About two weeks ago, Hungary hosted CPAC, a gathering of conservative politicians, experts and interest groups. Led by the American Conservative Union, CPAC has held a number of such rallies outside the United States, including in Brazil, Australia, South Korea and Japan. It was the first of its kind in Europe.
It was a momentous event. The message was upbeat, focusing on age-old conservative themes of God, country and family. “The cause of the nation is not a matter of ideology, or even tradition,” Prime Minister Viktor Orban said at the opening. “The reason churches and families need to be supported is that they are the building blocks of the nation. It also means staying on the side of the voters.
The conservative view provides answers to some of the most difficult questions facing us today – questions about national identity and the preservation of our Judeo-Christian heritage, immigration and family. And as the Prime Minister and speaker after speaker have said, these ideas have the support of the people, which is why conservative movements should be encouraged to defend them.
Unsurprisingly, this positive message did not materialize in the feverish reaction of liberal circles. But what was unusual this time around was how vocal and extreme the criticism of the Orban government has become.
An editorial drew a direct comparison between CPAC Hungary and Nazism. Others made allusions to fascism, including a blogger who condemned Hungary as a “majorly white country” that had “installed a proto-fascist and white nationalist government”.
This gathering, they claimed, is just a meeting of figures who “support Vladimir Putin’s closest ally in Europe”. According to some, Mr Orban’s government “reduced institutional controls”, “stood up against immigration and LGBTQ rights” and even “turned replacement theory into state ideology”. Our message was allegedly “venomous” and “deadly.”
The obsession was telling, and as usual, they got it very wrong.
Many remain puzzled about our position on the war in Ukraine and our relationship with Russia, although Mr. Orban was quite clear. While we are determined to prevent Hungary from being drawn into the conflict, Hungary was among the first to condemn the Russian invasion as an act of aggression and Hungarians have united behind a historic humanitarian effort. These facts are ignored.
Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto made our refusal to supply arms clear when he said that “the start of arms deliveries would immediately drag Hungary into war because they would become military targets”. But we have been as clear as anyone in our condemnation of the aggression and our support for the territorial integrity of Ukraine. “Hungary,” President Katalin Novak said in her inauguration speech, “will always say no to any attempt to restore the Soviet Union.”
At a time when we hear reports that Paris and Berlin are proposing deals with Russia that would force Ukraine to make territorial concessions, it is more than a little cynical to single out Mr Orban as ‘the closest ally of Putin in Europe.
We have a clear and firm position on illegal migration and for this we are under fire. In 2015, the worst year of the migration crisis, Mr Orban was the first European politician to say loud and clear that “aid should go where there are problems, instead of bringing the problems here “. Hungary has repeatedly said no to uncontrolled immigration and refused various migrant quotas and resettlement schemes.
Does that make us peddlers of racist theories? No. When over 1.8 million people enter your territory illegally, as the EU did that year, with hundreds of thousands of them passing through Hungary, you tend to see things differently. And our tough stance has the overwhelming support of Hungarian voters.
Likewise, it was no cakewalk to launch Europe’s most generous family support system, as Mr Orban and his governments have had to tackle multiple obstacles, including criticism from mainstream media. public and liberals. But when you have the right objective in view, in this case making life easier for Hungarian families and combating demographic decline, no wall is too high.
More recently, our critics claim that we are trampling on LGBTQ rights when it is abundantly clear that our laws relate to children and ensure that decisions about our children’s sex education remain the sole right of parents. This is a debate where we cannot afford to back down, because a decisive majority of Hungarians expressed their support for this policy in the April 3 referendum.
Our critics ignore the facts and instead try to smear us with accusations of fascism and white supremacy precisely because the liberal and globalist camp is threatened by the success of our national conservative government. They don’t want to talk about how Hungary has recovered under the Orban government since 2010. We have virtually eradicated unemployment and brought people back to work, sent the IMF packing, drastically reduced the debt of the state, ruled on deficits, cut public services prices and raised the minimum wage in 2022 to above the average wage under the previous socialist government. Once we weathered the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Hungarian economy was among the first to rebound.
Experience tells me that when the other side gets this hysterical, it’s because we’re doing something right.
• Zoltan Kovacs is the international spokesperson for the Hungarian government.