We spoke with Balázs Orbán, a Hungarian politician and the Parliamentary and Strategic Secretary of State about the Brussels-Budapest conflict, mass migration and other BURNING issues.
DEMOKRACIJA: The Slovenian and Hungarian governments face accusations from the mainstream media, NGOs and liberal politicians that they are “undemocratic”. How do you view such accusations?
Orbán: Both Prime Minister Orbán and Prime Minister Janša personally fought for the freedom of their nations. It is therefore ridiculous that some neo-Marxist, liberal non-governmental organisations or journalists accuse them of being “undemocratic”. Such accusations do not affect their political popularity. Most voters in Slovenia and Hungary are aware of what life is like in a non-free society and know that they live in a free society. Therefore, such accusations cannot cause major harm. Central European countries are very successful, which is why they should be praised by the Western media, as there are not many success stories at this time. Especially in Western Europe, we are witnessing economic stagnation, leading to a loss of self-confidence and economic power. Military capability is declining instead of increasing. At the same time, neo-Marxist ideas are growing in universities, and in some countries social imbalances are becoming more and more noticeable. Meanwhile, we can see a lot of economic growth in Central Europe. We are able to defend our national interests at the national and international levels. And we also have national pride and self-confidence. Therefore, these countries should be portrayed in the Western media as an example, not as black sheep.
DEMOKRACIJA: Are these accusations also related to the fact that the concept of democracy is perceived differently in Western liberal democracies than in Central and Eastern European countries?
Orbán: The very meaning of the term “liberal democracy” is different in Central Europe than in Western Europe. In the Western world, this phrase began to be used after World War II, during the Cold War, and later. This was a positive period for the West. During the Cold War, the standard of living in Western societies rose from generation to generation, so that each generation lived better than their parents and grandparents. In Central Europe, after the end of the communist dictatorship, the advent of liberal democracy did mean freedom, but it also meant economic stagnation and decline, even compared to the previous situation, as one million people in Hungary lost their jobs after the transition period. To them, political freedom, while they had nothing to eat, did not seem a good bargain. That is why liberalism and the idea of liberal democracy have a rather negative connotation for us. That is the difference between us. I think that in the 21st century, every democratic country should decide for itself what political, economic and cultural structure suits it best. Therefore, we cannot import approaches and solutions, but we must come up with our own solutions based on our history, geographical location and socio-cultural experience. I also wrote a book about this, The Hungarian Way of Strategy, in which I presented my hypotheses from such a perspective and described how liberal democracy had become an undemocratic progressive hegemonic ideology. If you are truly a Democrat, you must oppose modern liberal democracy as it undermines our freedoms.
DEMOKRACIJA: What are the main differences between Eastern and Central European countries that survived communism and Western European countries that do not have this experience?
Orbán: Compared to the US or China, Europe is not booming, but stagnant and in decline. We can all agree on such a diagnosis. However, the problem is that European elites do not know what therapy is needed and what is the right medicine to change this negative pattern. Liberals have never experienced communism in their daily lives or have forgotten about such experiences. Their proposal is to forget everything that made our European civilisation powerful. They argue that we simply need to get rid of the foundations of Western civilisation, as the 21st century is supposed to be about outdated principles, which include Christian heritage, a certain way of conceiving family and religion, and the nation-state. Precisely because they have forgotten the communist experience, they believe they can simply change or dismantle everything and create a new society with new principles. This is supposed to solve all our problems.
DEMOKRACIJA: It is therefore a kind of liberal utopia.
Orbán: I myself think it is a dead end. We belong to the opposite camp, which, based on its anti-communist legacy, argues that the problem is precisely that we have turned our backs on the principles that made Western civilisation powerful. We need to return to those principles, to the traditional family and marriage. We need to put religion and culture back at the heart of society. We need to refocus on the importance of sovereign nation states and equal cooperation between them. Thus, the solution is to go back to the habits we left behind. Such an approach, however, is fundamentally anti-communist, as every anti-communist opposes universalist, international approaches.
DEMOKRACIJA: Do you think that totalitarian tendencies are re-emerging in Brussels today, especially in the European Union’s attitude towards Hungary, Poland, and Slovenia?
Orbán: Definitely. The so-called fathers of the European Union, Schuman, De Gasperi, Monnet and others, differed from each other. Some were socialists, many were Catholics who went to church regularly. Some were of the opinion that the European Union should be established as a European supranational state in order to get rid of the nationalist past, using the adjective “national” in a negative sense. But there were also those who did not belong to the founding fathers, but were important leaders at the time, such as Churchill or De Gaulle, who argued from the outset that nationalism was not in itself a negative but a positive term, for communism and other totalitarianisms did not proceed from nationalist but from international ideas. They were therefore of the opinion that a platform and institutions should be set up through which nation states could cooperate and coexist peacefully. These are exclusive concepts; we can only choose one direction. In any case, the founding fathers knew that the decision should be left to the Europeans. Thus, they set up a structure with institutions that could provide the necessary balance and allow different groups to reach compromises. The current problem is that these institutions have been hijacked.
DEMOKRACIJA: Can you describe to us in more detail this ideological kidnapping of institutions?
Orbán: The Commission, which should be a neutral bureaucratic institution, now has its own political agenda, which is completely liberal. Parliament also has a very clear and aggressive political agenda that could be described as progressive, neo-Marxist madness. However, the European Court of Justice should be the last line of defence for the rights of European nations, but it is also turning more towards federalism and integration than defending the Member States. This, of course, poses a problem, as it involves the abuse of laws and the hijacking of institutions, which they then use as a political weapon against those members who do not agree with liberal politics. If someone is truly a Democrat, he must be aware that he is accountable only to his people. The people elected him, so he must represent the interests of the people, not Brussels liberal politics. That is why a cultural cold war is taking place in the meeting rooms and offices in Brussels.
DEMOKRACIJA: As early as 2015, Hungary was on the brink of mass migration. What do you think are the most harmful consequences of such migrations for Europe?
Orbán: Mass migrations from fragile regions such as Central Asia, the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa can undermine European civilisation. At the same time, I would like to emphasise that we do not condemn other countries. If others want to accept these people, it does not bother us at all. However, we observe that the consequences after decades of mass migration are more negative than positive. Culture is important, and migrants, especially Muslims, do not want to assimilate. They are very proud of their culture, language and religion. The consequences of migration are social instability, high unemployment, rising crime and so on. There is a clash of civilisations. There are many negative consequences. For this reason, we believe that mass migration is not good for Hungary.
DEMOKRACIJA: Do you believe that the issue of migration is also a question of sovereignty?
Orbán: We only demand the right to defend our borders and to decide whether we want to accept migrants. At the moment, the Hungarian nation is determined not to want to go down this path. We as a government have a duty to fight for our nation, even if it is not political fashion in Brussels or elsewhere. That is our responsibility. I certainly think that the consequences of mass migration in Europe will be terrible.
DEMOKRACIJA: One source of the Brussels-Budapest dispute is also a proposal for new Hungarian legislation to protect children from the LBTGQ ideology. Why do you think such legislation is important?
Orbán: Although this may not seem to be the case in Central Europe, it is a central theme. The same goes for migrations. Until people appeared on our borders, no one thought it was a phenomenon that could affect the daily life of Slovenia or Hungary. This is also the case with this issue, as there is already very aggressive LGBTQ propaganda in Western societies, and these sexual orientations are taught in kindergartens, primary and secondary schools without parental consent.
DEMOKRACIJA: So, do you especially oppose the inclusion of LGBTQ ideology in the curriculum?
Orbán: We are completely opposed to this. We believe that parents need to decide what kind of sex education their children will receive. It is simply not acceptable for liberals to spread such an agenda through state and educational institutions without parental consent. That is why we changed our legislation, and because of that, Brussels attacked us. However, we have decided to be the first of all European countries to leave this decision directly to the people. A referendum will be held in Hungary on this issue. We also recommend this method of direct democracy to all our allies. It is the purest form of democracy. Let the people decide, not the liberal media and unelected non-governments.
DEMOKRACIJA: What do you expect from the Hungarian elections next year and what issues will be crucial during the election campaigns?
Orbán: There are several important issues on which we will defend the interests of the Hungarians. These are sovereignty disputes with Brussels, migration and LGBTQ issues. We will be opposed by the united opposition, which thinks that it will only win because of the unification. I myself am of the opinion that this will be the reason for their downfall, as former Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány and his party are also part of this coalition. They were the ones who economically destroyed the country and lied to the people, which was evident from the published document. This sparked protests in which police were sent over the people and violated the people’s right to peaceful protests. There was also police brutality, and Gyurcsány did not resign. As a result, there was a crisis that completely broke the country. Gyurcsány is now the leader of the opposition, and at the same time he is openly supported by George Soros, whose media and non-governmental organisations are quite present in Hungarian society, and other so-called philanthropists. I think this is not to Hungarians’ liking, as they do not want to support a failed prime minister who wants to return with the help of a billionaire who, without any democratic legitimacy, imposes a crazy progressive ideology with his money to media and non-governmental organisations. The Hungarians do not want that, and we want to stop it with their support.
Balázs Orbán is a Hungarian lawyer, political scientist and politician is a political adviser to Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and a Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office. He is also the Chairman of the Board of Mathias Corvinus Collegium. He lives in Budapest with his wife and two sons.