Viktor Orban, Keeping It Realist

Regular readers will know that I currently live in Hungary. I also work as a side hustle for the Danube Institute. This think tank receives funding indirectly from the Hungarian government. To be totally honest, I will tell you this. I have done two visiting fellowships at Danube and no one has ever told me what to do. I will resign the day they do. John O’Sullivan, a veteran journalist, runs the show and is an excellent professional. Everything I’ve written or plan to write about Hungary is my opinion. Americans who have not been to Budapest and have been taught by the Washington media or Washington blob assume that anyone who speaks positively about Hungary or Hungarians is on someone’s payroll. People who have been there know the place is a sell-out.

As a prelude, I encourage you to read the transcript of an interview Hungarian PM Viktor Orban conducted with two journalists from Cicero (a German monthly magazine). In the past, I have said that Orban is the leader for what is left of the West as it was. This interview is a remarkable example of what I mean. This man is both a great thinker and a great patriot. Below are some excerpts.


On Hungary’s position regarding Ukraine:

Most Europeans would agree that helping Ukraine in this situation is a common goal. After the invasion on 24 February, it seems that Hungary isn’t on the side Ukraine but is just as committed to Russia. The Russian invasion was not called an invasion by the Hungarian defense minister for several weeks. He spoke on 7 March of an attack, and I quote, of “limited purpose”. Why are you so reluctant to call Putin’s war on aggression what it was and continues to be?

It was aggression from the beginning, and we accepted it as European aggression. Our view of the war is identical to the European Union’s, which we are a member. There is no Hungarian position that is different from the European Union’s: we are all in the same boat. This is aggression.

Additionally, I am a lawyer. I was a student at law school. Legally, it is clear. The Russians have broken international law. This is known as aggression. They have started a war. It doesn’t matter what the reason may be, it’s an international violation and there’s nothing else to discuss. It’s aggression. This is where the Hungarian position stands out.

It begs the question: When we look at this situation, which starting point should we choose? As you have done, I am often asked which side I am on. We are on the side the Hungarians. Our inability to end the conflict is a major problem.

You probably know that I had a few heated debates and duels with Angela Merkel over certain issues, especially on migration. Angela Merkel’s masterstroke during the 2014 Crimea crisis was remarkable. It could have been a war, since there was an obvious international violation at the time, but it didn’t become a war. Why didn’t it turn into a war? The Germans, with the Chancellor as the leader, immediately began negotiations. They went to Kiev, Moscow, and invited them to Brussels to end the conflict. The conflict in Crimea was a Ukrainian-Russian one, which meant that it could not escalate and bring in everyone. This was a tremendous diplomatic accomplishment.

However, Europe was not even trying to stop the war from erupting. We all were drawn in and it all went down immediately. Now, we all talk about being Ukrainian or Russian instead of discussing what is in our best interests. Hungary does not want to be in a situation where it isn’t acting in its own best interests.

Therefore, I am not willing to help Ukraine while simultaneously destroying Hungary. I don’t want to help the Ukrainians at the same moment that Hungarians die. This is an important boundary to be recognized. While good intentions are important, it is not enough to hold politicians accountable. It is not about who is the best person. It’s great to have many good people. But the real question is who will solve the problem. Politicians are accountable for their results and not for their intentions. We are accountable for solving a problem, not for our thinking.

This problem is important to me, so I joined the peace camp. There are currently two camps in Europe: the peace camp and the war camp. I support an immediate ceasefire and I support immediate negotiations. It doesn’t matter what the Ukrainians think. It is in my best interest as a Hungarian to see a ceasefire and peace negotiations take place as soon as possible. This is what makes me different from you who see things from the Ukrainian perspective. This is why I am in a different place.

The self-destructive foolishness of the EU sanctions regime

OK, so the main argument against sanctions is that we won’t support Russia or help Russia fund its war against Ukraine. That argument seems quite plausible. You argue that sanctions must be designed more intelligently. What does it mean to have intelligent sanctions that don’t harm Russia but also benefit the European Union – or maybe even benefits them – and, above all, benefits Ukraine?

What were we looking for? We wanted to stop funding the Russians. What are we doing now? They’re being funded! The prices have risen dramatically and the Russians are earning a lot of money. The Russians have made over a year’s earnings in the six months since the sanctions were implemented. The sanctions are crude, because they don’t strangle Russia but give them more money. We paid more than half the amount and they made 158 billion euro in six months. These sanctions?

What I am referring to is that the argument for oil sanctions was the same as what you said when they first appeared: Russia won’t have more money because it doesn’t buy oil. You know that I am a small country. However, the amount of money someone has will depend on not only the oil purchased but also the price. If oil prices rise, Russians will sell less oil but make more. What was the reply? “No, no. That won’t happen.”

It has happened! It has. It is important to use sanctions intelligently. Sanctions must be treated with care. They should only be used when the other party is stronger. Sanctions are always imposed on the weak by the strong. In terms of energy, we are dwarves, and the Russians, on the other hand, are giants. We are now puzzled as to why the dwarf is dying. We need to think more clearly. Craftsmanship requires you to be more skilled in putting it together. This is not good.

The American energy satrapy Europe:


… What’s Europe’s best interest? It is not in Europe’s best interest to replace Russian energy dependence by American energy dependence. We don’t want any changes in our masters. We want independence. We want alternatives. So, we can choose to be free from our masters, or from them, or from anywhere else. This is our business. We need to be independent, not extremely vulnerable. We are replacing Russia’s dependence with America’s.

This is obviously more comfortable because Americans are democratic, unlike Russians. However, it is not better. A good structure is essential.

The question isn’t whether the Russians will supply but from how many other sources we can obtain supplies, then we’ll be able to make them competitive with each other. We are customers. We are customers. It is good for us to have four or five offers. Then we will buy from anyone we like, whether it’s for political or economic reasons. It’s not that Russia has oil and Russian gas, but that there isn’t any other. We are at the mercy and control of others. This is our logic. It’s in Europe’s best interest to have many options and not one master.

The weakness of the West

Although the Russian-Ukrainian Conflict was initially a local conflict in Crimea, it has since escalated into an international conflict. We can see that the embargo and sanctions policies have a European and Russian perspective. There is also a large view from India and China. These are the third-world, non-aligned. From a European perspective, we need to unify our negotiation power so that there is open competition. This will allow us to meet our energy requirements while maintaining fair prices. How can Hungary oppose the European negotiating strategy being developed at the moment? This is tactically speaking, not to mention that it’s playing into the Russians’ hands.

This is the accusation. This is the accusation. I have always said that we represent the Hungarian interests, and that’s it. These issues will see a lot more books and presentations in the coming months, I believe.

China. We’ve now driven the Russians to the side of China, where they are delivering energy. India has refused to join the West. We have been humiliated by the OPEC countries. The Americans tried to convince them to produce more energy so they would be less expensive; the Saudis replied with “good luck” and announced that they were cutting production. The West has taken over this conflict and our weakness is now evident.

The West, especially the Americans and their massive military, has always believed that something was the right thing to do. And then the majority of the world supported them. For thirty-two years I have been involved in international politics. I’ve never seen Americans dismissed in this way: China says, “No, we don’t agree with you”; India says, “We don’t agree”; the Arabs state, “We also don’t believe in the West”; Iran states, “Well, afterall, we don’t agree” and Africa says, „We’re not interested anymore in the West.”

This is not good. However, it is important for politicians to avoid substituting action with speculation, rhetoric and lectures. This is because if we want peace, we must first find a long-term solution and then negotiate only after we have it, this war will continue for many years.

The Visegrad 4, Hungary, Poland and Czechia — and the cultural divide in Europe — the Visegrad 4.

We are now in a phase where geopolitics is the most important. This is torturing V4 – it’s pulling on its seams. There are two things that I’m not sure if you Germans are familiar with.

You can see the map of Europe’s values. It shows that there is a line that divides Europe on issues such as migration, family issues, gender issues and national feeling. This line runs from the top to the Czech Republic to Hungary to Slovenia. The countries to the east think in terms traditional family, rejecting gender and rejecting multiculturalism. These countries see migration as a threat, not a benefit. East of this line, we live in a country where national feeling and pride are the primary driving forces.

National pride sounds terrible to a German ear. East of this line, however, all countries say that to live, you need your mother, your father, and pride in your country – without them, there is no life.

This is why the V4 should represent a Europe that values conservative values. We are aware of what you are doing. Migration, the fact that same-sex couples can get married, and that there will soon be some group thing in this country. All of that is well understood. We know that immigration should be welcomed and that this is logical from a German perspective.

We don’t believe that, and have a completely different view. It is constantly under attack and must be protected. It is easier to defend it collectively than it is individually. This is why the V4.

I apologize for being so long, but there is another reason that’s perhaps more important: The British. Everything that is wrong can be traced back to the British. The EU’s internal dynamism that has prevailed over the past 30 years would not have been lost if the British had not left it. Because the V4 and the British refused to accept a federal concept for the European Union. We didn’t want a federal Europe, as did the French and Germans. This was more or less balanced, more or lesser in equilibrium. We had to agree to reach an agreement if neither side wanted to be dominant. The British have now left and the federalists, the Germans or the French, have taken control. If the British had stayed, there wouldn’t have been an EU rule of law procedure. There would not have been conditionality procedures. There would have never been a debt community.

These are all national rights being stripped away. What was once national law is now being transferred from Brussels to other countries. This was always opposed by the British. We are now without the British. We are small, and the French and Germans force these federalist views on us. We won’t be able to cooperate with the V4 if they don’t cooperate for geopolitical reasons. The geopolitical reasons for weakening the V4 are a huge blow. It’s a huge blow to us, the nations of Central Europe, and, I believe, to conservative people from your country and Western Europe who understand our values and the way we organise Central Europe.

Orban speaks out about Ukraine’s future. He says that the Russians are violent and Ukraine should be allowed to become a sovereign member of the EU. However:

We shouldn’t help Ukraine if it means that we are destroying ourselves. It’s not a good idea to help Ukraine if the German industry is destroyed. If the Hungarian economy collapses, it’s not of any help to Ukraine. It won’t help if we go into a recession for two or three years – which many of us are now due to the sanctions. If there are five million people still unemployed in Germany, or if unemployment in Hungary rises from 3% to 12%, we won’t be in a position to help them. We must assist the Ukrainians in a way they can benefit from, but not for ourselves. …

How history will remember him

Globally, we are currently experiencing a tectonic change. Even Mr. Scholz, who is as cautious as anyone, speaks of changing times. What do you think your children and grandchildren will think about these politicians’ actions? As a potential lead-in, how did a young man – as an opposition politician prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall – see the generations of politicians before you? Today, you are in a similar situation. What do you think your children or grandchildren will think of us today and our actions?

Answering your first question: What was I thinking in 1980s? Hungary lies on the border of East and West. We have always had to look at three places: Berlin Moscow Istanbul – The Hungarian magic triangle.

This is where we live, and history has shown us that there have been great powers who have tried to teach us how to live. The Turks arrived and taught us the truth of faith. The Habsburgs then came and explained to us what a Catholic was, and what a Christian is. Catholic – that’s it. The Nazis arrived and told us where we fit in the hierarchy of races. The Russians arrived and promised to re-educate Hungarians as Homo Sovieticus. Everyone was trying to teach us Hungarians how we should live.

In the 1980s, I believed that communism must be overthrown in my lifetime regardless of the cost. I refused to die living a life where I was told what to do and how to live. It would be impossible. Now, under democratic conditions, people can tell us what a Hungarian household should look like, the ethnic composition of Hungary, and whether we should allow people from abroad. I will just say that I opposed that. I won’t be told from Brussels or Berlin what the Hungarian family should look like, who should we allow in migrants, who should we not let in, or what the ethnic makeup of the country should be. Is that correct?

Freedom, freedom and the right to choose a life of liberty are all interconnected in Hungary. Hungary considers feeling positive about the nation because it is freedom in itself. You won’t be free as an individual if you don’t feel free in a country. This is the Hungarian law. It comes from experience. We are both freedom fighters and nationally motivated. Both of these can only be combined in the Hungarian mind.

As far as our children are concerned the question is how one defines life. What is human life? While I’m not sure what Germany’s answer is, the answer in Hungary is life is an alliance. It’s an alliance of Hungarians that have died, Hungarians that are no longer alive, Hungarians alive now and Hungarians in the future. My life is nothing other than this alliance. It has given me everything I have ever wanted: freedom, language, love for freedom, all that is good about Hungarians. It is not possible to preserve everything, but it is important to keep the good things.

Second, I cannot leave my children a world that restricts their freedom to choose the way they live. It is impossible to leave a country that rules the family, immigration and multiculturalism on the foundation of a Brussels directive to our children. I cannot pass on a country in debt trap. I oppose the concept of a community in debt. I disagree with those who believe that a European community of debt will lead to a new European unity. This is the worst thing that could happen.

It is not acceptable to sink our children into debt and ruin their financial future. We want our children to have a world where they can understand Hungarian culture, and in which they can understand why my grandfather died. This is the Hungarian concept. We want to pass on to our children the best Hungary, the sovereign and independent. This is the best gift I can give to my children.

I will have to add another sentence. My children will remember the time when their parents fought for Hungary’s independence. They didn’t allow any foreign viewpoint to influence how Hungary should be. We live in an historical age where we must defend our freedoms and national identities. My children should remember their grandfathers and fathers who fought bravely during this tragic period.

It’s all there.

This is the heart of any conservatism.

As far as our children are concerned the question is how one defines life. What is human life? While I’m not sure what Germany’s answer is, the answer in Hungary is life is an alliance. It’s an alliance of Hungarians that have died, Hungarians that are no longer alive, Hungarians alive now and Hungarians in the future. My life is nothing other than this alliance. It has given me everything I have ever wanted: freedom, language, love for freedom, all that is good about Hungarians. It is not possible to preserve everything, but it is important to keep the good things.

Is there a single American conservative politician who thinks and acts in this manner? If not, you can see the flaws in American conservatism and how it could be fixed. America is not Hungary. American conservatism cannot be Hungarian conservatism. These principles, which are clearly visible and more articulated in Hungary than in America, should be applied to Hungary. We need to figure out how we can make them work in the country. This means that we should observe how the Orban government implements these principles rather than just talking about them.

Yesterday, I returned to Budapest from a week spent in the USA giving speeches and meeting people. People, mainly religious conservatives, were curious about what was happening in Hungary everywhere I went. I believe they realize that the Regime, that is, the ruling class and the state, is ludicrous and misleading them, and want to find out what it is like to live outside of the information bubble. Keep reading TAC and watching Tucker Carlson Tonight to stay informed.

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