A successful policy for Hungarian communities abroad cannot be pursued unless the mother country is strong, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said at the 16th Hungarian Permanent Conference in Budapest on Friday.
“The mother country has gained in strength,” Orbán said. It has succeeded in creating an educational network and “intellectual hinterland” throughout the Carpathian asin, he added.
A consensus has also been achieved when it comes to important questions such as citizenship, voting rights for Hungarians living beyond the border, and the autonomy of Hungarian minorities in neighbouring countries, he said.
The aim is to provide ways for all Hungarians to legally become part of the Hungarian community should they decide to, he said.
The past period has been dedicated to unifying the nation, Orbán said, adding that the upcoming period would be about building the nation. Citing his recent speech in Cluj-Napoca (Kolozsvár) in Transylvania, he said:
“In the Carpathian Basin, the future is written in Hungarian”. The government considers the Carpathian Basin to be the space where the Hungarian nation and language can be nurtured, he said.
“The task is not simply having to protect our rights and communities but we must contribute to the ideas and plans concerning the future of central Europe, applying our own Hungarian logic and way of thinking and keeping our interests in mind,” he said. By connecting the different parts of the nation, Orbán said he was convinced that “we will be able to exercise significant influence”. Everybody can witness in the region that those that work together with Hungarians will be better off, Orbán said.
The idea that central European peoples have an interest in mutual strength has gained traction in the Carpathian Basin, Orbán said. Strong neighbouring countries are in Hungary’s national interest as a basis for strong alliances, he said. These countries have also embraced cross-border economic development programmes, he noted.
Fending off the wave of migration on the southern borders is an enormous national achievement, Orbán said. He thanked Hungarians in Serbia.
“We had to build the fence in a place we really didn’t want to,” Orbán said.
Addressing concerns expressed by a leftist opposition party regarding the right of ethnic Hungarians to vote in Hungary’s general election, Orbán said the current election system was “morally right and just” because it demonstrated that “we belong to one nation but we are in different positions”. Referring to the system of voting whereby Hungarians beyond the border can vote for a party list but not for an individual candidate in a constituency, he said this is why it was decided that Hungarians living in Hungary should submit two votes and those living beyond the borders submit one. No changes are planned to this state of affairs and those that argue against it can expect to be rejected, he said. Orbán encouraged ethnic Hungarians abroad to register to vote and go to the polls in as large numbers as possible. Additionally, he asked political leaders of ethnic Hungarians abroad to appeal to their communities for the same purpose.
There are more than a million new Hungarian citizens but “we are somewhere about half-way now”. The aim is for every Hungarian who wants to become part of the Hungarian community in legal terms should be given the chance, Orbán said.
He also asked for full support for the Minority SafePack initiative, launched with the cooperation Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (RMDSZ), which aims to get Brussels to deal with indigenous European minorities. “This is not a party issue but a national issue,” he added.
Assessing the state of the Hungarian economy, he quipped that “now is the time for modesty”, adding that there were so many achievements that could be boasted of.
Everybody should be proud of the achievements because “Hungary has managed to get its act together”, he added. Citing a central bank study, he said some 50 reforms were introduced in the past seven years that have set the Hungarian economy on the right path.
He highlighted three key areas without which sovereignty cannot be maintained in the modern economy: energy, the media and the banking sector. He said Hungarian ownership has been increased to above 50 percent in these three areas, which he said was as an especially great achievement.
Hungary competes against the Czech Republic and Germany in terms of the rate of industrial output in proportion of GDP. Hungary’s target is 30 percent, he added.
“We have stated … and then defended our guiding thought that the national interest should come first, and this applies within the EU, too,” Orbán said.
Hungary currently occupies the position of a medium-sized European state, not only because of its size and population, but also because in the past seven years it has managed to develop an independent will and space for manoeuvre, he added.
Commenting on the new education law in the Ukraine, he underlined the government’s standpoint that it is not acceptable to withdraw minority rights. Hungary asks Ukraine to understand this, Orbán said. Unless Ukraine understands some basic norms, cooperation between Kiev and the European Union will be cast in a completely different light, he added.
Featured image: MTI