming months will be particularly dramatic and important.

But we must pay attention to the fault lines, because in the document being prepared – we’ve only seen the first version, which may perhaps be subject to changes – the UN says that the toothpaste has the right to decide to come out of the tube. In other words, that migration is a fundamental right, and the inhabitants of the world can choose where they want to live.

Okay, but this is the surest recipe for destroying the world and primitivising humankind. It’s preposterous for someone living in another part of the world to simply set out in the hope of a better life, go to a different country and demand rights there – regardless of the views of the people living in that country. This is preposterous.

The United States has also argued that resettlement is one thing, and providing assistance is another. This is the distinction that Hungary is trying to explain in the UN, isn’t it?

What’s happening here – George Soros’s people always do this – is that they present themselves as good people, and pretend to have some kind of moral superiority on their side, because they seemingly represent a noble cause. However, if you think things through, you’ll see that the consequences of their actions – which they’ve wrapped up as beautifully as Christmas presents, and which may at first sight appear so humane, positive and Christian – will eventually cause an enormous amount of suffering. So in reality what they propose is something evil. From a moral point of view, our position is the sound one: everyone has the right to the culture, to the country and to the living standards which they have created for themselves, and which they have built in their own countries. This is the basis of the European or Western philosophy of societal development, and today this is also the basis of international law. The whole European Union is based on the principle that its members are sovereign countries. If we lose our sovereignty – whether at the hands of the UN, or indeed Brussels – ancient cultural rights, opportunities and the quality of life we have worked so hard for will be in danger.

We must talk straight, and we must engage in this battle. We are not alone, we have allies; and if we can gain time – because in Hungary now this is our problem – we can win this battle. The European Union wants to bring this issue to a head, as there will be elections for the European Parliament in 2019. Everyone can see that people like us – forces similar to us which are opposed to immigration – will make a breakthrough. Therefore Brussels wants the decision on immigration, the migrant quotas and distribution, to be pushed through now, during this term of the European Parliament. But on 1 July the presidency of the EU will be taken over by Austria, and the Austrian people elected their new government because they don’t want Austria to become an immigrant country. They will put up a fight there. Brussels and George Soros’s people have just one chance: push the new regulations, called “Dublin IV”, through the European institutions as soon as possible – and before 1 July. These regulations would include the mandatory migrant quotas, and would take powers away from nation states on the issues of refugees, migrants and migration. So the Hungarian parliamentary election will be held just as this battle is reaching its climax.

As you’ve said, politically this is indeed what we could expect from Austria. But who would have thought that the Bulgarians would table a pro-quota proposal? At present they hold the presidency of the European Union. And this decision in June on the migrant quota issue seems to be serious.

Indeed, but you need to see that the Bulgarians have made this proposal in consultation with the European Commission: it’s hard to tell how much of it is Bulgarian and how much of it comes from Brussels. At any rate, we Hungarians have tabled our own proposal – I took it to Sofia and handed it over to the Bulgarian prime minister – in which we state how we want to change these Brussels-Bulgarian proposals, and how we want to protect national sovereignty. The proposal they’re currently presenting, and which they want to push through in spite of us, contains a calculation method: a mathematical formula regarding the distribution of immigrants. As things stand at present, from one day to the next they will send ten thousand people here. And this is something we must also face up to: Hungarians shouldn’t think that it will be like before, when there was a massive influx, but all the immigrants left us by crossing our western border. They won’t leave, because Austria and Germany have reinstated border controls, and we’ve become a dead end. Those who come here won’t be able to move further west. Anyone we let in will stay with us: they’ll be ours, we’ll have to look after them, and we’ll have to live alongside them – and alongside the accompanying threat of terrorism, a deterioration in public security and additional economic burdens. So this is why, before the election, I say to the Hungarian people that for this to happen we only need to make a single mistake. We have the right to make a mistake: we live in a democracy, there will be a free election, this will be our decision, and we’ll decide on our own fate. If we make that mistake, we will become an immigrant country.

As we saw, at the latest EU summit you exchanged a few words with Chancellor Merkel. Did you talk about the idea – which can be regarded as the German government’s official position – that after 2020 the allocation of funds in the EU will be tied to political conditions? For a while one thought that this idea had already been taken off the table, but now it has surfaced again, and the essence of these political conditions would be that those who support the immigration policy adopted by Western countries and Germany would have easier or greater access to funds after 2020.

I think we should point out a few facts. The first is that the budgets of the European Union are not prepared from one year to the next, but for seven years in advance. There’s a fixed procedure for this, and at the end of this procedure the budget must be approved by all the prime ministers. A Hungarian prime minister has never voted against a budget. This means that we have – and will have – strong negotiating positions. And I shall use them. The other fact is that this doesn’t only affect us. The V4 countries have said that this would adversely affect them, and they do not support it. It is worth understanding why Poland is in the cross hairs. Poland is the leading power, the leading state in the Central European region. It is four times the size of Hungary, its economy is very strong and it is developing steadily. Poland is the regional power, this region’s leader. Hungary accepts and recognises this fact. The reason that both the Germans and Brussels are shooting at Poland is that if they weaken Poland they weaken the whole of Central Europe – and thereby they also weaken Central European resistance to immigration.

France’s President Macron would like to launch consultations on the future of Europe. Is it possible to write the right questions in French? Rumour has it that Hungary doesn’t want to take part in this.

Hungary and the Visegrád Four have adopted a common position, so Hungary takes the same position as the other Central Europeans. We have made this position clear in a document. It’s not our fault if not everyone reads it – the French President, for example, if I’m not mistaken. But we have a position, which we’ve presented in Brussels, and this states that in itself consultation is something positive. If any country has experience of consultations, that country must be Hungary. The French haven’t conducted a single consultation in their lives – not consultations like the ones we have here, where we involve every Hungarian in debates on important issues. The Hungarians are the only people in the whole of Europe who have been consulted on immigration and the most important issues: only the Hungarian government has consulted its people. So if anyone needs advice on the issue of national consultations – the French President included – I’m at their disposal. We’ve said that it is a good idea to hold consultations on the future of Europe. Our document states that we should hold those consultations, and each country should use its own best national practices. This is the Hungarian position.

Let’s sum up what we’ve just heard. All these things could well be on the agenda within a few months – at the EU summit in June. Despite the fact that the decision on whether EU funds beyond 2020 can or cannot be tied to political conditions must be a unanimous one, could this “principle of solidarity” be a legal consequence? Within a few months you might have to adopt a decision on this in the Council.

We shall fight. The position of the V4 is clear. Austria’s position is clear. I hope that this Sunday the Italians will vote for the formation of a government which will also seek to curb immigration – and there is every chance of that happening. And I am also determined. Naturally, an April election which confirms the Hungarian position would be useful, because I see the April election as a potential confirmation of the foreign policy direction that Hungary has pursued so far: that we must commit to the battle to stop immigration. I believe that the Hungarians would rather remain Hungarian, they would rather protect their Christian culture, and they would rather defend their national independence than surrender it. And so if it turns out, and if they realise that some of the candidates – in fact one of the two candidates eventually left standing in each area – represents the opposite and is backed by George Soros, if the people recognise this and see through this, then I believe there’s a good chance that Hungary will continue to have a national government. And then the leader of the national government will go to Brussels in June and will fight this long and complicated battle; and at the end of it, if needs be, the Hungarian prime minister will veto the proposal. Because let’s not forget that in the council of prime ministers decisions can only be adopted unanimously.

By the way, reflections on the future of Europe, Macron’s consultation, is more or less relevant to this topic, isn’t it? These are the same questions.

We discussed the French President’s proposals last time, and the Council rejected them. So we rejected proposals such as the one for more cross-border international lists in the European Parliament elections, and other similar suggestions – the French president had several of these – without exception. In the end one proposal remained: that there should be national or European consultations; but even these should be conducted according to best national practices, in line with each country’s own customs.

Can we think ahead a little? What kind of general atmosphere will there be in Hungary after April? Although we’ve already spoken about this a great deal, can we gain an insight into how far ahead you’re thinking in terms of budgetary planning? We’ve seen the latest labour market and employment statistics – and here, too, we see a dispute between international organisations and Hungary. For instance, to mention just one detail, based on an OECD recommendation, Hungary’s preferential retirement scheme for women after completion of forty years in employment should be abolished.

We have several debates like this. If we look at the last four elections – Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic and the upcoming Italian poll – we can see that while of course economic issues are important in those countries, just as they are in Hungary, the most important issue everywhere has been immigration. In Hungary this is the great issue, but in its shadow we should also naturally say a few words about economic matters. I can tell you that in recent years Hungary has achieved fine results, but these are not the results of work which has been completed and brought to an end. We still have a great deal of work to do on this. The growth of the Hungarian economy must be maintained, but this will be very difficult if in Hungary we don’t pursue economic policy similar to that of Mihály Varga’s. So I wholeheartedly support the current government’s economic policy and the Minister for National Economy. We have taken the fundamental decisions. Now all we have to do is keep up the work, because in my opinion our family support system is a good one: I believe it is unrivalled in Europe, and perhaps we spend more on family support as a percentage of gross national product than anywhere else in Europe. I believe in the soundness of the policies and decisions which promote a better appreciation of women and those which give mothers the respect they deserve. These include the “Women 40” policy. But there is something painful here. We voted it through. Indeed in the last election campaign I agreed to introduce this, after coming to an agreement with women’s organisations. So it was my duty to take this through Parliament – and that is what I did. It was painful, however, that Jobbik, for instance, didn’t vote for it. One shouldn’t forget that things like this, which people now take for granted, can be taken back. But I shall do everything in my power to protect Women 40, and we want to continue it, come what may. Indeed, I’m convinced of the outstanding importance of providing further support for mothers and women who decide to have children – as well as the enhancement and extension of existing forms of support – because Hungary’s future depends on this. Of course we men are needed for this – for the future of Hungary. But at the end of the day the future depends on whether women want to live together with us, whether they want to live in families, whether they want to have children and whether they settle down into a life which recognises, supports and assists their decision: the decision to bear and raise children for the future. This is every woman’s own personal decision, but I’d like to provide every assistance for those who make that personal decision. So I shall present further demographic proposals which seek to express appreciation and respect for families and women. But the campaign does not revolve around this, because our splendid proposals will prove pointless, our family policy will prove pointless, and our promising future – for which we naturally have a great deal more work to do – will prove pointless if the country is flooded by migrants: if we, too, are forced to face issues like those experienced in Austria, Germany or France. In that case the money and energy will not be channelled into the expansion of family support, but into management of the problems of coexistence which will be produced by the masses of migrants arriving here: from containment of the terrorist threat to strengthening public security. The money needed for this would be taken from the Hungarian people, taken from the items in the Hungarian budget that it had previously been spent on. But I don’t want this. So the path to protecting Women 40 leads through keeping the opposition out of government and preventing a flood of migrants.

Our guest was Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. Thank you for accepting our invitation.

Thank you for inviting me.