Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has addressed, on September 16 the Congress of the Federation of Christian Intellectuals held in the palace of the Hungarian Parliament in Budapest on the topic “Hungarians in the Christian Europe”. Here are some excerpts from his speech (translation by Prime Minister’s Cabinet Office).
|PM Viktor Orbán addresses Congress of Hungarian Christian Intellectuals|
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I’d like to make it clear, Ladies and Gentlemen, that the Government greatly appreciates the work of Christian churches and the civic communities organised around them. We greatly appreciate it, and I also greatly appreciate it. The first sentence of my political credo is that in politics and the country’s leadership one can never be smart enough on one’s own: one always needs a place where one can discuss and consider with others the things one sees fit to think and act upon. This is another reason why the Government welcomes the work of the Christian churches and the civil organisations organised around them. And I am also convinced, Ladies and Gentlemen – and the Government shares this conviction – that what is good for Hungarian Christians is also good for Hungary.
(…) If there’s something we can cite as an argument in favour of the current Government, it is that whenever possible it has stated its case in an open, straightforward and sincere manner. With regard to its intentions it has never beaten about the bush, and I don’t want to do that today. We should openly express and profess our goals: we want a Hungarian Hungary and a European Europe. This is only possible if we likewise openly profess that we want a Christian Hungary in a Christian Europe. We are convinced that this is not just an acceptance of the past. We believe in the concept which József Antall left us: that this alone has a future.
I shall make a brief digression on a single point involved in the relationship between Christianity and politics. Political parties inspired by Christian thinking are often criticised on the grounds that they have no right to claim for themselves the duty and mission of defending Christianity. I have thought a great deal about this criticism, which is sometimes levelled at us – even from within the churches. And at the bottom of it I’ve found something which we would do well to consider, because if we think about it carefully, defending Christianity is indeed not the duty of politics. Defending Christianity is the duty of others playing their roles in modern society. But then how should we define the duty of Christian politics? I’m convinced that it is the duty, the mission of political parties, Christian-inspired political parties, to defend the human foundations for life which have their origins in Christianity. We do not need to engage in theological and dogmatic struggles, but we must defend the foundations for life, which have their origins in Christianity. One such foundation for life, for instance, is the individual and their dignity: the human being, as we envisage him or her. Another foundation for life that we must defend is the family. The nation is likewise a foundation for life that we must defend, and we must also defend our faith communities, our Churches. We are not trying to defend Christianity in a theological and dogmatic sense, but in Hungary – as well as in Europe – we are seeking to protect the foundations for life that have their origins in Christianity. This therefore enables Christian-inspired political parties to win more votes and support than the number of practising Christians in a given society, as the person and personal dignity are not only important for believers. The family is important not only for those who have strong links with God. The nation is promoted and cherished not only by those who find a link between its existence and the will of the Creator, but also by those who are unable or unwilling to make this intellectual or spiritual link. This clearly indicates that Christian-inspired politics – if it defines its role well and sets out to defend the social foundations for life originating in Christianity – can rightly lay claim to the support of a community which is wider than that of practising Christians. (…)
Hungary cannot exist without human dignity, healthy families, strong national bonds and stable faith communities. This is a law which has held for a thousand years, and which will hold far into the future.
Therefore we all ask ourselves the following question: Will there be a Christian Hungary, and will there be a Christian Europe? This is the question that we are all asking ourselves. As regards Hungary, an answer is simpler to give, as it depends exclusively on us Hungarians. There will be a Christian Hungary if the Hungarian people so desire. We believe that in essence our methods, our power of persuasion, our influence and our potential in this area depend solely on our own performance, commitment and talent. But will there be a Christian Europe? That is a more difficult question. And on this I’d now like to share a few gloomy thoughts with you.
If you look at Europe’s internal structure – particularly if you also consider this in historical terms – you can see that there has always been a kind of internal tension within the European Union and the community of European peoples: the system of relations has always had a kind of dynamism which had to be repeatedly resolved through compromises and agreements. According to some historians, Europe’s diversity caused internal tension and dynamism, which in turn led to competition; and eventually it was this which for many centuries made Christian Europe the world’s leading continent. I agree with this interpretation. So there have always been such internal differences: between the groups of Northern and Southern countries, the groups of Western and Eastern countries; between the rich countries, which are referred to as net contributors, and the poorer countries, which are referred to as the beneficiaries. Then there’s the Eurozone, which doesn’t include all of the European’s twenty-eight Member States, so there’s also a group outside the Eurozone. And one can find a number of other structures as well. What I’m talking about now is the fact that we’re living through a period in which a completely new, previously unknown dynamism – a new kind of internal tension – is developing, and the community of European peoples is wracked by an unresolved internal conflict of a completely new nature that is dramatically different from anything we’ve seen before. This conflict, this internal tension, has emerged between the immigrant countries – the countries with immigrant populations – and the non-immigrant countries. (…)
Europe’s overriding tension is about whether Europe will be Christian, and whether there will be a Christian Europe: a number of countries form a group of what have become immigrant countries, which have taken in people from non-Christian civilisations; and there are countries forming a group which have not yet become immigrant countries, or never want to become immigrant countries. The great task facing European leaders today – I could call it the historic challenge – is to find a way of co-existing, to develop a means by which these two very different groups of countries can cooperate. If they fail to do so, then this tension could cause a fracture in the European continent's political history which is far greater than at present, and which could even be catastrophic in effect. We therefore have an interest in resolving this internal tension through wise policy that accommodates this dissimilarity. As we belong to the group of non-immigrant countries, we believe that the immigrant countries are pursuing wrong-headed foreign policy, have lost control over their borders, and, by placing themselves at the mercy of modern-day mass population movement, have committed themselves to a completely new path of development. We have not done this: we abide by the ancient law. This ancient law of politics states that a country without borders is like an egg without a shell. What we’re observing in politics today is a strange phenomenon. I’d like to quote former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who shared the following thought with us: In Europe we are witnessing a very rare historical event, in which a region is not defending its external borders, but has instead opened them. The like of this has not happened in several thousand years.
It is obvious that in the immigrant countries today the rights associated with the admission of migrants take priority over the rights of the individual states to defend their external borders. We simply do not accept this proposition. We assign the highest priority to the right to defend our external borders. In the West, we see the human rights of illegal immigrants taking precedence over the will of European citizens who don’t want to let them into their countries. This then raises the issue of democracy. What we’re faced with is a problem of democracy in the Western countries. They are applying principles which the great majority of people within their societies clearly no longer follow; or, if they have ever followed them, they’re beginning to abandon them – indeed, they are renouncing them. We’re not involved in this problem of democracy, as on this very difficult issue – whether we should become an immigrant country – we’ve opted for a solution which, through national consultations, continuously involves those citizens who are prepared to state their opinion in the process of decision-making by the political leadership.
Naturally this problem leads us to a moral dilemma which regularly recurs in today’s debates about Christianity in Europe: who is a good person? Speaking in support of the attitude of the countries taking in migrants, many people argue that a good person is one who lets in those in distress. In this context, I hardly need to say that the roots of this idea are rather deeply embedded in the teachings that we all follow. The situation is different, however, in the case of a mass population movement of the kind that we’re talking about. In the case of a mass population movement, I’m convinced that we must send help to where the trouble is in crisis-afflicted countries, nations or regions within nations, rather than relocating them here, to us; because by doing so we don’t solve the problem, but we also saddle ourselves with the problem. This is not a wise, intelligent or rational policy. So when we say that we must take assistance there, rather than bringing the trouble here, we are representing a morally sound policy, the policy of good people. Assistance must be taken there. (…)
I simply want to say that the policy which refuses to allow Hungary to become an immigrant country is not only a rational policy, but also a morally well-founded and a morally tenable one. Recently I read a sentence in a study of European politics, an analysis of the political system, which I’d very much like to share with you, because I believe that it really hits the nail on the head. This sentence runs thus: “Some politicians are like bad riders, who are so preoccupied with the effort of remaining in the saddle that they’re unable to focus on the direction they should be heading in”. If we look at Europe today, this is the feeling one has.
The question, Ladies and Gentlemen, is what this will lead to. This is the other question that intrigues us. According to the laws of mathematics and what we know of the history and experiences of European civilisation, mixed populations will come into being in the countries which are already immigrant countries. In the nations that have made themselves immigrant countries I see no evidence of the strength, ability or knowledge that would enable them to revert to being non-immigrant countries. But if they are unable to do this, they will become countries with mixed populations, with a Christian element and a non-Christian element which has a strong religious identity. And if I judge the laws of biology and mathematics correctly, the ratio between these two elements will continuously shift away from Christianity and towards the non-Christian religious communities. The end of this process is unforeseeable – or only foreseeable mathematically; but in that sense it is rather easily foreseeable, and this answers our question. It is true that it only answers it mathematically, and luckily human history and politics are more complex than mathematics: this is the only ray of hope for us. But how this will end is mathematically foreseeable.
Paradoxically, while the group of immigrant countries with mixed populations which has come into being within the European Union presumes its own moral superiority in relation to us, today it is in fact those countries that pose the greatest threat to European values. It is in those countries with mixed populations that, day by day, the values which constitute the foundations of Christian European life are called into question and come under threat. Freedom of religion – the notion that every creature of God has the right to find the way which leads to Him – is under threat. There are religions which do not permit this to those who are born into their communities. (…) So we have every reason to say that if in mixed-population countries the Christian population finds itself in decline, their freedom of religion will be in danger. Similarly, equality between the sexes, which in our world is a fundamental starting point, will also be in danger in a Europe with an increasingly dominant number of people who don’t accept the notion of that equality. All this is aside from the fact that the fight against anti-Semitism in Western Europe will also be compromised: as whatever we may think of the migrants flowing into those countries, we can be certain that under no circumstances will they see the people of the Old Testament as their allies. So in the immigrant countries the European values of freedom of religion, the fight against anti-Semitism and equality between the sexes are all equally under threat. (…)
Nowadays the Westerners have a single thought: by legal, political or economic means they want to induce us – not just Hungary, but also the other the countries of Central Europe – to become countries like they are. In other words, they think that the peoples and countries of Central Europe should also become immigrant countries. We don’t want this, and therefore everyone in Brussels will have to accept that we shall not be an immigrant country. It is precisely for this reason that the future of Europe depends on how we can resolve this conflict and difference. (…)