Gábor István Kiss: Viktor Orbán is in the studio. Good morning.
Viktor Orbán: Good morning.
It’s Good Friday, and at the start of our conversation it’s worth thinking about Christianity and Christian Europe: about the Christian Europe which is Christian even for our non-religious compatriots and non-religious Europeans. Because the Europe whose language we speak, in which we feel at home, in which the built environment is familiar to us, is a Europe which was built in the Christian world. There is a global trend seeking to transform this familiar face. When or where do you think there will be a decision on whether this question, this challenge, must be either halted or managed?
Indeed we are talking to each other on Good Friday, and this reminds us, or calls to our attention, those texts and statements over the past decade or two in which thinkers have focused on Europe. Christianity is traditionally interpreted as a question of faith, and there is no doubt that for many of us that is what it is. But there is now an extensive body of literature which states that the Christian faith has also in fact created a culture. It has also created a culture which makes it possible to debate questions of faith. This is a European, or – if you like – a Christian invention. This is not too common in some other parts of the world – especially in the Islamic world. This is why it is commonly held that everyone in Europe is Christian – regardless of whether or not they find meaning in their lives through God. Christianity is a cultural creation, and the world in which we live is indeed built on the acceptance, statements and life principles of the teachings of Christianity: equality between men and women; the respect we have for our parents; and the responsibility we feel for our children. We do not see our own lives in the present as being self-contained, but as the continuation of something, and as something which in turn we must pass on: we understand our communal life as an alliance between the Europeans – the Christians – who lived in the past, those alive now, and those who will be born in the future. A number of philosophies of life and powerful philosophical principles stem from this. Without us even thinking through all the implications of this, we are surrounded by it as a natural circumstance: in a cultural sense Christian Europe is like the air that we need to live. It surrounds us like part of nature. We call this a sense of being at home, and this is why we feel at home in Christian Europe and in Christian Hungary. And, I repeat, this is regardless of religious conviction. For this reason the question of Christian Europe has become a political question: the debate is not about articles of religious faith, but about whether we can preserve the way of life and principles of life, the outlook on life, that we know and love and which we feel at home in; or whether they will be transformed by external forces. In this way the conception of Christian Europe always brings us back again and again to the problem of an immigrant Europe and the question of migration.
It seems that in this debate, on this question, the public have found it easier to form a standpoint than the politicians who are currently leading Europe. Several times you have said that within the lifetime of the generation which is alive and engaged in politics now in Europe, the fate of Europe could be decided for decades or centuries.
I express myself in even stronger terms than that. I think that in Western Europe young people will have to prepare themselves for lives in which they will see the loss of Christian Europe; and they will see themselves becoming a minority in their own world. I’m not saying that this will happen everywhere at the same time and at the same rate, but I’m saying that in Europe the Christian majority will be lost: little by little, district by district, city by city. This threat hangs over the heads of everyone. The question is how the peoples of Europe will respond to it. Technology, travel, migration pressure, the notion that everyone can seek a better place to live their life than where they were born and where they grew up: in today’s world these ideas are spreading freely, and spurring millions of people – indeed tens of millions – to leave their own homelands and go to places where they hope to live lives which they think will be better than those they are able to create at home. There are countries which respond to this with acceptance, in the form of so-called “open societies” and without defending their borders; and there are societies, there are nations and communities – such as most Central European countries, including us Hungarians – who want to defend our own way of life as it is now. We will gladly help those in distress, and we are willing to send them aid and assistance; but we do not want to ruin our own lives, and we do not want to bring the trouble here.
Will it be possible to convince decision-makers in Brussels who are of the opposite opinion to accept your standpoint, or the Central European standpoint?
As you’ve said several times, I could also ask the question which, translated to the level of everyday politics, states that it is easy to make a mistake. But what are the chances of victory?
First of all, let’s talk about why it’s difficult to convince anyone. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, in modern European politics most leaders live in the present. If they think of the future, it will be one or two years ahead, as they usually think in the context of elections and government terms: four-year government terms. Therefore, when it comes to considering policy decisions, processes which unfold over a time period longer than four years are always given a lower priority. What I’m talking about, however, will not happen within four years, but as a continuous process over several times four years. We need to seize the moment to take a stand, and declare that we shall stop these processes. For most decision-makers in Brussels this occupation of Europe does not present itself now as a daily challenge or as something to be dealt with immediately. This is the first part of the problem. The second part of the problem is that they live in a world apart from ordinary people. Leaders in Brussels, the highest-ranking leaders – but also others who are lower down – are generally under protection, as the Brussels bureaucracy tries to create a safe life. They usually live in good areas, in suburban homes which can be protected, in protected neighbourhoods. The quality of their lives will not change dramatically or directly as a result of migration and immigration: they don’t travel on the metro; they don’t live in urban areas where migrants are settled; there are no no-go zones in their neighbourhoods; and their wives and children are probably not subjected to the same dangers – or at least not to the same extent – as the families of ordinary Western European citizens. So leaders in Western Europe live in a world which is different from that in which the problems of migration and immigration appear. This is the other reason they don’t feel that this is as much of a challenge as perhaps we feel it is. Why do the Central Europeans and the Hungarians feel this? This is an interesting question. Here in Hungary politics is not a standard career. Of course one has to live, it’s a job, and there are working hours. So it’s similar to what one would call a job in everyday language. But what is special about the work is that we must take decisions in which we accept responsibility for the long-term future. This is a tradition in Central Europe: this distinguishes the Central Europeans from the Western Europeans. Here we think in terms of history, as so many times in history we have been occupied, our country has been broken up, and we have bitter memories of another culture living here alongside us for 150 years. Therefore the Hungarian and Central European peoples in general are able to think in terms of history and historical parallels, and they consider their own existence and the consequences of their own actions in a long-term perspective. This is a special Central European political culture, which differs from the thinking of more fortunate Western European countries which built prosperity over a period of fifty or sixty years after the Second World War.
On this question the Hungarian opposition often takes issue with you by arguing that here the experience on the streets – of an agreeable, safe, calm life – contradicts what you’re saying: here there are no migrants on the streets, and on an everyday basis one doesn’t feel that this is a real danger here.
My task would be more difficult if there hadn’t been that attack when they kicked down the door on us and invaded Hungary, when they violated our laws and marched across Hungary in their hundreds of thousands. But that is what happened, and we all saw it. It wasn’t so long ago: it was in 2015. Everyone remembers the pictures of Keleti Railway Station, or when they attacked our border guards at Röszke. So Hungarians have recent personal experience of how that unexpected attack affected us. And they’ve also seen how this government, under my leadership, has mounted a determined defence against this: how we’ve built the border fence, which will stand for as long as we are in government; and how we’ve defended the border, which we shall defend for as long as we’re in government. They have experienced this. Moreover, it is interesting that in the countries where there are no migrants the political mood which seeks to defend borders and keep migrants out is stronger than it is in those countries where immigrants are already present. I can give a very simple reason for this, as it is a natural phenomenon. In those countries where they are already present, the question is one of how the native population can live alongside them. In those countries where they are not yet present – such as ours – the question is whether or not we want to live with them at all. The latter provokes far stronger feelings, far stronger thoughts, far stronger determination in people. This is because here we feel that we can defend the Hungary, the Europe, the world in which we feel at home, the world which has existed up to now and in which we have lived.
Recently – a few days ago, or perhaps last week – you identified your opponents in this dispute: the two thousand people you identified as mercenaries, who, in accordance with the views of George Soros and with his financial support, are most fiercely opposed to your policy. Who are these people? What do you know about them? How could you identify them so accurately?
The current election campaign has a very valuable long term dividend. In your language, in the language of communication through which you interpret the world, this is described as “Soros Leaks”: one after another, credible information and sound recordings have emerged in which the officers of the Soros army themselves are speaking. These are people who have important positions linked to the international network synonymous with the name of George Soros, and they are engaged in substantial work. And they themselves have said what they’re doing. If up until now someone has not wanted to believe what I’ve been saying, if they’ve not wanted to believe in conspiracy theories, if they’ve not wanted to believe politicians, now they can see and hear what is happening with their own eyes and ears. The mechanism isn’t complicated. The mechanism is the following: first, activists financed from George Soros’s money are recruited; then these activists are assembled in so-called “civil society organisations” or NGOs; then these organisations act in an official capacity in support of those issues and goals which are part of the ideology of George Soros’s empire. The most important of these is the question of immigration: how they can transform Europe into an immigrant continent. Of course they frame this within a humanitarian approach, but the essence is to ensure dissolution of the Europe which up until now has been based on nations and Christian principles of life. Their means of achieving this is to replace Europe’s existing population – or at least to bring here many tens of millions of people to live alongside us, and thus change the human foundations of European culture. But there are also other issues they deal with, which have not been focused on in the campaign: the liberalisation of laws on drugs is always one of them, and another is the popularisation of new family models alongside the traditional family model. Everything that we call “open society” – that stack of demands – appears in the information that has now come to light. Later, when these NGOs have been formed, they attack governments which are anti-immigration, which protect the traditional family, and which do not want to make their own worlds open, but want to defend them. They launch these attacks, and they provoke people’s movements and emotions in opposition to these political forces and governments. They are infiltrating Brussels, because now European politics is not only conducted in the capital cities of Member States, but also in Brussels. From there they put pressure on selected countries – in this case Hungary – and, through influencing elections, they want to ensure that pro-immigration and pro-Soros candidates win seats in parliaments, and that such governments are formed. Then they infiltrate these governments – we heard how this happens on these sound recordings – and, occupying important positions, gradually, step-by-step, they transform these countries. In the end, of course, all the business profits from operation of the whole country – or of the affected countries – is channelled to the associates of George Soros, because in the final analysis we are talking about the world of a financial speculator.
When looking for a textbook example of what you’ve described, Ukraine is often cited – or Macedonia
Or Hungary. But what do we know about attempts to influence the situation in Hungary?
According to such statements, according to the statements of officers in the Soros mercenary army, we know that around two thousand people in Hungary are being paid to work towards bringing down the Government in the current election campaign, and to create a new pro-immigration government acceptable to George Soros. We have quite a lot of knowledge of this. After all, Hungary is a regulated state, which has the instinctive reaction and capability for self-defence – or at least I’ve always considered it important that it should have. Therefore we are in possession of information, reports and analyses. We know precisely who these people are, we know names, we know by and large who they are, and how and why they are working to transform Hungary into an immigrant country. This is why we’ve created and presented to Parliament the “Stop Soros” legislative package, which classifies immigration as a national security question, and makes the operation of organisations active in this area conditional on a state permit. We are trying to protect ourselves against Soros-style attacks.
And exactly what do we know about the migrant resettlement plans which could be enforced according to quotas, if all this is realised in the European decision-making forums this June? You have precisely indicated locations where those arriving in Hungary will have to be located, how they will have to be provided for, and how they will have to be integrated. What accurate information is there about this?
The specifics are the following. In June the Brussels bureaucrats would like to force a final decision out of the prime ministers of the Member States on the nature of the new immigration system in Europe. Plans have been prepared with this in mind. The current work of the prime ministers – the twenty-eight of us – is being coordinated by the Bulgarian prime minister. He has prepared the first plans, we are familiar with these, and we’ve reacted to them. These plans are misguided, and the direction they outline is a bad one. This proposal is not only bad in detail, but the aim is a bad one, because in essence it places the emphasis on the distribution of immigrants who have been brought into or allowed into Europe. We, however, think that the most important question for the regulation of immigration is border defence: how we can avoid allowing them in, and how we can defend our borders. This should be the most important question. I’ve also submitted written propositions for amendment – just as we do here in the Hungarian parliament – on how we can change this proposal. So far our amendments have not been supported. At any rate, at the summit of EU leaders in June the Bulgarian prime minister will submit his own proposal, and there will be a debate, followed by a decision. In the plan which is now known to us there are numbers for distribution and quotas. I have asked my colleagues to calculate what will happen to Hungary on the following morning if we were to accept this proposal. For Hungary the consequence of this would be the immediate admittance of more than ten thousand immigrants, and later even more – leaving aside the effect of family reunification, which would follow later. And as this legislative proposal also specifies how immigrants should be cared for, 9 million forints would need to be allocated for each immigrant – as if we allow them in, we must also provide for them. All this appears in the proposal, and this is why I can talk about specific numbers and consequences derived from a written plan. But I’m not preparing for them to implement this; that is what Soros’s people are preparing for. I’m preparing for us blocking this in June. Either we accept a good proposal, which we have submitted; or, without a moment’s thought, we shall prevent this proposal being mandatorily applied to Hungary. For this reason, at the European summit in Brussels in June Hungary must be represented by a prime minister who can defend our country against this plan.
And how will things look in the parliamentary election one week from now? Today do you still think that the main dividing line between the candidates left standing in each constituency will be support for immigration or opposition to immigration? Because now it doesn’t seem that the opposition will put forward ever more candidates, but ever fewer candidates.
Let’s talk about the issues first. The election campaign which we are in the midst of is an interesting one. I like election campaigns – despite the fact that one is beaten black and blue in the course of them. So I cannot describe it as a comfortable period, but for all that it has a certain beauty – even though the beauty doesn’t reveal itself every day. This is because we are all working towards our making a joint decision on 8 April which will indicate how we will live and in what direction Hungary will progress and develop. For this reason it has a beauty, in addition to all the unpleasantness that one must put up with. Therefore the issues are important, and this is an interesting campaign. We’re talking about the most important question related to the fate of the country, the most important question for the future. That question is immigration. The country is developing, we are creating an economy providing a decent pension system, support for home creation for young people, a family support system, and full employment, and we are increasing the minimum wage, which is resulting in increased wages. All these many things which are happening – and which, incidentally, nobody disputes – will all have been in vain if suddenly we are hit by an external force: by immigration. Immigration would immediately swallow all these benefits; and the money for which we have worked, for which we have laboured, would not go to Hungarian people, not to Hungarian local governments and settlements, would not go to Hungarian families, but would simply go to immigrants – because we would have to accept them in and provide for them. Whatever else happens, I want to prevent this; and this is what we are talking about. There is no trace of this in the campaign of the opposition parties, and so I think that they are not even talking about the most important question for the future. It’s true that in general they are under international censorship. Today we live in a world in which it is not easy to talk about this question, because even the internet is censored. So in Western Europe one can hardly speak about the connection between immigration and acts of terror, about the connection between immigration and the deterioration in public safety, and about the connection between immigration and violence against women. The language they use leaves it unclear as to who in fact the perpetrators are and how they got to where they are, and in general it prevents this information reaching people. The Hungarian opposition is linked to this: they are part of the censorship which exists in relation to the question of immigration. But they are not the ones who will decide. Neither will I be the one who decides – although I also have two votes to cast on 8 April. It will be the Hungarian people who decide. All I can say, what I can ask Hungarians, is not to think of the present, but of the future. Consider that Hungary is not simply deciding on a government and a parliament, but it is deciding on its future. There are two ways we can vote, there are two possibilities that open up before us: either we will have a national government, and Hungary will remain a Hungarian country and we will fight for a European Europe; or there will be an internationalist government, which will in essence be installed by George Soros, and then Hungary will become an immigrant country. I think that these are the two possibilities facing us. I shall unhesitatingly cast both of my votes in favour of national politics, and I ask every Hungarian voter to cast not just one of their votes for the national forces, but both of their votes.
Finally there is a practical question which we may be able to clarify. With regard to reductions in household utility charges, there is a twelve thousand-forint credit related to the extremely cold weather. Recently a practical problem has come to light, in which not all residents in blocks of flats have received this.
The fact of the matter is that everyday life in Hungary does not come to a halt just because there is an election campaign. For example, one period of the winter was exceptionally cold, and the Government needs to respond to this in some way. Because it’s a fine thing for us to fight an election battle for the sake of the future, but we must also deal with today’s matters. This is known as governance. Therefore at one of the Government’s meetings I proposed that there should be a winter utility charge reduction. After all, we are the government of utility charge reductions. Every previous government only raised prices, the prices of services which are necessary for everyday life: electricity, water and gas. We are the first government to concern itself with trying to reduce the profits of multinationals; and indeed we did reduce them, and this saved Hungarians money. I felt it important that now there should be a clear decision by the Hungarian government for us to continue the reductions in utility charges; and the winter reduction in utility charges is the expression of this. Now, there are simple situations, where people are heating with gas and we can give them this credit of twelve thousand forints. Where there is district heating we have come to agreements with the providers, and this is also possible. There are situations, however, particularly in certain blocks of flats – for example in Nagykanizsa, where I came face-to-face with this recently – in which all the households in the block are registered as one consumer. Those people have not received as much money as the government decision entitles them to – they have not received the twelve thousand forints. What we are able to do now, and I have asked this from local council leaders, is to compile a list of these individual situations, and the Government will transfer the winter utility reduction to those families on the basis of individual decisions. And there is another problem: people in villages which have no gas supply. There are not many of these in Hungary, but there are around three hundred settlements in which there is no gas supply, and there people have alternative means of heating. We shall separately transfer this twelve thousand-forint utility charge reduction to each household in these settlements.
Our guest was Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. Thank you for accepting our invitation.
I was pleased to be here.