Without families and children, a national community could end up disappearing, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said in a speech to the Budapest Demographic Summit III on Thursday.
“And if a nation disappears, something irreplaceable disappears from the world,” he said at the event held in the Varkert Bazaar, where he said one of the state’s goals and the government’s task was to pursue a vigorous demographic policy. The prime minister said the “solution of immigration” and the “mindless green argument that the Earth would be better off with fewer births” were off the table when it came to the issue of demography. He said Hungary’s family support scheme would only reach a turning point when those who decide to have children enjoyed a higher standard of living than if they had opted against having children.
Hungary’s family policy is based on the concept and conviction that every child has a right to have a father and a mother, Orban said and that a family and children are prerequisites of “the biological reproduction of a national community”. The Hungarian family support model rests on a foundation that has “a constitutional nature”, Orban said, adding that this was essential for pursuing a long-term family policy.
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These constitutional foundations protect Hungary against court rulings that are detrimental to families and against attempts by “anti-family” international organizations, NGOs and networks “to penetrate” into the country’s state affairs and decision-making, the prime minister said.
Good family policy needs economic foundations as well, Orban said, noting that allocations in the central budget to support families had doubled over the past ten years. The prime minister highlighted the need for a predictable family support system over the long term.
Orban said the key to the success of Hungary’s demographic policy was “Christianity regaining its strength in Europe”. Partners in this endeavor such as Serbia and the Czech Republic, represented at the summit at presidential and prime ministerial level, are already on board, Orban added.
The prime minister said the demographic policy’s success would be ensured if the country’s annual economic growth rate exceeded the EU average by at least 2 percent between now and 2030, Orban said.
Orban said there was abundant skepticism in Europe as to whether Hungary could achieve its demographic policy goal of a 2.1 fertility rate. But those people said the same before about other Hungarian government measures such as “sending home the IMF”, introducing a banking tax and a progressive income tax, levying a tax on multinational companies, cutting utility costs, creating one million jobs in ten years, stopping migration and building a border fence, he added.
Addressing the summit, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic called it important that demographic changes were being addressed as one of today’s top challenges and an issue that calls for immediate action. Vucic also emphasized the gravity of Europe’s demographic woes in terms of the future of central Europe, and the need for the continent as a whole to find solutions to the problem. He said Serbia was ready to cooperate with Hungary and the other central European countries in tackling the issue.
Andrej Babis, the Czech prime minister, said the effects of a population decline on Europe could be almost as severe as those of climate change.
Tony Abbott, Australia’s former prime minister, advocated a policy that sees family support as a means of promoting population growth in place of immigration. He praised Hungary’s family support scheme as unique, saying it should be studied by other countries.
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