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Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s Speech at Christian Democrat International’s conference on interfaith dialogue

A respectful welcome to everyone – and especially to our organisation’s president, President Pastrana. Greetings also to the members of the Executive Committee, and to those Hungarian attendees whom we are honoured to have among us at this conference. May I just say to the executive members of CDI that this is one of the very rare occasions during my international activities when I can speak my native language, so I will use Hungarian. Sorry for that. Let me enjoy this very rare possibility. I shall speak in Hungarian to enable me to make use of this opportunity to speak in Hungarian, rarely that arises in international forums.

We don’t have much time, and one cannot redeem the world in ten minutes, so I will be making a few comments related to the conference’s topics for today. But first of all, I would like to say that we Hungarians are fortunate that Christian Democrat International decided to come to Budapest, and also that they decided to organise this conference. The Hungarians will understand what I’m talking about, because despite all our efforts we are provincial; this is a Hungarian idiosyncrasy, because the Hungarians speak a language that nobody other than us uses. While many of the world’s peoples need make no effort to understand the others, or at least some of the others, no matter what we Hungarians want to understand, it can only be achieved through huge effort. This is because we must learn something that is built on a totally different logic: a foreign language. The logic of the Hungarian language resembles that of mathematics rather than the grammar of other languages. And for this reason Hungarians generally find it difficult to follow the debates going on in the world – particularly when they are not conducted in our language. Accordingly it is very favourable if occasionally the world comes here to talk before us and shed light on its problems.

We are particularly grateful to President Gemayel from Lebanon. For the benefit of the Hungarians here, I can tell you that he is one of the greatest Christian fighters whom I know in the sphere of international politics. In his country of Lebanon it is not easy to be a Christian, and it isn’t even easy to fully understand the situation – let alone stand up for one’s identity. In our Christian Democrat International, one of our greatest prides is that for several decades he has been representing us and standing his ground there.

We are extremely lucky to have here with us Ján Figeľ from Slovakia, who is one of our very long-standing brothers-in-arms. He fought to lead his country’s Christian Democratic Movement to victory, and they had some good results. After this he took on a European role and is now performing an extremely important duty, as he is the European Commission’s Special Envoy for Christian religious issues, the persecution of Christians and for religious freedom in general. Today he will not be speaking about the fact that he could receive more support than he does currently. But, considering the state of affairs in Brussels, it is already in itself a significant step that he has been given a special mandate by the European Commission to pursue such issues, and that he has been appointed at all. This is a great thing; and he is a brave man, who must sail against the wind when he arrives in Western Europe.

Most of our other guests are university professors, although of course we also have with us a minister from Panama’s chancellery; but we consider him to be not only a politician, but also a thinker. The professors who are with us will be trying to improve our thoughts with what they have to say.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The essence of what I have to say is that in the decade ahead the issue of identity will be at the centre of debates in Europe – and perhaps also outside Europe. Why this is so is a mystery, about which scholars will perhaps write a library of books. Politicians are also guessing why this should be the case, but in truth we don’t know. Observing international politics a few years ago I was simply struck by how, alongside issues of the economy, security and traditional geopolitical questions, there were an increasing number of debates over identity. These revolved around all three types of identity: family, national and religious identity. So what I see – and here the European map is absolutely clear – is that the world is drifting, converging towards political debates over identity. This is particularly visible within the European Union, the reason being that Europe has experienced – and is continuing to experience – a migration crisis, which magnifies, intensifies and sharpens these questions of identity. It seems that the world is confronted with an issue which is becoming increasingly crucial: the question of what relationship a political force – be it a government, a party or a party alliance – has to nations and to religious communities. If we take a look around Europe, we can see that there are three kinds of relationship.
How does politics relate to issues of identity? Some people are indifferent to this, not yet having realised that this will be the focus of the next ten to fifteen years; or if they have realised, then they don’t care and are not bothering with such issues.

Then there are the ideological tendencies which in Europe are particularly hostile to religions and national aspirations. Their standpoint is that in reality issues of identity generate conflict. These are the intellectual trends that state that if you make it clear, not only to yourself but to the world, who you are – for instance a man or a woman, that you belong to a certain religious community, or that you have some kind of relationship with God the Creator – then by saying and professing that you have already planted the seeds of conflict. These ideological tendencies are hostile towards identities and towards debate focused on them. Here I would like to mention in passing that the European Commission – and in fact the European political elite in general – has also adopted the interpretation of history which holds that the conflagrations, the world wars and other conflicts in 20th century Europe were in fact caused by nationalism, which in turn is rooted in national identity. We cannot conduct that debate here, but by contrast I would just like to state that in Hungary we believe that global conflagrations, wars and other conflicts in Europe were not caused by nationalisms, but by empire-building aspirations which did not respect national identities. And accordingly, in our view, the greatest danger in Europe was – and remains – any attempt to build empires. This is a stark warning to Brussels that it should not seek to turn itself into an empire along the lines of a United States of Europe. For in doing so it is making exactly the same mistake made by leaders in 20th century Europe, from Hitler to Stalin, who harboured aspirations to build empires – albeit in their cases on national rather than pan-European foundations.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

And finally on this issue there is the third intellectual tendency, which states – and we can perhaps call this the pragmatic school of thought – that God made the world in such a way that there are nations, religions, families, men and women; that there is an order to creation, and that it must be accepted as it is. It is not our task to change this – as those ideological schools of thought would have us believe – but our task is to accept it and on these given foundations build our own politics, at both national and international levels. CDI, Christian Democrat International, subscribes to this third school of thought, accepting these identities as given foundations.

Here this morning Prime Minister Aznar publicly said that neither in the future can the expression of national will be disregarded, and European politics must continue to be built on it. To this I must add that the ideological tendencies in Europe which deny the need and utility of identities have used their concepts to construct a complete system. Within this they describe the current situation as one in which Europe has in essence taken the next step in its linear historical development – breaking with and bypassing issues relating to nations, religious communities and faith – and has entered a post-national and post-Christian era. They are occupied with the creation, description, analysis and construction of this, and this is also what their programmes focus on. Most of the so-called NGOs that are active in Hungary and funded from abroad subscribe to this school of thought, which is hostile – extremely hostile – to all natural identities that stem from creation. Why does CDI, Christian Democrat International, stand on the theoretical and moral foundations of the recognition of communities and identities? The reason for this is that we believe that one’s relationship with a nation or religion is not the same as a relationship with an organisation, but is in fact a link to one’s own human dignity. We believe that these identities or ties form an inalienable part of personality, of human character, of our personality. And accordingly, when we support the avowal of identity and seek to strengthen identities, we stand on the ideological bedrock of human dignity, and this is worthy of what we see to be the international policy of Christian Democrat International.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It follows from this that Christian Democrat International itself would like to see a peaceful world that recognises and strengthens identities rather than denies them. All large international organisations of this kind clearly have a concept of world peace: what will bring about peace in the world and what will prevent war. Our standpoint is that the prerequisite for preventing war – and therefore also the prerequisite for peace – is that everyone is free to declare, strengthen and nurture their identity. This is what leads us to a system of international cooperation in which everyone is capable of accepting others and which can construct a peaceful international political system.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would also like to talk about something surprising. As we know, throughout Europe the ratio of religious communities within the population is in decline – or at least their numbers are not increasing. Unfortunately this is also the case here in Hungary. But despite this, however, recent polls have shown us that something has changed. For instance, when asked whether defending Christianity is important and whether it is the task of the Government, in Hungary over 70 per cent of those polled said that it is. This is in a country in which secularisation is at an advanced stage. What does this mean? It means that people in Hungary have also realised that Christianity and Christian culture are not simply questions of faith, but are also related to the culture that has developed out of Christianity. A faith-based knowledge and sensibility has created a culture that today we describe as our lives: our everyday lives, life as we live it, the form in which we maintain our lives, and the world in which we feel at home. And people regard everything that endangers this as something which runs counter to Christianity, and which we must defend ourselves against.

And finally, I would like to talk about whether we can indeed defend ourselves against this. At first glance it would seem that we cannot. This is because huge forces are amassing in the world and have swung into action in order to convince people that the age if identities is over, the world is going to change, the whole world will be transformed as a result of a huge migration of people, and this migration – which in Hungary we call mass population movement – will inevitably change the world: we are told that there’s nothing we can do about it, and it is something we must resign ourselves to. This is the psychological foundation of Brussels’ policy, with which it wants to turn Hungary into an immigrant country; and this is also mirrored in the recent document issued by the United Nations, a global treaty on migration which it calls the “Compact for Migration”. This is a plan that describes how nations should approach migration and immigration, and how as a result they should relegate protecting their own identities to second place. So there are huge forces at work seeking to convince us that there are changes going on in the world that make it necessary to marginalise our identity and consign it to the past. And, we are told, there is nothing we can do about it.

I am very familiar with this psychological situation, because when we decided to stop migration at Hungary’s southern borders – and not only decided to stop it, but constructed a physical and legal barrier – we became a target of the hatred of many people and were attacked from Brussels, because we resisted their basic worldview. We rejected claims that there is nothing we can do to protect our culture, and that there are processes which politicians, the country’s leaders, are powerless to respond to – except with a shrug of our shoulders. Of course it’s easier for politicians to shrug their shoulders, citing global forces against which we can unfortunately do nothing. When acts of terrorism were committed in Western Europe, within a week I was already hearing statements from leaders who said that this is the dawn of an era in which we must learn to live with the reality that terrorism is here among us. This clearly indicates that if politicians start to say that they are unable to do anything on an important issue and are incapable of stopping negative developments, if they publicly declare that they resign themselves to calamity, then the situation will only deteriorate. First we will lose control over our territory; then we will lose control over the composition of our population; then we will lose our cultural identity; then we will lose our security, and terrorism will arrive. This is the escalator that people will inevitably descend if they do not turn back at the very beginning. This is the essence of the matter.

What I am saying is that to protect Christian culture we not only have to simply establish physical lines of defence, but also spiritual lines of defence. The task of politicians is to strengthen people’s faith in the fact that indeed we are not at the mercy of global forces, and that our ability to defend and maintain our homeland, our nation and our Christian culture depends on us: it is a decision, a question of will. Yes, it is a difficult decision and an intent with painful consequences, but it is indeed possible. What is needed is for us to neutralise, to contain, those international forces that are encouraging migration in the world; we must take up the dispute not only with the NGOs of the Soros Empire, but also with Brussels – and, it seems, also in a new arena with the United Nations, in the upcoming debate on the Migration Compact. We must stand our ground, we must stand up for our own interests, and we must neutralise the forces that seek to convince us that we have no chance. I would like to remind everyone about István Dobó – the Hungarians know who I’m talking about: the strength of the walls lies in the spirit of its defenders. This is also the case now in modern politics, and it is possible if we have a spiritual line of defence with which we can protect our Christian culture. We will not succeed if we are not spiritually strong enough. So the first task is to neutralise the actions of those who are encouraging the international processes – such as migration – that are destroying our cultural identity. In addition to this we must strengthen ourselves, so that we are capable of withstanding the difficulties we must face in the international storm – which in recent years we Hungarians have become very familiar with.

In closing, all I need to ask is whether what I have been talking about here is do-or-die heroism. The Hungarians have an inclination for that kind of thing. In the Hungarian language the most popular expressions are “alone”, “no matter what”, and “we ourselves”. When analysing international situations, the Hungarians have a propensity for do-or-die gestures. But the truth is that now we have no need of such do-or-die heroism. If you take a look around Europe, you will see that the way of thinking that we represent is conquering Europe step-by-step. Remember how it began – with we Hungarians stating that we would halt migration at our southern border. Then came the Serbs, who said that they, too, would be capable of doing this. Then the position that we had taken was adopted by the V4, the other three countries of the Visegrád Group: Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. And you can see that suddenly the same change of direction has also occurred in Austria. And if you look at Germany and its geographical structure – and not only at Berlin – then you can see that a similar change has also occurred in Munich and Bavaria. Two days ago the leader of the CSU gave a speech on Christian identity which made me look like a model of diplomacy, moderation and compromise. His speech was so strong that I think it was the most uncompromising speech given in Central Europe in the past two or three decades. There has been a turnaround there. The situation is similar if you take a look at Saxony and the former East German territories. And if you turn your attention to the upcoming Italian election in March, then you will see that this change of direction has also already occurred in Northern Italy; and the question is whether the election will show it extending to the whole of Italy. So I’m saying that month by month we are seeing ever more countries joining the alliance to defend Christian culture, the family, national, religious and faith-based identity. I am sure that this process in Europe will not falter. It will undoubtedly take time before we see a general transformation in political thought across Europe, but this process – of which we are a part – is pointing in that direction. This is why today’s CDI conference has been held in a mood of optimism.

Thank you for your kind attention.