Opening Address: Katalin Novák

Minister of State for Family and Youth Affairs, Hungary

Hello to everybody! I’m very happy to be here in Verona today, in the beautiful city of love, in the city of Romeo and Juliet: the best place to organize this year’s World Congress of Families. I am happy to be here. I’m happy to have come here, even if it was not easy to reach this building today. I come from Budapest, from Hungary. I represent the government and the governing party of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, a leader who not only speaks about family values, but also acts in favor of families.

I know how much tension the World Congress of Families has caused here in Italy. I see the newspapers, I see the media, I see that so many people were angry because of this conference. Don’t be angry! We are all very happy to be here.

I see that the so-called “liberal” media cannot accept anyone who doesn’t think the same way they do. I am conservative, so I trust the other person in the conversation. I am conservative, so I think that everybody has the right to think whatever they want. I am conservative, so I think that we have the right to speak out for what we take to be important, what we take to be true. And I also give others the right to do so. So let’s be conservatives, and let’s respect others by letting them say whatever they want to say.

We are living in the time of “fake news,” of lies. Let me tell you a story. Just today, on a Hungarian website, appeared a long article about my speech. The authors said that I said this, I said that, and that you didn’t like it. They claimed that what I said wasn’t even popular in this room! And I hadn’t even given my speech yet! That’s the world we are living in. Maybe they published this article some hours before they wanted to. It was a little bit too early, certainly, because I hadn’t even stepped on the stage! I hadn’t even entered the building yet!

But we are fine. We are used to this. And we have to stay brave. If we become afraid, if we lose our braveness as political leaders, then we will lose ourselves. We should not do that, and we should keep speaking up for our values.

I am Minister of State for Family and Youth in Hungary. I have been doing this job for five years now. I am also vice-president of our party, Fidesz. But above all, I am a mother. I am a mother of three children. And I am not “Parent 1,” nor “Parent 2.” I am the mother of my children! I am even a working mother, a hard-working mother. I have my political, professional career; I am a member of the Parliament. But it is much more important that I am the daughter of my mother and my father, the sister of my brother, the wife of my husband, and the mother of our three children.

I have never been a feminist—sorry to say that, but it’s true. We women are constantly fighting for our rights, but while fighting for our rights, we give up our privileges. Yes, we have rights; but we also have privileges. We women have the privilege of bearing a child. We have the privilege of delivering a child. We have the privilege of breastfeeding a child. Let’s never give up on these privileges.

I come from Hungary, and represent the Hungarian government. Hungary is a family-friendly country. We have had a new constitution since 2011. Imagine, in 2011—just eight years ago—we stated in our constitution that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, that family is based on marriage and the relationship between parents and children. And we also stated in our constitution that life should be protected, and that life begins with conception.

Hungarian people love children. So do Italian people. Young Hungarians and young Italians want to have a family. Young Hungarians and young Italians want to get married, and want to have children. But what happens? In Italy the marriage rate has dropped by 12% in the last several years, the number of divorces has risen by almost 70%, and the so-called fertility rate has also dropped by 10%. For a long while, Italian politicians and leaders left the Italian people; they abandoned the Italian people. They didn’t help Italian young people to have families, to have children and to raise children. That is why I think Italy needs its new leaders, needs a wind of change, needs a government that is in favor of protecting and helping families. You need those leaders who are brave enough to stand up for family values, to support families and to find ways to help young Italians to be able to fulfill their dreams of having families, even large families if they wish to do so.

Europe is a continent of empty cradles. There is not a single European country now where enough children are being born. There is not a single European country where at least two children are born in one family. We are giving up on ourselves. We have a demographic decline in many European countries, and on the other hand we are facing a mass migration towards Europe. Tens of millions of people are coming for a better life to Europe. And what do we do? We don’t even raise questions. We just give bad answers. We don’t ask: Why don’t European young people have children? Why did they give this up? How can we help our young Europeans? How can we help the young Hungarians, and the young Italians, the young Europeans to be able to have children?

Instead, what do we do? We import people from the outside. We support mass migration as the continent, as Europe, instead of helping our own people to be able to have children, to be able to have families.

In Hungary, we have family-friendly policy. We have a family-friendly tax system. The more children you have, the less taxes you pay. For example, in Hungary we just started a new program. If you are a young couple, and you get married, you can have 35,000 euros as a credit with no interest. You begin to pay it back. But if the first child comes, then you don’t have to pay for three years. When the second child comes, again you don’t have to pay for three years, and we decrease the debt by 30%. If the third child comes, you don’t have to pay back anything anymore! So a young Hungarian married couple gets 35,000 euros, which they can use for whatever they want. (Because we are conservatives, we let people decide on their lives themselves. We don’t tell them what to do with their money.) In addition, they can get 35,000 euros non-reimbursable—they don’t have to pay it back ever—if they buy or build a new house or a new flat, so that they have a flat or a house to have children. In summary, if they want to have three children in the future, they get 35,000 euros non-reimbursable, plus the other 35,000 euros for building a house or flat. With 70,000 euros, in Hungary, this is already a sure start.

Importantly, in Hungary all the family subsidies take effect once the mother has passed the first trimester of pregnancy. So after the first trimester, the couple will get these subsidies, because we also acknowledge not only the newborn but also the unborn child. And beginning the first of January 2020, even grandparents can stay at home with the grandchildren if the mother and the father work. I was lucky enough in my life—and I always thank God for this—that each and every day I could see all four of my grandparents. I would never give this up for anything, and we should give this possibility to the children of today as well.

And the last new incentive I would like to mention to you is that beginning the first of January 2020, mothers who gave birth to four children, or adopted four children and raised four children, are exempt from personal income tax for the rest of their lives. I suspect many of you have four children. So, welcome to Hungary! You are all welcome.

Europe is committing a slow suicide, because Europe is giving up on its Christian culture and on supporting young people in having families. We won’t just let this happen! We Hungarians and Italians won’t let Europe commit suicide, because Europe is our Europe, and we will defend her. And we don’t only agree with the Italian government about migration policy, but we also agree with the Italian government about family policies, the pro-family policies they want to introduce in Italy. Good luck to Italy, to the Italian people! I hope you will keep this family-friendly government. And I very much hope that, together, we can save Europe.