NEW YORK (ChurchMilitant.com) - The Hungarian minister of foreign affairs and trade defended his country's progress and status as "the most economically successful Christian-Democratic government in Europe" in a recent interview at the Hungarian Consulate in New York.
Péter Szijjártó expressed his determination to promote the economic well-being of the Hungarian people and to reverse its demographic decline.
"We have to give priority to Christian culture in Europe," Szijjártó said, "and restore Christian cultures badly damaged by a century of war and totalitarianism."
The timing of the interview came when Radio Free Europe (RFE) plans to return to Hungary — a quarter-century after the U.S. government broadcaster left the small Central European country after the collapse of communism was considered a fait accompli.
"If you are deeply rooted in a Christian heritage, you know you have to support families and working people."— Sohrab Ahmari (@SohrabAhmari) October 2, 2019
My interview with Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó.https://t.co/fXeTBZgVsp
RFE's transition back into Hungary "is likely to be taken as something of an affront to the current government," The New York Times reported Sept. 6, and comes while the liberal foreign policy establishment frets Hungary has drifted away from the "community of democracies."
"What Washington's 'defend-democracy' types really fear is that Hungary has become less liberal — not less democratic," the interviewer Sohrab Ahmari of the New York Post interjected.
Ahmari recalled, "[It] was Radio Free Europe that in 1956 urged Hungarians to revolt against the Soviet occupation, promising that American military support was around the corner. Tens of thousands gave their lives; the US help never came."
To which Szijjártó responded wryly, "So the biggest piece of fake news ever circulated in Hungary came from Radio Free Europe."
Hungary has been betrayed by external organizations that have meddled in its affairs throughout history.
"We are fed up with all kinds of approaches that end up in attempts to interfere in our domestic affairs," Szijjártó said. "We expect the international community to appreciate the Hungarian people are mature and smart enough to make their own decisions about the future of their own country."
In how to make the European Union strong again, the minister said, "it starts with changing the policy on migration," adding, "We should look at strengthening the EU's external borders."
Speaking in his characteristically commonsense manner, he continued, "Instead of encouraging people to come to Europe, we should bring help where it is needed. We Hungarians bring help where it is needed, and we don't bring problems where there are no problems."
To his vision that Christianity is not merely the reason for, but the basis of, effectively managed matters of state and economy, the Hungarian minister said, "We want to see a strong EU based on strong members."
He continued, "And that means members that are proud of their religious heritage. And it is obvious for us that we have to give priority to Christian culture in Europe."
"Our constitution starts with the word God: 'God bless Hungarians.' In our constitution, we recognize the role Christianity has been playing in maintaining our statehood." That liberal opinion would look askance at "the Continent's Christian patrimony only underscores liberal elites' extreme secularist cast of mind."
When we say we are Christian Democrats, we don't just say it because we want to occupy one particular spot in the political spectrum. We truly mean it. And if you are deeply rooted in a Christian heritage, you know you have to support families and working people. And we made a clear choice: that we don't want migration, but we want families to be stronger.
Szijjártó's confidence is supported by Hungarian Finance Minister Mihály Varga's recent report making clear that Hungary's economic performance surpasses international expectations. According to Varga, the Hungarian economy "is expected to grow by 4.3–4.4 percent this year."
Varga made what he called "conservative estimate" following the Central Statistical Office's (KSH) fresh GDP growth report which indicated "Hungary's GDP rose by an annual 4.9 percent in the second quarter of 2019."
Varga said the economy was also expected to perform well in the second half of the year, and "the preliminary data indicates that Hungary registered the highest growth rate for the second quarter in the European Union."
Women who have at least four children are exempt from income taxes for the rest of their lives; families with at least three children receive cash assistance toward the purchase of vans; the government also offers them low-interest loans toward housing expenses.
One name that did not emerge in Ahmari's interview with Szijjártó but is relevant to discussions of resistance to, and triumph over, totalitarianism and communism is Hungarian Cdl. József Mindszenty, who, in 1948, was convicted of treason and sentenced to life imprisonment by the Communist People's Court.
For five decades, he personified the pro-Catholic and anti-Communist movement in Hungary — and abroad.
According to Ahmari, "The journalists and think tankers obsessed with the rise of populism and conservative nationalism might ponder why it is that such governments continue to garner broad popular support — and why so many voters are turning their back against liberalism across the developed world."