Dr. László Szabó: Immigration and the Preservation of European Culture


Robert R. Reilly: Well I’m very happy to say we have another Renaissance man to speak to us tonight because Dr. László Szabó is not only an ambassador,
he is a medical doctor, a physician, a businessman who worked in the drug industry and of course
in the political life of Hungary and prior to coming here he served as Deputy
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade. He’s been here as ambassador since last
year and I won’t go into the rest of his background which you’ve received in the invitation. I am just going to ask him to come to the
podium as he speaks to us tonight on “Immigration and the Preservation of
European Culture: An Hungarian Perspective,” Ambassador. Ambassador Szabó: Ladies and gentlemen, I’m humbled to be
here and it’s great to be here also. Your wine is actually almost as good as a
Hungarian wine. Thank you very much for this. My task is very, very difficult because I
actually give always the same speech. We are talking about the great inventions
of Hungarians from the bubbly water to the transformater, the electric engine, the rubik’s cube, holography,
the carburetor, the Ford T-Model, the first computer in the world, Hollywood, which was
founded mostly by Hungarians – the only exception is Warner Bros they were Czech. So I can go on for days basically but we prepared
this presentation especially for you so this is the very first time I present these few
slides and I’m not using PowerPoint because I hear that there are some IT people in the
room, right? Anyway, Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel
were also designed by a Hungarian called Charles Simonyi but PowerPoint was not so that’s why I’m using Prezi. Prezi is the name of the game. Prezi is one of the few Hungarian companies
that made it global. They basically came here to the United States
to do sales and marketing because we are not good at it but the developments they did in
Hungary. That’s the good news. That’s a good business model. Everyone does what they are better at. So what I’m going to show you tonight is
a few slides of what we believe is quite important to understand and the rest of the world doesn’t
seem to understand. You probably know this joke that a gentleman
wakes up early in the morning and he gets in his car, goes on the highway, turns on
the radio and the radio says, “Oh, watch out, watch out, there’s a crazy man going
against the traffic.” And he says, “One? It’s all of them!” So sometimes we feel like this in Europe when
it comes to migration and that’s why I’m actually very pleased. That it’s a pleasant surprise that you are
here, Sebastian, because I didn’t expect such an expert here. So whatever I tell you tonight he knows better,
okay? I hope I can translate [to] you the thinking
of the Hungarian government, the thinking of the Hungarian people also and maybe we
can have a good discussion about this. I was told by Director Reilly that I have
approximately one hour so I will try to kind of try to not abuse your patience. I can talk forever on this theme because in
my previous job I was the Deputy of the Foreign Minister of Hungary. Officially it’s called the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs and Trade. The reason why I say that is I was the one
who was responsible for the ‘and trade’ part My job was to establish trade diplomacy in
Hungary and to make sure that all the government resources that have to do with export promotion
and investment promotion are under one roof so that was my job. So I’m not a politician and I’m not a
diplomat, okay? So if you came to see a politician or a diplomat,
go home. What I brought here today is not a funny,
and it’s not a jolly, theme and I would just like to show you the thought process,
how the Hungarian people think. I can see a few Hungarian people here also
who are disguised as American citizens but don’t be misled. 1.7 million people in the U.S. believe that
they are either Hungarians or they are of Hungarian origin. So watch out. Watch your back. There might be Hungarians around you who will
invent something for you. This is a quote from our Constitution. Our Constitution says that we are a Christian
country. It sounds like a simple thing but not many
countries have this in their constitutions. In Europe we are the only one, actually. And this has actually raised quite a few eyebrows. How come you say that you are Christian? What about the Muslims? What about the Jews? What about everyone else? Well, Hungary is actually a very tolerant
and very colorful country. We have lived with Muslims for more than seven
hundred years together. We have lived with Jews also for a very, very
long time. Sometimes I used to quarrel with my Israeli
colleagues at Teva because I was the CEO of Teva in Hungary: who came first – because
we believe Israel was established by a Hungarian also. His name is Theodore Herzl. He was born in Budapest by the way. So this is the Hungarian Constitution, a sentence
from the Hungarian Constitution – two sentences actually. So we state that we are a Christian country
and we want to stay a Christian country. And that’s a big deal these days. But this is not against anyone. This is about identifying ourselves and our
values and our culture. So that is what it is. It’s not attacking anyone and it’s accepting
everyone else. In Hungary there’s I believe 26 recognized
religions and people every year when they submit their taxes they can decide which church
they can donate 1% of their taxes. So even the Muslims are listed there and many
other religions are named. So it’s not an exclusive statement. It’s a statement of our identity overall. We believe that there’s big problems in
the world right now. Practically, if you look at the whole world
globally white Caucasians and Christians are a minority. That’s very clear. But European Judeo-Christian culture and American
Judeo-Christian culture is basically rooted in Europe obviously and now we believe that
this identity is being attacked quite fiercely by… not Islam because I wouldn’t like
to generalize but certain members of the Islamic faith. Right now – and I have had arguments even
with the ambassador of the European Union about this – in our view and based on Open
Doors, which is a religious association providing data about persecuted religions in the world. They believe that out of five people who are
harassed or persecuted for their religion, four [are] Christian. Four out of five are Christians so this is
something we have to take very seriously. Right now 200 million are persecuted because
of their Christian identity and only in 2016, in one year, 90,000 Christians were killed
because of their religion, because they were brave to say that I’m a Christian. In the Middle East a hundred years ago one
third of the population was Christian… one third in the Middle East. Now it’s 5-7%. That’s what it is. And the majority of those people disappeared
in the last five years mainly due to the activities of ISIS. Only in Europe, and this is something new,
the rate of terrorist attacks doubled in the last three years. So since this migration crisis started the
terrorist attack rate has doubled. And 28% of all those terrorist attacks were
either performed by illegal migrants coming through the borders, the open borders in the
past two or three years or [they were] first or second generation migrants whose families
never integrated into the European and Christo-Judaic traditions or environment. We believe that it’s not only us as human
individuals but also our culture is under challenge. Quite clearly those- or most of those individuals
who come in are Muslims. That’s very clear. And they don’t want to integrate. So even the Turks in Germany where they actually
contribute to society because many of then have very good work. They actually do benefit German society. Even they will not give up their religion
and they try to actually have more and more people to be turned into Muslims. But the second and third generation migrants
are also- especially the ones who live in poverty or they have not integrated fully
into society or don’t speak the local language- There are second or third generation people
who don’t speak the language- They are the ones who actually revolt. And they go against Christians and Jews in
the streets of Paris, Brussels, Stockholm, and many other places. All of you have heard about Angela Merkel’s
Wilkommen-School tour. She’s basically- You are welcome if you
say you are a Syrian, you are welcome. I was there, and I’m sure Mr. Gorka was
there, when this whole migration crisis really picked up. This migration has been going on for hundreds
of years so what changed in 2015 was the rate. Basically the rate of illegal migration has
not only doubled but it went on an exponential curve. And in the year 2015 Europe realized that
there was a problem at our hand. But not [the] whole of Europe realized that
it was actually the southeastern border of Europe that realized that there’s a problem. I was there in December 2014 in Brussels at
the European Foreign Ministers meeting when I had the chance to say, ‘Guys, something
is going on here. The year before we had only two thousand illegal
migrants. This year we have had almost a hundred thousand.’ So something has to be done because this is
becoming serious. And those people who come- 90% are young males. You can call it with a malignant note ‘military-aged
men’ between 15 and 35. And they don’t want to give a fingerprint. They say their religion prohibits that. They don’t want to have a photo taken because
their religion prohibits that. They only want to go meet Angela Merkel and
have the subsidies in Germany and in Sweden. That’s all they want. And they don’t have papers. They don’t announce who they are. They lie to us most of the time. And they would like to just go through. And there’s quite a significant problem
with that wish. It’s not only migrants who come through
the border. Of course there are asylum seekers and there
are real refugees as well so I’m not disregarding the fact that there are serious problems in
Syria and obviously in 2014, ’15, ’16 there was incredible massacre in Syria and
those people do need humanitarian help so there’s no question about it. The challenge comes when these people reach
the first safe place. Based on the Geneva Convention once you reach
a safe place and you have been persecuted due to your religion, your identity, your
beliefs, then you are eligible for humanitarian help. Once you leave that safe place and you go
through safe countries, you are a migrant. And if you go for the best place possible
because you want high subsidies or you want a good job for yourself or you just simply
want to be better, you become a financial migrant, an economic migrant. That’s basically the Geneva Convention statement. So we have had actually problems from the
very beginning of this migration crisis that when in 2015 four hundred thousand people
marched through Hungary, we didn’t have a border control opportunity even though we
were obliged by the European Union to check everyone’s identity. And if they don’t have passports, they don’t
have papers, they have to ask for asylum and there’s a process. There’s an order to how to protect European
external borders. It was actually mandated by the European Union
to us that whichever country is on the outside border of the Schengen Zone, you have to protect
the external borders of Europe. And the rules are basically including in the
Schengen Treaty and the Dublin Regulations regulate those ones who ask for asylum. You register them. You practically create a document of their
identity so that you can follow on later on what happens with those individuals. They didn’t want to comply with that. So four hundred thousand people marched through
Hungary and we were trying to do statistics: 6% of those four hundred thousand people were
from Syria. 6%. Seventy thousand people came from Afghanistan. Not the best friends of the U.S. I’m afraid. Seventy thousand people. And what we heard from Western Europe and
what we heard even from America, from the United States that ‘Guys, guys, you have
to be helping these people. You have to let them through. They don’t want to stay in Hungary. Let them through. Let them go through to Germany or Sweden where
they want to go.’ We said, ‘Okay, fine, let’s go Chancellor
Merkel.’ I was there are this teleconference and the
Minister Lazar was the head of the cabinet of the Prime Minister called Angela Merkel. And we asked Angela Merkel, ‘So what do
we do, Madam Chancellor? Should we let them go through or [do] we keep
the rules?’ She said keep the rules. The Schengen Treaty and the Dublin Regulations
are in place. You keep the rules. That’s your job. Five days later she was out in the press and
she said, ‘Welcome, welcome. If you are Syrian, welcome.’ Obviously, this was due to internal politics
of Germany at that time. And she couldn’t get out of that without
losing face so that took quite a long time for Germany to realize what was going on. I could show you photos, hundreds of thousand
of photos where people of Germany have actual feeling of guilt from back then from the Second
World War. They want to show the world that they are
a welcoming people. And they want to make sure that everyone who
is running for their lives or for their political beliefs they have to have a place in the civilized
world. So it’s a big mistake and a big misunderstanding
of what was going on. Once we started to set up the border control,
once we tried to set up the filtering so we can maintain the rules and the regulations
of the European Union, it turned out that practically all people are lying who reach
our borders. They didn’t know how it comes that everyone
is born on January 1st, 1970, everyone was named Muhammad, and everyone was born in Mosul. Everyone. Because they were told what to tell us. If they showed up in Belgrade in a certain
bank, they said, ‘Hey, I just came with this boat from Turkey. Here I am. I have no papers, no identity.’ They were given a mobile phone and five thousand
Euros. Not everyone of course but the ones who were
informed in time and they followed someone else’s kind of rules of engagement. So very scary, very scary situation. Once we set up those stricter border controls,
we realized that on the Serbian border and then later on the Croatian border every single
day we had three tons of passports that were thrown away and they were not Syrian passports. But what we heard from those people [was that]
60 [to] 70% of them claimed that they are Syrians. So the numbers did not add up, obviously. So what happened? The Hungarian government started to build
a fence. It’s not the nice thing to build a fence
unless you have a really lousy neighbor. We started to build this fence: first one
line, later on two lines and we really wanted to make sure that we could keep the borders. We did not close down the borders ever. So anyone who came through the official border
crossing stations could come through, legally. What we tried to reach we closed down the
border for those who want to march through the fields and want to sink through the rivers
and who want to go through corn fields and wheat fields. Those are the ones we wanted to stop and make
sure they go through legally as we are mandated by the European Union through the official
border crossing stations. Of course they didn’t like it. There were some very unfortunate situations
emerging from that. So when you read The Washington Post or when
you read many of the German or French or British daily papers, these were the type of pictures
you were shown. And journalists in Germany – we know this
from journalists – were told not to use the word migrant. They had to use the word refugee. Photographers, the reporters, had to take
photos of the few women and children who were trying to cross and not about the young men
who were trying to break down barriers and just simply march through our countries. This particular picture we have the story
of this picture. It was taken at the fence. So imagine there’s fifteen photographers
in front of this lady. This is the fence. And the fence ends about here. So these are the types of things we were kind
of trying to fight with. Also many of you might remember this terrible
photo where there’s a policeman leaning down to a lady who’s holding her child and
there’s a gentleman, an Arab gentleman, who is reaching for them as well and the subtitle
of that picture was that the brutality of the Hungarian police is shown in this picture
where the policeman throws the lady on the rails with her poor baby. It turned out that this was just a frame from
a short video that was taken. In that video it’s clearly seen that this
Arab man throws the mother and the child on the rail and the policeman is leaning down
to help her up. Hungary won a trial against the Austrian paper
that published that picture that went around the world. Have you heard about the result of that trial? And whenever a Hungarian official, a Hungarian
government official, wants to go to The Washington Post and say, ‘Guys, this is not true. Can we tell our side of the story?’ They say, ‘I’m sorry. No.’ For nine years a Hungarian politician could
not give an interview to The Washington Post or The New York Times. Okay, so these were the pictures we saw. This was shown by Hungarian TV and even though
Hungary was criticized that we don’t have a freedom of press, we actually do. We actually have a wonderful Hungarian journalist
here with us from a Hungarian – how do you say telegraph? – the Hungarian National
Press Agency. So she knows exactly what I’m talking about
quite clearly. Were you ever told which words to use and
which words not to use? That was done in Germany not too long ago. So this is what we were facing with. As soon as we started building a fence and
we said, ‘Guys, you can come through but here’s the gate. And please don’t ruin the gate. Knock on the door and we will let you in as
the rules are telling us.’ Obviously, this last story started in 2015
and this is- This lady- This is a real story. This lady is now 15 years old. She lives in Sweden in Stockholm and in Stockholm
there’s no no-go zones, officially. I was there in 2015. I was told that Hungarians are fascists, they
are rebuilding the Iron Curtain, they don’t know what they are doing, and they are completely
not human. While in Stockholm in certain districts of
Stockholm the ambulance could not go in to those districts without police escort. The metro, the subway, stopped after 6:00
PM because it was not safe for the drivers. In certain districts of the city where wealthier
people live they stopped the public transport to go there. They’d rather [unintelligible] cars for
the gardener and the maid so that nobody else will approach them in certain districts of
Stockholm. This is how they live in Stockholm today. They let in 160,000 people in 2015. They decided that only 80,000 of them will
get asylum in Stockholm and they informed the other 80,000 to go home. Do you think they know where they are now? Because the Swedes don’t. They disappeared. Prime Minister Viktor Orbán proposed some
activities to the European Union because obviously the European Union had no idea what to do. Instead of managing the problem they were
trying to manage the symptoms. There’s a joke and I note it might be inappropriate
so I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings with this. But I have told this joke in Brussels, in
Stockholm, in Munich quite a few times. Imagine that there’s water leakage. So two men are standing in a room and they
say ‘hey the water is dripping here so let’s do something. Let’s find a pipe. Let’s close the pipe. Because this water will ruin this room.’ And the other person says, ‘No, no, no,
no. We should decide how we will distribute this
water in the other rooms.’ And this is what has been going on in the
European Union for three years. Three years. What we proposed is that why don’t we go
and close the pipe? Why don’t we help those poor people who
really run for their lives who need humanitarian help in Syria, in Lebanon, in Jordan? Let’s go there and let’s spend our money
there. So that we first of all get rid of the war,
we put things back in order, and we create a meaningful future for those people. Let’s build schools. Let’s build hospitals. Let’s create jobs for those people so that
they have a meaningful life so that they will not have to leave their country. Let’s not import the problem with these
people to Germany or Sweden. Now Sweden is planning how to increase taxes
so that they can provide for those 80,000 people, officially, whom they want to maintain. Do you know how many people have jobs out
of this 1.6 million who went to Germany? Five thousand. Five thousand. Okay. We did not only have to deal with the problem
of illegal migration but also we had to deal with politicians, with NGOs, and with the
EU establishment, which is a Left Liberal-leaning leadership of the European Union. It was not easy because we had really this
very strange, schizophrenic situation. Whenever I talked to those politicians officially,
they were calling us fascists and inhuman. As soon as we left the room and had a glass
of water together they said, ‘you know I envy you for this, for what you say. You are doing the right thing.’ When I met with white politicians in Stockholm
they said, ‘yeah, it’s unacceptable what you do.’ When I asked back, ‘so how come that before
that Hungarians built that fence, you are criticizing us? Two years before us you built a fence from
Swedish steel with Ericksson technology on the Turkish-Bulgarian border. And that was financed by the European Union. So that was kosher. Our fence is not kosher. Can you explain this?’ Of course, red faces. As soon as I leave that room and I met with
businessmen from Stockholm, they said, ‘can I ask for asylum in Hungary because life is
unbearable here? And I know that my investment in Hungary is
safe. So thank you [for] what you are doing.’ We heard the same. All the engines of Audi cars are manufactured
in Hungary. Many of the Mercedes cars are manufactured
in Hungary. And what the German investments leaders said,
‘danke’. Thank you very much. So we have had this really schizophrenic situation
since then: lots of criticism and lots of praise. The praise was usually unofficial. A poll was conducted by a Hungarian thinktank. I think it was Winston Churchill who said,
“I only believe in those statistics I fake myself.” So this was done by Hungarians of course. But even if you halve these numbers I think
they are quite meaningful. This says that– it was Századvég. This is just for Sebestyén. All the nations of the European Union were
surveyed and 78% of EU citizens say that there is a problem with migration and border control
should be really repaired of the European Union. More than 80% of them think there will be
more terrorist attacks happening in Europe. Let’s not forget in the last three years
three hundred people died due to terrorist attacks. Hungary is being criticized even today; earlier
today by the State Department for being anti-Semitic. Can you imagine how Jew-friendly those people
are who are now in Germany – over 70,000 Afghans or these I don’t even know how many
millions of Muslim people? They are not really Jew-friendly. In Hungary, Jewish organizations measured
18 cases of anti-Semitic speech. And nobody talks about the lady who was killed,
the Auschwitz survivor who was killed by her neighbor in Paris. Nobody talks about it. It was just one piece of news. And thank you very much. People are being killed for being Christian
and Jews in Europe and we are spending time and energy and American taxpayers money on
criticizing Hungary for being anti-Semitic. Today at noon I had lunch with the two leaders
of the largest Hungarian Jewish association and I talked to them about this and they said,
“Laszlo, in Hungary there is no anti-Semitism.” Okay? There are a few anti-Semitic people, yes. But since the Hungarian government has zero
tolerance and it’s in the law, it’s in the Constitution that we have zero tolerance
for anti-Semitism, it’s not there. It’s just simply not there. Anyone who says that Hungary is an anti-Semitic
country is a liar or just simply didn’t read the news of the last twenty years. And this what we are dealing with: fake news. I’m not trying to bring quotes from President
Trump but the news [outlets] are not fair and the news [reports] are distorted. Maybe on both sides. I don’t know… except for Fox News maybe. By the way 20th Century Fox was established
by a Hungarian. William Fox, that was the name. Okay. So basically there’s a growing concern and
it’s not a surprise that Macron was elected in France – out of nowhere. Nobody knew where he was. He arose basically as a non-partisan candidate
and in three months he became the most popular politician of France. The recent elections of Poland, Austria, in
Italy… I could go on… Czech… People are not stupid. You can tell nice things for them for a year
or two maybe but sooner or later they will realize that their life is changing and the
culture is changing and the religion is being stolen. In 2015 until September every single day 80,000
people marched through Hungary and we had no idea who they were. When we tried to give them help, they didn’t
accept it. When we told them that there’s hotspots
where they can have accomodation, they can have food, they can have medical care, and
the kids can have education, they said, ‘not interested’. We want to go to Germany. Once we built that fence – it’s not a
nice thing but we did build it because otherwise we couldn’t keep the rules and the regulations
of the European Union – this 80,000 went down to 10,000 per day. And we actually captured them; even that ten
are captured because we made sure that that legislation is following reality. Since 1956 no terrorist attack in Hungary
[has] happened. No women have been harassed by migrants in
Hungary. And no pressure on our social system has happened
since then. Those who came to Hungary left because they
did not get subsidies you can get in Germany. In Germany I heard a story and this is about
three weeks old story. Bigamy, to have multiple wives, is prohibited. They made an interview, the German television,
made an interview with a gentleman who has two wives. One of the wives was thirteen when he married
her. Underage marriage is also prohibited and legally
persecuted in Germany otherwise. And they have six kids altogether so it’s
a nice, happy family. They receive 30,000 Euros per month from the
German government. So sooner or later they will have a problem. Instead Hungary created the Hungary Helps
program. I told you about managing the problem at the
root cause. We are really trying to help where the help
is needed. Instead of importing the problem we would
like to provide the help where it’s needed. And let me share with you also a very nice
example. I actually had a very deep discussion early
2016 with one of the main foreign affairs counsellors of Angela Merkel. He told me that it cost 20-30 times more to
provide the same help for a person in Germany or Sweden then in Syria or Lebanon. Or you can turn it around. You can help 20-30 times more people if you
provide the help where the problem is rather than bringing the problem to us. We are the first country probably in the world
that established a state securiat for persecuted Christians, for defending persecuted Christians. We are not talking about religions. We are talking about Christians because somehow
Christians are forgotten in the Middle East. The birthplace of Christianity is left alone
so unless someone helps them and the local governments will not help them. We don’t know what’s going to happen. They will just simply disappear. I told you about this 5-7% Christians who
are left. After a hundred years they basically went
down to less than one quarter of what they used to be. We actually created quite significant initiatives
of help. And we are trying to work together with USAID
to focus our efforts. We are not a big country. We are the size of Indiana with ten million
people. We have limited resources but from only $2.2
million we rebuilt a whole village called Telesqof near Mosul. More than a thousand families were able to
return after ISIS disappeared from the region. We also rebuilt three schools and we rebuilt
one hospital and we made commitments in Syria to build another hospital from $5 million. Even a little money can go a long way in these
countries. We also found out that if you give money for
these huge international aid organizations… I’m not diminishing their influence on the
world and the fantastic work what the UN or the Red Cross or the Red Crescent Moon is
doing for people all around the world but we just simply didn’t see the effect of
the money we pay for those organizations. So the idea was we help directly those communities
who are left behind in the Middle East. And we found out that the only cohesion for
these communities is the church. Quite simply it’s the church. Of course you have to trust them. You have to trust the priest and the heads
of those churches in those countries. Without trust nothing is working but it turned
out if you give only one million euros or two million euros for those communities, this
can go a long, long way. They can rebuild dozens of homes. They can reinitiate the lives of thousands
in those small communities. We are not only focusing on the Middle East
but also we have activities in northern Africa as well. This is a school that was rebuilt by Hungarians. And these are all local kids. And as you can probably see it’s not only
Christians. It’s not only whites. We are open to everyone. So we rebuilt those schools for the local
communities and we also rebuilt the hospitals for the local communities. Now obviously, people are not stupid, especially
Hungarians. And we just had elections. I think it was one month ago. And the current Prime Minister and the governing
party [were] reelected for the third time with [an] absolute majority. Actually the first two times we lost this
absolute majority during the course of the political cycle. We have four-year cycles. But again the trust is obvious quite obvious. It’s obviously not a coincedence because
the governing party was quite loud about their desire to defend the people of Hungary and
defend the culture and the religion, which was not easily accepted by many other countries
but this is the current case. A new parliament [was] just sworn in yesterday
and the new cabinet will be announced probably in the next few days. Quite clearly the people understood that security
is one of the major issues and illegal migration has been probably the biggest problem since
the Second World War in Europe. A few numbers about what happened in Hungary
in the last eight years. This is in 2010 the government was first elected. It was a quite challenging period because
Hungary was just in a similar situation to Greece in 2010. Once we came out of the global economic crisis
we had incredibly high inflation, huge debt in the country, and basically what happened
is that the government first came up with sectoral taxes. I was sitting on the other side of the table
at that time. I was head of [a] pharmaceutical company and
I didn’t like that sectoral tax, trust me. It turned out we actually came out stronger
from that challenge. What happened is we started paying those extra
taxes as the industry and then we sat down at the negotiating table and we agreed with
the government that if we invest in the country in research and development, we will be able
to deduct those from our taxes. It turned out that we came out stronger from
that negotiation than we were before, paying those special taxes. Also Hungary raised the VAT, the Value Added
Tax, the consumption tax to the highest level in Europe because the operation of the government
had to be financed from somewhere, obviously. But in return the tax on labor went down. Now we have the lowest personal income tax
in Europe, 15%, and the lowest corporate tax, 9%. And if you invest in the country for the first
ten years, you get an 80% deduction even from that 9% corporate tax. So that’s quite a big deal. So that’s why, probably that’s why we
have 1,700 U.S. companies in Hungary who invested more than $18 billion U.S. dollars in the
last eight years. They employ more than 100,000 people. Don’t tell Mr. President Trump, please. And they enjoy a very good profit. And based on the AmCham survey, the American
Chamber of Commerce in Hungary, they said that 80% of all those companies want to reinvest
in the country. They want to continuously invest in this country. Why? Because the workforce is educated. You have to speak a language to graduate in
Hungary. If you don’t speak a second or third language,
you don’t graduate. You won’t get a diploma. That’s very straightforward. And obviously we have these very low taxes
for investment and all over average cost of labor is still very low in Hungary. We hope it’s not going to stay forever but
this is still a competitive edge for us. Now you see look at the numbers. [The] unemployment rate went down from 12%
to 3.8%. The GDP growth was minus 8% in 2009. Right now it’s more than 4%. We actually outgrew the average of the European
Union two-fold and outgrew the average of the Eurozone three-fold in the last five years. We also introduced some very strange new initiatives. If you make a promise to the government that
you will deliver three kids in ten years, you will get subsidies: $70,000. That goes a long way in Hungary. You can buy a nice apartment [in] downtown
Budapest or in the countryside you can buy a house from that money. But only half of that has to be repaid with
a very preferential rate around 1% interest rate. So this is quite a nice initiative. Also if you have three kids and you have an
average salary, you practically pay no taxes. So even this very low 15% will disappear if
you have an average salary and if you have three kids. That’s nice. Of course if you don’t deliver your kids,
then you have to repay some of that money. Now what happened in the last eight years
and we are talking about [a] very, very slow process. Obviously, the fertility does not grow from
one day to the next. The number of marriages went up by 20% in
the last eight years. The fertility rate went up 17% and I’m part
of that. I have three daughters. The number of divorces went down by 20%. The number of abortions went down by 25%. I believe these are very strong numbers. Just to finish up my presentation. We believe the fact that we have been a Christian
country for more than a thousand years… It matters. This is our identity. We have to build on our history. We don’t live in the past but if you don’t
have a past, you don’t have nothing to build on. So that’s why we believe that our identity,
our culture, our religion is very important. And again we embrace Muslims, we embrace Jews,
we embrace many other religions but you should not herd the other. You should not convert the other. So whoever the freedom of religion we believe
is very, very important and we have to stick to that. And we believe that we also need to provide
help, coordinated, synchronized help to those who suffer for their religion. And those people are not sitting in this room
or in Hungary. They are in the Middle East and in Africa
so if you can do anything for the U.S. to join in to this initiative, it would be great. I know that Vice President Pence is on that
route and based on this speech that he gave last November at the conference of In Defense
of Christians. I think we are really alike in our initiative
to go that way. Trust me if the U.S. joins in very simple
things just build schools, hospitals, and meaningful lives for those people, they will
not flood the U.S., they will not flood Europe. They will stay where they are because this
is where they would like to live. But they have to have a meaningful future. So thank you very much for your time. Audience member: Do you have any either proof or suspicion
as to what it is that’s behind this migration? Is it George Soros or somebody else? Ambassador Szabó: Regarding George Soros we have proof. We have proof. You have proof also. Google this. Google him. I’m serious. Check out what he’s planning. But when we say, when you put in ‘migration’
and ‘George Soros’, his thoughts will come out. He believes that it would be helpful for Europe
to take on one million migrants a year and he believes this is the way to go forward. He doesn’t specify how. He doesn’t specify why. But we also know that several so-called civil
organizations are actually heavily financed by him and many of those civil organizations
can be identified. They are the ones who provide the leaflets
for these people in Arabic langauge about what to say to the border guard. How to lie to officials of Europe. How to get more subsidies out of authorities
in Germany or in Sweden. So those are happening and we have proof of
that. Audience member: And just to follow up what can be done about
it? Ambassador Szabó: Well, I didn’t want to go on a too much
political level here because I told you I’m not really a politician. But the new parliament of Hungary that was
just inaugurated yesterday, the very first law that they want to decide on is called
“Stop Soros”. Audience member: Thank you very much for enlightening all of
us. This is very interesting. What other countries of Europe support Hungary? You mentioned the animosity that some other
countries have. Which other countries do support Hungary and
want to work together? Ambassador Szabó: This was very ambiguous in 2015. We were practically the only one for a few
months to keep the rules and regulations. It was very strange that you are basically
singled out and you become the blacksheep of the family while you are the only one to
keep the rules. So that’s why I told you about this joke
about the guy who goes against the traffic. So it really felt like that. We were embarassed of keeping the rules and
being legal. Quite quickly after that the Visegrad Four
countries, the other three joined in; Czech, Slovak and Poland. Actually they believe that we are right. Of course they have borders along the Schengen
Zone and they were concerned that if these people are coming from the east, we have to
defend ourselves. I was there on September the second 2015 when
my minister and the Prime Minister of Slovenia and the Foreign Minister of Slovenia were
having a discussion about migration and they said, “Oh, Hungary, why are you doing this
whole fence thing? This is so inhuman. This is terrible what you do.” When we said, “Okay, but imagine we are
completing this fence in two weeks with the Croatian-Hungarian border. In three weeks in Ljubljana at the train station
you will have 50,000 people. What will you do then?” “Oh. That’s an interesting challenge.” When Hungary started to build a fence in the
summer of 2015, Chancellor Faymann of Austria said that this reminds him of the darkest
days of the Second World War. He basically called us fascists. Two months later when Chancellor Faymann started
to build a fence, he called that, “Gates with long wings.” Forty mile-long wings with barbed wires on
the top. That’s what they built not fences. Now if you look at the current Chancellor
two chancellors later, Sebastian Kurz – this name Sebastian comes back up the time – he
believes exactly the same as the Hungarian government, that we have to keep order to
make sure that if we have migration, it has to be controlled and any country should be
able to decide who lives in that country. If I want more engineers, I want more blue-collar
workers, then I send three charter flights to Syria and say okay guys, who wants to work
in a pawnshop? Who wants to work in a factory? Who wants to treat German children? Come here, learn the language, and I give
you a job. But this is not happening. And as I just mentioned before, if you see
when Italy was feeling sure, they just accept all of those North African migrants from the
Mediterranean Sea. They send them off. They put them on buses and trains. Off they go to Germany. Everything was fine. They were criticizing us. As soon as the Austrians and the Germans said
no, no, no, no, you cannot send them here anymore. Have you registered those people? We will send them back because of the Dublin
Regulation to you, Italy. They suddenly started to support the Hungarian
viewpoint. And they said, ‘oh, there are serious problems
so Europe help us. We have to stop this migration.’ So this is a gradual process. Of course the more north you are in Europe,
the less of a problem you have. The more south you are… It’s there. If you look at the Moroccan-Spanish border,
they have had a fence for I don’t know 25 years? More? Six meter-tall, barbed wire fence and I think
there’s two or three layers pne after the other. This was actually supported by the European
Union and no one has had a problem with that. And even the Moroccan government supports
that fence. They don’t want their people just to leave
the country. They want to create a better life for Moroccans
in Morocco. And that’s what makes sense. Audience member: Mr. Ambassador have you been in direct conversations
with church leaders in this country to awaken them to the persecution of Christians and
to engage them in helping the persecuted Christians? Ambassador Szabó: We have but we haven’t… We are a very, very small organization. I have two-dozen people here in Washington,
DC and another 5,000 all across the U.S. So we don’t have the PR power. We meet on an individual level and our Baptist
organization has been helping in Texas when there was the flood and in Florida we were
trying to help refugees due to the natural disaster in the south last year. They are constantly in touch with local churches,
obviously. And we also joined with the In Defense of
Christians organization and initiative. We are organizing a conference with them in
June. So I hope that there will be widespread media
coverage of that. We are too small and too poor to make an impact
here. And for some reason The Washington Post and
The New York Times is not helping us. Thank you, thank you. Audience member: Mr Ambassador, thank you. Two things: one I can personally attest to
the cultural openness of Hungary having been happily married to a Hungarian for twenty
years. I have a Slovak last name and I’m half-Italian. My question for you is it seems you’ve been
very successful in addressing this as a nation. What advice would you give to our politicians
to engage in the average voter in America for something very similar happening here
a different context bit a similar issue. Ambassador Szabó: Thank you very much for your kind words. My wife just reminded me in a previous answer
I should have told you that we actually had an exhibition at our embassy building about
the persecuted Christians in the Middle East. So we were talking about the damage, what
ISIS did with the Christian people and with the Christian sanctuaries in the Middle East
and we originally only wanted to show this exhibition for one month. We actually took it over from the Hungarian
National Gallery. And we were able to convince them to expand
this exhibition for another two months. Unfortunately, they are gone now but we are
planning something similar in the autumn. More than a thousand people came to see that
exhibition but with that PR muscle of course we could do a bigger impact on that. And regarding your comment or question, I
think we have won the battle but not the war. Quite simply the problem is still there. The root causes have not been managed but
I’m very hopeful with the current initiative of the U.S. government, more and more common
sense will come to the picture. Right now the European Union and the United
Nations are trying to make migration a basic human right. We believe that this is absolutely stupid. Absolutely stupid. So just imagine if I want to come to the U.S.,
the Ambassador of Hungary, I had to fill in a 15 page document. I had to give my fingerprints, iris scan,
photo. They even checked my X-Ray and even an anal
examination was part of the test. Would you let in anyone from Sudan or Afghanistan? Whoever wants to live in the U.S. because
that’s a nicer place? It’s absolutely stupid so without control,
without a mechanism to make this happen to make sure that there is a mutual benefit,
this has to be done. Also another terrible example: I actually
took two high-ranking politicians to the congressional library about six months ago. It was just before Halloween and the director
we met expressed his concern that Hungary is handling migration in a very, very bad
way because everyone knows that migration made America great. And I told him, ‘you might use the same
word but migration through cornfields and going for subsidies and not having to work
and not integrating into society, this is the way we see migration. The way you see migration is basically a controlled,
disciplined migration. When all of these millions of people came
from Europe in the 20s through Ellis Island I don’t know if you know what happened at
Ellis Island. You were checked whether you are healthy. If you have diabetes, go back. If you have cancer, go back. If you are too short, go back. That’s what happened. And we have records of that, very good records,
so don’t mix up the two things. We have to make sure that there is a clear
understanding. Who’s a refugee? They need help. Who’s a migrant? Let us decide if we want these people in our
country or not. That’s the approach we would like to spread. And I believe there’s more and more politicians
who will start to understand this and I am very hopeful that we will be able to find
a common tone in the United Nations as well. If not, the United Nations will not have the
support of the U.S. I believe there’s a quite major risk. I think this migration group or collective
discussion that was happening in the EU was left behind in the U.S. and it was actually
also Hungary who was quite vocal about our opinion. Also there’s discussion between African
and European countries and Middle East and European countries as well on how they will
manage the out flux of the people from their countries. We believe the aid should really be addressed
to the countries who make a commitment that they will either take back those people once
they are safe or they will spend that aid of the West meaningfully and create a meaningful
life for those people. I think there’s no other way. We are in minority so we have to do something
meaningful that will keep those people in their countries and we invite only those nuclear
physicists who we want or biotechnologists we want. Have I answered your question? Audience member: I have two questions Dr. Szabó. Thank you very much this was a fabulous talk
and very informative. Can you hear me? I have a question about [how] divorce and
abortion have decreased and I’m curious are you keeping metrics about mass attendance
and growth in the Catholic parishes and secondly what about your national debt? You have a lot of subsidies. How is the national debt? Ambassador Szabó: Let me go backwards. Our national debt was 85% in 2010. Now it’s 72%. So we were able to grow the economy and address
the debt burden also. A quite significant chunk of our current deficit,
which is actually significantly below 3%, is to repay the debt that was accumulated
in the last fifty years. If there was no debt, our current budget would
be in surplus right now. When it comes to Catholic parishes, we have
the numbers but they are not happy numbers. Quite clearly the most Catholic country in
Europe now is Poland. We are really number four or number five on
that ranking list and the numbers don’t look good. Young people don’t necessarily go to church. We believe that the church has to rejuvenate
itself and make it more relevant itself. That’s why a lot of what’s happening in
the U.S. congregations really provide a social networking as well, kind of a social belonging
to each other. We used to live in Indianopolis. That was the place you meet with your neighbors
and your colleagues and friends outside of work. So I think this type of cohesive forces have
to be created still in Hungary. Approximately 30% of the population is- we
call it “reformed” or Reformatik church. About 65% of the people are Catholics. And the biggest majority after that is I think
the Jews. And Muslims we have like 3,000. And there are other churches even new churches
that grew in the mean time. There’s attention but the numbers are not
growing right now so I think we have to do something about that. Audience member: A little earlier in your talk you referred
to how the State Department is actually funding some of the opposition to your government
in Hungary. Are you disappointed that’s still going
on under President Trump? And have you made a deal to basically stop
it? Ambassador Szabó: I’m very glad about the new leadership of
the State Department. It was really a breath of fresh air when Assistant
Secretary Wess Mitchell got into his position in October. Wess Mitchell actually wrote his book Unquiet
Frontier, the allies of the U.S. who are on the fringes of the U.S. influence and what
to do with the Russian threat, what to do with China, and he understands our area very
well. And he believes – he actually used the words
of Bismarck – he said, “Check out or watch out for Central Europe because they are the
ones between East and West, North and South, and their geopolitical importance cannot be
overestimated.” So I’m very glad that people like Wess Mitchell,
like Brian Hook from the Strategic Department, and hopefully Secretary Pompeo who will understand
this. We still have refusals to high-level political
meetings even though Prime Minister Orbán was the only politician who supported President
Trump during the campaign. We have not had a meeting, an opportunity
for a meeting with him yet. However, the invitation has happened. So I think it’s just a matter of timing
when this can come together. What’s more important that Hungarian soldiers
are fighting with American soldiers shoulder to shoulder in Iraq, in Afghanistan, we are
defending the Baltic airspace, we have troops in Kosovo, we have heavy airlifting capacities
provided to NATO on Hungarian soil and we also have the commitment to raise our national
spending for defense for 2% of the GDP. So it’s a plan. This is a plan. This is something we will do very soon. This is very important. What we also would like to do is reach more
synergies with defense in the U.S. We believe it should not be only a transactional
thing, ‘buy American weapons. Buy German weapons’. That’s not good enough. I think we have to develop them together. Hungarians are very good at digital technologies. By the end of next year all family households
in Hungary will have high-speed Internet access. We are building the most modern autonomous
car-testing track in the world right now. It will be ready also by the end of next year. We have more than 10,000 engineers working
on autonomous cars. So I think if we develop defense together
also drone technologies, drone deterrance technologies, weapons, we have a lot of knowledge
not only in Hungary, in Czech, in Slovak, in Poland. I think if we build on each other, if we synergize,
we will be much stronger together. Thank you. Audience member: I guess I’m just very impressed by what
you showed [unintelligible], particularly the rise in marriage and the [unintelligible]
in the abortion rate. As a Greek Orthodox Christian, and being fully
aware of how so many Western European countries have reached zero, significant problems with
maintaining their own population considering that many of these Muslim families come over
with multiple wives. It’s just a question of time. It’s very concerning, anti-Semitism, but
just to start with the disappearance of Western Europe. I’m curious. I see, I read constantly of these situations,
of these horrors in Sweden, these I think something like 65 no-go zones, the grooming
of the girls that was going on in England, of course it was never discussed in The Post,
The Times, what have you. Why do so many Western Europeans still seem
to vote these open-borders-people back into power? We seem to see a bit of a switch now. I understand in Austria also there’s more
of a pro-Austrian, closed borders government that has moved in. I lived in Vienna for many years. I’d love to see – is there some collaboration
going on between Austria and Hungary to strengthen their borders? Also I wonder in Greece – you mentioned
that as an area that’s being quite- and I’m very aware of that actually and I discuss
that with Greece around here: ‘why do you keep electing these people who are destroying
your country?’ So I’m wondering if you will see- Do you
feel that in the future, are you optimistic that more and more parties will be elected
who- politicians who indeed believe in… saving Europe? Ambassador Szabó: Well, I’m very curious what will happen
next year. European Parliamentary elections are happening
in 2019. Yes, 2019. So I’m pretty sure there will be a landslide. This migration problem will not go away. Quite clearly the current leadership of the
European Union is Left Liberal. I don’t know if you heard but last week
President Juncker went to celebrate the new statue of Karl Marx. Karl Marx. Completely disregarding that 100 million people
died because of Communism. And he’s happily hugging George Soros because
they are good, personal friends. And if you read the George Soros statement
about what should be done in migration, you can read it in the new proposals of the European
Union. That’s a three-year old document. The European proposal is two months old. So I think people are not stupid. And I hope that people with values like yourself
will sooner or later realize what’s going on. Again with Sweden so that’s my most prime
example. This hypocrisy shows people understand. If you close your door and you are with your
friends, they think the same as Hungarians. Once they go out to public, they don’t use
certain words. They don’t talk about certain things. It’s terrible, really terrible. Living in a lie in your public life. That cannot be maintained forever. So I’m very hopeful and quite optimistic
about this. What we should be spending time on is how
to create social housing in Syria, in Lebanon, in Sudan, in Algeria, how to create whole
homes for a family for a thousand dollars, how to provide safe drinking water for those
people, how to sort out sewage water issues, how to provide food for all of these people
in Africa. That’s a big deal. And that’s what we should be spending our
time on rather than criticizing each other on the rule of law. Nobody knows what the rule of law is, okay? Nobody. And Poland and Hungary are now criticized
for lack of the rule of law. So what does that mean? If the European Union finds us okay, how come
certain politicians in the U.S. they don’t think that’s okay. So there’s so much hypocrisy and nonfactual
allegations. We are spending time and money and energy
on this. If you attack, we will defend ourselves rather
than focusing on the real problems of real people. Sorry, I’m being too fierce with you. Audience member: So how is Hungary contributing to solving
the root cause? You mentioned that you know the safe place
that these refugees go to is a neutral state and in the case of Syria, it’s Jordan or
Turkey. Ambassador Szabó: Or Lebanon. Audience member: Or Lebanon so how is Hungary contributing
to keep them there? That way they don’t, you know, go to Europe. Ambassador Szabó: Actually we have found one level deeper opportunity
for ourselves. The big organizations like the UN and the
Red Cross are able to have those people in big hotspots. Once they leave the hotspots, they lose their
rights to be helped and one particular issue what I haven’t told about is that in those
refugee camps, the Christians are harassed by the Muslim refugees because 95% of them
are Muslims and they don’t want the Christians around. So in most cases we have seen many, many families
who actually leave the camps and they go to the church or uninhabited places and they
try to make a living there but they lost their rights for food and shelter from then on. That’s why we believe helping the churches
directly is the best way to do. I’m not saying, I’m not diminishing the
fantastic work what the international organizations are doing. They do a lot. The European Union as a whole created a fund
to help Turkey. They have more than three million refugees
in their camps. And we are also directly helping Jordan, and
Syria, and Lebanon as well but we are a small country, just a tiny bit, just a small drop
in the ocean. The more countries join in, the better, obviously. But just simply proviidng help is not enough. We have to be able make them work. We have to be able to convince them to contribute
and rebuild their own country. Audience member: Hi, Mr. Ambassador, thank you very much and
it’s great to see you again! Ambassador Szabó: Great to see you here! Audience member: Yes, I just wanted to follow up on the question
before about the State Department. Can you give us the status of that funding
grant that they have up for $700,000 of U.S. tax dollars to pay for so-called independent
media in Hungary because they don’t like the media there? As you know, my colleague and I from the American
federation met with representatives from the State Department and they’ve tried to defend
it somehow but I just don’t know what the status is and number two, my daughter married
a Swede and we visited two years ago. They’re in a very nice, upscale neighborhood
but I talked to a few residents there about the Muslim and the culture. This is an anecdote but they told me the Muslim
families do not want to have children learn about Christianity and Judaism in the school
where the school teaches religion just as a subject matter. They will not let them be exposed to the other
two major religions. But Sweden is not going to change. I would like to let you know that they are
not realizing they let too many in. Ambassador Szabó: Well regarding this grant that was designed
to improve the independence of Hungarian press. [It] has created quite a lot of waves in Hungary
because we didn’t believe that we had to be told about democracy and freedom of the
press. I had to explain quite a few people at the
State Department and in other places in the U.S. government that we love this. Joseph Pulitzer was a Hungarian. He founded the Pulitzer Prize in 1917, a hundred
years ago. So we know what independent journalism is. Now when it comes to the freedom of press,
I also shared the news that if anyone on the other side of the table would have spent two
minutes checking out where the largest Internet based news agency sites, pro-government or
against-government, who owns and what type of news you can read or you can hear on the
largest commercial TV in Hungary? 80% of the people watch that TV. Who has the largest coverage, hard copy media
in their hands, pro or against government? It’s [the] opposition. And nobody has been sent to jail because of
their opinion in Hungary. I even was so nasty to say that Hungary is
not the country where 31 journalists are in jail for not revealing their sources but I
will not finger point about countries where this is happening. So all I ask from our esteemed colleagues
on that side of the table is to be fair and objective. If they believe there is something is wrong,
tell me the one journalist’s name who could not reveal his opinion or who did not get
a page in any paper he wants to go to. There’s none because there is freedom of
press in Hungary. It’s that simple. Director Robert R. Reilly: Ambassador if I may take the privilege of
asking the last question. In the United States perhaps the most vocal
critics of the current administration’s refugee and immigration policy are Christian
leaders and particularly the Catholic Church. What’s the situation in Hungary regarding
that? Are the Christian leaders there also criticizing
the Hungarian administration’s refugee policy? Ambassador Szabó: Well I would go back to my previous comment
about definitions. So when it comes to migration versus refugees
there’s a strict definition and I believe this is what the church should be thinking
about this also. So we believe that as a Christian you need
to help the individual who needs help; the individual who needs help. I don’t think we have a mandate to help
the political or economic wave of problems. And this is where I believe most or many,
many priests of the Catholic Church are divided. I have talked to priests on both sides. The ones who believe the same thing as the
Pope says and some others who are kind of more leaning towards the Hungarian perspective. I’m not saying that the Pope and Hungary
don’t agree. We all agree that people in need need to be
helped. But it’s a misconception that those hundreds
of well I should say tens of millions of people who are charging against Europe, those are
not people in need of humanitarian help. If they are in a boat about to drown, of course
they are individuals who need help. There’s no question about that. If someone is running for their lives because
there are five people with guns between them or there are ISIS soldiers with torches who
want to burn them, they need help. If someone wants to live in Germany because
the subsidies are high there, they don’t need help. As soon as this distinction is basically clear
for everyone, I believe we are exactly on the same page. Director Robert R. Reilly: Ambassador, thank you very much.

Author Since: Mar 11, 2019

  1. The Hungarian government even financed the restoration of the "Sacro Cuore" church in Tolentino, Italy, which had been damaged during the 2016 earthquake. That is the church where the Traditional Latin Mass is celebrated.

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