Helmut Kohl represented a Europe of nations
03. 07. 2017.
After an exceptional memorial ceremony for former Chancellor of Germany Helmut Kohl in Strasbourg on Saturday, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán told public service television news channel M1 that the late conservative leader represented Christianity and a Europe of nations.

The Prime Minister pointed out that the nations must be accorded the respect and recognition that is their due.

“Their rights must be respected”, Mr. Orbán stressed: “they cannot be taken away from them, and you cannot use stealthy constitutional amendments to force on them some structure in which, in the end, no one feels comfortable”. The Prime Minister said that today these fundamental truths are not being revealed in full and in their richness: we must work hard to make them visible, and today Central Europeans’ mission in Europe is a Europe of nations. In answer to a question concerning the future of the European Union, the Prime Minister stated that the future of Europe depends on human character and personality.

“If we have leaders who prove to be strong in character when the times demand it, Europe will have a future; if not, we’ll remain as we are today, in this present state of paralysis”, he said.

Mr. Orbán recalled that he visited Helmut Kohl in 1998, and at one point in their conversation the Prime Minister asked the Chancellor about the place of morals in politics. In response Mr. Kohl said that whatever is good in private life is also good in politics, and whatever is bad in private life is bad in politics. The Prime Minister noted that this attitude is also a valid one for the future.

The Prime Minister observed that Europe will have a future when once again we have leaders who are able to state simple truths, and are courageous enough to state our peoples’ views on issues such as migration, nationhood and Christianity. “One thing is for certain”, Mr. Orbán stressed: “Hungary won’t let anyone down”.

Photo: Balázs Szecsődi

At the beginning of the interview the Prime Minister said that a funeral service had not yet taken place, but there would be one later that evening in the Cathedral. He added that the earlier ceremony had been a political one, which was made particularly clear by the fact that, for instance, the word “Christianity” was not even mentioned – even though a Christian democratic politician was being honoured.

Everyone spoke according to the rules of political correctness, as is nowadays the permitted custom in the European Parliament building, Mr. Orbán added.

The memorial ceremony was worthy of Europe in the sense that the leaders attending spoke in a straightforward and sincere manner about their feelings as colleagues or friends of Chancellor Kohl, the Prime Minister said. Central Europeans were also given a voice, Mr. Orbán remarked, with their spokesperson at the event being Donald Tusk, who was able to speak as the President of the European Council, and as a Pole from Gdansk.

The Prime Minister said that he felt Donald Tusk had thanked Helmut Kohl on behalf of every Central European country – including the Hungarians – for everything he had done for the Hungarian people and for the region.

Photo: Balázs Szecsődi

Responding to German press reports that Helmut Kohl’s widow would have liked him to also deliver a speech at the memorial ceremony, Mr. Orbán said:

“When one buries a great man – and now an enormous oak tree has fallen – any kind of gossip or jostling for position at a memorial ceremony is bound to be unseemly. One should never take part in anything like that.”

He added that in the 1990s Helmut Kohl had convinced him that the “old greats” were right when they said that Europe would be Christian or it would be nothing.

The Prime Minister said that his generation was shepherded by Helmut Kohl “with the love of a grandfather” towards seeing that there are fashions, but there is a single secure location on which a Europe of values can be built: that location being Christianity. This is where Europe’s values originated, he said, and it must be preserved – even if this is not always popular.

Photo: Balázs Szecsődi

Mr. Orbán added that there was a Christian sense of optimism and love to everything the former Chancellor said, and in a previous era of European politics this was nothing unusual. Today this has disappeared entirely: now the culture of lecturing, disparagement and insult is stronger than the culture of Christian optimism and respect, the Prime Minister said, adding, however, that he is sure that this culture was not buried together with Helmut Kohl.

Finally Mr. Orbán stated that Helmut Kohl perceived the enlargement of the European Union as a kind of spiritual outpouring.