Viktor Orbán on Tucker Carlson Tonight
Tucker Carlson: Mr. Prime Minister, thank you very much. So in 2015, hundreds of thousands of migrants appear on your southern border. They appear all over Europe, they stream into Germany. The rest of the EU says welcome, please come, we can handle it, we are strong enough. Hungary stands alone in saying no. Why? Why did you take a different position on migration from other European countries?
That was the only reasonable behavior. If somebody without getting any permission on behalf of the Hungarian state cross your border, you have to defend your country and to say guys, stop. And if you would like to cross or you would like to come, there's a legal procedure, we have to do it. But you can't cross, you know, without any kind of limitation and permission and any contribution and control of the Hungarian state. It's dangerous. You have to defend your people against any danger.
And you think you have a right to do that?
Of course, it's coming from God, nature, so all the arguments are with us, because this is our country. This is our population. This is our history. This is our language. So we have to do that. Of course, if you are in trouble and there is nobody closer to you than the Hungarians, you have to be helpful. But you can't say simply that, OK, it's a nice country, I would like to come here and to live here because it's a nicer life. This is not a human right to come here, no way, because it's our land. It's a nation, it's a community, families, history, tradition, language.
Saying what you just said, which I think will seem obvious to a lot of our viewers, was very offensive to a lot of countries in Western Europe, to their leaders,
Because many European countries decided to open a new chapter of their own history of the nation. They call it new society, which is a post Christian post national societies. They believe firmly that if different communities, even huge number of let’s say Muslim communities and the original inhabitants, let’s say Christian communities are mixed up, the outcome of this would be good. There is no answer whether it would be good or bad, but I think it's a very risky. And the chance that it would be not good but it will be very bad is obvious. And each nation has the right to take this risk or to reject this risk. We Hungarians decided not to take that risk to mix up our society.
That's the reason why they attacked Hungary so harshly. And that's the reason why my personal reputation is very bad. You know, I'm treated like the black sheep of the European Union personally, and sometimes Hungary as well unfortunately.
So it has been six years since Germany, since Angela Merkel made the decision to let many hundreds of thousands of migrants into her country, millions, non German speakers, mostly Muslim. What have the effects been in Germany?
You know, diplomacy…
…requires some well behaviour. But it was their decision. They took the risk and now they got what they have deserved. That's their life. I would not like to make any categories to describe what was the outcome of their decision. I'd only insist on that the Hungarians have the right to make our own choice.
You first became famous in the late 80s as a student, as one of the leaders against Soviet occupation of Hungary. And you were a hero to many in the United States and at the time, during the cold war, we played close attention to Hungary. I think the US government was on your side. You were on the side of the US government. So 30 years later, Joe Biden was running for president last year on ABC News, described and suggested that you are, I’m quoting “a totalitarian thug.” Is that bewildering for you to see the change and how do you respond to that characterization?
So, first of all, the reaction of that kind of opinion here in Hungary is always not very polite. But we thought, who is that guy to say that? We said OK, he's the president of the United States, we should take it seriously. But anyway, somebody who does not speak our language, has a very limited knowledge on Hungary, even in the recent several decades of our life, not understanding us obviously. Having an opinion like that, you know, it's by itself, it's a personal insult for all the Hungarians. But because he is the president of the United States, we have to be very modest. We have to be very respectful, and we have to make a lot of things to clarify that what he is doing is rather a fake. We try to do that in a polite way because we respect the Americans, we respect the American democracy, American culture. So we would not like to destroy our relationship because the bilateral relationship with the Americans is basically very good. We are cooperating well on the field of defense as NATO allies. Economic cooperation is excellent. You are a big investor here. Trade is going very well. Your businessman is finding a lot of possibilities here. So everything is fine except the politics, when the liberals are in government in Washington, that's the problem. So we have to manage that because the American Hungarian good relationship is of value, even if the Americans don't perceive today it as it was previously, so we have to save what we can save out of it.
But it's a little strange. I don't think Joe Biden is ever referred to Xi Jinping, for example, who was murdered, many of his political opponents famously as a totalitarian thug. Why would he say, and not just you by the way, the Polish government as well?
The problem is the success. It's a real challenge for the liberal thinkers that what is going on in Central Europe, Poland and in Hungary as well – in Hungary more outspoken, probably. We are speaking probably too much anyway on our intentions. So what is going on here is building up a society which is very successful economically, politically, culturally, even in demography we have some success, family policy. So what you can see here could be described as a success story. But the fundamentals of this success are totally different than it is wished and run and created by many other Western countries. So the Western liberals cannot accept that inside the Western civilization, there is a conservative national alternative which is more successful at the everyday life, at the level of them, then the liberal ones. That's the reason why they criticize us. They are fighting for themselves, not against us. But we are an example that somebody or a country which is based on traditional values, on national identity, based on tradition of Christianity, could be successful or sometimes even more successful than a leftist liberal government.
It's interesting as an American to see this, so the American media, the Biden administration, the State Department is opposed to you because they say that you're a totalitarian thug. Your opponents are a coalition of former communists and anti-Semite. Is it strange to see the American left rooting for a coalition that includes anti-Semites?
Yeah, let's say if you would have asked me several years ago whether could it happen that the ex-communist political forces and the anti-Semite right, is forming a coalition and running together in the election against a Pro-Israeli, pro-American. pro-NATO, Western oriented government as we have as we are. My answer would have been no, it's impossible. But now the international community has accepted. Oh, I understand that here in Hungary, the political parties would like to get the power as soon as they can, therefore, they try to make a broad coalition against the ruling government. OK, but to be accepted that, you know, by the international community so easily, I'm surprised. I'm surprised. Especially the behaviour of America is a totally new experience for me.
It does seem like Hungary is moving in a completely different direction from the rest of the continent, from the rest of the Western world. I mean, do you think that 20 years from now that will be an unbridgeable divide? I mean, where does that leads?
Let me describe how I see it. What I see that in the Central European countries, the countries suffered the most because of the Soviet occupation and communist dictatorship. So in these countries, my approach or the Hungarian approach is very popular. Probably we have a majority in all of that societies, not only in Poland and Hungary, they are more moderate, I mean the others are more moderate. But if you understand what they are doing, what are the fundamentals and their motivations is basically belonging to the same political family. In the Western society, there is a lot of people, millions and millions of people who disagree with the direction of the policy taken at this moment, which is against the family or not respecting the families, which is more based on migration, which is more open society, which is more welfare, so and so. I don't say that the political competition is over in the Western European societies, because I see chances in the key countries, Italy at this moment, where the fight and the competition is very open. So I can see chances in the Western countries also that they are able to change their policy from liberal to conservative or from liberal leftist to Christian Democrats. The chance is there, but we are not internationally well organized. So the forthcoming years are really exciting.
I've noticed in the last few nights in Budapest, I've run into a number of Americans who have come here because they want to be around. People who agree with them, who agree with you. Do you see Budapest as a kind of capital of this kind of thinking?
The capital of that kind of thinking or one of the capitals, because the other Central European countries are also very competitive and producing very nice ideas and organizing that kind of communities of conservative and Christian Democrat thinkers as we do. We cooperate with that countries or that kind of networks are getting closer to each other, it's getting a real, more and more real central European network. But not only thinkers, ordinary citizens, average citizens are moving to central European countries. It's not too dynamic at this moment. But the signs are clear. Many Christian families and conservative families who think that Western Europe is not secure enough, the future is unstable and the public security is not provided. And the ideological direction of the countries or the basic values of the countries build on is changing not to their taste or their intention. They are looking for other places. So if you go to the Hungarian countryside, you can find Western European families who move to Hungary first to have a second house, because inside European Union we have a free movement, so first to have a second house and then spending more and more time here. So we can't exclude the future of the European history when there will be a new migration from West to do East. The Christians and the conservatives try to find a better home. We can't exclude.
So up until very recently, Hungary, which is a small nation, 10 million people had two big nuclear armed allies, the United States and Israel. You were probably Netanyahu's closest ally in Europe. You were close to Donald Trump. Both of them are gone. Where does that leave you?
We are not very much fortunate in the recent years because Donald Trump was a great friend of Hungary. He was very much supportive to us, not just personally, but politically also. So that was a good friendship between the two countries also. You know, first America, America first is a very positive message here in Central Europe, because it means if for Donald Trump, America first for us, Hungary could be first as well. And let's cooperate on that basis. So that was a very good foreign policy, very effective. And we cooperated very well. The same with, uh, with Bibi Netanyahu, who was a good friend of the Hungarians. And when he was in power, he always invest a lot of energy to have a good relation with the Central European countries. We respect it very much. But he lost also, so the Hungarian conservative Christian, Judeo Christian Democratic thinking lost two major international supporter and opponents came into power, so this is a totally new circumstance around Hungary, for me as a politician it's a strong challenge how to handle it.
You've got an election coming up in April. Are you worried that there will be international interference in your election in Hungary?
That will happen. We are not worried, we are prepared for that. Uh, obviously, the international left will do everything what they can do, probably even more to change the government here in Hungary. We are aware of that and we are prepared for that how to take the fight and fight back.
When the president of the United States describes you as a totalitarian thug. It’s a very serious thing to say about somebody. I would I would know. I mean, that suggests that, you know, why wouldn't the Biden State Department work to prevent you from being re-elected?
I think sooner or later, the Americans will realize that issues in Hungary must be decided by the Hungarians. And it’s better even for the leftist liberal government of the United States to have a good partner which is a Conservative Christian Democratic, supported long term by the Hungarian people. It’s better to have that, than a government which is supported by America, and takes the position, but loosing after several months and creating destabilization and uncertainty. So not loved, but stable partner is better than the uncertain new. That I hope the Americans will understand.