A Welcoming Speech
Political Director of the Prime Minister Balázs Orbán appeared at an event hosted by Századvég Institute featuring John J. Mearsheimer, a renowned American political scientist, international relations scholar and professor at the University of Chicago. Orbán delivered the welcoming speech after a brief introduction from the rector of the University.
He began by stressing that the fact that a scholar of such calibre is giving a lecture at a Hungarian university shows that Hungary has been proficient at creating and nursing international relations, including with the great powers of the world. He said that what makes Professor Mearsheimer’s visit even more significant is that he was one of the first experts to express concerns about the West and Russia being in a conflict. Of course, Orbán added, it has turned out that he was right. The political director expressed his conviction that the war is not going to end soon, since many want it to continue. He mentioned that both Russia and the US want it to drag on, but also Ukraine wants it to go on so that they do not lose territories in the end.
Orbán noted that while Europe as a whole wants peace, Brussels does not seem to.
Brussels is full of idealists, he added, who want to cover up the truth about wanting to extend the war, ignoring how much the current situation hurts Europe, with the threat of nuclear escalation, the counterproductive sanctions, inflation, and the energy crisis. He drew some historic parallels to the current situation, saying that what is happening reminds him of 1914 and the First World War, the time of imperial ideology, a form of idealism in itself. At times like these, he said, nations forget about realism. He remarked that realists are like foxes and idealists are more like hedgehogs. Since foxes are sly and cunning, they plan ahead and see the big picture before making decisions. Foxes being tricky does not mean that they want to fight, rather that they see far ahead. Hedgehogs, or idealists, on the other hand, are thinkers who just hide in burrows.
As opposed to the idealists, Hungarians speak the language of realism well. The country has had a realist international politics for a thousand years, he remarked, adding that Hungary always strived to create balance when it was fighting for its independence. Orbán stressed that whenever nations failed to create balance, and instead attempted to create an empire, it always ended badly. ‘When we follow national interests, we become pragmatic,’ he underscored. He reiterated that what is needed in the EU is stability and balance, as the only way to achieve those is by peace. ‘We Hungarians are realists, and we urge peace. We were one of the few who spoke up for peace from the very first moment, because we do not want to dance on the battlefield of empires,’ he said. Orbán noted that he believes politicians need to listen to and hear from great thinkers such as Mr Mearsheimer, otherwise they cannot make proper decisions or express their own thoughts. To conclude he said: ‘As I always say, a book a day keeps the defeat away’.