If Europe is to strengthen, “it must return to its own classical values” such as protecting the institution of the family and guaranteeing the freedom of “religion and national minority rights”, the Hungarian foreign minister said in Strasbourg on Tuesday.
Addressing an inter-faith conference organised by the Hungarian presidency of the Council of Europe, Péter Szijjártó said Hungary was at the forefront of protecting classical European values, the foreign ministry said in a statement.
Szijjártó said that “the international liberal mainstream” had mounted “very serious attacks” in the areas of family affairs, religious freedom and minority protection regarding which “a dictatorship of opinion, a hegemony of opinion” had in effect emerged.
He said anyone who dared to speak up for these values which determined Europe’s existence faced exclusion, criticism or even ridicule, being portrayed “as someone trapped in the past”.
Szijjártó insisted that Europe had become weakened and its population and clout in the global economy was shrinking. The only way to regain its strength would be to return to its “classical values”, he added.
“If Europe loses all those things that bind us to European identity and heritage, it will be in massive trouble,” he said.
Hungary, the minister added, was “at the forefront” of protecting such values.
Szijjártó said the current Hungarian CoE presidency presented an excellent opportunity to highlight these issues. He insisted that many agreed with the Hungarian government.
“They daren’t express this openly,” he said, adding they feared “the terror of liberal opinion”.