Rotary Budapest, November 4th 2014.
Madam chair, dear friends! Thank you for your kind invitation.
I have three subjects that I like to talk about
- The horticultural world exposition Floriade which was held in the Netherlands in 2012
- The islam in the Netherlands
- The image of Hungary in the world
The world exposition 2012
After my retirement in 2005 Carla and I returnd to the Netherlands.
It was for me a great surprise and honour, that the government asked me in 2009 to become commissioner general of the horticultural world exposition 2012 in the Netherlands. Since 1952 the Netherlands has had the privilege to organise every 10 year a horicultural world exposition.
World expositions must be organised in accordance with the regulations of the international treaty of Paris of 1928. The regulations of the BIE: Bureau Internationale des Expositions.
According to these regulations the host country must appoint a commisssioner general, who represents the goverment of the host country and to whom the participating countries and international organisations can turn when they encounter problems. The commissioner general can solve problems and act as a judge in rising conflicts between participants. And he is responsible for the quality of the whole event.
Well, the world horticultural exposition opened its gates on the 4th of April 2012. The day of the birth of my youngest grandchild Maile.
Six months later we had had 2 million visitors. More than 50 % came from abroad. Among them 5 heads of state, 8 members of royal families, 4 prime ministers, 42 ministers, 61 ambassadors, more than 100 mayors from all over the world , 90 international trade missions and we hosted more than 100 international conferences.
As many as 54 countries participated, 42 organised a national day to promote their country with wonderful cultural performances.
The budget of the organisation was approximately 100 million euro.
In 1952, when this type of world expositions started, the focus was on flowers. Nowadays the emphasis is on: innovations of food production , healthy life style, gardening, and nature conservation. In the pavilion of the Netherlands we showed 31 new products and production methods for the agriculture.
The next world horticultural exposition, which will be called Floriade, Growing Green Cities, will be held in 2022 in Almere, the city I live. At the moment I am active as a member of the board of the Friends of the Floriade Almere 2022. I kindly invite you to join.
I will show you a few appetising pictures from the last exposition to give you an impression and maybe stimulate your visit to Almere.
The islam in the Netherlands
My country has 17 million inhabitants. 1.5 million of them are moslims.
In our 403 municipalities they have 453 churches (mosques).
The Netherlands has a great tradition of upholding humanitarian values, and has for a long time very successfully integrated foreigners and refugees.
I am afraid that we are no longer able to do so.
The electoral success of the extremely rightwing populist party of Geert Wilders ,who is extremely against moslims and the immigration of foreigners, show that.
I will not be surprised if at the next elections his party will turn out te be the largest.
How could this be explained?
First of all: the huge number of immigrants of a totally different cultural background and religious traditions which are contrary to our belief in human rights and the separation of state and church.
In islamic states the sharia, the extremist interpretation of the rules of the Koran, is the law. We in Europe can not tolerate that! We believe in the individual responsibility of man, in human rights, in equal rights of men and women etc. etc. This creates an insolvable cultural conflict.
Secondly : the revival of the expansionist political islam. In 2004, 10 years ago last weekend, Mohammed Bougeri, a moslim extremist, killed Theo van Gogh, a dutch publicist who warned against radical islamism. This event shocked the whole Dutch society.
In our days we see what happens in Syria and Iraque and Mali where jihadist ISIS fighters try to establish the islamic Califat with all its horrors.
So far approximately 140 youngsters from the Netherlands have joined their murder commando.I am afraid this is only the begining of a great escalation.
However we have to analyse the moslim society in the Netherlands carefully
There are three main streams:
About 450.000 people from Turkey. Invited in the 60-s by the gouvernment as labourers for the industrial production. In general very peaceful people, living in their own isolation. The first and second generation still have serious laguage problems, which explains their relatively low status in society. Normally they don’t cause any problems.
Approximately 400.000 people from Marocco, also invited by the government to strengthen the dutch economy. Completely different from the Turks! They have in general a higher educational level. Despite this, they are overrepresented in crime. 1: 10 compared with other dutch youngsters. 1 to 2 % of them is hostile towards the dutch society; strongly criticising our moral values of tolerance, humanity, equal rights for men and women, and respect for sexual freedom. Most of the 140 jihadist fighters I mentioned beforeome come from a Maroccan family.
And then there are approximately 350.000 moslim refugees from all over the world: from Afghanistan, Iran, Iraque, Ethiopia, Somalia, Kurdistan, and so on. These I call my people, because I have the honour to be president of the National Council of Refugee Organisations in the Netherlands:
141 different organisations of refugees are member of the National Council. These are true refugees, they believe in human rights. Some of them were tortured by islamic state police, humiliated because they were female (?)/as a woman, discriminated because of different religious attitudes. You will probably understand that my organisation is strongly against moslim extremism, against the political islam, and that we are fighting for individual freedom and human rights. We have a much stronger view on the dangers of the political islam than the government. And we try to convince the government to take a much tougher stand in the battle against the political islam.
You see the picture is very diverse en complicated.
The image of Hungary in the outside world
At the end of the second world war the image of Hungary was terribly bad. Understandably, because Hungary ended the world war on the side of fascist Germany.
In 1956 the whole world, especially the people of the different countries in the free world, was without any hesitation full of simpathy for the people of Hungary. People who fought for freedom and believed in it. It was for the first time in modern history that the image of Hungary was overwhelmingly positive.
At the end of the Kadar regime Hungary was regarded as the most successful country in the east block. The standard of living was higher than anywhere else. Modernisation of the economic system had been started. Hungarian diplomats were highly appreciated and respected. And they were highly qualified.
In 1990 the image became even more positive. Hungary played a very important role in the political change of the european map. Everybody was proud to be Hungarian or to have hungarian roots.
The first three freely elected governments managed the situation as well as they could .
There were some mistakes, but the image of the country was not seriously damaged.
In my opinion the turning point was reached in 2006. Since that year the image of Hungary declines continuously and at an accelerating pace. The climate has become icy and freezing. If this tendency continues, the Hungarian people will pay the bill.
One can make one or two mistakes in communication and timing, but one can’t make a continuing story of it. Isolation is the punishment. And without friends one can’t realize anything. You can be right or wrong, but alone is alone. Without the Euros of the european union the Hungarian economy will dramatically collapse.
Wat is the solution? How can Hungary make a comeback?
Three months ago I read an article in Figyelő. I will translate the last sentences for you.
The conditions for a successful Hungarian model are:
- respect for the individual integrity of everybody
- the national interest has to be defined by consensus
- society must be based on fair work in stead of corruption
- the oversized bureaucracy must be cut
- serious measures are needed to improve productivity
- priority has to be given to longterm coherent thinking
- try to work out and combine reasonable ideas for the benefit of the country
- finally, a civilized debating manner is absolutely needed