– When I was young, a conference focusing on demographic issues would have taken me by surprise - these were the words the Prime Minister kicked off his speech with at the 3rd Budapest Demographic Summit. – Back then, everyone knew and understood, irrespectively of qualifications or origins, that human life was finite.

As the saying goes, woodpeckers did not need to be cheered on to peck wood

– In the same way as we enter life, at some point we must also exit life. We can respond to this fundamental law of nature in three different ways. The first option is to take illegal drugs and live a hedonistic life. The second possibility is to find the way to the Lord who decided on the finite nature of our path in life. The third option is to try and make sure our life on Earth is carried on. This is what family is about. Children are the extension of our own lives – said Viktor Orbán. – We used to believe that woodpeckers did not need to be cheered on to peck wood. However, there have been dramatic changes recently. The name of the issue is diminishment and disappearance.

Population decline is not a general phenomenon

– Hungarians try and understand and define the nature of the problem at hand. The first question they asked was whether population decline was a global phenomenon. It was found that it was not so, as Asia or Africa do not face such issues. It is not a plague of Christian civilisation either, as the number of Christians is growing rather than dwindling globally. So, the question is what might be driving this European phenomenon.

It was triggered by politics, hence the need for state help

– In my personal view, the underlying reason is the two cruel civil wars. At school, they call them world wars – said the Prime Minister. – As wars are triggered by national leaders and politics, along with the resulting demographic issue, they cannot be rectified without firm intervention by the state. At least, these are Hungary’s views. There are two opposing arguments - added Viktor Orbán. – The first one is migration. In global terms, this cannot turn around population decline in Europe. If we followed this route, we would be contributing to population replacement. Demographic policy-makers must stay away from the ‘migrant solution’. There is also another novel argument, the so-called ‘green argumentation’. Its fans believe that the Earth is better off with fewer children being born. This is nonsensical, as it follows from the order of creation that mankind is also part of the ecosystem. We must not pin the two against each other; instead, we must find a meaningful place for man within.

The Constitution’s protective force

– The way Hungarians see it is that every child has the right to a father and a mother. The Hungarian Government safeguards the traditional family model. Family and children are, in fact, a way of re-creating our national community. If our poor demographics continue, sooner or later someone will have to turn off the lights, as the nation will disappear. If a nation gets lost to the world, something that can never be replaced will also be lost. This is a scenario we must fight – said the Prime Minister. – The Hungarian model is constitutional in nature. If the core components are not spelt out in the Constitution, there will be no family policy in the long run. As a matter of fact, it is these provisions that protect us from family-unfriendly court rulings, and we also need constitutional foundations to make sure anti-family international institutions cannot meddle with Hungarian decisions. A good family policy also requires solid economic foundations. He reminded us that in Hungary, over a mere 10 years, the financial benefits available to families had doubled.

– Family policy must be based on trust. It is important for families to have faith that family-friendly measures and support will remain available in the long run. Where finances are not in order, restrictive measures must follow. Hungary’s experience is that family benefits must be linked to employment.

The Prime Minister believes that people tend to go for the path of least resistance. Consequently, some feel that if they can live on social benefits, that’s the path they will choose.

– If too many people make a similar decision, the economy will decline, and restrictions are bound to follow. It is also important to link the payment of benefits provided in respect of children to the fulfilment of parental obligations. If a school-age child is not sent to school by a parent, they should not expect to be paid family benefits. It is also a notable component of the system that now it is mandatory to enrol children in kindergarten from the age of 3, so that we can start public teaching and education as early as possible. Kindergartens are no more just facilities where they keep children safe; they are places where children are being prepared for life. And by 2022 there will be enough places in nursery schools for all children parents wish to enrol – explained Viktor Orbán.

He explained that the Government had already done a lot, but the trend had not yet turned. He believes that Europe and Hungary can only fully triumph if, thanks to the support offered to families, couples with children can live to a higher standard that those who do not wish to extend their families.

We cannot do it alone

– The success of Hungarian demographic policy is subject to a number of factors: Christianity must be strengthened across Europe again, and it’s also important to have partners in our efforts, as we cannot do it alone. One key condition to this is that up until 2030 our GDP must surpass the average of total European growth by 2%, each year.

He also stated that the Hungarian nation had realised many important goals in the past, and expressed his hope that it would be no different with the 2.1 reproduction ratio targeted.