Hungary continues to need an anti-immigration policy; “Hungarians can only be replaced with Hungarians,” Prime Minister Viktor Orbán stated at the 9th plenary session of the Hungarian Diaspora Council held on Thursday in the Castle Garden Bazaar in Budapest.

The Prime Minister said a country with a diminishing population cannot deceive itself that it can solve the problem of population decline without its own efforts.

He said the government will continue the fight related to migration because this world phenomenon “is here to stay”, “Africa is only just beginning to move”.

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Mr Orbán highlighted that pro-immigration forces accuse the Hungarian people of having a heart of stone, but we have to state loud and clear that Hungary is a generous country, the Hungarians are generous people, and are also prepared to take action for good causes. However, help must be taken there, instead of bringing problems here.

In this context, he informed his audience about a number of Hungarian projects which seek to provide assistance in areas affected by migration, including Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Nigeria and Ethiopia.

Turning to domestic politics, the Prime Minister highlighted that in the municipal elections, in his view, the government parties had sustained sensitive losses; they were nonetheless given a robust mandate to continue governing the country, and “a strong Hungary” is in the focus of their programme.

He said financial stability constitutes the foundations of a country’s strength, and it is good news that the Hungarian economy rests on financially stable foundations. Growth is around 4 to 5 per cent, though he described this data as deceptive, indicating that, due to its export-oriented nature, the Hungarian economy responds to the outside world sensitively, and therefore we must react to the “cooling down” of the international atmosphere with an economy protection action plan. The goal of the government is to ensure that the Hungarian economy exceeds the average EU expansion by minimum 2 per cent at all times.

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Mr Orbán described the elimination of poverty and the integration of the Roma as some of the most important undertakings for this term of his government. In this context, he presented the findings of an inequality study which concludes that the number of those living in severe financial deprivation in Hungary has fallen to the lowest level in recent decades. Researchers came to the conclusion that this is a result of the fact that last year more Hungarians came back to Hungary than those who left.

The Prime Minister said the cabinet has launched a separate development programme for the 300 poorest settlements, and has also started a major modernisation programme for the 300 poorest “ghetto-like” villages.

Hungary is doing a great deal, he continued, to make families stronger because without strong families there is no strong Hungary. We must stop the population decline; we would need a 2.1 per cent fertility rate, but this can only be achieved with a long-term family policy which could perhaps bring about perceivable results over a minimum term of ten years, he said. He added it is to be hoped that next year there will also be a second family protection action plan; Minister of State for Family and Youth Affairs Katalin Novák is working on this.

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He stressed that Hungarian national culture is also essential for a strong Hungary, and it is the state’s duty to preserve and maintain it. He described the reconstruction of Kossuth Lajos tér, the rehabilitation and refurbishment of Buda Castle and the Liget Project as cultural policy developments. Regarding the latter he said “we should be grateful to the Almighty that three quarters of it have already been accomplished” and so the change in the balance of power in the capital can only affect the programme’s remaining one quarter to one third, though that will be affected severely.

Speaking about Budapest, the Prime Minister said Budapest belongs to the people who live here, but in actual fact it also belongs to all Hungarians. He expressed hope that the quality of “the capital of the nation” will not diminish in coming years.

He also spoke in defence of the need for a strong army, stating that NATO and national defence forces together equal security. By 2026 Hungary could reach the point where its national defence forces could guarantee the security of the Hungarian people in regional conflicts even without NATO, he said.

He repeated his view that we must pursue a Hungarian policy which ensures that Berlin, Moscow and Istanbul all have a vested interest in Hungary’s success. Therefore, we must maintain good relations with all three great powers.

Mr Orbán further highlighted that Hungary now has enough strength to not only talk about, but to also take action for enabling Hungarians to remain in their native land. This is why they have embarked on a responsible neighbourhood policy as Hungary has a vested interest in its neighbours developing at the same pace as Hungary itself, and to this end they are pursuing joint economic development programmes with several neighbouring states, he said.

Regarding Hungarians living in scattered communities, the Prime Minister pointed out that there are around 2.5 million of them; most of them live in the United States and Canada. The Hungarian government is offering a number of programmes which seek to connect scattered communities to the blood circulation of the Hungarian nation, he said, mentioning that a further goal is to create a Hungarian emigration and diaspora centre.

The Prime Minister also underlined that Hungary must neither overgauge, nor undergauge its own role and weight, and must pursue a foreign policy for which it has the necessary capacity and strength. He observed at the same time that there are times when the world “exaggerates” Hungary’s importance. He mentioned as an example press reports that US President Donald Trump was negatively influenced by two individuals regarding Ukraine: Russian President Vladimir Putin and himself. Mr Orbán said evaluating this that “when it comes to nonsense the sky is the limit,” and added that one just keeps wondering and is not quite sure what is best, if Hungary is in the limelight or if it is left alone.

Regarding Ukraine, he said despite multiple attempts he has not succeeded in securing a meeting with new Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, but he hopes that after the former anti-Hungarian Ukrainian government, the political elite led by the new president will accept “the hand Hungary is extending”.