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Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s answers to questions from audience members after his speech at the Bálványos Summer Open University and Student Camp

I suspect I’m not the only one who’s tired, so I will try to answer every important question briefly.

The first one: shall we extend the forms of support offered by the Family Protection Action Plan to territories beyond the borders? Well now, I can best describe the government’s national policy by stating that, following the unification of the nation, we are in an era of nation building, so the question is justified. If we are a single nation, then we must try to make available what is good to members of the entire universal nation. However, there is a big difference between national unification and nation building. The unification of the nation was fundamentally a question of spiritual courage, or it was to some extent. At times like this, I recall a sentence by John Lukács in a conversation in which he drew my attention as prime minister to the fact that I should be careful because the Hungarian nation is an interesting breed; it is a declaratory nation, and is very strong when it has something to state and to declare. The intention of unifying the nation is a declaration but, he said, it is necessary to pay attention to the fact that, by virtue of having made that declaration, Hungarians tend to assume that it is something that has already been accomplished. This is the difference between national unification and nation building. Nation building is not realised through mere words, declarations and courage; it is fastidious work, and has its own logic. And I have to say in answer to the question as to what can be extended to territories beyond the borders – and in this I also ask for your understanding – that timing is the most important. Because it is only possible to extend something to territories beyond the borders if there is the necessary political and economic support for that in the motherland. If we mistime things, and above all if I mistime things, if we try things which do not have the necessary financial or political pre-conditions at home, they can backfire. Therefore, today I can say that neither the political nor the economic conditions exist for offering and introducing all family protection measures which serve to reverse the negative demographic trends in the motherland beyond the borders. We are quite simply not there yet. We’re doing a great many things. In the Carpathian Basin we are building and refurbishing a thousand nursery schools, we are doing a great many things that form part of the fastidious job of nation building, but at this point in time generalising the home system would have an opposite effect. However, I can confidently say that the time may come – and depending on the outcome of the elections, the time will come – when we will be able to do that, and the necessary political and economic pre-conditions will also exist at home.

Hungarian investments are coming to Transylvania slowly; this is beside the point because they will be coming. The opposite direction is what is of interest. Because in order for what belongs together to grow together into a single fabric, investments from Transylvania should also come to Hungary. Today this intrigues me more. Because as far as I can see, the routes for Hungarian investments in Transylvania are well-trodden. Things are happening, I myself can see that. We adopt such decisions, and I also attend events of such a nature, but this should also work the other way around. Sooner or later, from the accumulated business profits, Transylvanian investments will have to come to Hungary in order for the economic fabric that we will build this way to become resistant to being torn afterwards.

Regarding flights, I can tell you that there is a daily service between Marosvásárhely (Târgu Mureș) and Budapest, or at least I hope this is still the case. We are also working on the creation of a service between Kolozsvár (Cluj-Napoca) and Budapest, and there is a good chance that this will become a daily service from this autumn.

Why don’t I use my influence to make cooperation between parties in Transylvania more balanced? László Tőkés provided the answer to that question. I would be doomed to fail right from the beginning, so it’s best to not even start. This is such a solid tree that if I tried to chop it, my axe would become stuck. But also from a philosophical point of view it’s better to act as the Esteemed Bishop suggested: think differently. Beyond doubt, the Hungarian prime minister has a legally limited, but by no means negligible power, and most certainly consequences could arise from this power, from the exercising of this power, even beyond the Hungarian state borders. This is true as well. This is why it’s important that you should understand how I, and the government that I lead, think with relation to the essence of power. What is it for? Or what is it? In our minds – and I believe that this is in harmony with Hungary’s intellectual history, the teachings of St. Stephen and the tasks we are facing – power is none other than the capability of common action. I have been given a chance, I have been given the means to induce the Hungarian people to engage in various common actions; however, during peace time people cannot be induced to common action through force. So if it is true that we see political power as something that is embodied in common action and we must induce the Hungarian people, if we must convince them to take part in common action because then we will all be better off, both individually and collectively, if that is true then I can’t use this power as a coercive force from above even at home, let alone beyond the borders. Therefore, I have means at my disposal, I have methods for convincing people, I have arguments that are worthy of consideration, but I have no direct coercive power. For this reason, our good brothers and sisters in Transylvania and Szeklerland should not expect either me, or any of my agents from Budapest to tidy things up and to arrange the political actors operating here into a more desirable design. This will not happen; you will have to struggle, sweat and fight for this. I can tell you one thing for certain: we await and are helping the development of a common will, and when it comes about we will always be there behind it. This is also true of Úzvölgye (Valea Uzului).

Naturally, as we’re talking about military cemeteries, the division concerned with the maintenance of military cemeteries of the competent ministry of the Hungarian government is conducting talks with the Romanians. I can’t talk about what happened in political terms because the desecration of graves amounts to the violation of the most profound and elementary human feelings, about which it is simply impossible to talk in political terms. And I don’t understand how it could cross anyone’s mind to seek to [respond] to any political dispute or any dispute from the past in violation of the commandment of showing respect to the dead, by acting in such a disrespectful manner… For us this is quite simply incomprehensible. So I believe that the solution is not of a political nature. We will have to reach the stage with the Romanians where they can talk this through with the Hungarians of Transylvania in a calm and concerted manner, and we should then meet with one another in this suprapolitical, moral dimension, and find a solution which is acceptable to Transylvanian Hungarians. This is not impossible; as soon as this comes about you may expect the Hungarian government to line up behind this common Transylvanian solution with all its authority, but this job, too, will have to be done by them.

Transcarpathia. Sorry, something else about Romanian-Hungarian relations. Why aren’t there summits? What László says is also a consideration, but it influences me less. I wouldn’t mind if a successful Hungarian-Romanian summit of prime ministers were presented as an achievement of the RMDSZ. Present it as anyone’s success, as long as it happens, I don’t care. But it is a legitimate question why there are no meetings. Despite the fact that recently I personally have received much more positive signals from Romanian political leaders than I would have imagined at any time before. It’s not my duty to judge or to evaluate anyone, but I have to say that, for instance, the labyrinth of the Romanian legal system is unfathomable for us. I no longer know who was convicted of what or why not, or what constitutes a crime and what doesn’t here; it’s very difficult to find one’s way around from outside. But I can tell you for certain that whenever there were Hungarian issues – difficult Hungarian issues involving conflicts – and we had to negotiate, the president of the governing socialist party always had fair talks with me, and honoured all our agreements. Similarly, I have to say about the incumbent Prime Minister, who is usually spoken of in derogatory terms as I see – and this is not only a matter of courtesy, not only a matter of fairness, I work with her, I negotiate with her, it’s true, in Brussels and not in bilateral meetings, and I also have a chance to work with her at V4 meetings and at all sorts of other international forums, and believe me – that she is a serious politician who, if she only had the necessary support, could do a lot more good for Romania than she is capable of doing today. And I’m far from being a close friend of the Romanian president, but I have to tell you that if the Romanian president had not been a man of his word, if he had not been consistent and if he had not stood by the decision of the European People’s Party – because he, too, belongs to the European People’s Party which said no to Timmermans – and if he had joined those who rejected the European People’s Party’s joint decision saying no to Timmermans; if he hadn’t held out, we would not have been able to prevent George Soros’s lieutenant from sitting in the seat of President of the European Commission today. His contribution is also there in this feat. Along with ours, but without his contribution this would not have come about. So I have to say that, as far as I see the Romanian-Hungarian situation today, the problem isn’t necessarily with the abilities and intentions of the leaders, but I think the problem lies in the fact that it seems to be impossible to put together an operational political machinery that would result in preparations, decisions and implementation. My opinion is that today Romanian politics is quite simply not in a position to make decisions, and the reason for this should be sought not in a lack of personal abilities, but in constant uncertainty. Right now, they are preparing for some elections, and not just any elections, but multiple elections, consecutive elections, including presidential elections. Beyond the fact that László is right, that we should sit down with one another in a Christian spirit and reassure one another of our mutual good intentions, because that always makes sense, this is not an opportune time for a Romanian-Hungarian summit; but also beyond this, it makes no sense at all because we can’t make decisions, and not because of Hungary, but because of the chaos and turmoil of the political situation in Romania. We have to wait until things settle down, and we find out who’s who, who has the power to do what, and with whom we can come to an agreement about what. And if we come to an agreement, after we find out who has the power to do what, we’ll have to ensure that it is observed. So until such a situation arises, Romanian-Hungarian meetings will be more of an official, goodwill nature, rather than agreements resting on mutual advantages that equally serve the building of the [Hungarian] nation and the interests of the Romanian nation. So today it’s impossible to have such a meeting; we’ll have to wait.

Traitors. one of our friends asks. Now, this is about the fact that the representatives of the Hungarian Left elected into the European Parliament – after making a demonstrative declaration – provocatively voted against all Fidesz and Christian Democrat candidates who have been appointed by their own party family for any position. There are two ways to respond to this. There’s this treason approach which someone mentions here, but with this we would attach too much importance to them. Therefore, I would rather just say that this is a petty little thing. This is a contemptible policy, a reprehensible policy that goes out to Brussels, and instead of helping the Hungarians’ advancement takes pleasure in tripping up another Hungarian or making their job more difficult. This is quite simply a contemptible and reprehensible thing, and no more needs to be said about it.

Transcarpathia. In my view, some serious things happened during the election campaign in Transcarpathia. Physical intimidation was part of the election campaign there. There, during the campaign, the Hungarians who undertook to represent the Transcarpathian community of the Hungarian nation did not feel physically safe. I think this is unacceptable. If a country ever wants to get closer to NATO and the European Union, things like this quite simply can never happen. And as long as they do, Ukraine will not come closer to any organisation that we are a member of, about that you can rest assured. The rights and physical safety of the Hungarian minority and the conditions for its fair political involvement must be created. And the real question is why things are the way they are in Transcarpathia. Logically, there are two possible answers to this question. One of them is that this is what the Kiev government wants. The other one is that the Kiev government itself has no idea what it wants. And I’m afraid we’re facing the latter possibility. That quite simply Ukrainian statehood lost its capacity to act in preparation for a change of government that was evidently already foreseeable before the elections. Or if it has some capacity to act, only parts of it, not the whole thing. So in my view the Hungarian community in Transcarpathia has a vested interest in the organisation, the effective organisation of Ukrainian statehood, and in the adoption and enforcement of its central decisions; and this is equally important from the perspective of Ukrainian-Hungarian relations. So I can only root for the newly elected president of the Ukrainians, who now also has an evident parliamentary majority; meaning that the president’s party has a majority in legislature, and will be given an opportunity to seek to reorganise the Ukrainian State, to shape a common will for it, and to take care of its implementation. There is a chance for that now. If we can help them with that, we will, but until that happens I see no chance for any improvement in damaged Ukrainian-Hungarian relations, and I don’t see how we could support any of Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations. However, preparations for a high-level meeting with them are under way.

And finally, sorry, why is (the television channel) M4 encoded? Well, it is because Zsolt Semjén hasn’t taken care of it, this would be his duty. This issue also emerged last year, and also at that time we publicly assigned this duty to him, and now here we are. It hasn’t been taken care of, so I ask Zsolt to let us know if he needs help so that we can solve this issue.

And finally, we have a question here which may perhaps appear to be an irrelevant issue that’s beside the point. Do we have any means to remedy the labour shortage in Hungary? Now, first of all, I would be cautious with the assessment of the situation. It is usually the group between the ages of 16 and 65 years whose employment indicators are assessed in order to express the rate of employment in a given country. Today in Hungary this stands at 69.5 per cent. But in the Czech Republic it is 75 per cent. And in Germany, too, it is close to 75 per cent. And it is 75 per cent in America as well. It is 85 per cent in China, but we should forget that for now. Anyway, 75 per cent. What I mean to say is that it’s not true that today there are no reserves left in the Hungarian economy. In Hungary there is a 6-7-8 per cent community with working capacity that is not working at present. How can we make them join the ranks of workers? How can we make them join the ranks of workers? Because today it’s not for a lack of willingness, since we created that through the public works scheme. What sort of training should we give them? How should we prepare them? This is a major challenge for the government. We haven’t done badly in this discipline, but we could do even better. One thing is certain: I’d like to avoid the situation – and I would also like to convince the Hungarian people to avoid the situation – where we natives don’t do jobs beneath certain standards, but instead import labour from abroad so that they do those jobs for us. In my view, it is important – not only in an economic, but also in a spiritual sense – that a given country’s population and citizens should be able to do all the jobs that arise in that country. Including waste collection and street cleaning. We can take care of everything, whichever category we may put it into, because in a country we need every single person; we only need to organise that country’s life well. Therefore, I don’t support any workforce influx from abroad. To be more precise, it has an upper limit laid down in a Hungarian law or government decree up to which we find this acceptable. Every year we publish how many jobs are not filled, meaning how many jobs there are that Hungarians don’t apply for. Well, up to that limit it is possible to issue temporary work permits, not involving permanent resettlement, but only up to that limit, and we mustn’t allow the coming into being of a permanent system that – as we may observe in Western European countries – gives certain jobs as a matter of course not to natives, but to labour brought in from abroad. People who may well have first arrived as guest workers will eventually stay, and due to family unifications of various kinds will be the catalysts for all sorts of cultural transformations. so that by the time the natives regret the decision they made in the first place, they won’t be able to undo it anymore. I would spare ourselves this fate, and so we Hungarians must do every job in Hungary, and they must be paid well. Work – regardless of its content, be it a scientist seeking to win a Nobel Prize or a street cleaner – must be appreciated and must be recognised. The performance rendered by each individual according to his or her own abilities must be supported, and the respect and reward that their work merits must be provided with respect to it. In my view, this approach is not alien to the Hungarian people’s psyche.

And finally, if I’m not mistaken, Zsolt will not give us the floor anymore. Is that right, Zsolt, that’s it, is it? Perhaps, I could tell you in conclusion that a year has gone by since the last parliamentary elections. After the last parliamentary elections, there were European Parliament elections, and on 13 October there will be municipal elections. Then in 2022 there will be parliamentary elections again. I’d like to say that we should draw strength from what we have left behind us. It’s true that when the Polish Pope uttered his famous words he meant – beyond spiritual implications – that in political life one shouldn’t be afraid to resist the occupiers, and likewise one shouldn’t be afraid to stand up against the communists. This is what John Paul II said: “Do not be afraid”. And I’m convinced that these words are still valid. As our duty is – and it is not an optional duty of the Hungarian nation, but quite simply it’s elementary interest – to continue and to pursue the change that has begun in the transformation of the defining spirit of the day in Europe; we must encourage one another in light of the success of the past ten years and the elections we have won by telling one another: do not be afraid. We mustn’t be afraid. Let us bravely stand up for that which I defined in my address as Christian liberty, and then we will win again, and we will win again in Hungary, in Transylvania, in Romania and in the whole of the European Union. Just do not be afraid!