In the interview, which was recorded following the migration summit in Vienna, the Prime Minister said that in Central Europe there is unanimous agreement that they do not want to end up “like a good many European countries, who in a few years’ time could well have difficulty recognising themselves”.
Following the meeting, Mr. Orbán said that he sees it as a step forward that the Balkan migration route has become better protected, thanks to the agreement with Turkey, effective action by the Balkan countries and Hungary’s persistence. He stressed, however, that there are still many problems left to struggle with, citing as an example the fact that the migrant influx which Italy is currently enduring will revert to the Balkan route with the onset of autumn.
The Prime Minister said that something new in recent weeks is the fact that “the people of Europe have raised their heads, and many now also dare to speak up”.
“Under forty years of communism we took it for granted that speaking truly honestly was only possible in those countries to the west of us”, he pointed out, adding that, in contrast, now “if someone west of us starts speaking about the migration crisis, then, interestingly, they first think through a dozen times what to say and what not to say”. According to the Prime Minister, in the West there are even “filtering mechanisms” in “official and more popular public forums”.
According to Mr. Orbán, over the past year the attitude in many countries has been: “trust you leaders; you might find their decisions strange now, but they’ll sort it out, you don’t have to worry about that, everything will be fine. A year has passed and people are saying that there’s a problem, because everything isn’t fine: no solution has been provided, and in fact the problems are increasing by the day and terrorism and reduced public safety are encroaching on people’s personal lives”.
The Prime Minister said that the people of Western Europe now feel that they can freely state their opinions, and this is a phenomenon which not even the politicians can downplay. “The elite cannot close their eyes and ears to a fundamentally important issue”, he said. “Democracy has many weaknesses, but it also has some beautiful aspects: one is that if leaders handle democratic power badly, then the people usually take it from them”, he noted, adding that “this is something which nobody likes. Believe me, I am speaking from experience; everybody likes to do their job properly and to be acknowledged for it”.
Although Western Europe did not win its high standard of living in a lottery, life there has always been more comfortable than in Central Europe, and the people living there have rarely had to face dilemmas which threaten their prosperity, he said.
According to Mr. Orbán, it is not easy for Europeans to step into a world in which everything is always being questioned: why is Europe’s economic influence decreasing, why are its demographic indices declining, and why are we having “co-existence problems” with migrants?
These are all questions which the people of Western Europe have not had to deal with until now, and when, “as Central Europeans with razor sharp instincts”, the Hungarians say “Hey, there’s something wrong here”, then they ignore their opinion. Now, he said, “it has emerged that we were right, and people are saying that sometimes even the Central Europeans can be right”.
Mr. Orbán also said that as Prime Minister he lives his life in an “inescapable network” of attempts to influence him, but he has never viewed this as a personal issue. “In politics attacks are not personal matters – not even when they are aimed at one’s person”, he added.
He also spoke about the fact that those who have been attacking Hungary over the past year are in fact afraid that the Hungarian way of thinking will spread. “Our opinion didn’t have sufficient weight in European public opinion, but the past year has proven us right”, because the Hungarian government bravely dared to stand by its own way of thinking, and “more and more people are also identifying with the Hungarian opinion”, the Prime Minister explained. “I am convinced that with the debates we have entered into over the past year we have also benefited Europe outside the area of politics”, he said.
With regard to its historical significance, he said, only the 2004 vote on dual nationality can be compared to the quota referendum this October, which is about “who should be able to decide who the Hungarians will live with in their own country”. The referendums on joining NATO and the EU were not of comparable significance, the Prime Minister declared.
A referendum cannot fail to have legal repercussions; the decision that has been arrived at must be transferred into the Hungarian legal system in some form, the Prime Minster said. “This is the least that will happen, although this will be one of the most important pieces of legislation in the Hungarian legal system following the referendum”, he added.