The speech of Hunor Kelemen at the European People's Party Congress in Bucharest

The speech of Hunor Kelemen at the European People's Party Congress in Bucharest

I am Hunor Kelemen, President of the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania, the oldest member organisation in Romania of the European People's Party. I represent an ethnic community of 1.2 million people. From the very first moment after the fall of the communist dictatorship, my community strongly believed that our country belongs in the European Union and the North Atlantic Alliance.

Our historical experience is that prosperity has never come from the East. Freedom and security have never come from the East. We still believe this today. I am an honest and straightforward person; I like to call the things as they are.


Ladies and Gentlemen!

We have not been in such difficult conditions for decades. It has been decades since we have had to respond to so many challenges at the same time. Not in a long, long time have we felt so many crises threatening our European way of life, our prosperity, predictability, security and freedom. We see angry, frustrated, hopeless people who feel they have lost the ground beneath their feet. They want security and reliability. They expect those to whom they have entrusted their lives to deal with their real problems.

We are all responsible for the current situation. We all have to acknowledge this. We are responsible because we have been leading the EU of the European Union for at least ten years. We are responsible because in the majority of the Member States, our partieslead and govern. And the first responsible is always the one who has the power. We cannot shift this responsibility on others by rhetorical tricks or political baloney.


Dear friends!

The European People's Party has a huge responsibility today. The future of Europe depends on us. It is up to us whether people will again believe that we are not representing the bureaucracy, nor exclusive economic interests, but the interests of everyday people. Therefore, we need to clarify a few things.

First, we need to remember who we are. What values we stand for. Whom we represent. And what our vision is. There is no disagreement between us on core values. Nevertheless, we must be able to distinguish ourselves from the socialists, the greens, the liberals. We cannot say the same things they say. We cannot repeat their themes, because we will become like them. In addition, our voters will turn away from us and their voters will not vote for us. We have to show what makes us different, what makes us better than them. It is no easy task. Yet it is not impossible.

Today, we also have to indicate the contours of the emerging new world order and where we see the Union's place in it. We must be clear: the advantage and competitiveness of the European economy cannot be sacrificed on the altar of a forced green transition. We love the environment, clean air and clean water. However, we need a transition that does not demand more sacrifices than it yields benefits. We need to follow the principles of moderation and gradualism. We also need to be aware that more and more people today feel like political orphans, and we need to reach out to them and give them a helping hand. We cannot allow the anti-mainstream and extremist parties to be the only ones dealing with these increasing masses.

The European People's Party must once again take a firm stand and protect our farmers and small and medium-sized enterprises. In addition, the European Union must ensure that the rights of Europe's indigenous national minorities are upheld, however difficult this may be for some Member States to accept. This is also a European task, because cultural and ethnic diversity renders it so.

The European Union needs to show strength, but not inside its borders by constantly confronting those who disagree within the leadership of our Union, because that is the easiest way. It needs to show strength by becoming relevant again, and yes, by becoming indispensable in shaping world politics. We cannot put off the development of a common defence and security policy system and a quick reaction defence capability. This must of course complement, not replace, all that the North Atlantic Alliance offers. We must also be ready to protect the communities of the European Union from illegal migrants, asymmetric attacks and information warfare in the digital space.

The European People's Party is having its congress in Romania today, and that is great. Here, we are on the periphery. On the margins of the EU and NATO. This means responsibility, opportunity, but at the same time risks as well. This periphery stretches from the Baltic States to Bulgaria. It is the most vulnerable region of the Union today. Therefore, when people see that double standards are still being applied by some Member States towards us, they get angry. They are really outraged.

The political tango around Schengen accession is not acceptable. And this must be said here, in the family. We can and will protect the external borders of the Union, and we are prepared to do so. All sorts of excuses and pretext can be invented to postpone the full accession to Schengen, but this would cause enormous damage in the short term. Therefore, from here as well, I would like to ask all those that have had doubts about Romania's accession to Schengen, to put first our common medium and long-term interests, not the immediate political gains.


Dear friends! 

We, here on the periphery, fulfil a role like the crust of good quality bread: just as the crust protects the inside of the bread, we protect those living further inside. If the crust of the bread cracks, the inside dries out, spoils and becomes inedible. So please, do not look at us as a developing market, as a cranky provincial area filled with troublemakers. Rather as a shield, that protects the whole inner world!


Distinguished friends!

My wish is that on the 9th of June we not only continue where we are now, having won the most seats, and being comfortable with that I wish instead that together we find the strength to make the necessary corrections. May we have the strength to give hope back to citizens and faith that Europe is the best place on earth! Let us prove to them that our generation is capable of preserving and passing on the Europe that had shaped the world and determined the course of history for centuries!

Good luck to the European People's Party and all its member organisations!

related articles