30 October 2015

How quickly one gets up here to the podium is also a sign of the time. It used to be so much easier twenty years ago.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am truly grateful for this opportunity and thank you for your kind invitation to today’s meeting. I also thank you for accepting my contribution, and it is a pleasure for me to be delivering it here, because for people like me who work in the political realm this is the preferred genre. This is the only genre in which a little informality is acceptable. Members of government must usually deliver speeches according to a closed, strictly logical order and structure. This is partly because this is the standard they set for themselves, partly because this standard is applied in the field, and also because this is a characteristic of politics in Hungary, where intellectuals have much higher expectations concerning politics than in many other countries of the world – including even quite a number of other European countries. How wonderful it is that there are moments when one is freed from having to meet fixed requirements, when one can respond, discuss thoughts in the making, be present in a sort of a creative circle and atmosphere, and experience the joy of seeing thoughts just being born and shared with the audience. I have come here today in the hope of such an experience, and once more thank you for your kind invitation.

First of all, I wish to respond to some of what we have heard here today. I also have my own speech, but I would like to come to that a few minutes. I would first like to express my acknowledgments to those who participated in this work. At the risk of sounding immodest, as a practitioner I would like to acknowledge your work, since on quite a number of occasions I have had the opportunity to participate in the writing of programmes, and perhaps not all of those present know exactly how difficult a task it is. One finds one has a lot to say about the world as a whole in one go, and it is very difficult to decide what to leave out, what it is that one might see as important, but that the reader might not. It is difficult to ensure that the whole piece makes sense, with a beginning, a middle and an end, so that the reader is provided with a sense of completeness – while at the start of their compositions all authors will admit that it is impossible to transmit the intended sense of completeness in a brief piece of work. Anyone who embarks on such an undertaking to which his or her name will be added deserves every respect, in addition to intellectual and professional respect, and respect for courage in embracing the undertaking. This is the respect I pay you now.

The second thought, my second response, is that in Hungarian politics this is also something of a tradition. It has had both productive and unproductive representatives. Among the former are those such as Dezső Szabó and László Németh. I could go on listing great figures who, as people of letters, not only felt they had something to say, but felt obliged to comment on current conditions, impending threats and what they thought to be desirable directions for progress. This tradition has left Hungarian culture quite a number of exciting but destructive works, along with many less exciting but constructive works. I also congratulate you for following the Hungarian tradition of participation, involvement, shaping things and assuming joint responsibility. I am pleased to see His Excellency, Bishop Gyulay. I remember when we were getting prepared for our discussion in 1996 that many of my fellow Fidesz members said that there was “no way Gyulay will cooperate”. I am sorry, but this is how someone said it. I responded by saying that I thought he would. Now I will use words not often used in connection with a bishop, but I said that he would come because I thought that, for a bishop, His Excellency Bishop Endre Gyulay was a “cool kind of guy”. They asked me how I would know. I replied that, for one thing, he held the road speed record from Szeged to Rome, and for another thing, he had always talked “outside the box”, so I thought we stood a good chance – provided we approached him with due respect – of his appearing with us at an “outside the box” event. I was referring to the kind of event we had back in ’96, about which I will say one or two things in a minute. This was despite the fact that, as was rightly pointed out in our discussions back then, he had often openly criticised us in no uncertain terms – and in many cases I could not say he was wrong. I am happy and it is an honour for me to share the podium with Your Excellency. Thank you very much!

I would also like to respond to one thing Father Osztie said. In fact, to two, or three – or four things. Right. So first of all Father Osztie said that as many as 661 problem areas could be identified. This is not the worst of numbers. The question, however, is whether this is too high or too low. That is what I was thinking about while listening to him. And no doubt 661 problems seems to be quite a lot, doesn’t it? Identifying so many problem areas in the life of one generation is quite an alarming thing. But then again, why do I not have the feeling that these 661 identified problems have been crushing us into the ground? Perhaps – and here is what I jotted down for myself – it is because the question is not how many problems we are facing. Because it may well be that if I gathered my family together – quite a large one, as it happens – at home, and we started to add up all the problems each of the seven of us can name, we could produce more than 661. But the question is not how big this number is. The question is rather whether we have a chance, a realistic chance, of resolving the problems we have identified, and whether we recognise that chance. Accordingly, the question in this sense is not how many problems there are but how we relate to them. And yes, before 2010 there was not only a huge number of problems in Hungary but, more importantly, the prerequisites for resolving them were absent. Today I find it easier to breathe, because I feel that we have now managed to ensure the existence of the prerequisites for resolving problems – we are no longer deprived of them. Indeed, I quickly noted down four such things: things which can be counted on as prerequisites for resolving a large number of problems. There should be a secure foundation of public law. This foundation was laid down by the adoption of the Constitution. We should not be in extreme debt: nobody should hold us in debt slavery. If you think of the stories of foreign-currency mortgage borrowers, the banking tax issue, or state debt, it can of course be argued that we are still carrying debt – but we are no longer debt slaves. I should say that even in the face of all our existing problems, generally people should accept that one cannot get something for nothing. I am sorry if this is a somewhat Anglo-Saxon turn of phrase, but I borrowed it from Mr. Cameron. They say that of course the state will help you, the state is ready to do so, but on the basis of something for something – because there can be no question of getting something for nothing. There should be some reciprocity, something that expresses mutual responsibility, whereby not only those who have something have a responsibility to give; those who do not have something, and who need to receive from others also have a kind of a responsibility. So some kind of a cooperation should evolve from this: a “something for something” social policy, if I can put it like that. It can be a “something for something” public work programme or a “something for something” employment policy. I think such shared thinking – which is one of the fundamentals or prerequisites for resolving problems – is also present today in Hungary. And finally, we need to have the ability to protect the country. Partly in terms of public safety and public order, and partly against external threats, of whatever form – such as, for example, what we are currently experiencing. So this is how I wanted to respond to Father Osztie’s number of 661: saying that yes, this is a large number, but we have sovereignty, we can have sovereignty in our own lives and in resolving the problems we face in our own lives. This is something quite big.

I am now going to venture out of bounds, because I would like to respond to a comment by Father Osztie. He said that the Church has no strategy. I think he was talking about the Catholic Church, but I am afraid the truth of what he said could apply to other Christian churches as well. I gave a nudge in the ribs to my fellow minister Zoltán Balog, saying that now that His Excellency, Bishop András Veress has been elected, now there will be some strategy – but whether the Government will be thankful for that, well, for the time being we just don’t know. I say this because I think that there will, indeed, be a strategy – I am nearly certain about that, knowing our relationship over the past twenty years with the bishops and other leaders of the Catholic church; and I also know that it will not be easy for the Government, because very precisely resolved, clear-cut requirements and expectations, moral and other aspects will be put forth, which will be as interesting and exciting as the discussion. There is the hope, as Father Osztie has said, that eventually it will yield fruit.

When are civil society organisations important? This is also something he touched upon. The fact is that coming up to election campaigns they always seem to be more important than between elections. There is more than a grain of truth in this, but I see this as a natural fluctuation. I also noted this down: “you should see not our sins but the faith of your church”. I would also like to comment on the proposition that one of the most difficult tasks, and one of the most difficult questions in intellectual terms (and this is not the first time I have had a discussion with Father Osztie and with intellectuals who have been asked to contribute on such papers), is how one can make reasonable economic policy proposals on Christian foundations. This is not such a straightforward and easy thing to do. A modern – or, shall we say, capitalist – economy based on private ownership, makes no sense and does not work without gain and profit; it is like, as we often say, a bicycle which falls over when the pedal is not being pushed. It is also clear, however, that the public good should in some way play a role even in the operation of the economy, and coordination of the two is one of the most difficult tasks for anybody working out a programme. All I wish to point out – in this sense the text sets out what are perhaps correct, thought-provoking and good directions for us – is that it may even be worth looking back to the economic policy pursued by Germany during its period under Helmut Kohl. Back then the public good, responsibility, public interest and profit featured in an integrated whole, and though today’s economic miracle is directly rooted in measures introduced thereafter, the groundwork, the intellectual foundations were laid during the sixteen years of Helmut Kohl’s governance, and we should learn more from those foundations now.

János Martonyi said that such a document constitutes a risk: the publication of such a programme is always risky, because it will be misunderstood – and deliberately misinterpreted. How true! There is, however, only one way to avoid this – or more precisely two ways. One is to say nothing. There is such a school of political thought. This is the school of Western movies: no words, just action – as you go for your gun. Such a school of politics is not really suitable for building a camp of followers and outlining future prospects. The other way to avoid this is saying what others are saying, and then there can be no trouble. The problem with that, however, is that we are not very good at this. This is something we cannot do. Of course Hungarians must also adapt to power relations. One must not run one’s head into a brick wall, and reason must also be taken into consideration, but Hungarians find it difficult not to speak up when they recognise something – something they consider to be of importance – and put it into words and draw others’ attention to it. And since this document begins with the national character, this consideration may also be worth raising. I am not exactly talking about telling the truth here, but the compulsion to understand the essentials which is a part of the Hungarian character. It strives to recognise relationships, complex relationships, and once they are recognised and identified, to share them with others. In the Hungarian popular mind this is related to the issue of cowardice. So if I interpret the Hungarian world correctly, the commonly held wisdom here is that anybody can be happy – the ugly and the beautiful, the stupid and the smart, the hard working and the lazy alike. According to Hungarians, only one type of person cannot be happy, and that is the coward. Because a Hungarian who is a coward is always conscious of their cowardice. Not all peoples are like this. But a Hungarian always knows when they are a coward: this will keep nagging, hurting them without letting up. Sooner or later a thought will develop and spring out of their mind, which will free them from their cowardice. I think this is an important thing, and this is why it should be indispensable for the Hungarian political right (it would be nice if it applied to the political left as well) and various intellectual associations to regularly elaborate all the issues weighing them down. Demonstrating the bravery and responsibility of intellectuals and people of letters, they should see any other kind of behaviour as a sign of cowardice, and come forward – just as is being done now – with the thoughts that they think policy makers and politicians should take into account.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

At this point I wish to continue with what I came here to talk about: “Signs of the Times”. When I sat down to evaluate this document, the following occurred to me: “Time is true and Time will decide on the truth”. And I think this is apt now, since what we saw in 1996 were comparable intentions and will, and a political alliance to improve the nation created from forces which had previously been striving in different directions. This is the essence of the story of ’96. Nineteen years have passed since then. An alliance needs to have reliable foundations if it is to be durable. What we can say today is that an intellectual base is necessary for the long-term survival of an alliance. These documents, which we are also discussing now – they were discussed earlier on as well, the Saint Stephen Plan was also discussed – prove that our alliance has its intellectual foundations, but forming an alliance requires human foundations as well: personal loyalty, friendship, camaraderie. Civic, national, Christian politics towers immensely high over its rivals; just between ourselves, this is the situation today, and it did not happen automatically, but let us not talk now about where who deserves the credit – this is how we stand. And I have to say that if we wish to find an answer to the question of why it does so, then I think the solution lies in the human foundations. This community has loyalty, friendship, camaraderie, devotion and perseverance. And at this point I wish to draw particular attention to the years after 2002: eight years of famine, not seven. In those hard times it was not easy to jointly hold on to certain values and to each other in the way that the authors of this document did, and the heads of these organisations and these organisations as institutions did. And this is the source of the dominance of Hungarian civic, national and Christian politics which seems nearly impossible to match. Of course there is no dominance which cannot be matched, yet it seems to be impossible for other political formations.

Another sign of the times is that I have become the veteran who has to give account of what happened and how. I do not claim to be the last surviving eyewitness, but I am definitely one of the last few remaining. Now how did it happen? What happened was that in 1994 the communists returned – that is what we said then, and today it sounds somewhat coarse and demeaning, but this is the truth, isn’t it? They came back in ’94, though in a changed form, having transformed, this much should be given them. I do not wish to deny them the merits they earned in the fall of communism – merits which are a lot more modest than they like to claim – but they indisputably came back through a parliamentary election and they did not come back, say, riding Soviet tanks. This was quite a quality change, which we do not wish to dispute. Nor did they come back by first arresting their political opponents, the way they won the election in the late 1940s. Yet the point is that they came back. It was a traumatic experience back then. I am not going to recount the debates that went on before ’94 – because I do not remember them that clearly either. József Antall was still with us, Péter Boross was Minister of Home Affairs, and I can mention other important figures of the time, like Imre Kónya or Balázs Horváth, who was also Minister of Home Affairs for a time. And I could recount discussions about whether it could be possible at all for those who had built up a single-party dictatorship in this country to return to power in free elections in Hungary without foreign occupation. And there were many during those days who thought that it would not be possible, but then in ’94 it turned out that they had been wrong, and that it was indeed possible. And that is exactly what happened. And in October 1994 – it had started in the summer, but it did not become apparent before October – an attempt was made to establish a civic alliance. This is where I should mention His Excellency Archbishop Seregély, who is not here now, but who I hope was invited. If he has health problems, then we wish him a full recovery, because in the autumn of ’94 he was the bravest church leader on our side. It was he who actually participated in the political event where an attempt was made – perhaps it was when we were still in the Erkel Theatre, before it was closed down – to set up joint lists between the Hungarian Democratic Forum (MDF), the Christian Democratic People’s Party (KDNP) and Fidesz for the local government elections. This was no easy thing, because we had spent the preceding four years in opposition and we did not stand on the sidelines either; those in the MDF might have a word or to two say about those times, while the MDF was the governing party. And then in ’94 we jointly decided – which was really more of a decision on our part and a necessity on theirs – that we would not cooperate with a party whom we had opposed in 1990 when replacing communism, but rather remain in opposition and seek some form of cooperation. And at that point His Excellency Archbishop Seregély made it clear (also through his personal presence) that there was – if he will permit me to put it this way – a sort of expectation that the forces accepting civic, national and Christian values should indeed cooperate with each other in the joint and national interest. But this could not be achieved at that point. So in the autumn of ’94 a civic alliance could not be created – nobody remembers it now, but the first attempt failed. As a result, those who were willing to cooperate under the name of Christian Democratic Alliance later left the Christian Democratic People’s Party, and a complicated internal conflict developed within the MDF, as a consequence of which an alliance could finally be concluded with that party by 1998. So here I find it very important to invoke the image and role of His Excellency Archbishop Seregély, because ever since those times I have regarded the way he treated us as a kind of benchmark. He often scolded us, he often criticised us harshly, he exaggerated the gravity of our errors and sins – yet there was always some truth in his accusations, and in those cases time usually proved him to have been right. And then in ’96 we reached the point leading to the subject matter of today’s meeting. With a single brave decision Professor Nemeskürty (whose role we must also recall here) and His Excellency Bishop Endre Gyulay together took a courageous stand. I can still see the Professor’s posture, the way he stood on the stage of the Margit Gimnázium grammar school, telling us that in the history of politics in Hungary there had never been an example of the Catholic church being willing to discuss one of its pastoral letters – in this case the one entitled “Towards a more Just and Brotherly World” – with any document or organisation aimed at similar perspectives, from any political formation. The Professor said that no such thing had ever happened. And I think that the fact that this did indeed happen was partly a result of the Professor’s personal power of argument, capacity for work, and his hope in the young generation. The latter was perhaps not fully justified at the time, but he may have been proven right later on. It is since then that this community – and this is why we can cooperate with church organisations today – has dealt with problems of truth and the majority. This is one of modern democracy’s toughest challenges, and for organisations built on Christian foundations. For what is the situation here?

The situation is that it does not matter whether you have truth on your side, if you have no majority to match it. And it does not matter whether you have a majority, if you do not use it to serve the truth. And the question is how one can square this circle, because it is not always possible to secure a majority on the basis of truth. This is a complicated set of questions, and I will not discuss them all now. I would only note that an answer was found to this problem which was simultaneously one of philosophy, values and organisation building. That answer is what is today referred to as the KDNP-Fidesz cooperation, in which one participant in our political community, the KDNP, does not need to go about collecting votes, because the alliance with us guarantees political power and weight. It only has one task, and that is to function as an anchor attaching us to certain values. It is a tactical consideration whether the anchor chain is long or short, but one thing is certain: ever since that time the anchor has been down. This is why the composition of the Constitutional Court is not a mere coincidence. This is something I find at least as important as Parliament, because in regard to certain questions it is the decisions of the Constitutional Court which provide the foundations. When one looks at today’s Constitutional Court, one sees that it is a constitutional court with a Christian democratic majority. This is something not usually discussed, because it is somehow not appropriate, but if we are as honest and open as the Americans are – who openly discuss how many members of the Supreme Court are individuals of progressive, republican or conservative thinking – we can also say that today in the Hungarian Constitutional Court there is a majority with conservative, Christian, national and civic values. They are adopting decisions, by the way, with the aim of asserting the constitutional foundations we have laid down in cooperation with the Christian Democrats. This is a good political structure. I regard it as crucial that over the next few years or decades this unity should be maintained, this special kind of superstructure is kept in place: the very good practice of sharing duties between the Christian Democratic People’s Party and Fidesz.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This is how we came to form a government in 1998. And then we learned a lot from what happened in 2002. This is how I might sum up those wonderful years. And then in 2005 the Batthyány Society of Professors saw that it was time to shake us up, and said “all right, all right, of course battles must be fought, but in order to have armies come together under the flag, when the bugle is blown something should be said at long last”. And what needed to be said was not only, in some sophisticated and democratic form, how nice it is to hit back, and that we should unleash the punch that makes our fist itch. This might look like a good political programme in itself, but we should say something more than this – the country deserves something more than this. And then they developed what was referred to as the Saint Stephen Plan – a document which I consider to be very important. It may perhaps not receive as much attention in works on Hungarian political history as it should, bearing in mind its weight and importance. Nonetheless the fact that in 2010 the Hungarian people did not feel that the political forces striving to win the election were going into battle without a long-term programme, but had something to draw on, was due to the Saint Stephen Plan. Of course it may be debated, and some parts or other of the document may be liked or disliked, but there was an integrated, comprehensive vision: a plan and description of the kind of Hungary in which we would really feel at home. So I would like to take this opportunity to honour in retrospect the authors of the Saint Stephen Plan.

And now here we are in 2015, discussing a document that may be valid for at least another ten years or more. What I received from the Minister and have read is not the complete volume of studies, but this shorter one. This work may rightly claim to serve as a compass over the next ten years. It will be the subject of much debate. I have been informed that even a national tour is being launched. It will also be worthwhile to sum up the experiences and lessons from the tour, and then produce the whole document in a finalised form. I think that if those responsible carry out this work – whom I thank for this – then the civic, national Christian community will again have a document to form a sound basis for the work of the governments of the right which we hope will be formed over the coming decade.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

While I know that I have used up most of my time here, I would note that we should be proud of the things referred to by those who have spoken before me today: of the fact that we have laid down the constitutional foundations for a Hungary of civic, national and Christian views and values. This must be pointed out because, underneath and behind the debates concerning the Constitution, with both its embers and its fireworks, there was a simple and down-to-earth fact that went practically unnoticed: that we have seen the birth of the very first written democratic constitution of the Hungarian nation since that nation came into being. This is the first such constitution, since, as we know, Hungary was initially ruled by an unwritten constitutional system based on the doctrine of the Holy Crown, similar to the Anglo-Saxon tradition. This was followed by the written communist constitution, and the amendment to it which even defined itself as a transitional constitution. Then came the first written democratic constitution – a product of our political community.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I think it must be pointed out that this Constitution responds to perhaps the very issues discussed by His Excellency Bishop Gyulay: the issues of responsibility, duty and freedom. I say this because one of the chapters of our Constitution – which is worth reading and re-reading from time to time – is entitled “Freedom and Responsibility”. It discusses exactly what His Excellency the Bishop also talked about, making it clear that if freedom is disengaged from the realm of responsibility, we end up not in freedom but in loneliness – escalating loneliness; and loneliness creates many unhappy people. Unhappiness leads to frustration, which in turn generates political tension: a flammable material which can blow apart our society and the form of coexistence which we desire. So in my view binding freedom to responsibility – as covered in this document – is indispensable.

As to the question of debt, I would like to tell you that of course we usually talk about state debt, but if I may return to the notion of debt slavery, I must point out that we managed to significantly reduce the household debt burden over the past five years, monthly repayment instalments are not as burdensome as they were. And – thanks to György Matolcsy – we managed to reduce company debt, as well as that of Hungarian municipalities, whose debts were taken over by the state. And finally, we managed to reduce foreign currency-denominated government debt. The amount of the debt has been reduced as a percentage of GDP.

And finally, I wish to talk about something which János Martonyi discussed. Because there is a problem, a challenge, which, if we cannot identify and remedy, if we do not undertake to face, then the Europe about which János Martonyi talked to us here today – the Europe which we all love and for which, we all know, many of our forebears sacrificed their lives – is bound to come to an end. I would like to clarify a misunderstanding – and this is one of the reasons I may talk somewhat informally, because I have not fully developed what I am about to say. I will have to finalise it in a clear-cut form by the next Fidesz congress, which is two weeks from now. The situation we are facing is not simply one of impotence and helplessness. It is not simply about a mistaken interpretation of circumstances, when we see that, in spite of every declaration and meeting, thousands of people are being transported into Europe on a daily basis. As you may have noticed, they are not simply coming here: they are being transported. I say that this cannot just be something coincidental or accidental. I find it difficult to believe that European powers who have access to unlimited resources of “grey matter” all over the world through their secret services, information-gathering capacities, influence and funds, end up facing such a conflict or situation as that which we now refer to as an immigration crisis. This is impossible, because these are well-organised states which have become supreme examples of European civilisation by their outstanding state organisation capabilities. They are organised, disciplined, strong and capable of making decisions. It is simply impossible that what we are witnessing is nothing more than one hapless mistake after another. One has a nagging feeling that this is not just something which is happening by itself. And how true this nagging feeling is!

Let me just read out a few quotations, because not only do we have this compelling urge to communicate, and it is not only those on the right who feel bad when they cannot say what is on their minds. This compulsion to see into the essence of the matter is not only characteristic of those on the political right. It is also characteristic of, and has its traditions in, the European political left, and every now and then they actually commit their thoughts to paper. Let me read to you what is happening, because, if I may say so, this is like a scenario, a blueprint, the implementation of which we are observing day after day. “By applying a suitable approach, one may recognise the architectonics of a supranational, yet democratic community. We must look at the European Union as something jointly created for a good purpose by two equally ranked constitutive subjects: one comprising European citizens, the other made up of the European states.” Ultimately we will see whether this makes sense. “From this perspective it will be clear that the goal of pacifying warring nations, which not only led to establishment of the United Nations Organisation but also the unification of Europe, has created the starting point for a more distant goal: the creation of capabilities for political action which go beyond nation states. The international capability of states must be further developed into a cosmopolitan community of states and global citizens.” The vision of a “politically constructed global society” was even quoted by Ferenc Kőszeg in a weekly publication, and thus I found this beautiful action plan: “The prospect of a politically constructed world society does not seem to be so utopian when one considers how truly effective human rights rhetoric and politics have managed to become on a global scale in recent decades. This cosmopolitan demand means that the role of human rights cannot be restricted to moral criticism of the unequal conditions of a multi-faceted global society. Human rights must be embodied institutionally in a politically constituted global society.” In other words, in opposition to Tőkéczki’s responsibility-based approach, the right to escape, migration, movement, the right to travel elsewhere is to be seen as a true human right.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

What we face is nothing less than the challenge of finding ourselves at the gateway to the implementation of a deliberate conceptual project, which could be described as left-wing and which seeks to marginalise the nation states of Europe. Where this project has failed to overcome Christianity and the identity of the nation state – and the values ​​and responsibility springing from it – in conventional political struggle, it will strive to eliminate it on ethnic grounds. This is the sad truth. This is betrayal, Ladies and Gentlemen! Europe has been betrayed, and if we do not stand up for it, this Europe will be taken away from us. This Europe will no longer be a Europe of European citizens: instead, in the coming years Europe will see realisation of the outlandish dream of some well- organised unelected activist leadership presiding over huge flows of capital, thinking in terms over and beyond the framework of nation states; and If the Soros Foundation comes into your mind now, that is not entirely unjustified. This vision may seem sketchy, it may seem to be premature or even unjust in some of its elements, but I can offer no other explanation for the events we are witnessing day after day. What could be the remedy? The remedy is the same as it has always been.

We must ask this question, the number one question of democracy. By whom and on what authority were European leaders tasked with not only admitting but transporting to the European continent hundreds of thousands of people from groups outside European culture, so that little by little our European cultural identity will be called into question? Who gave a mandate for this? This has been mandated by nobody; all that has happened is that a few intellectuals have written excellent books on it. I have quoted from one of these, but the answer from our side can only be that in opposition to this conspiracy and treason we must turn to democracy, we must turn to the people. And we must succeed in enabling the people of Europe – as European people, or as the citizens of nation states – to somehow make their voices heard; we must make it possible for them to say that they do not want the things which are happening, that they see things differently, that they interpret events in another way, and have the right, in a democratic manner, to say “yes” or “no” to everything which is happening now in Europe. This must be made possible in some way, sooner or later a Europe-wide debate must be launched, and I do not wish to make any specific law-based proposals on how it should be conducted, but I want to indicate that a wide European debate on this issue cannot be avoided.

This is all the more so, Ladies and Gentlemen, because we do not even seem to notice how deep we have sunk. Apparently Europe has no inkling of its predicament. Take this fence issue. Now the Austrians are a good people. I am not saying that we have not had difficulties with them over the past few hundred years, but the Austrians are still decent people. Their country is the most successful country since World War II according to all possible indicators, and moreover it is a democratic country. And now look: its elected leader says that “we are not building a fence, but a gate – with long fixed sections on either side”. Now at first this may sound really funny, but let us think about how pathetic it is. Where have we got to when the Europe of which we have always been proud – because it was a world of freedom of thought, speech and opinion – is now in an intellectual state in which certain words cannot be used? And I am not thinking of unpleasant words – I am thinking of the word “fence”. It is not that the Austrian chancellor was off school when they learned these letters, or that his vocal chords fail him when he wants to utter this sequence of consonants and vowels. No – what he thinks is that saying certain words might result in such serious political implications in today’s Europe that he simply cannot afford to say them. Now is this our Europe – one based on freedom, on freedom of speech, opinion and thought? Where one cannot even discuss problems, ideas and proposals?

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I think we are in big trouble. I wish to make a proposal to the authors of the document, because it does discuss this issue in an indirect way, but I would suggest the addition of a chapter on the future and identity of Europe, to elaborate this matter.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to finish my contribution with a thought along the lines that have already been followed by speakers preceding me today. The purpose of this European debate should be the emergence from this situation of a strong and Christian Europe – so that we can live our lives in a strong, Christian civic Hungary in a strong and Christian Europe. Should anybody think that this is not a European concept, let me remind them that it was one of our great forefathers, Robert Schuman, who said that Europe shall be Christian, or shall cease to be. Today both of those paths lie open to Europe.

Thank you for the honour of your attention.

(Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister)