At a conference organised in Budapest on Tuesday in honour of Helmut Kohl, the Prime Minister praised the 85-year-old former German chancellor, and also made it clear that Hungary has no intention of introducing capital punishment.

Photo: Gergely Botár

At the international conference, organised by the 20th Century Institute and Konrad Adenauer Stiftung at the Vigadó Concert Hall, the Prime Minister said that we must take the issue of migration and immigration seriously, because “it will not be possible to reverse these processes retroactively”: there will be no route back from a multicultural Europe towards a Christian Europe or the world of national cultures.

Mr. Orbán also touched on the question of the death penalty, announcing that it cannot be introduced, and that Hungary has no such intention. The situation is clear, he said, and the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, is right: “No Member State has the right to introduce any legislation that is contrary to the EU founding treaty”.

With regard to the current economic situation in Europe, the Prime Minister said that the euro project has run aground, and the idea that the establishment of a monetary union may also necessitate the formation of a fiscal union has gained no momentum.

In the Prime Minister’s view, today there is a general mood of mild optimism with regard to the future of the European economy, which is good news, “even if there is no real reason for this”.

Mr. Orbán said that there are two different cultures in economic crisis management in Europe: a northern one and southern one. The former “behaves highly rationally”, is logical, analyses the situation, then introduces reforms – structural ones, if need be. In contrast to this, he said, is the southern mode of crisis management, the essence of which is that “life will adapt to changes”, and all politics has to do is give it the space it needs – which from an economic perspective means that the currency must depreciate.

“The only reason we are optimistic about the eurozone is that in fact […] the logic underlying the southern mode of crisis management is being applied at Europe-wide level”, the Prime Minister said.

Photo: Gergely Botár

In connection with monetary stimulus, the Prime Minister also said that “it is useless for us to pour money into an uncompetitive economy unless we first reform and restructure it”.

Summing up his thoughts on economic policy, the Prime Minister warned of the “illusion” of thinking that one has found the path that leads back to the eurozone being competitive with other economically more successful regions in the world.

Viktor Orbán praised the life-work of the former German chancellor, and stressed that Helmut Kohl had undertaken to tear down, to the very last brick, the walls separating the peoples of Europe from one another. The Prime Minister described him as the man who had paved the way to Europe’s re-unification, the European Union’s enlargement policy.

“Today, when the EU is once again fighting a serious illness, we could not consult a better doctor than the man who once cured the whole of Europe”, said the Prime Minister.

Mr. Orbán said that Hungarians have always looked upon a united Germany as a guarantee of their own independence and freedom, because “the unification of Germany is the only irrevocable guarantee that Hungary will not be occupied again and the Cold War will not return”.

In his speech, the Prime Minister also told a personal story, saying that after he was elected prime minister back in 1998 he asked to meet Helmut Kohl, to discuss “trade”. Among other things, he asked the then German chancellor about the relationship between politics and personal ethics, to which Mr. Kohl replied, “let’s not get into this mumbo-jumbo: the fact is that whatever is good in private life is also good in politics”. There is no such thing as dual morality, and “we do not apply different standards”, was the gist of what was discussed.

Photo: Gergely Botár

In her opening speech, Mária Schmidt, Director of the 20th Century Institute, said that to Hungarians, Helmut Kohl, the father of a united Germany, is primarily important as the re-unifier of Europe. “We will always view him as the ‘Chancellor of Europe’ – in other words, he is to a certain degree our own”, said the Director, adding that the former German chancellor has always been a friend and ally of Hungary.

The Director said that in the West the victory of Helmut Kohl and former US president George Bush Sr. had taken the promise of a progressive future away from Left by robbing them of their illusions, “and this is precisely what they cannot forgive him for – even to this day, twenty-five years later”.

In his welcome address, Frank Spengler, Resident Representative of Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, said that Mr. Kohl was always a great friend of Hungary, and that in his speeches he always described with deep gratitude how Hungarians had in 1989 effectively removed the first brick from the Berlin Wall. His relations with Hungary were always highly important to him, Mr Spengler said.

Mr. Spengler said that Helmut Kohl was committed to European unity, and made history – both for Germany, and for Europe.