The following speech about the European “migration” crisis by Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary was originally published on Andreas Unterberger’s website. JLH has kindly translated the text from the German.
Note: Mr. Orban’s speech was given in Hungarian, and the text was then translated into German. This translation from the German may differ somewhat from other direct English translations, if any such are extant:
Andreas-Unterberger.at — The not quite non-political diary and the many not quite boring partner pages
Europe is Threatened by a Transformation to the Point of Being of Unrecognizable
August 4, 2015
author: Viktor Orban
A speech by the Hungarian prime minister, Viktor Orban, at the 26th student encampment of the Free Summer University in Bálványos is worthy of appearing here as a guest commentary, since — apart from the British prime minister — there is no other politician in all of Europe who tells it like it is. It is really heartening (even though clearly formulated from the Hungarian perspective). It is miles removed from anything Austrian politicians utter.
Here is the majority of what Orban said, translated:
A year ago I said that we live in times when anything can happen, and I still say so today. Who would have thought that Europe would not be capable of protecting its own borders against unarmed refugees? Who would have thought, for instance, that things could go so far in France that the leader of the Islamic community there would publicly propose to the French state that it leave its depopulated Christian churches to his community, since they would be happy to turn them into Islamic houses of worship? Who would have thought that the United States of America would be wiretapping leading German politicians?
All of this has happened, and yet the sky is not falling. And who would have thought that we Europeans would act as if nothing had happened, and continue friendly free-trade negotiations with a partner who probably knew our negotiating positions before we did?
The uncertainty of the future can mislead us into pondering the nature of the political future, or to put it more precisely, the natural history of being able to recognize the future. We tend to imagine the future and/or the study of the future as does a ship’s captain sailing into the unknown. We stand at the prow of the ship, telescope in hand, and use it to reconnoiter the unfamiliar coast. In this endeavor, the captain has an advantage, i.e., the one who finds the future first will be the one with the sharper eyes or the better telescope. As if the future is somewhere out there like a yet undiscovered continent, just waiting for us to find it.
But, dear friends, the future is of an entirely different nature. That is, the most important characteristic of the future is that it is not yet complete, does not yet exist and will only occur after this moment. So it makes no sense whatsoever to strain our eyes looking forward to discover it. It would be far more rewarding to think of the future as does the rower in a regatta, that is, with his back to the direction of travel. That way, you see what lies behind you, and what gradually comes into your field of vision. Thus, the bow of the boat is being steered in the direction of the future as the coast appears in our view.
We should therefore deduce the future from the entirety of what we already know. This means that pondering the future is not a contest that is about seeing as far as possible into the future, but rather about understanding the past better. The winner in that enterprise is the one who gains a deeper understanding of the past and can more swiftly and courageously comprehend its lessons. At the same time, this represents the starting point for political leadership and planning. That is good news, since to understand things we need, first of all, our minds — that is our reason — and human reason is equally distributed in the world. In this respect, every person is certain of having more of it than others. When we think about the future of the European Union, and our own future within it, we must first consider the past of the European Union.
Despite all of our sharp and critical comments, we must record that the European Union, as it is constituted, has accomplished its own outstanding achievement in respect to peace, development and prosperity. It may well be that we owe the peace that lasted from the end of WWII until 1990 to the Americans and Russians, who were, in our stead, making the decisions about European affairs. But after 1990 this success was without doubt our own, European success. Regardless of any worry lines that crease our foreheads, this fact cannot be extinguished, even by the events that have occurred since 2008.
Let us be clear: The recent increase in folk migration* has occurred as a result of political processes. North African lands were previously protectorates of Europe, which accepted masses of people who had arrived there from internal Africa. In this respect, honored ladies and gentlemen, we must note that the serious threat is not at all from the war-torn regions, but from interior Africa. This barrier has suffered a spectacular collapse because of the disintegration of the North African states, and can no longer protect Europe from these enormous human masses. And this gave rise in short order to a problem of unexpected dimensions.
I completely agree with former President Sarkozy, who said on French television a few days ago that the present wave of folk migration* is only the beginning. At this moment, 1 billion 100 million people are living in Africa, of whom more than one-half are under 25 years of age. Sarkozy is of the opinion that, within a short time, hundreds of millions of them will have no shelter and no access to sufficient water and food. For which reason, they will be starting to move, and indeed, following those who are already on the move.
We can conclude from this that for us today, what is at stake is Europe, the lifestyle of European citizens, European values, the survival or disappearance of European nations, and more precisely formulated, their transformation beyond recognition. Today, the question is not merely in what kind of a Europe we Hungarians would like to live, but whether everything we understand as Europe will exist at all.
The answer is clear. We want Europe to continue to belong to the Europeans. That is what we wish. Why this can only be a wish is based on the fact that the intention of others is required. However, there is something else that we do not merely wish, but definitely want. We want to preserve the land of Hungary, which is exclusively dependent on us, as a Hungarian country. Among those here, this statement is a truism, but must nonetheless be emphasized, because there are others who think entirely differently. It is equally incredible and spiritually and intellectually incomprehensible for us that there are actually those who think differently.
The European Left, dear friends, does not see a source of danger in the problem of immigration, but an opportunity. The Left has for time-out-of-mind regarded nations and national identity with suspicion. The Left takes the stance — just follow what they say — that national frameworks could finally be weakened and even eliminated by the escalation of immigration, thereby realizing one of the goals left unachieved from the historical perspective of the Left. At first glance it seems completely absurd, but getting a little closer to Hungary, it is possible to determine that it may be no coincidence that the Hungarian Left in 2004 was stirring things up against Hungarians living abroad, while today they welcome illegal immigrants to Hungary with open arms, pressing them to their bosoms. These people, these politicians, just don’t like Hungarians, and precisely because they are Hungarians. Just as the central offices of finance and policy in Brussels are intent on dissolving national structures, weakening national sovereignty and extinguishing national identities. Just imagine, ladies and gentlemen, what Hungary would be if the Left had formed a government in 2014. To be sure, the idea is shocking, but let us imagine it. After one or two years, we would no longer recognize our homeland. Our country would look like a gigantic refugee camp, like a kind of Central European Marseille. We must also ultimately acknowledge that the ever-increasing immigration is connected with the West’s fundamentalism in the area of the human rights of all people, regardless of the immigrants’ reasons for leaving their homelands. Of course, there are genuine refugees, but the clear majority of immigrants are those who simply want to enjoy the advantages of the European lifestyle.
However, since so many people could never reach the area of the EU legally, more and more people are taking on the dangers inherent in illegal immigration, and in future there will be more and more of them. And since the EU has principles, but no sovereignty or borders, it is not possible to react appropriately to the new situation.
Brussels cannot protect Europeans against the masses of illegal immigrants, as has been pointedly remarked by the former German finance minister: “The problem with Europe is similar to kicking a food can uphill, and then being surprised that it always rolls back down.” The European Union began as an economic alliance, later also became a political alliance and was intended to function as a sovereign power, but for that to happen, national sovereignty had to be even further restricted. As the joke runs in Budapest: “First the direction was good, but everything was done wrong; then the direction was wrong, but things were done well.”
In accordance with its vocation, there were genuine solutions to genuine problems from the EU: peace instead of war, a unified inner market instead of a fragmented market, and the inclusion of the poorest instead of leaving them by the wayside. In addition, the EU has also proven to be pragmatic and relatively flexible. We owe this to its unique organizational solutions, but it is now obvious that something has gone wrong.
Instead of genuine solutions, Europe developed an ideology which no longer examines a problem in and of itself, but only to determine whether a particular solution would weaken or strengthen its ideological system. In the process, Europe itself has become an idée fixe. So in case something seems sensible and successful, but simultaneously strengthens national sovereignty, it is seen as reprehensible or even hostile; and the more successful it becomes, so much more is it regarded as a danger. That, in a nutshell, is the Hungarian Story.
What we Hungarians are doing is without doubt successful, but since this process does not accord with the ideological perceptions of Brussels — that is, strengthens rather than weakens Hungarian national and governmental sovereignty — it is rejected. But it is for exactly that reason, ladies and gentlemen, that the EU will have no luck in the case of the Greek crisis, since it is a practical problem which must have a practical solution.
We Hungarians are interested in a strong Union and are of the opinion that Europe will become strong through successful solutions. The political and intellectual force of the European mainstream, however, is of the opinion that Europe will become strong if it is possible to cobble together a United States of Europe. Looking at our continent in this way, we Hungarians are, in effect, followers of de Gaulle.
The true nature — not the structure — of the United States of America demonstrates that it has no independent national bodies, for which reason we cannot take it as a model. The true nature of Europe, on the contrary, is that it comprises several nations, so an attempt to create a European vision of the USA would be sheer nonsense. The greatness of America does not reside in the fact that there are no nations within it, but that it is regularly able to find successful solutions.
Therefore, if the European Union wants to be successful, it should find its own functional solutions. Whether it will be in a position to do that in the future, we do not yet know. What we do know is that since 2008, that is, since the beginning of the economic crisis, Europe has not had these solutions. Since 2008, there has been the impression that the European Union has repeatedly expected different results, but is constantly doing the same thing.
Many people still remember that the first country to accept an international bailout package as a result of the 2008 crisis was not Greece, but Hungary. After 2010, we have succeeded in coming to the point that Hungary is one of the member states — one of the few — whose national debt in percentage of GNP has not grown, but declined.
If we wish to fittingly evaluate and acknowledge Hungary’s efforts, we should keep a watchful eye on Greece. We are proud that we have repaid our debt to the IMF ahead of time. And of the support we received from the EU, there is still a small portion to repay, which we will do on the due date at the beginning of 2016.
Note too, please, that Hungary at no time asked for preferential treatment or postponement. To some, that is weakness; to others, it is a virtue. I am one of the latter. It is also noteworthy in this connection, that this took place in such a fashion that the rate of growth of the Hungarian GNP was outstanding among members of the Union. Dear friends, it is a rarity in Hungarian economic history — and unique in recent decades — that the key numbers for internal and external economic balance could be improved simultaneously, while the economy has grown during the same time period. We also corrected two errors of the past. We redeemed private credits in foreign currencies, thus avoiding a financial collapse. We also succeeded in restoring to the community previously privatized strategic assets, and this again demonstrates one of the key issues of Hungarian national sovereignty.
By saying, as I did, that the subject of illegal immigration is like a drop of water from the ocean — that is, it contains all the world — I represent the view that the most important measures in coming years can be read from this drop. We should discuss here four questions which will become important across Europe in times to come, and for the most part will occupy us in Hungary, too.
The first question concerns the problem of national identity. Thirty years ago, numerous Europeans saw the answer to Europe’s social problems in so-called multiculturalism. Here, in this gathering, I need not go into the differences between the concepts “multicultural” and “multiethnic”. At present, an increasing number of people see multiculturalism not as a solution, but as a source of problems. Several European states have decided in the last thirty years to take in great numbers of people with varying civilizational backgrounds. I believe that it is not our place to evaluate this experiment, or to comment on the results of this experiment. We can only say — and we should do so decisively: In consideration of these results, we do not wish to repeat this experiment on ourselves. And we have every right to say that.
The second question we must discuss openly and straightforwardly is that there is a clear connection between the influx of illegal immigrants to Europe and the expansion of terrorism. It is interesting that this connection is seen as apparent in Anglo-Saxon countries, while others dispute it. On a visit to Hungary recently, one of the leading US officials for public safety declared that the connection between those two factors is apparent. It is apparent that we cannot filter the enemy terrorists out of such a gigantic mass of people. And. ladies and gentlemen, we must also agree with British Prime Minister Cameron, who explained the situation this way: We will not solve this problem if we do not stop these people at the start, when they are leaving their own country.
The third problem we must deal with — next to multiculturalism and terrorism — is of an economic nature. The experiences of the West show clearly that illegal immigrants contribute to the rise of unemployment. This fact has been apparent at least since 2008, when Europe began battling a continuing economic crisis. For most European countries — since we cannot all be like Germany — it is precisely the high unemployment figure that represents the greatest strain. The arrival of new masses of people in countries where high unemployment is already present precipitates even greater unemployment. The connection is as simple as two times two.
And finally, allow me to address something that is always avoided out of shame caused by political correctness. According to police statistics in Western countries, what stands out is that, where illegal immigrants live, the proportion of criminality rises drastically and the security of citizens decreases in equal measure. According to UN statistics, Sweden is second only to Lesotho, South Africa in number of sexual crimes. According to a report of the British parliament from 2013, the number of convicted Muslims sitting in British penal institutions has risen 300% — threefold, in the last fifteen years. In Italy, in 2012, approximately one fourth of crimes were committed by immigrants. And the statistical reports could go on and on.
In summary, we can observe that illegal immigration is threatening for Hungary and Europe in the same way. It represents a danger to our shared values, our common culture and even to our diversity, and simultaneously threatens the security of Europeans, rattling our capacity to stabilize our economic outcomes. Hungary has tried, as long as it was possible, to use measures that take the interests of all of its neighbors into account.
Today, however, our country is caught in a pincer grip — not only are waves of folk migration* repeatedly coming to us from the south; now the idea has crystallized in the countries to our west to send back to Hungary illegals who passed over our borders and into these countries to the west. That puts pressure on us from two directions — from the south and from the west. The truth is that we cannot withstand this pressure.
This question of folk migration is both a question of reason and morality and of the heart and intellect and is, therefore, extremely complex, profound and emotionally disturbing. Such questions can only be dealt with in a society when the community is able to develop a consensus. This purpose was served by the national consultation on immigration, the results of which I would now like to make known.
More than two-thirds of Hungarians consider the question of the expansion of terrorism relevant to their own lives. Three-quarters believe that illegal immigrants endanger their jobs and livelihoods. Four-fifths of Hungarians consider the policies of Brussels in regard to questions of immigration to have failed, for which reason new basic approaches are considered to be necessary. Approximately four-fifths of Hungarians support the government — in contrast to the laissez-faire policy of Brussels — in passing stricter regulations to stop illegal immigration.
In this respect, Hungarians expect regulations which make it possible that the persons who cross the Hungarian border illegally may be taken into custody and deported as soon as possible. According to 80% of those polled, illegal immigrants should pay for their own expenses while they are here. Even if this sounds harsh and represents a resolute stand, this is nonetheless Hungary’s position.
Finally, and more important than all the other points, the overwhelming majority of Hungarians — 95% — believe that instead of immigration, Hungarian families and children born here should be supported. It is easy to see that Hungarians have not lost the ability to think clearly. The results of this consultation show that Hungarians do not want illegal immigrants and do not wish to participate in the spiritual rampage of the European Left. That is what the country of Hungary and its people have decided. This means, too, that we intend to remain a secure and stable land as well as a unified and even-tempered nation in the uncertain world that surrounds us. I would probably be right to say that anything is possible in the world, today, but I would also be right to think that, to the contrary, we would all prefer that Hungary remain a land in which not everything is possible.
Yes, the German word used here was “Völkerwanderung.” Cf. my comment on “What Kind of War is This?”, GoV, August 19, 2015:
I noticed a long time ago that the great [Germanic and Celtic] folk movements described in German scholarship were called Voelkerwanderungen — folk migrations. But on maps made for Classics teachers, they were called the Barbarian Invasions. Depends on your point of view.