The Visegrad Group countries have a responsibility to protect Europe from external attacks and internal imperial ambitions in the interest of the continent’s future, and to preserve “the independence of our homelands and nations”, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in article in the Wednesday issue of pro-government daily Magyar Nemzet.
Over the course of its history, central Europe had not just a role to play but also a duty to fulfil, “but this fact had been obscured to us by the Soviet invasion of the region until 1990”, the prime minister wrote in the article marking the 30th anniversary of the V4.
“The fight to rid ourselves of our communists narrowed our perspective and exhausted our strengths,” Orbán said. Central Europeans, he added, had fought hard to make sure that the region’s communist forces were “as far away from governing as possible, left as textbook examples of historic crimes and for our grandchildren to learn what happens when one tries to shape the future without national ideals and adhering to Christian teachings.”
“After the defeat of communism and the liberation of our countries … our hearts told us as early as 1991 that our countries, Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia had to unite in some way,” he said. “We knew that centuries come and go, but the central European peoples would share a common fate.”
“And indeed, with 30 years gone by, we can say that we are members of NATO and the fastest-growing region of the European Union,” Orbán said. “Strong growth, low unemployment, a rapid digital transformation and robust investments. That’s who we are today.”
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The prime minister said the debates within the EU on the issues of migration, the demographic situation, the role of families and the conflict between national culture and multiculturalism once again called attention to the historical duty of central Europe.
“Hungarians view central Europe as the territory between the lands of the Germans and the Russians,” Orbán said, adding that the V4 were “undoubtedly the core territory of central Europe”.
We Hungarians have always thought that we don’t just come into the world. If you are born Hungarian, you also have a mission. This mission is greater than you, with a European horizon and significance”
“In the territory between the German and Russian worlds where Latin Christianity borders Orthodox Christianity, which has seen the rise of many languages and national cultures, there exists a unique shared cultural quality, an outlook on life, a way of thinking and a unique posture,” Orbán said.
“This is proven by hundreds of Polish, Slovak, Czech and Hungarian poetry collections, novels and films. Our duty is to preserve this,” he added.
“Our Europe was created by the peoples that attacked the Roman Empire independent of each other at various points in history,” Orbán noted.
While preserving their own cultures, these peoples adopted Latin Christianity, he said. “History’s hammer forged these alloys … giving birth not only to nation states but national cultures, too.”
“An ideal was born: an ordinance of what Europe should be like,” Orban said, referring to independent EU member states “spiritually united, with common cultural foundations”, but diverse at the same time.
Undermining unity would be un-European, he said. “But a bad European would seek to eradicate diversity,” he added.
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Central Europeans, the prime minister said, understood that harmony did not mean uniformity or unanimity but harnessing the tension of opposites. “This is at the root of the Hungarian people and other central European peoples that sought their independence.”
Orbán said European balance and stability over the centuries rested on preserving the spirit of nations and coming together in order to protect Christian European culture against attacks from outside Europe.
“This is what defending Europe is about; and the French President is making a stretch to seek to introduce the idea of a European sovereignty emanating from Brussels,” the prime minister said.
He said that when the V4 countries joined the EU, “the old members of the club at first regarded the idea of homeland, Christianity, family and sovereignty as cultural and historical folklore … as a kind of fleeting phenomenon that, like chickenpox, would soon go away.”
But once the migration crisis hit, “opening eyes, sharpening differences and shedding light on the deep divides in insights, philosophies [and] principles for organising society… it was then that we Hungarians understood that the speeches and writings on the post-Christian, post-nation era spoke to a real political intent … [and] while during communism we longed for a Christian and sovereign way of life in Sovietized Europe, those living in the Americanised half of Europe redefined the essence of Europe and worked consistently to implement their programme,” he wrote.
“Their new European mission is to advocate policies aimed at ensuring full openness without borders (or at least only temporarily and treated as bad but unavoidable), gender roles and family models that can be changed as desired, and obligations to preserve the cultural heritage considered more like a task for the archaeologist,” he said.
The goal, he added, was not only to introduce this in their own countries but to make it universal in every EU country, “including the reluctant like of us”.
“In this situation it is clear for us Hungarians what our European mission is,” Orbán said.
That mission, he said, was to “add to the common European weal an unrelenting anti-communist tradition, and to include the crimes and lessons of international socialism alongside the crimes and lessons of national socialism”.
Orbán said it was crucial to “demonstrate the beauty and competitiveness of a political and social order built on Christian teaching” as well as “to make our friends — primarily our French friends — understand that central Europe has a model of social organisation built on those teachings”. He said that peoples living inside Europe should not lose sight of external dangers such as “the fluctuation of peoples in the Mediterranean driving the tide towards us, the wawes of which could even reach Scandinavia.”
The migrant masses are in fact wawes of migration seeking a European life, which our predecessors were always fully committed to fencing off. Failing to defend ourselves is in fact giving up, which will result in a total change of civilisation, as seen by people neighbouring the Balkans on the southern and eastern perimeter of Europe.”
“We must remind ourselves that no matter how enlightened the empire is, its builders will corrupt the spirit of Europe and we will get the opposite result,” Orbán said.
The prime minister concluded: “Even we Visegread countries may have differences over these difficult and complicated issues … historical philosophies certainly have different emphases; sympathies and antipathies for other countries may be different. Sometimes even the assessment of geopolitical relations could be different,” he said. “It is also certain that our nations sense the responsibility for Europe’s future — to protect it against external attacks as well as against internal endeavours to make it an empire, and to maintain the independence of our homelands and nations”.
“Trying yet failing in a mission is heroic but not joyful. Fulfilling a mission while ensuring success, freedom, and welfare for your homeland is no less heroic but it is also joyful,” Orbán said, adding that central Europe had a good chance of achieving the latter.
“In the name of my nation, I thank you for these thirty years of Visegrad cooperation,” the prime minister wrote.
Featured photo illustration by Vivien Cher Benko/PM’s Press Office