Prime Minister Viktor Orbán - Photo: PMO

Orbán: To be Hungarian ‘task, mission’

"To be Hungarian is a task and a mission, probably the most beautiful mission in the world," Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said at the Tranzit festival in Tihany, at lake Balaton. Orbán highlighted Hungarian culture and the Hungarian language "not understood by anyone else but those born Hungarian, and which cannot be preserved by others". He warned that Hungarian culture, a history of "1,100 years of statehood" and the "opportunity for our children to be Hungarian for thousands of years" would only survive "if we cultivate them".

“If more and more young people grow up to think that being Hungarian is good, fantastic, exceptional, and it involves obligations that must be met, if they think it is good to serve the homeland, there will be many of us,” the prime minister said.

Orbán regretted that internationally liberal democrats were “far ahead of conservative democrats in attractively presenting political subjects in the media”. He suggested that it should be reversed but added that “the other side is overpowering, with a stable conservative majority only in Hungary.”

Ruling Fidesz’s “two-thirds majority continues to stand firmly and its end is nowhere in sight,” the prime minister said.

The anchor at the Tranzit festival introduced Orbán by quoting him as saying in 2012 that Fidesz’s “two-thirds rule stands stock-still”.

“It has been standing ever since … and the really important thing is that from here we cannot see its end,” he said.

Orbán pointed to Hungary’s political life in the late 19th and 20th centuries, and said “the nature of Hungary’s politics is such that time after time great national parties are formed and they win elections over a longer period of time.” “Hungarians do not need to be ashamed [of that] because it is a European phenomenon,” he added.

Concerning the difference between Fidesz and the opposition, Orbán compared professional football to amateur soccer, and said amateurs will “run where they see the ball, while professionals will run where the ball will be”. He said his ruling Fidesz party had a strategy “for the short, medium, and long term”, while the opposition parties were absorbed in “picking a case and creating a scandal”.

He suggested, at the same time, that “apart from the [poor] state of the opposition we should also consider who is behind them”. Large, financial groups “have clear designs for the world and Hungary, looking for agents, and they find those agents within Hungary’s left.”

“Comparing positions in the international arena they are Goliath and we are David,” he said. Referring to Fidesz’s winning four elections in the past, Orbán said “we want to continue in that habit”. He also said the opposition had had “multiple times” the funds to finance their campaign as Fidesz.

On another subject, Orbán said “young people should decide if they have a homeland or they just want to have a good time in the world, in the West, in Europe, in attractive forms of civilisation and their being Hungarian does not matter too much.” “Do we think that we have been born into a context, into a flow?” he asked. If so, he continued, they should ask if they have obligations or tasks arising from that identity. Once those questions are answered, one will “have both feet on the ground, and can start collecting similar people around them to build a large national army in a spiritual and political sense,” he said.

The prime minister said Hungarians’ duty was to “cultivate their land” in the Carpathian Basin.

“If more and more young people grow up to think that being Hungarian is good, fantastic, exceptional, and it involves obligations that must be met, if they think it is good to serve the homeland, there will be many of us,” the prime minister said.

Asked to compare the communists of the past and the current Western mainstream, the prime minister said the worlds of liberals and communists were “very far apart at first glance”. But after the fall of a communist regime, most communists become liberals, even though this was believed to be impossible, he added.

Orbán said the dividing line was the ability to understand people and what makes one human. There are similarities when it comes to this question, he said, adding that liberals and leftists today firmly believed that “the one important thing in life is yourself”. “Your freedom, your well-being, your time, your way of life, this is what matters, and this view has a big political camp in the Western world,” Orbán explained.

But there is another view, the right-wing conservative one, which says the important thing is happiness, but “there are some things in the world that are more important than ourselves”, he said. These, he said, included the family, the homeland and God “and our relationship with him”. “If these things are more important than myself, then an answer must be found as to how one wants to serve these,” Orbán said. “This results in different kinds of politics”.

This dividing line is not ideological, political or anthropological in nature, Orbán said.

He identified two political schools on the conservative side. One of them, he said, organised thought about things more important than the individual along the lines of reasonable answers. The other, the Christian Democratic school, says there are sacred things “that life or enemies want to turn profane, and this must be prevented”.

The prime minister said the answers to the questions of human existence and political questions converged both on the right and the left.

He noted that liberals in 1990 “quickly took over every institution” and worked out the linguistic framework “for describing what is happening in a way that is favourable to them”. That was when they came up with the idea that democracy has to be liberal, he said, adding that whereas other types of democracies had existed in the past, “this is now prohibited; there is only liberal democracy now”.

Liberals achieved a hegemonic position in the use of tools needed to shape public discourse, language and thought, the prime minister said. And conservatives were happy to finally see the end of communism, but before they knew it “the other side had long organised itself both internationally and domestically”. Conservatives, he said, were still behind by about ten years.

Orbán regretted that internationally liberal democrats were “far ahead of conservative democrats in attractively presenting political subjects in the media”. He suggested that it should be reversed but added that “the other side is overpowering, with a stable conservative majority only in Hungary.”

Meanwhile, the prime minister said Europe was currently seeing a battle between the concept of nation-states and the imperial concept, “and for us, Hungarians, the chance for a good life lies in the Europe of sovereign states”.

Because the Roman Empire was brought down not by another empire but by different tribes, Europe, too, is made up of nations, but it always carried with it the memory of the Roman Empire and the desire for cooperation, the prime minister said.

Whereas Hungarians value the existence of nation-states, the left wants “imperial order”, he said. Both ideas are European traditions, and as long as they are in balance, “the European machine functions quite well,” he added.

Orbán said that when the United Kingdom was part of the EU, it and the central European nation-states had represented the nation-state concept with roughly equal weight to the French-German axis’s representation of “the imperial concept”. The UK’s departure from the bloc was followed by the appearance of “those things that are cleverly packaged in the Anglo-Saxon way, presented as being good” and wrapped in the garb of European unity, but in fact are constantly taking the important elements of the sovereignty of nation-states, he added.

“We must fight against this and if we can’t protect ourselves within the European institutions, there will be trouble,” Orbán said. At stake in next year’s European Parliamentary elections is “moving the scene of the fight to Brussels”, he added.

Orbán said the biggest European right-wing alliance was not fulfilling its mission to fight “empire-building” and stand up for nation-states and national independence. Instead of offering Europeans an alternative, it constantly cooperates and enters into coalitions with the left and borrows and approves issues and language defined by the left, he added.

“That’s why we have to try to get the moderate right to stand up for its own interests instead of seeking cooperation with the left,” Orbán said. The right is not without its faults, “but we have to work together”, he added.

The question in next year’s European Parliamentary elections is whether this right-wing unity will become a reality and win a majority against the left, he said.

Orbán said the reason why there was no internationally competitive organised conservative force was because their opponents were good at making use of their advantage, “and we, internationally organised conservatives are unfortunately not talented and persistent enough and don’t work hard enough to overcome our disadvantage.”

He said the Hungarian right wing had been “lucky”. Orbán said victory requires being good and an opponent who is not. While the right has worked “incredibly hard”, the left is also needed for a stable, long-term and strong majority, he said. “We were very lucky with our rivals; God gave us back the forty years that was taken away from us,” he added.

Asked about the war in Ukraine, Orbán said hundreds of thousands have died, and the most important consideration was to end the bloodshed. But this can’t begin by drafting a peace plan, as the liberal community proposes, he said. It has to begin with a ceasefire, after which there will be time to draw up a peace plan, he said.

Orbán said that rather than being “globalised”, the war should have been localised, but only Hungary had represented this position.

The West’s strategy of having the Ukrainians fight and give their lives “while we supply the money, information and weapons” is not working, Orbán said. This strategy is not sufficient to defeat Russia, but there is no new strategy, he said.

Hungary has paid a huge price for the “defects in planning and strategy”, Orbán said. Europe has aided Ukraine with huge amounts of money, while “preserving Europe’s competitiveness would require every penny”, he insisted.

The Hungarian government “has the plan to make Hungary rich, strong, and respectable”, Orbán said. He said those plans were in place as early as in 2010, and “the country has been proceeding in that direction”. A large part of the country has contributed to the implementation of the plan, and “we have become stronger because as opposed to 3.6 million people in employment in 2010, 4.8 million people are working today,” he said. He also added that “the plan must be continuously updated, we must not let ourselves, for example, be separated from eastern economies, from Russian energy sources and from eastern markets.” “We must fight daily to retain those and we do so as part of a great design,” the prime minister said.

Hungary’s “distinct culture, its identity and language” are Hungarians’ assets, Orbán said. They, coupled with politics, “the ability to act together” will “enable us to correct all that was ruined in the past”.

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