Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s Interview on Hír Television’s P8 Programme

24 May 2014

Péter Csermely: This is P8 and our guest today is Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. Good evening!

Viktor Orbán: Greetings to your viewers.

Ottó Gajdics: Good Evening!

Péter Csermely: The European Parliament elections are tomorrow. How can one prepare for elections; how can one campaign for elections with regard to which everyone knows the outcome?

Viktor Orbán: It was difficult. It was a campaign of the kind that I too have never experienced in my life before. This also shows that our profession is an interesting one that always brings with it something unexpected and novel, because never before has it been the case in Hungary that within only a month or a month-and-a-half following parliamentary elections that ended with a two-thirds majority, with the overwhelming support of the people, there are elections once again. Elections that are called European and during which we undoubtedly send people to the European Parliament, but people throughout Europe fundamentally base their decision on domestic politics. So to all intents and purposes we are holding two elections based on internal politics in Hungary within the space of six weeks. And none of us have experienced anything like that before. So it was quite difficult, and especially the first two weeks. Our campaign lasted three weeks and the first two weeks were a little shaky, the wheels of the machine were crunching, things were stalled and nothing was as it should be. The people said we’ve had enough, let’s stop to celebrate a little, we need a rest, and then came the new campaign. So it was rather difficult psychologically. And then from the final week when we started holding rallies and everyone got hold of the scent like old warhorses hearing the sound of canon fire, and heard the sound of the bugle, then I felt that things were beginning to heat up. And as far as I can see now, and I have made several phone calls today from a telephone exchange that’s working to encourage voting, and I have spoken to many people, and today I feel that we have succeeded in getting the message across to people that they should take these elections seriously, that they are important, and that they should all go out to vote.

Ottó Gajdics: It can be seen throughout Europe that voter turnout is expected to be much lower than in the case of the national parliamentary elections of the various countries. What’s the situation in Hungary? How do you see this and what can we expect tomorrow?

Viktor Orbán: Nobody can say for certain. What everybody does know is that the situation will be the same here as it is throughout Europe: in comparison to the national elections voter turnout will be much lower. With the exception of perhaps four countries, because if I remember correctly then there are four countries in which participation is compulsory, but that’s a different kettle of fish. There is one fact that we should take into account with regard to voter turnout. There are all kinds of explanations as to why voter turnout is lower for the European elections. I think there is a very clear reason for this. There is no such thing as a European citizen. There are Hungarian, French, German, Austrian, Danish, all kinds of citizens, but there is no such thing as a European citizen. And without heart and without the experience of feeling part of a community, elections become decisions based purely on rationality, and nothing in life, including in politics, can be decided purely on the basis of rationality, and it necessarily motivates fewer people. Where both the heart and the mind are involved, as in the case of a national election where our own community is at stake, voter turnout is always higher. And those who are thinking along the lines of a United States of Europe would do well to remember that no state can exist without feelings, community feelings. The concept of a United States of Europe is an intrinsically dead idea because it has no European citizens behind it.

Péter Csermely: There is heart and feeling on the right now. The fact is that the stakes were not particularly high at European Parliament elections so far, and what I mean by that is that the stakes were high of course, but the people weren’t particularly interested. But during the past four years the Hungarian right has learned that what happens in Brussels is indeed important.

Viktor Orbán: This is also the chord that I have been trying to strike in people’s hearts. And with success. So as I see it, people with national feelings in Hungary who belong, let’s say, to the civil, national and Christian community, understand the importance of this, and over the course of the past four years they have come to understand that it is crucial who represents Hungary in Brussels. And this doesn’t just mean that their own people should be tough because they have to stand up and protect what we have already succeeded in achieving here at home, so they don’t only expect our sons and daughters who go out to Brussels to be committed and unwavering supporters of Hungarian national issues, but they now also see that the number and influence of the people who go out to Brussels from the left is also important, because during the past four years the left, since they were unable to do so here at home, have done their best to prevent things from Brussels. Since they were unable to trip up the government here at home, they tried to trip the government up out in Brussels; tried to put a stick between the spokes. And the Hungarian right now sees that this is a very dangerous thing. And indeed it is; there were moments when, had the Hungarian right not stood up for the government, and I’m talking about the Peace March here, then the same thing could easily have happened here that happened in Italy, where the Prime Minister was flicked off from outside and a different government was formed instead.

Ottó Gajdics: Whatever the case, it personally motivates me to vote against the United States of Europe, especially in view of the people who put forward this ideal the loudest in Hungary. I think this is also true of most Hír TV viewers.

Viktor Orbán: Yes, it is undoubtedly true that this idea is currently being represented by a left wing party that is trying to clamber its way back up into everyday politics, but I don’t identify the power of the thought with its creators, because the idea itself is much stronger than its Hungarian representatives. Because this is a pervading idea within Europe. I have participated in many conversations during which in reply to an innocent question, and I’m talking about the community here, when in reply to an innocent question, when someone was speaking on the podium and I asked the Minister of State of a large European country what their nationality was, they replied: what does it matter, European, that’s the important thing. When in fact this is not the case, it does matter of course, he can of course only be European if he is German or Dutch. We are all European, but we are not primarily European, and there are many who want to do away with this intermediate identity, this national identity. To them there exists the citizen and there exists Europe, and what is between the two, this community of identity, is dangerous, damaging and repulsive, and this is what they are trying to weaken. This is a strong trend in Europe that we shouldn’t underestimate; this is often what is behind arguments against Europe’s Christian traditions, and it also often lies behind generating a negative mood with regard to certain European nations, and this means that the idea of a United States of Europe has strong supporters. The majority of the whole Brussels bureaucracy stands on these foundations, I think, and it would be good if Europe’s nation states recognised that this is a struggle in which we must continuously bring forward valid arguments both now and in the future.

Péter Csermely: Let’s return to that half sentence you mentioned about Italy, because that’s something that I also wanted to bring up. The toppling of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. The Hungarian civil camp will hardly have retained any illusions about the European Union after these past four years. We were forced to experience great disappointments with regard to how they accused the Hungarian Government and the Hungarian right of unimaginably stupid things, whatever popped into their heads practially, and that the whole of Europe doesn’t care about the fundamental rights of Hungarians living beyond our borders and spend their time with all sorts of unnatural and idiotic issues instead of these important questions. As I say, we have very few illusions left. We have one left with regard to Italy, which seems to be collapsing now, with regard to the fact that they would perhaps not stoop so low as to remove a democratically elected head of state in collusion with the world of monetarism. Based on various things that have recently come to light, and especially the memoirs of former US finance minister Timothy Geithner and later recollections on this subject, it would seem that this is exactly what happened to Berlusconi, and this is what they wanted to achieve here in Hungary. This is unacceptable, to say the least.

Viktor Orbán: Everyone is bringing up the case of Berlusconi now, but I could mention another country, and perhaps more, in which exactly the same thing happened, but let that be their problem; let’s not get Hungary involved in diplomatic disputes unnecessarily. Let’s talk about our own business instead and clean up our own backyard. We Hungarians undoubtedly do have every reason to believe that there was a moment when the foreign operators who are hostile to us attempted to put together the tools at their disposal to achieve at least a change in Prime Minister, and if possible also a change in government and new elections here in Hungary. The reason this did not happen is that, in contrast to Italy, the Hungarian nation is well-organised in a political sense; it has good instincts and an efficient early warning system. The danger appeared on the radar of people who belong to the civil, national and Christian community and they stood up in support of national independence irrespective of party allegiance: they marched behind their banners, which read “we will not become a colony”, which everyone thought was an economic issue, but we don’t want to be a political colony either. And the Hungarian Government and I personally were only able to remain in our posts because the people of Hungary protected us then: they protected their own government and we stood up for each other. This whole issue can also be approached from the perspective of illusions, but what I say is that the citizens on Hungary must count on the fact that politics has become an international profession. This is a series of events that are happening within European space and an enforcement of interests that is occurring within European space. The debates, the arguments put forward, the stakes and the decisions are all happening within a European arena. And the problem regularly arises that the parts of the given community, the European Union, try and influence the affairs of nation states from outside using various instruments. The most serious example of this kind is when they try to change the results of internal democratic decision-making using external instruments. This is what happened, according to reports, in the case of Italy. National communities must protect themselves against this. And accordingly such attacks must be recognised and, as we are doing now, they must be talked about. It must be stated that yes, Hungary exists in such an age, in such a modern world and in such an international space; these things exist, we must acknowledge them, and if we want to protect our interests and if we want the Hungarians to come out on top with regard to struggles of this nature, then we must mutually stand up for each other. When I stand up for the reduction in utility prices, which is good for every Hungarian household, then I know that when they want to displace the Hungarian government that represents the reduction in utility prices then the people of Hungary will stand up for the government. And this is mutual support, and a mutual taking on of responsibility. And what the past four years have taught me, and I hope a few million of my compatriots, is that mutual support is the way of the future. Strength lies in unity.

Ottó Gajdics: I broke into a smile, because it came to mind that despite this they often criticise you for allegedly stirring up tension by using warlike rhetoric and continuously searching for sources of conflict. Whereas from what we see here, it transpires that you are the proverbial paranoid person who thinks he is being persecuted, and he actually is.

Viktor Orbán: The fact is that in Europe the various peoples, the parties and their leaders, have different views about politics itself and what it is for. And is it true that my view on this can in no way be described as a general or majority standpoint within the European Union. Because what I think about politics, based on national foundations, is that its most important goal is community-building. So what I use the mandate that I have received and continue to receive from the people for it to attempt to continuously develop and reinforce the Hungarians’ national community and its smaller communities, its settlements and families. If a community exists today, it has been established and it knows what its interests are. If it has interests then it can judge world events from the perspective of its own interests. It knows what’s good for it and what’s bad. And then what is good will strengthen it and it will act against what is bad. And so the politics that I practice, which is about trying to reinforce the communities of the Hungarians, their national, family, faith-related, professional and local communities, necessarily bears with it the creation of self-assertive communities who will stand up for their interests. And this leads to debate. But this isn’t a bad development; it’s a good cause. If there are no debates and no communities that put forward what they feel is in their interests, then someone else will say so, and there are many elitist political representatives who think that they will be the ones to tell people and their communities what is otherwise desirable from a European perspective and what is not. This is an extremely elitist approach on the part of politics and it is very foreign from what I otherwise think about this profession, the reason for which is clearly that we are derived from an anti-communist resistance movement. This means that we are instinctively anti-elitist, because what we have experienced is that if a society is not organised in such a way that it is capable of putting forward its interests even if that requires conflict and arguments, then the result is a single party system of the kind that ruled Hungary for several decades. Our instincts include this plebeian view of politics that is a kind of guarantor of Hungarian political democracy. This kind of guarantee of democracy no longer exists in many Western European countries and it is the institutions, legislation and the elite that guarantee democracy rather than the instincts of the people.

Péter Csermely: The Hungarian civil camp is in a very strange position. It has opponents both to the left and to the right, which according to taste may be called rather mediocre or relatively strong. And of these two kinds of opposition the left, although perhaps not in words, but through their political practices going back two decades, represent a politics of immediately and without question introducing what Western Europe asks, says or dictates, while the far right says that we should leave these people behind and get out. And this means that Fidesz-KDNP alliance is left in a relatively comfortable position between the two.

Viktor Orbán: There is a political centre and that political centre is embodied by Fidesz and the Christian Democratic People’s party. This is the European centre. Because Hungary sees its future within Europe and it has accepted and values the fact that the Hungarian nation has a European identity. It has accepted and views as important the fact, and this is also stated by our Constitution, that we have contributed significant results to what we call the achievements of European civilisation and it wishes to preserve these, but it does not wish to forego all criticism of the community in which it exists. This is what I call the European centre. I view both the forces to the left of us and the forces to the right of us as extremist with regard to both internal and foreign politics. This is made clear by issues of domestic politics and by issues relating to foreign politics. Let me mention a few domestic issues, for instance. In my opinion, a standpoint that places the rights of criminals ahead of the rights of their victims, and which practically increases the danger to people by applying lenient punishments instead of focusing on how it can protect people from crime, and which to all intents and purposes encourages potential criminals, is an extremist standpoint. And we hear all kinds of standpoints like this from the left. The equivalent within the international space is, let’s say, when they say that we should establish a Unites States of Europe, that the nation is bad, the nation is dangerous, the nation is partial, the nation is provincial and we must get rid of the nation as if it were a stain on our jacket, and Europe is in fact a clothes brush with which they can rid us of the last remnants of our national identity; I see all of this from the left. This is an extremist standpoint because it is dangerous to the Hungarians. And the situation is the same on the other side. Those who say that Hungary should not participate in Europe’s most important institutions are as a result also saying that we should not take part in the decisions made there that have a determinative effect on our lives, including economic opportunities and the distribution of funding. This is bad, it is a danger to the people of Hungary and so I view it as extremist. And so according to both their domestic and international election manifestos I regard both the various left-wing parties with the Hungarian Socialist Party at the helm and the Jobbik Party as being extremist forces today. Politics is a dynamic space, so this will not always remain the case, things are changing, things are always moving – this could change, but this is the case today.

Ottó Gajdics: Please help our viewers to corroborate this notion of extremism. Because the left especially argue with your standpoint and claim they are not extremist, in contrast to you, and there is some legitimacy in what they say too. And on the markets and in the various community areas, your voters need to defend this standpoint. Why do you call this extremist?

Viktor Orbán: Well, I agree with those who say I should be cautious in this regard, and especially with those on the right. Because the stigma of extremism has been regularly used like a truncheon during the past twenty odd years or so against the right, meaning against us. When in fact we simply represent an upright, national, civil or Christian standpoint. So the right feels uncomfortable to some extent when it hears this expression from its own mouth. But the fact is that if we have to define what we regard as extremist and if we define it correctly, then I think we are justified in using this expression in political speech. What I view as extremist is what poses a clear danger to the Hungarian people. So in my opinion they are supporting a standpoint with regard to which it follows that the community of the Hungarians will suffer and will be at a disadvantage, and we can feel free to call this an extremist standpoint because it goes against the interests of the majority of Hungarian people. For instance, and I will use an example from the right now, exiting the European Union can be shown with valid, rational arguments and quantifiably to mean a loss to Hungary equivalent to an economic collapse. What’s extremism if not that? Or to say that we should do away with life imprisonment without parole – an example from the left – and let criminals out of prison who have murdered several people and have caused a sea of sorrow and anguish to otherwise law-abiding Hungarian families, is contrary to the interests of the people of Hungary. Why shouldn’t we say: this is an extremist standpoint? Or the thousand-year-old civilisational efforts of the Hungarians, which we might refer to as the state of Saint Stephen; that there is a community here whose origins are different from all others around it, whose language is unintelligible to everyone else, which only they understand, but which they understand well and can use wonderfully. A community that has achieved breakthroughs in constitutional law, and a thousand-year-old state-building effort together with its many spectacular results that are embodied in its literature, its architecture, its legal institutions, constitutional way of thinking and a myriad of other things; that we should give this all up and enter some kind of united states not only poses a danger to Hungarians living today, but also poses a danger to the thousand years of Hungarians who came before us and is something that we should protect against. This is an extremist standpoint. What else could we call it if not that? I repeat: despite any discomfort that may arise from our own prejudices, we should clearly use this expression in these cases, without otherwise wanting to put down our opponents, and we should state: what you represent is a danger to the Hungarian people and is an extremist standpoint.

Péter Csermely: In one of your earlier statements you left no doubt that you feel that the suspicions raised against Jobbik, and specifically the allegations of spying made against Jobbik MEP Béla Kovács, are well-founded. Why?

Viktor Orbán: Let us perhaps begin by saying that leadership isn’t a right, it is a responsibility. The job of the elected leader of a country is to lead their country. They must know about everything that they need to know, and especially about things that pose a potential danger to the community that they represent. They should have sufficient courage, fortitude and instruments at their disposal to be able to make certain decisions. The world is organised in such a way that there is ongoing competition both within domestic frameworks and international frameworks. It may sometimes occur that someone who belongs to a certain community, let’s talk about the Hungarians now, defects to another side and begins representing the interests of someone else instead of those of their homeland. People usually refer to this as treason. This has always existed and it will always exist. Our job as leaders is to minimise the damage caused by such people, to identify these people as soon as possible and to stop them from damaging our national community. This is what has happened in this case.

Ottó Gajdics: To what extent is this a catch 22 situation, because both you and the government have been practicing a progressive and novel policy with regard to the Russians according to rational, Hungarian interests? And now you must state that there is someone who has committed treason for representing Russian interests within the European Union.

Viktor Orbán: Well, the truth is – except we rarely talk about this and perhaps we shouldn’t talk too much about this – that people don’t only betray their homeland towards the East, but they also do so towards the West. Preventing this requires a system of institutions and such a system operates in every country, including Hungary. The difficulty here, of course, is that this kind of activity must be stopped before it can cause serious damage. It is not enough to impose legal sanctions afterwards; it must be prevented. Meaning the defence mechanism needs to kick in during the preparation and planning phase. Various services are available to achieve this, but I repeat: treason does not occur in only one direction and this has absolutely nothing to do with our system of allies. Hungary can be betrayed to East, West, North and South. And it indeed occasionally happens. Sometimes, for various reasons, it becomes a case that cannot be handled with the least possible damage to the community and put in order out of the public gaze; sometimes this happens successfully and sometimes it becomes public. So there are many cases, about which we shouldn’t talk because they are the business of the secret services, but there are many cases or attempts that are discovered in good time by the Hungarian authorities and which are prevented in suitable time before any damage can be done. But this is the case in every country. It is no accident that every country has organisations of this kind that aim to apprehend perpetrators and counter their actions while their plans are still being formulated to prevent damage to the given national community. This is also why secret service systems have a system of cooperation, there are contracts and an international system of partnership that regulate this cooperation, but people who have sworn an oath to represent their homeland are of course still breaking their oaths and committing treason if they begin representing interests other than Hungarian national interests, whether those foreign interests are from countries to the East or countries to the West.

Péter Csermely: Getting back to the attacks from Brussels. There was a high tide in these, and then an ebb, but since the latest two-thirds majority victory on 6 April the number of attacks from Brussels seem to have increased once again. I don’t know to what extent this is caused by the results of the Hungarian elections of perhaps because of the upcoming European Parliament elections…

Viktor Orbán: I don’t think it’s related to the result, but perhaps to the time, because if we use a bit of common sense with regard to the rhythm of European politics then in general an international institution will do its best to interfere the least during a national election campaign. And if the law will allow it, then it will delay any disputes related to a certain state until after that state’s parliamentary elections, so it doesn’t have to fight these battles in the middle of an election campaign. Partly because these issues don’t necessarily belong in a national election campaign, and partly because an organisation, bureaucracy and institutional system that supervises nations would become involved in a national confrontation. Meaning it would find itself in a party arena. And this is something they would rather defend against. And so at such times they schedule disputed issues for after the elections. And as far as I can see there are a few issues that could have been made public a few months ago that will only be made public following the elections, so I don’t think there is any ill will on the part of Brussels in this instance; what we are seeing now is instead the result of a fair and decent behaviour.

Ottó Gajdics: But please help us, because we may understand what may have motivated various issues that have been the subject of heated debate, but what problems do the European Union or the ‘eurobureaucrats’ have with our poor acacia trees?

Viktor Orbán: We are talking about a much bigger problem here, although the acacia issue is significant in itself. The day before yesterday, the former Prime Minister of France gave a television interview, or perhaps published an article in one of the larger French newspapers, in which he claimed nothing less than that half of the spheres of authority currently controlled by Brussels should be given back to nation states. Because there are a great many issues that for some inexplicable reason, possibly the result of a political accident or an overzealous bureaucracy, have come to fall under the sphere of authority of the national community, when in fact they should be decided at a nation state level. This is why one feels somehow in danger with regard to an issue such as these acacia trees, because one sees that a power in some faraway place that operates according to some kind of difficult to understand logic suddenly interferes in our lives on the basis on some argument or right that we cannot fathom, and in fact based on some right that to us does not exist. And this is why the feeling today from France to Hungary and in between is that people are worried for their own homelands because of the European Union; people fear their homeland from the EU. This is a well-founded feeling. And now of course I will get what’s coming to me, because this standpoint isn’t PC or rather isn’t regarded as acceptable within the EU today. Good things may be said about the EU and the EU may not be described in the way that I have just described it, but the truth is that if we look into people’s souls and talk to them, then they fear for their own countries because of the unwarranted interference of the European Union. It is this chord that the acacia issue strikes and is a prime example of. It may be the case that one or the other party is right with regard to acacia, and I would rather not go into detail, as this requires a more wide-ranging, specific knowledge, but what is certain is that it is unacceptable for someone who does not live here with us, who is not Hungarian, who does not share our fate, who does not rest in the cool shade of these trees, does not heat their homes with wood from these trees and does not harvest the yield of these trees, but who lives somewhere else to tell us what kinds of trees should grow here in Hungary. This is unnatural and is the kind of unwarranted interference that gives rise to the fears I have just mentioned. It is no accident therefore, that while people of course acknowledge that our membership of the EU equates to a significant economic advantage, they nevertheless do so with a certain fear in their hearts and with this kind of ambiguity; of course it’s a good thing, but then again… This is what is embodied in the current Hungarian situation in which people say yes, let’s be members of the European Union, but then let’s have a strongly committed national government. Because a European Union together with a strongly committed national government is good for the country, but if we are members of the EU while having an internationalist government, like the socialist government we had for eight long years, then that will only lead to huge problems – and that’s exactly true.

Ottó Gajdics: And do you see a chance that this process of re-thinking could begin with regard to spheres of authority, so that they are returned to the national sphere of authority?

Viktor Orbán: We have been approaching the European Parliament elections from a Hungarian perspective during the course of this conversation, but if we choose a higher horizon then we can see that there is talk of nothing else in Europe today except how we need to change the EU. So this requirement of the people, this political recognition that the EU cannot remain the way it is and that we need to perform changes for several reasons with regard to several points is a common standpoint. Perhaps even the Hungarians look up in surprise when the British Prime Minister suddenly declares, and what’ more writes, that there is no reason to be ashamed of the fact that England is a Christian country. It is time that we stated this and made it clear. The former French Prime Minister says that fifty percent of the EUs spheres of authority should be given back to the nation states. The general view in most countries is that they have had enough of mass immigration. So something is happening here, something is taking shape. Sooner or later the European leaders need to understand that they must perform a deep re-thinking or execute a deep re-thinking; they must re-think the forms of the European Union that have developed so far and modify them in several places, or as I would call it, they need to renew it.

Péter Csermely: According to the current standpoint, meaning if all this will come to fruition at tomorrow’s elections, then the Fidesz-KDNP alliance will be Europe’s strongest party as far as the European People’s Party is concerned, but possibly overall. You will be sending MEPs to the People’s Party in numbers that no other European party in Europe is capable of.

Viktor Orbán: The chances of our running a European record time or winning the title of European Champion are not impossibly low.

Péter Csermely: Could this contribute to there being fewer attacks? Especially if the People’s Party forms a majority that includes Fidesz MEPs and they would have no majority without them?

Viktor Orbán: It could be a factor, although I am of the common opinion that only the strong can achieve peace and only the strong can eke out peace for themselves. So Hungary must be strong if it wants peace. If we are forever trying to get in through the window or through the crack in the door; if we are forever kow-towing and explaining to people that we are small and weak; that leads only to exploitation, not to peace. That does not mean that there is a state of affairs in which we feel good, but instead there will of course be calm on the surface, while deep inside we will find the way in which we have to live to be unfair, because others are stronger than we are. So if we want peace, if we want to be able to live in balanced and ordered conditions, we require strength. Because only the strong can achieve peace and only the strong can gain peace for themselves. Respect too, can only be won by the strong. And for this reason we need to be strong in Brussels. This has its physical barriers, of course, because there are 83 million Germans, but there are only ten million or so of us living in Hungary. There are 61-62 million people in Great Britain, and there are only so many of us. So there are physical barriers. But aside from the physical barriers, we need to be strong with regard to our indices, with regard to political success, with regard to economic results, with regard to our rate of growth and with regard to a low level of unemployment if we want to have a say and to bear weight, with which we can otherwise create more favourable conditions, or in other words peace, a peace that we feel is equitable, for ourselves.

Ottó Gajdics: And if the People’s Party achieves a majority, as the polls currently expect could easily occur, will it affect who the President of the European Commission will be? Because Hír TVs viewers would not be too happy with Martin Schultz, for instance.

Viktor Orbán: I should really protect Martin Schultz, but…

Péter Csermely: That’s also something that Hír TVs viewers wouldn’t particularly like.

Viktor Orbán: …but I think that since you viewers would not be too happy about that, I will refrain from doing so. Although I in fact regard him as an extremely exciting and interesting character. I don’t claim that his Presidency would be favourable to Hungary, but as a political character I view him as someone who has achieved important and considerable results, and who has achieved these results from very humble beginnings. And with that I have hereby finished my campaign in support of the left and my apologies to those of your viewers who vote for the right. But of course, the fact is that the question of what party gains the most support is a significant one. What is certain is that if the elections result in success for the People’s party, then the new President will come from the world of the People’s Party, and if the left gain the majority then the new President will come from the world of the left. However, I am one of several who claim, and this is the standpoint I will be representing at Tuesday’s dinner with the EUs Prime Ministers, because work will begin in Brussels a day-and-a-half after the elections, that is does not follow from this that the individual determined by the People’s Party as its so-called star candidate will be the next President of the European Commission. I deny this kind of automatism, I do not agree with it and the European documents include no such thing. The Council of Prime Ministers cannot forego the right to decide to designate the person of the President of the Commission in a sovereign manner, independently of the results of the European Parliament elections and within the sphere of authority of the EU’s Prime Ministers. Naturally, people will now decide on a very important balance of power within the European Parliament. And the European Parliament must vote to accept the person who the Prime Ministers will recommend as the next President of the Commission. Or if you prefer, as the next head of the European government, although this is of course a misrepresentation, but it will perhaps make it easier for your viewers to understand my train of thought. It has to be approved by Parliament. But the question of who this person is, who the members of the European Parliament who we are electing now can vote to approve or not approve, must remain within a national sphere of authority, within the joint sphere of authority of 28 nations. So it is the Prime Ministers who must put forward the proposal regarding the person of the future President based on national responsibility. I am not prepared to accept any kind of automatism. There are many, and I cannot now assess whether they are in a majority or in a minority, who want to enforce this automatism. What I will be arguing in support of on Tuesday in Brussels is that the Prime Ministers should not let the opportunity to make a sovereign decision out of their hands. Partly because that would not serve Hungary’s interests. And an EU Commissioner delegated by Luxembourg has done only damage to Hungary in recent times, so then why should we as Hungarians now support a European Commissioner from Luxembourg? These are criteria that I feel I must assert not in my own interests, but in the interests of my homeland.

Péter Csermely: Do you already have a candidate?

Viktor Orbán: When a candidate was decided upon within the European People’s Party then we did not vote for the person who is today the candidate of European People’s party, but we are disciplined and loyal allies. Once the European People’s Party decided on who would front their campaign we began to assist the work of the European People’s Party and its candidate with all of our weight and authority. We are one of the determining powers within the European People’s Parity and we stand behind the star candidate with our full bodyweight. We want him to be successful and lead us to victory, but we don’t necessarily think that he should be the head of the Commission.

Péter Csermely: And if it came to it, would he be voted in? With regard to what we were talking about earlier, although of course this is a serious topic, but as you said, there is definitely a certain irony involved with regard to the fact that Europe is spending time dealing with Hungarian acacia trees and the curvature of cucumbers and similarly ‘important’ issues. These bring a smile to everyone’s face, after all, irrespective of how they view the situation. But does anyone in Europe take the time to think about why the European Union dallies about on the stage when it comes to really important issues such as global politics?

Viktor Orbán: Well, I also agree…

Péter Csermely: Why does everyone regard these as the antics of a good-natured clown?

Viktor Orbán: I agree with the idea that we find some of these issues – cucumbers, acacia – amusing, because we will sort these out and we feel that we will be able to protect ourselves with regard to these issues. But there are a few issues that I would rather not smile at before entering the stage of global politics with what I have to say; these are still Hungarian issues. Because the reduction in utility prices is not child’s play, and the fact is that Brussels wants to do away with the reduction in utility prices and instead of Europe introducing a radical reduction in energy prices, which Hungary is otherwise supporting and urging Europe to begin doing, they would rather attempt to make sure that states have no instruments with which to reduce energy prices. And the case of foreign currency loan debtors is also not an amusing subject; the stakes are high. And neither is the bank tax, and they have been working for years to try and get rid of the bank tax – they were unsuccessful, but they are still working on it. Or there’s the latest example, the question of whether people who have been accused of murder and who the courts have sentenced to life imprisonment without parole should be allowed back into society or not. The stakes are also high with regard to this issue. These are serious issues and we must protect these battles in Brussels. So we don’t only have to take a stand against amusing instances of overzealous bureaucracy, but also to protect crucially important Hungarian national interests. And continuing on according to your logic, I agree with what you said, about them dallying about…

Péter Csermely: Yes.

Viktor Orbán: …and what I would say is that they are full of good intentions. The European Union continuously believes that it represents values that are not only good for the world, but that the world should embrace. That if people throughout the world were to live by these values then there would be peace, calm, prosperity and happiness throughout the world. And a big baby, an overdeveloped baby of this kind with its good-natured good intentions…

Péter Csermely: Runs out enthusiastically and falls over.

Viktor Orbán: Yes, but it is with good-natured, good intentions that is talks about human rights and about climate change, it says all sorts of interesting and good things, and in fact intellectually one is inclined to yes, quite right, but when things get to the stage where this is not an essay that one needs to write or a good book that people read and agree with, but is about strength, power, politics, decision-making and interests, and then all those good intentions are suddenly useless. When a strong and effective politics has to be organised out of all these good intentions, from these actually existent European values and good intentions: that is when they run out of ideas in Europe.

Ottó Gajdics: The Theatre in Magyarkanizsa [Opstina Kanjiza, Serbia].

Viktor Orbán: There is an explanation for that I think; a complicated but real explanation.

Ottó Gajdics: The Director of the Magyarkanizsa Theatre said on Lánchíd Radio that he couldn’t find an actor in Hungary who could play Titusz Dugovics, because although he found many lamenting and pensive people, he didn’t find any who were actually prepared to do anything about it. Isn’t this also the problem with Europe?

Viktor Orbán: We are dealing with a deeper historical relationship here.

Péter Csermely: And we have 45 seconds left to do so, so that’s how much deeper it can be…

Viktor Orbán: It will be quite a feat if I am able to tell you that quickly. So, summa summarum, the prevailing idea among the European elite today is that strong and forthright characters make dangerous leaders. During the past forty-fifty years – because after all, leaders of this kind have caused trouble in Europe in the past – Europe has trusted in institutional leadership and not in strong elected leaders who are able and willing to take personal responsibility. Institutional leadership, brooding over decisions, a balancing act – that’s good. Emphatic, direction-providing leadership – not good. When things are going well with the European economy then people are prepared to accept that they have no strong leaders, but when there is trouble it soon transpires that the institutions cannot get us out of trouble and cannot organise us into a community that can overcome those troubles. This is why Europe is continuously portraying its own leaders as being weaker than they actually are. This is why I say that leadership isn’t a right, but a responsibility. It should also be Europe’s responsibility to lead the world in a better way.

Péter Csermely: We have heard many thoughts during this conversation that directly, or perhaps to a certain extent indirectly, bring us to the conclusion that the European Parliament elections are after all important and that we should all go out to vote, but I am not sure if you agree with the suggestion that the greatest motivation for the voters of the right is the opportunity to give the left yet another good slap in the face.

Viktor Orbán: This is a battle: it’s good to win. It’s good to win once, but it’s even better to win twice. But let’s not forget that it is also good to be European and that we, the civil, national and Christian camp, are proud Europeans, proud European who stand on national foundations; this is our continent, Europe is our homeland, our future and our home, and so I think it is also our responsibility to decide in what direction it’s cart should turn.

Péter Csermely: Mr. Prime Minister, thank you for being here and thank you to our viewers for your attention. See you again next week at the usual time. Good night!

Prime Minister's Office

« vissza

On Saturday morning, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán received President of Poland Andrzej Duda in Parliament.
In answer to questions from foreign journalists in Brussels on Friday, the second day of the summit of the European Union’s heads of state and government, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said that Hungary does not like double standards, and therefore does not support them being applied to anyone, including Poland.
At a press conference in Brussels on Friday afternoon, in which he evaluated the agreement between the European Union and Turkey, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said that Hungarian diplomacy has achieved its goals.
  • Viktor Orbán, 52
  • Lawyer, graduated at Eötvös Loránd University and studied at Pembroke College, Oxford
  • Married to Anikó Lévai
  • They have five children: Ráhel, Gáspár, Sára, Róza, Flóra
  • Chairman of FIDESZ, vice-chairman of the European People's Party


© Minden jog fenntartva, 2010