Former United States Vice President Mike Pence in Budapest – Photo: MTI

Orbán: Support has to be offered in a way that also allows the economy to grow

Former US Vice President Pence praises government’s vision on family policy

Former US Vice President Mike Pence, in his address to the 4th Demographic Summit in Budapest on Thursday, commended Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán's vision of family policy. "I want to applaud Prime Minister Orbán for choosing to make family the central focus of Hungary's government policy," Pence told the summit.

“The Western world is beset by one crisis after another,” Pence said, noting the coronavirus pandemic and its ongoing economic impact as well as a “crisis of confidence” in traditional values, institutions and leadership.

The former vice president said yet another crisis was “the erosion of the nuclear family marked by declining marriage rates, rising divorce, widespread abortion and plummeting birth rates”.

“The leaders of government who are gathered here, and the leaders of faith, know strong families make strong communities, and strong communities make strong nations,” he said. “For our civilisation to prosper, if we’re to pass on the rights and the freedoms and the values that we cherish to the next generation, our highest priority must be to preserve, renew and strengthen the families upon which our nation and our civilisations have been built.”

Pence said there was a consensus among the global elite that “the institution of the family is in many ways an anachronism, outdated and even unnecessary”.

“We are so much as told that the family is secondary to the state and that the demands of raising and educating children must be met with the ever growing reach of government, supplanting the role and the primacy of parents and families from cradle to grave,” he said.

But the nations of central and eastern Europe “have heard these empty utopian promises before”, Pence said. They know what it is like to “live under the oppressive fist of progressive tyranny with its unworkable social experiments and with thought police driving their agenda against the common sense and common values of the people,” he added.

“Hungary and all the nations of the former Soviet bloc taught the world: if you want freedom, take pride in your country. If you want democracy, defend sovereignty,” Pence said.

“From where I stand I see the people of central and eastern Europe rejecting the modern left’s vision of a post-Christian, post-national, post-family world,” he said, adding that this was the same vision former US President Donald Trump’s administration had embraced. “It’s for a world of strong, sovereign, independent nations built on thriving, happy and healthy families.”

He said the Trump administration had similar goals and enacted like-minded policies to Hungary that centred on the restoration of middle-class American families.

“I have long believed that a society can be judged by how it deals with its most vulnerable, with its youth, its aged and its infirm and the unborn,” he said. He called abortion an “unspeakable tragedy, an unspeakable loss … for humanity”.

Pence said the Trump administration had “stood without apology for the sanctity of human life”, cutting funding for abortion.

“Here in Hungary I’m told that the number of abortions annually has been reduced by 30 percent in recent years,” he said.

Citing the words of Pope Francis, Pence said the welfare of the family was decisive for the future of the world, adding that “we must lead our nations and lead the world back to putting family first.”

The former vice president said Hungary and other countries in the region had shown that the right leadership and the right solutions could succeed in reversing population decline.

Orbán: Support has to be offered in a way that also allows the economy to grow

The Hungarian government’s family policies are geared towards supporting young couples planning families and ensuring their continued welfare once they have fulfilled their dream, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán told the Demographic Summit. Financial incentives and property subsidies are among the effective measures addressing demographic problems, Orbán said, adding that the government’s aim was to “make the whole country family friendly”. Meanwhile, the legal framework has been established to protect children and the institution of the family, he added.

The prime minister said that whereas crude handouts were “easy” to implement and “required little intelligence”, support had to be offered in a way that also allowed the economy to grow.

“We’re spending 5 percent of Hungarian GDP on families,” Orbán noted. “We haven’t progressed as far as we would have liked, but we’re around half way there,” he added.

Orbán said that without Hungary’s novel family policies, some 120,000 fewer children would have been born over the past ten years. The prime minister added that the number of marriages had almost doubled since 2010 and the number of abortions had dropped by 41 percent, he added.

He said that the mere act of holding a conference on demographics in itself reflected a choice of values. “Not everybody thinks that it is at all necessary to think about shaping demographic trends,” he said. “We’re here though because instead of enduring the demographic trends, we want to shape them.”

“While certain civilisations are able to reproduce, the West is simply unwilling to sustain itself,” Orbán said. “Some don’t see this as a problem,” while others would use migration as a solution, he said, adding that this would be tantamount to adopting “a global plan to resettle a new working class”, and such a plan would ignore the cultural aspect of migration.

“Migration is a matter of identity here. A European country can only function if its members have largely the same views on the basic questions. Nations in Europe that lack that common ground are bound to disintegrate,” he said. Economic approaches to solving the issue are not viable in Europe, he added.

Orbán said he had noticed “with concern neo-Marxist woke movements rapidly gaining popularity” in the West, with “attempts to sidetrack the development of children in kindergarten”, as children were being used as “pride activists” and to promote gender change.

He said the situation was very different in central Europe, where “the nature of Marxist ideas is well understood because people had to live with them for forty years”. “We’re vaccinated against wokeism and our history is protecting us against the cultural left, the same way as vaccines give protection against the coronavirus,” he added.

He said Hungarians were being protective because the Western left had launched attacks against the traditional family model by relativising the concept of family. A means for this is the LGBTQ lobby and gender propaganda, he added.

“They target our children, so we must protect them,” he said, adding that Hungary had a constitutional system for family and child protection which was “automatically activated when the family is seen to be under threat”.

The most important protective line of defence in the family protection system, he said, was the constitution, and he cited the sections of the constitution referring to families, marriage and children. Orbán said that while Hungary had held National Consultation surveys and popular votes in an effort to strengthen these lines of defence, nobody in western Europe or Brussels had ever canvassed people’s opinion on “LGBTQ propaganda” or migration.

Orbán said that behind the government’s family policy and lines of defence lay an intellectual or anthropological consideration: having children is a real pleasure.

Orbán noted that Pope Francis, visiting Budapest two weeks ago, had expressed his encouragement for Hungary’s family policies. “He said we should not stop. And we will not give up; we will pursue our fight against Brussels for child protection. Hungarians do not make empty promises. Instead of repeated pledges, all I can say is that we stand here because there’s no other way. We know our job,” Orbán said.

At the beginning of his speech, Orbán greeted former US Vice President Mike Pence attending the meeting and urged him to “return as soon as possible”. He also greeted the prime ministers of the Czech Republic and Slovenia and reminded them that they were “fighting for central European interests, the sovereignty of their countries, Christian heritage and the security of the European peoples.”

In his greeting to the presidents of Serbia and the Serb member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, he said the future of the Balkans would determine the future security of Europe. Brussels, he added, must not be allowed to continue the centuries-old policy of using the Balkans as a buffer zone in lieu of their own comfort and security.

Leaders sign joint declaration at Budapest Demographic Summit

The heads of state and government participating in the 4th Budapest Demographic Summit have signed a joint declaration on supporting families, Hungary’s minister in charge of family affairs said on Thursday.

“We see Europe’s demographic renewal, sustainability and future in strengthening and supporting families,” Katalin Novak said at the event.

In a Facebook post, the minister said the declaration bound its signatories to encourage couples to have children, promote fair wages and the development of labour-based economies by pursuing effective family policies.

The declaration also urges the European Union to consider demographic aspects when shaping its policies, Novak added.

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