Jacek Przybylski is speaking with Ákos Engelmayer, the laureate of the Guardian of Values award, a Hungarian journalist, historian, lecturer, and diplomat living in Poland
As a veteran of the Hungarian uprising and the Solidarity uprising in the 1980s, you have already received many decorations and orders, including the Order of Polonia Restituta and the Polonia Mater Nostra Est medal. A dozen or so days ago, you were also awarded the Keeper of Values1 award. Are these values still common to Hungarians and Poles?
Not for every Hungarian and not for every Pole. The values that are dear to me are also shared by my Polish friends. This does not mean, of course, that they are important to the Hungarian or Polish society as a whole.
So what are the most important values for you?
Homeland. Tradition. Family.
For many, these are very outdated words. Do you think that in the times of building a supranational European empire, in which there are more and more opponents of the traditional family model, these values have a chance to survive?
They have to survive, otherwise it’s over for us. Even though I will not live to tell the tale, I am horrified to see what is happening in Europe now. Nevertheless, I would like to believe that these values will survive, because I have tried to protect them all my life.
Yet Poland and Hungary seem to be isolated from the rest of the European Union countries in the fight for their homeland or family. Maybe it is no longer worth fighting for a traditional family or the memory of Europe’s Christian roots and focus on development within the EU community?
As an oppositionist, and subsequently a diplomat, I fought for Hungary’s membership in the European Union. However, it was a completely different Union than it is today. We did not intend for such a common Europe then. The European Union rejected the goals of its founders, that is, the Christian roots. What will come of this? I do not know. And it is not only about answering the question of whether to accept hundreds of thousands of migrants from Muslim countries or not. The liberal elite in Brussels has already destroyed the European foundations that were in place for thousands of years. And this is terrible!
I am not saying that someone who is an unbeliever or who is a supporter of the Left does not observe the Ten Commandments, because he may, of course, not commit theft, murder etc. However, the EU authorities have undermined the foundations of our continent.
What awaits Europe without a foundation?
I am an old man. I have been through many twists and turns of history. And when I saw on TV the attack of migrants on Poland organized by the Lukashenko regime on television, on the one hand I felt very sorry for these poor people, and on the other hand, I had no doubts: this is a war!
A few weeks ago, I was convinced that the aim of this conflict is to create a favorable situation for Vladimir Putin. The Russian president could offer his help in resolving a tense dispute and be able to convince the West that Moscow is indispensable [for European stability].
Are the Western elites that naive?
Yes. Western leaders are failing again on all fronts. Meanwhile, in my opinion, we are dealing with a situation similar to the Anschluss of Austria in 1938, Munich2, and the period just before the armed invasion of Poland by Germany and Russia. It’s horrifying that, despite those experiences, the West, with all its beautiful words and big slogans, will lose again today. This for me is a personal tragedy.
But is the term “war” not an exaggeration here?
No. This is war. World War I was different from all previous conflicts. It was then that the Germans used combat gas on a large scale for the first time in history. World War II was also different. Then its fate was decided by the atomic bomb. Nobody will use nuclear weapons today. However, we are dealing with hybrid wars, “little green men” and disinformation on a mass scale. Even in my family, I had heated discussions about whether the border should be opened for migrants. But while the fate of these people is terrible, there is no doubt that Lukashenko is using them to wage a hybrid war. If this is war, there are victims. And this is a war we should be winning. Unfortunately, we will not.
Because the Western elites will sit down with Putin and commence talks about gas, oil, and the need to promote tolerance and humanism. The Russian president will take advantage of this weakness of the West without any scruples. His goal is clear: making Central Europe dependent on Moscow. Will he organize a military attack? I don’t know and I probably won’t live to see it.
In my opinion, the source of hope for our part of Europe is still in the attitude of Poland and Hungary, who – although sometimes making serious mistakes along the way that I do not want to get into – are trying to oppose the destruction of the foundations of the Old Continent and fight the Bolsheviks. Will it work? I do not know. However, you will soon find out that the appeasement of the European Union authorities to Putin and Lukashenko is only a matter of weeks.
The full version o this interview was published in December 2021 in “Do Rzeczy” magazine.
1 An annual award under the patronage of the weekly “Do Rzeczy” awarded by the Institute of Polish-Hungarian Cooperation
2 This is a reference to the Munich Agreement from September 30th, 1938 in which the UK, France, and Italy agreed to give Germany the “Sudeten German territory” of Czechoslovakia. Adolf Hitler announced it was his last territorial claim in Europe and most of Europe celebrated its conclusion, which was presented as a mechanism that would prevent the outbreak of a major war on the continent.