PANEL DISCUSSION 2023
FAMILY AND CHRISTIANITY,
THERE WILL BE NO EUROPE
Your Eminence, Ladies and Gentlemen, dear conference,
First of all, I would like to express how honoured I am to be here and to have become a participant of the dialogue relating to the future of Central Europe. But we shouldn't be unnecessarily modest: when we are speaking about the future of Central Europe, we are actually talking about the future of the entire Europe.
Why am I saying this? Because, the heart of Europe experienced everything, which was possible to be experienced. Moreover, we have got experiences which are missing from the history of our Western friends.
These common experiences have made us careful, and have taught us that only persisting in certain values can ensure survival, moving forward and making peace. The peoples of Central Europe never constituted a great power, what is more, they formed an empire only together. Therefore we lack arrogance, but are humble enough to work hard and are courageous enough to protect ourselves, if necessary.
We remember our roots, and our history has taught us their importance. We have learnt that these roots, or, with other words, values cannot be replaced. Since everything that today Central Europe, today Europe is, has developed from this.
Accordingly, being Central European means commitment. Commitment to Europe, to the real Europe. Commitment to a Europe, which remembers. Remembers its values tying it together, remembers its history and is able to learn from that. I am talking about such a Europe, such a European Union, whose leaders do not leave the path marked by the founding fathers, and clearly remember the words of Robert Schuman: 'Europe will be Christian or it will not be at all.'
It is very important to be brave enough to say aloud the basic truths and to represent them. As a lawyer, let me share an example from my university studies with you: we were taught that jurists' ethos means being able not to drift with the current. Every responsible leader has to show this ability.
Because being drifted is dangerous. It carries the risk of the disintegration of communities.
Back to Mr. Schuman, it is not mere chance that he named Christianity as Europe's retaining power. In order for us to be able to understand this, we have to know, to see clearly what Christianity means for Europe.
First of all, it means a religion. A religion, which has given us a common language. And I am not talking about the Latin language. Rather about such a common language, which has given us the opportunity to build bridges and for a dialogue. We can thank Christianity for our civilization, culture, Europeanism, political views and ethics.
Of course, I am aware of the fact that this dialogue was not always free of conflicts, but when it had to, it showed its retaining force within countries and among nations.
Let me bring you another example, this time from the Hungarian history. Christianity helped Hungarians to survive at least twice. First, when our king, Saint Stephen I, embraced Christianity. This step meant the pledge of survival for Hungarians, who were originally pagans and nomads, here in the heart of Europe. We were not a good many, we didn't fit the picture and we didn't have relatives or natural allies here. But by converting to Christianity, we have become part of the big European family. And thus we managed to survive for 500 years.
And after these 500 years, when being pressed between the pagan Ottoman Empire and the Habsburg Empire, when it seemed that Hungary shall cease to exist, God extended his protective hands again towards us, this time through Protestantism. A new Hungarian state was organized in Transylvania, governed by Calvinist princes, with Calvinist culture and political ethos.
And now another 500 years have passed…
But I am sure that all Central European nations could share similar examples. These similarities tie us together. Please take note of that. Our similar experiences, history and struggles – even the ones against one another – join us. Because all of them showed that together, in alliance with each other, are we strong.
Today we don't have to do anything else either: we, together, have to recognize our common challenges and find the solutions for these, as well. By drawing and learning from the past, and by relying on it.
Please, allow me to talk about under what kind of attacks the most basic unit of our societies, I mean, the family, is. And about how we could counter these attacks.
I believe that all of you present here agree on that family is the basic unit of every society. The smallest group. The smallest, but at the same time, in its importance, maybe the greatest. Because it is in this community that we learn everything necessary for being able to cooperate in bigger communities. Therefore family is the basic unit of the society not only mathematically, but functionally, as well. And without a small group there isn't a large group.
Nonetheless, this common understanding is broken. Let me make a brief digression here: I used the word 'broken'. As if it were a spontaneous process. But it's not like that. The correct expression should be that this common understanding has been broken by some. Let me remind you of the speech given by Mr. Vladimír Palko last year, in which he said that our adversary doesn't have a name.
Mr. Palko was right: the forces destructing the traditional values do not have a characteristic face. These forces are smooth, appealing to our goodwill, and therefore they are hard to grab and are almost irresistible. After all, who wouldn't like to be good person? Who wouldn't like to avoid being stigmatized as not a good person? And this invisible destructor doesn't ask much from us at one time, always just a bit.
First, instead of calling things by their name, a politically correct wording should be used. With this, everything is softened, which is sharp, solid or defined. Blurring the contours results in words, concepts and morals losing their meaning and binding force. And thus, the opportunity to 'create' a nice new world arises. They simply forget that the power to create belongs not to people.
We have got to the point where family is not a value any more, family is not what it used to be. It is no longer a background for socialization, not a model, not a basic unit. Because it is replaceable. Its members are replaceable: the mother, the father and the children, too. The roles are interchangeable, and with this we have actually dissolved the family. We have dissolved the basic unit of society. If family is no longer a community with clear roles, but only a loose, easily interchangeable group of individuals, then the same is true for society.
Let me remind you here of the migration risk that is putting Europe under pressure. The message is that Europe's population, inhabitants, children are interchangeable. Because they are no longer valuable, because they are in the way. Because if we don't replace the native European peoples, if we don't dilute Europe, then Europe is capable of showing immunity. I kindly ask you to understand my words well: I am not speaking against somebodies but for somebodies. For us, for Europe. In Hungary we have a wonderful song called 'Old Europe'. It expresses our childlike love and our sincere concern for the old continent at the same time. It is this anxious love, which is behind my thoughts.
The good news is that the adversary may be faceless, but his work is recognizable. It took us a long time to recognize it, and we have given it a serious advantage, but now we can fight it. We have become aware of, we have realized what we can lose, and therefore we know exactly what we must protect. We have our goal. And thus we can assign tools for the specific goal.
I have already talked about common values. They are also important because they determine the methodology, as well. Certainly, we may have different shades, but we have the same colour scheme.
Consequently, our common goal is to protect families. For this, we must first restore the value of family. We need to make men and women believe again that together they are really strong. That together they can be immune to anything. That together, by living for each other, they can form a community, and constitute the foundation of a larger community. That they can create a new life together.
We must first make ourselves, our children and grandchildren believe in this again. And in order for them to be able to experience this, we have to support families: their home-creation, childrearing, the schooling of their children and mothers. Because if we want Central Europe to have a future, we must support mothers.
There is a war going on in Europe now, and being a hero means fighting. Yet mothers are the real heroes. I know few, if any, men who would be able to successfully fight the daily struggles, which are the daily routine for mothers. That is why they must be supported both morally and financially. We have to stand up for them.
Accordingly, in Hungary we incorporated into our Fundamental Law that a mother shall be a woman. With this, we have incorporated the most sacred female vocation into the Fundamental Law, and we have made this vocation exclusive at the same time. Because no one is able to do what a woman who has become a mother, is capable of doing. We have also laid down that 'Hungary shall protect the institution of marriage as the union of one man and one woman established by voluntary decision, and the family as the basis of the survival of the nation.'
In addition, we have given mothers tax benefits, what's more, mothers under the age of thirty and mothers with at least four children do not have to pay personal income tax at all.
But fathers with several children are also entitled to tax benefits. And together, they are entitled to state-subsidized free-purpose loans, as well as housing support. We have made children's meals in kindergartens and textbooks in schools free.
In the middle of September, we organized the 5th Demographic Summit in Budapest, where Prime Minister Viktor Orbán summarized the demographic policy objectives in five points. The first is to make it advantageous to have children. The second is to help people create homes. The third is to base family policy on mothers. The fourth is that the operation of the whole country should be made family-friendly. And finally, that families must also be protected by means of the law.
I'm happy to report that it all has results: over the past 12 years, the number of concluded marriages have increased, and the number of divorces have decreased; the number of abortions has also decreased, while our reproduction rate has increased from 1.2 to 1.6.
154,000 more children were born thanks to the turn in Hungarian family policy, than would have been born without it. It is particularly gratifying that, based on the latest census data, the proportion of married couples and women with children among those under 30 has also increased. We know that this is not enough, but we also know that it isn't a bad start.
I wish that the entire Central Europe recognizes its common values and that common solutions are born, so that Central European children can be born and they can grow up in safety.
Thank you for your attention.
God bless you!