Hungary's illiberal leader says the West has lost its appeal

Hungary's illiberal leader says the West has lost its appeal
Hungarian PM says that Western Europe has given up on Christian roots, unlike CEE countries.
By Tamas Szilagyi in Budapest August 20, 2020

Central European nations should unite to preserve their Christian roots as Western Europe experiments with same-sex families, immigration and atheism, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on August 20.

As in other speeches delivered during national holidays, Orban blasted the EU and its leaders for not being up to the task of reinventing the continent’s politics and economy, and for its pro-migration and anti-Christian policies. 

Orban said Western Europe had given up on the vitality that lay behind the greatness and success it enjoyed for the past thousand years, the "spiritual depth of life", the happiness afforded by marriage and having offspring and the "spiritual energy of national cultures".

In other words, Western Europe has given up on Christian Europe. Instead, it’s experimenting with a godless cosmos, with rainbow families, with migration, and with open societies, he noted.

The domestic political connotation of his speech is that last week a radical rightist politician removed the rainbow pride flag from the Budapest City Hall. A couple of days earlier a football fan did the same thing with the flag flying in the local district home to Hungary's most popular football team. The perpetrators were fined but big name pro-government media workers offered to help them out. The US embassy in a statement condemned the attacks on the rainbow flags.

Trianon memorial unveiled

Hungary called off all festivities, political gatherings and the grand firework parade at its biggest national holiday on Thursday, marking the foundation of the state, due to the pandemic, although new cases detected remains low compared to its neighbours, between 30-45 per day.

This year the main event scheduled for August 20 was the unveiling of the Trianon monument.

The newly inaugurated National Cohesion Memorial is a 100-metre long and 4-metre wide ramp carved into a street near the grand, neo-Gothic parliament building in the heart of Budapest.

The monument commemorates the Treaty of Trianon, which was signed after World War One and led to Europe’s maps being redrawn.

The names of historical Hungary’s 12,000 municipalities are engraved in the granite blocks as a symbol of national unity.

For Hungarians the treaty still remains a national trauma. The country lost two-thirds of its territory and its population shrank from 21mn to 7.5mn. Over 3mn Hungarians found themselves living beyond the new border in what is now Romania, Slovakia, Serbia, Ukraine and Austria.

It remains popular for right-wing parties to blast the Treaty of Trianon, which strikes a chord with conservative voters and Hungarians living on the other side of the border.

In 2010, parliament gave ethnic Hungarians to right to apply for citizenship to restore national pride. This has served the ruling party politically as they voted predominantly for Fidesz in the 2014 and 2018 elections.