Open letter to Viktor Orbán by President Mikuláš Dzurinda
Open letter to Viktor Orbán, Prime Minister of Hungary and Chairman of FIDESZ
Brussels, 29th January 2020
It seems like a lifetime ago since we first met. In 1998 we, both children born and raised under communism, assumed the honour of becoming our countries Prime Ministers. Do you remember those crazy days? The reforms we undertook – you in Hungary, myself in Slovakia – with the sole objective of bringing our states back into Europe, into the heart of the EU. In 2004 both our ambitions were fulfilled and now we benefit from all the economic advantages that such security provides us. Surely you can agree that Hungary and Slovakia are considerably better-off today than in those days when we had to struggle for even the right to be heard.
Since these days I do not have an opportunity to talk to you directly, I have decided to write you this open letter.
Viktor, I know you are worried that our political family – the European Peoples Party (EPP) - has failed to fully embrace its traditional, Christian values.
Although I do not share this perception, I accept you feel this way. I am also worried at how divisive it has been to identify and implement common European responses to the challenges of financial turmoil, unexpected migration, terrorism and climate change.
But, Viktor, you are underestimating the debate which is currently taking place within the EPP on these fundamental issues.
Here in the Wilfried Martens Centre, the political think tank of the EPP, we have since 2016 led an initiative that has proposed a different type of Europe.
A strong, global Europe based not on deeper integration at every turn, but rather on the principle of subsidiarity which – as you know all too well – constitutes one of the fundamental political, legal and social principles of the Catholic social doctrine. This ‘New Europeanism’ is based on encouraging decentralisation and competition, not centralisation and harmonisation. Among other things, we have argued that ‘attempts by progressives to use the EU institutions to force liberal values on more conservative member states should be explicitly condemned as detrimental to the cause of a united Europe’.
Dear Viktor, it was a year ago when we tried to involve our Hungarian partners (FIDESZ Foundation - Foundation for a Civic Hungary) in a workshop to further discuss our ideas for the future of Europe. I was saddened when I and my colleagues arrived in Budapest only to find out that the workshop had been cancelled with only one day notice. I cannot shake the feeling that this happened because of my lecture to the Central European University on the eve of our planned workshop. It was a pity, Viktor, to lose such a good opportunity to exchange views on the best centre-right vision for the future of Europe. I really feel you have lost a good opportunity. Anyway, we will continue to promote our ideas this year. We are planning events in Rome, Madrid, Stockholm, and we will also be active in Brussels, where preparations for a big ‘Conference on the future of Europe’ are underway.
I read a few days ago that you are planning to visit Rome. The occasion is to be a conference where you will speak together with Mr.Salvini. With all due respect for both of you, I predict that you will not be able to find workable responses to the crucial problems of our time. The slogans of national conservativism will be of no use for you in the search for solutions to issues like migration and climate change.
Dear Viktor, I have a different proposal for you. Please accept my invitation to come to Athens on April 2. Together with Prime Minister Mitsotakis, Commissioner Schinas and others, we will engage to find real, meaningful responses to the issue of large-scale immigration. We want to find a solution that is at its very core Christian Democratic and based on true EPP principles.
Besides, if that cancelled workshop on the future of Europe could still be held in Budapest at some point, I would be pleased. Perhaps you would find out by yourself that all is not so bad with EPP values.
President of the Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies
Prime Minister of Slovakia (1998 – 2006)
The open letter was originally published in Hungarian by the newspaper Népszava. Click here to access the digital version.