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4th Dec 2021

Central Europe leaders rail against 'new liberal woke virus'

  • The Czech Republic's liberal PM Andrej Babiš (left) and Hungary's nationalist prime minister Viktor Orbán at a previous EU summit. They found common ground railing against migration (Photo: Council of the European Union)
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Conservative leaders from central Europe on Thursday (23 September) again used a biannual summit in Budapest on demography to rail against migration, urged women to have more children, and attack political opponents.

The forum featured speeches by former US vice president Mike Pence, Hungary's prime minister Viktor Orbán, Czech PM Andrej Babiš, Slovenian premier Janez Janša, and the president of non-EU member Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić.

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French far-right pundit Eric Zemmour was also in Budapest, along with French politician Marion Maréchal, niece of the French far-right current leader Marine Le Pen, and Bosnian Serb politician Milorad Dodik.

Poland's prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki was absent, reportedly because of the dispute with Prague over the Turów lignite mine, which resulted earlier this week with Poland being hit by the European Court of Justice with a €500,000 daily fine.

Although the 4th Budapest Demographic Summit was devoted to "family values", the all-male leaders' line-up used the opportunity to attack what they called "new liberal political Marxism", migration, the EU's green deal, and women's rights.

"We are facing a new liberal political Marxism, which is fostering us to listen on new theories which are going to change our lives in a way that we are losing our life, and the possibility for our survival," Vučić said, adding that "demographic issues became a question of survival".

He claimed there has been "a rule-of-law jihadi war against those who were disobedient", and now a "new jihad" on climate change is used to discipline countries.

"Is it [climate change] really the most important question, is it really more important than demographic issues, is it really more important the future of our countries and our nations?," he asked, arguing that for smaller countries the rising energy prices due to climate policies are the "real issue".

In the past month, several governments criticised the EU's climate policy, fearing it will lead to increasing energy prices.

'New Marxist woke programme'

The Czech PM said the reason why Europeans have fewer children is because "people have become comfortable".

"Some people would like to have children, but they also want to build a carrier when they are young, therefore they have less children," Babiš said, adding that the average age of women having babies is around 30.

He added that overpopulation is "scaremongering" and called it a mad idea not to have children because of worries over climate change.

He also railed against migration as a solution to demographic issues, claiming that by 2050 the "Irish" will be a minority in Ireland.

"It is just not right that we should look on idle and see how indigenous populations are becoming a minority and are under pressure," he said, citing the traditional far-right racist theory of "population exchange".

Orbán argued that "migration is an identity question", and claimed that the "Wilkommenskultur" of welcoming migrants is part of a "global plan" to move a new working-class.

"I am worried about the advent of the new Marxism, new left, - in America - the woke movement," Orbán said claiming that educating children about sexual diversity is a "new Marxist woke programme." His government recently pushed through laws discriminating against LGBTIQ people.

"We are inoculated against the woke virus in central Europe," he claimed.

The leaders signed a joint declaration saying family policy should stay under national jurisdiction.

"Increasing the number of European children is essential to preserving Europe's Christian culture and other religious traditions for future generations," said the statement.

The summit highlights Orbán's welcome for far-right politicians and influencers in Budapest, as he becomes an icon for the far-right after falling out with the European centre-right.

Last month, conservative US television host Tucker Carlson - one of the conservative Fox network's most popular commentators - broadcast a week from Hungary, lavishing praise on Orbán.

The EU's birth rate has been decreasing since 2000, according to Eurostat figures, with 1.53 live births per woman in 2019, below the 2.1 mark considered sufficient to prevent a decline in population numbers.

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EU Commission vice-president Thierry Breton and justice commissioner Didier Reynders have written to Hungary's justice minister Judit Varga expressing legal concerns before the Hungarian bill - intended to protect children but including anti-LGBTIQ measures - enters into force.

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Former European Council president Herman van Rompuy plus local authorities warned EU policymakers against making the Conference on the Future of Europe a one-off exercise, arguing that democracy will continue to be under pressure after 2022.

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