Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s Speech at the 5th Meeting of the Hungarian Diaspora Council

2 December 2015

2 December 2015, Budapest

Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to welcome you all. First of all, let us make use of the opportunities inherent in the Hungarian language to say that naturally we did not sing the National Anthem to mark the start of the Prime Minister’s speech, but to mark the start of the event. The Hungarian language denotes causal relationships between events: we did not need to sing the National Anthem because the Prime Minister was about speak, but because we have gathered here together and we are opening this event.

Allow me to welcome you all in a spirit of respect, and to wish you good morning. Let me continue where Mr. Semjén left off. I, too, would like to congratulate you on accomplishing a reform on such an historic scale. No one could be sure of the outcome of this venture, of what would happen to the organisations in exile after the Soviets were ousted and after the fall of communism. No one knew whether the organisations in exile would remain part of life in Hungary or, once the causes of your departure from Hungary came to an end, if they would also cease to exist. This was a very serious dilemma. I must have visited many of you over the past twenty to twenty-five years, and I have come across this question on a regular basis – sometimes raised eloquently, at other times in less elegant terms, sometimes amicably, at other times in furious debates. And I wish to congratulate you on succeeding in answering this question, because, after all, the very fact that we are sitting here, that we are now here, proves that the former Hungarian organisations in exile have found their place in the new world. As the Deputy Prime Minister put it, the organisations in exile have turned into cultural and political organisations, and constitute a global Hungarian network for the benefit of us all. I would like to thank you for the hard work, the difficult debates and the favourable decision which finally brought these difficult debates to a close.

Let me just reiterate one more thought which was raised by Mr. Semjén just now: that there have also been attacks against Hungary. Naturally, we must distinguish between current attacks and historical well-poisoning, which began some time in the first decades of the twentieth century. We are unable to eliminate these former instances of well-poisoning and we must live with them, in the same way that we live with changes in the weather. But this is not what we have observed in recent years. There has also emerged a different kind of attack against Hungary, which has attempted to cast doubt over Hungary’s efforts to renew itself in 2010 after the two-thirds parliamentary majority which was won back then. These efforts included reorganisation of the economy, the creation of a new constitution and the reform of our education system. The intellectual starting-point for the reforms is laid down in the preamble to the Constitution. This declares the importance of Christianity, that we cannot manage without God, that we need country and nation, and that the family is the most important thing in the world. This is the starting-point I am talking about, and at first sight does not appear to be a particularly PC, liberal or – how shall I put it – European starting-point, because this is the kind of world we live in today. And indeed, quite apart from any historical precedent, the one and only logical and justified debate was whether this Hungarian reform – the renewal of Hungary – could succeed at all. And it is not just a political question whether we agree with or like such starting-points or not, but indeed the question is whether it is at all possible to successfully implement reforms on such a scale in the second decade of the 21st century. As this doubt was raised related to our country, we saw it as an attack, and indeed it could not have been seen any other way. This is why we are now right to ask whether these attacks were justified or not.

I would just like to point out that today no one disputes any longer the fact that these renewal efforts and reforms were successful. This cannot be called into question, even in exalted places such as Brussels –particularly because there are countries where they did not do the work that was done in Hungary, and the situation we see over there speaks for itself. Here, for instance, we have Greece and the state of Greece – at the other end of the scale from Hungary. Not only do you deserve great praise and thanks for successfully joining us in resisting these attacks, but God, history, economics, foreign politics and many other things beyond our control intervened on our behalf, so that now we have proof that the experiment in reforming Hungary has been successful. So thank you very much for helping us to resist these attacks, and I would like to ask you – and at the same time advise you – not to regard any doubts expressed about us in the future as attacks, but more as routine intellectual debates, in which justice and reality are on our side. We should be more than happy to share our experiences with anyone who has doubts about whether it is possible to rearrange and reform the life of a nation and a society on the foundations of such an intellectual premise or starting-point. I believe that we can no longer be said to be part of the problem, but part of the solution, and that we may now wholeheartedly recommend our solution to anyone. This is the mentality and the attitude I would like to commend to you – with all due modesty, of course. And we can recommend our own examples and solutions to others.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

A year ago, when we last met – and at this point I am going to discard the supporting frame I borrowed from Mr. Semjén and shall follow my own thoughts – the premise of our discussion was, similar to today’s, that we all feel that we are in the midst of global turmoil; this applies not to Hungary in a geographical sense but to our civilisation in general, to the human species we are part of. We have found ourselves in the midst of major global turmoil, and see around us a global realignment which we must understand, grasp, process and build into our own national strategy. This is a global realignment which we must adapt and adjust to – and resist where necessary and reasonable. Now this is a formidable task which we Europeans or Western, Christian people, are today faced with. And I suggest that we use our discussion – as with the one before – to also assess Europe’s situation, and that of Hungary within Europe, in this perspective. This is what I am going to briefly talk about now.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The feeling and knowledge that we are in the midst of a global power, economic and political realignment intensifies year after year. We now see this more clearly than we did a year ago. Furthermore, recently there have been a number of developments – in the world economy, in military policies, in newly-approved military budgets and in revised military spending – which clearly demonstrate that the world in which we have lived up to now will not remain the same for much longer. Rapid changes are taking place which we can barely follow, and there is a good chance that in the next few years we ourselves shall live to see the new world order which our world today is slowly growing – or sliding – into. The most spectacular change is in the world economy. Earlier it was assumed that the shift in the world economy’s centre of gravity towards the East was only a temporary process: something we have seen before, a process which would then reverse, followed by restoration of the world economic order of the past four to five hundred years – together with the revived economic dominance of the West. The idea that this eastward shift is merely temporary is one that we can now discard. This process is not a temporary process: this is itself the new world. Year after year we can see with increasing clarity that this shift in the world economy’s centre of gravity will be the starting-point that will determine our lives over the next few decades. The world economic order which is based on Western dominance is in its final stage, in its last few years. Japan demonstrated, like a flower in one’s lapel, that you can be successful in the East if you organise your economy on the basis of Western principles, and this is how it became the world’s second largest economy. But we never regarded Japan as the antithesis of Western world economic dominance: it was seen as much more a part of it. However, a lot of things have happened in the meantime: China has emerged, along with India and the Arab world. Only yesterday I came back from a visit to Iran. Therefore I have to say that the shift in the world economy’s centre of gravity towards the East, towards Asia, is not marginal to the world order, but central to it.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This is accompanied by the redrawing of the military map of the world. Luckily this does not concern us here in Europe, but as we are part of the western military order through our membership of NATO, it has an impact on the community to which we belong– and thus also on us. We must acknowledge that the era of Western world dominance is coming to an end not only in the world economy; the West’s military world dominance is also coming to an end. Understanding this and its consequences, assessing them and building them into our way of thinking is a formidable intellectual challenge for the years ahead.

And finally, this great global realignment also has world political implications, because certain political formulae which were once dominant in our lives and benefited us have, over the last ten to fifteen years, proved to be more of a muzzle or a constraint. An end has come to the era of political discourse based on the philosophical foundations of human rights, in which we must only say what we think within the limits of that discourse and according to which anyone who departs from this approach is betraying the great values of the world. Over the past year we have found that world politics based on the export of Western democracy has failed. Wherever we sought to export our democracy we struggled to find takers, and where there was a taker, it proved to represent a minority of the population. Throughout the world we caused more grief and turmoil with the export of our democracy than the grief and turmoil that we sought to remedy. This is sad, and I am not at all happy to present this conclusion to you; but this is the truth. I also believe that the kind of human rights discourse which seeks to describe the whole world from the perspective of freedom and human rights, and which portrays this as the model to be followed, is also less and less in demand. It is time for us to return to reality and to realpolitik. I would even venture to say that we are at the very end of the world political discourse based on the export of democracy and the export of human rights.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In a Western world currently facing global change, Europe occupies a special place. We are struggling with even graver problems than the Americans, and we shall have some considerable tasks over the next few years if we are to resolve these problems.

First of all, I would now say a few words the European economy. It continues to be sclerotic and inflexible, and has trouble finding answers at the pace demanded by world economic challenges in a new era of accelerating change. This is all the more painful because it increases the burdens on Central Europe. If you look at the map of European economic growth, you will see that if the Central European countries were not members of the European Union today (as we have been since 2004), and if our economic figures were deducted from the aggregated European economic performance indicators , Europe’s economy would be shrinking. Its growth rate is around one per cent only because the economic performance of the Central European countries is increasing annually by three to four per cent, and today this is what is keeping the entire European Union among the world’s growing economic regions.

The second problem we must face is the issue of immigration. I would like to talk about this more at length, because it raises questions which are not only economic in their nature, but also civilisational and cultural.

And the third problem we must mention about Europe is the problem of democracy. If our continent continues like this, it will cease to be a democratic continent. Take the distance between the elite exercising political power and the people, who form the very foundations of democracy. There is always some distance between these groups, because there is never a perfect overlap – even in the case of referenda, which are pure expressions of direct democracy, such as in Switzerland – and indeed there cannot be a perfect overlap. There is always some distance, a flexible distance. But in Europe today the scale of the distance between the elite and the people – between the policy deemed desirable by the elite and the people’s instincts, will, intentions and wishes – is so great and exponentially growing that it also raises questions over the future of European democracy. I am not at all saying that European democracy is over, but I am saying that it will be if we continue like this without changing course. So if we want to keep our continent democratic, it is necessary to change the policy of Brussels, it is necessary to change quite a few political propositions at the headquarters of Europe’s great powers, and we Central Europeans will also have to change a few things.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

If I wanted to give you a short account of this in Europe, I could say that under the surface – everyone can see the surface, so I would not like to talk about that much – there is a genuine strategic civilisational and cultural struggle going on. Today Europe is split between two camps. There are those who would like to create a United States of Europe based on the model of the United States of America, and there are those who envisage the European Union as an alliance of nations: an alliance of European nations. And this debate emerges on every specific issue – sometimes more openly, at other times less so. We belong to the camp which favours an alliance of European nations. We do not dismiss as inferior the position which seeks to create a United States of Europe out of our diverse European continent. It is possible to have such ideas – they do not necessarily make you a global enemy of the good, and it is possible to express such views. My intention is not to label this position morally. It is, however, my duty to qualify it from an intellectual and historical perspective. In so doing I have to draw attention to the fact that the main characteristic of the United States is that it has never had independent constituent nations and nation states. For this reason it was able to create a larger united federation of states. The essence of Europe – which has different cultures, languages and historical roots – lies in the fact that it has national constituent elements, and if someone tries to remove them, the very quality of that which we call Europe today will necessarily be destroyed. Europe will still remain Europe – it will have geographical borders, and it will have economic activity; but the intellectual and civilisational quality which as a continent sets us Europeans apart from the rest of the world will be destroyed by those who want to create a United States of Europe. We are lovers both of Hungarian culture – seeing the preservation of this culture as one of the principal missions of our lives – and of European culture. Therefore we believe that the preservation of the quality of Hungarian and European culture is a duty and a fine task – a task which we are happy to accept. And this is why we undertake to engage in dispute – even against the powerful political representatives of the concept of a United States of Europe.

As this forum, the Hungarian Diaspora Council, is designed to serve the unification of the nation, I shall not talk about the fact that the destruction of European nations is seen by the European left – including the Hungarian left – as destruction of the cradles of nationalism, and is therefore one of the left’s long-standing missions. But this would divide us here at this table, and therefore, without any talk of party politics, I merely wish to indicate that this dimension also exists. However, we did not gather together in order to examine this issue; perhaps we might do so at another forum.

I would like to say a few words about the challenge which is our greatest concern: the greatest concern of the Hungarians living here. This challenge is modern-day mass migration. In the language of political correctness this should just be called “migration”, but in fact it is modern-day mass migration, and it is nothing other than the invasion of Europe. They are not merely coming here, not only migrating or entering; they are, quite simply, invading Europe. And an absurd coalition has been formed. I do not wish to say that this absurd coalition was the cause of mass migration – because it may well be that it was all the other way round, and this absurd coalition was created by mass migration. I would not engage in this debate just now. I would just point out that as yet we do not have intellectually firm foundations for a true understanding of this phenomenon. But there is an absurd coalition which comprises a network of human traffickers employing tens of thousands of people and business interests worth billions of euros, a multitude of human rights activists paid by extremely influential businesspeople, and some leading politicians in the European Union. This is the absurd coalition which has led to us transporting into Europe people who were forced or decided to leave their homelands. So this is not about our inability to detain them, or to find a way of stopping this process; we ourselves are in fact organising them, we are sending vehicles to collect them, we ourselves are suspending the laws which would otherwise impose controls, screening and a sensible migrant policy. One by one European leaders eliminate such measures and create a situation in which it becomes a kind of moral imperative that European politicians themselves should transport these people into Europe. Debates now focus on how they can be transported most comfortably – with the minimum inconvenience and maximum security – to the places they choose as their destinations, the countries which they find most attractive.

Right from the beginning, Ladies and Gentlemen, the Hungarian position has been that we should go further than protecting Hungarian communities from the undesirable effects of this invasion – though beyond doubt that is our constitutional duty. Our position is that we should call upon Europe not to pursue such a policy, not to allow and transport hundreds of thousands of people into Europe without controls, without knowing their identities, their true places of origin and their intentions, and without having any idea at all as to how we shall live alongside them. So Hungary has gone beyond merely protecting its own community; we have also entered the European arena because we have seen the threat as a European threat, and stated in the European arena what we think about this phenomenon. This was a difficult decision, and we had to consider a great many things. It is obvious that if you go out in the sun, you will get a tan, and if you step into the limelight, everyone will be watching you, and this requires skills which go beyond the traditional Hungarian diplomatic skills, which aim at mere survival. But we saw that in this situation we could not fall back on a languid, lukewarm policy based on the attitude that “we’ll get out of this somehow”; we could not say that the customary smart Hungarian mind-set would eventually enable us to find a clever way to be spared all the resulting unpleasantness. We undertook to do much more than that. We openly and directly entered the arena of European politics, and said: “Dear Europeans, don’t do this, this will not end well”. We accepted all the arguments and disputes which arose from this stance; I shall not detail them here, but there were without doubt some exciting sideshows. And in addition we Hungarians were the ones who pointed out that people have been coming – or, rather, people have been transported by us – into Europe from countries and territories with which we are now at war. We may not see them as enemies, but they see us that way. The fact that attempts have been made in Syria to bring down the Government and that the country has been bombed may well be seen by us as friendly assistance, in return for which we expect praise; but from the Syrian perspective the situation is completely different. From their perspective, we are their military enemies – that is why we have dropped bombs on them – and they therefore see us as their enemies. The situation is similar in Afghanistan, and also in Iraq, to mention a third example. So in territories where we are currently conducting military operations, human traffickers are organising masses of people to set out for Europe. Therefore, quite obviously, it is a sensible – though not humane – military strategy for them to smuggle some of their own military forces behind enemy lines as guerrilla fighters. This approach is as old as war itself. We Europeans simply have not taken this danger into consideration; this can be classed as irresponsibility, and the consequences can now be measured in human lives. Our secret services are working very hard, and we sincerely hope and pray that there will be no repeat of the horror which we recently witnessed in Paris. At the same time, we must admit that, with our bad policy, we Europeans have also contributed to bringing this situation about.

All of this has a very powerful spiritual implication as well. I can see some older faces around the table – I am talking about the older gentlemen. They obviously have experience of an era when Europe – and Hungary within it – was under attack. We younger people have no such experience: this is new to me as well, to my generation – even though I am not a young man any more. It is a new experience to conceive of a Europe under attack: in which security is not a given; in which enemy forces using various methods – now terrorism – carry out attacks on our everyday way of life, our peace and security. This is a new scenario. Up until now we have taken our security for granted: it was as natural as breathing. We are a NATO Member State, a European Union Member State: “What lack of security? What threat? What attack?” The very idea itself was absurd. And now we have to reorder a lot of things in order to find the right priority – the top priority, if possible – for the security measures linked to protection against terrorism, and to once again regard security, military and national security as the state’s most important priority. This is because there is nothing more important than protecting the lives of the members of the community who have elected us to lead them. This requires a more profound and more thorough transformation of our own political criteria, quite aside from the fact that we have to live together with the sensation of being under attack.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Within the circle of people gathered here, it is not difficult to show the absurdity of the situation, and I would not waste more than two sentences on this. Just consider how many controls you had to undergo before you were allowed into the country which you chose as your destination as a refugee or immigrant, whilst solemnly swearing that you would respect the laws of that country. And imagine that now we have none of those controls. In fact, the movement through Europe of many European Union citizens – say Bulgarians, whose country is not a member of Schengen – are hindered far more than is the movement of migrants from Syria. These are absurd situations and, like all absurd situations in politics, clearly demonstrate that we must find a solution. And imagine the reaction if upon your arrival, in a footnote on your application to live in America or Canada, you had remarked that the religious symbols used in your new country should be removed, saying that while they are indeed the symbols of the majority, the symbols of the people who live there, you as newcomers do not like them. And today in the European Union this is not something that can be merely proposed; European politicians support the notion that minorities arriving in their countries may legitimately demand removal of the religious symbols of the indigenous majority, because they offend the sensibility of newcomers. These are absurd situations, and if we do not say out loud that they are absurd, we shall not be able to protect ourselves against challenges of this type. The mind boggles, Ladies and Gentlemen, if you visit Brussels too often.

I have read an excellent piece by an outstanding German journalist of Hungarian ancestry called Hefty, in which he analysed the consequences of Turks settling in Germany in the nineteen-sixties. I read the following, which I would now like to commend to you. It went something like this: the Germans wanted workforce and got people. This is the case now as well. So if anyone thinks that they can solve Europe’s workforce problems and demographic problems through immigration, they may well solve the demographic problems, but they will at the same time eliminate Europe. Therefore this type of method for the management of European demographic problems will result in a policy of self-elimination. Because we may well want individuals who will solve our demographic problems and we may well want workforce, but we will get people: flesh-and-blood people, with souls, feelings, a culture and civilisation. And we cannot take them to task for not wanting to simply leave behind – cast aside like old clothes – what life means to them, their religion, their traditions and their civilisation. Only some of Europe’s intelligentsia believe that – with a simple decision, as if one were taking off a jacket and putting on one’s pyjamas –one can just cast aside one’s own cultural traditions, sexual orientation, created essence and ties to one’s nation. This is simply impossible! And to expect this of those who are coming here is not humane, and is not fair.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

After this, please allow me to say a few words about the mandatory resettlement quotas, because this will be the issue that will be most frequently put to you in connection with Hungary. If you find yourself faced with a complicated situation, you had better follow the example of embarrassed teenagers on the dance floor: when all the steps they have learnt are falling to pieces, they go back to square one and start everything from the beginning. There are some who should also follow this routine in adulthood. And this is what I think we should do as well. There is no point in overcomplicating the matter: we must find the basic, underlying question. The basic question is whether in this world anyone has the right to tell us whom we should wish to live alongside in our own country. The answer is that no one has the right to decide this for us. We alone, Hungarians who live here and who claim this country as our own, can decide on this. If we can say this, it is perfectly logical that we must reject all EU and Brussels attempts and designs which seek to take from us and assign to someone else the right to decide whom we let in, whom we take in, and whether indeed we take in anyone at all. We must reject designs which seek to assign this right to Brussels in the name of a common European Union migrant policy, one of the elements of which is mandatory distribution quotas. In the next few weeks and months you will observe that Hungary will make every conceivable effort to block any kind of European plan aimed at telling Hungary – and not only Hungary, but any other European country at all – how many and what kind of people we should take in and live alongside, together with the Hungarians here. In the period ahead this will be a hot potato. An agreement was concluded with the Turks in Brussels on Sunday; its terms are far from easy, but are more or less acceptable. They are barely reasonable from a Hungarian viewpoint, but are tolerable, and this is why we did not veto it. But there have been some partly stifled reports in the German press which suggest that there is something else which is not explicitly stated in the EU-Turkey agreement, but which will emerge in the next few days. The devil’s cloven hoof will be revealed, the cat will be let out of the bag – just to raise confusion of metaphors to new heights. So the cloven hoof will come out of the bag like a cat, and one day we shall wake up to find that an announcement will be made somewhere – I think in Berlin before the week is up – that there is one other detail here: that around 400,000–500,000 Syrian refugees should be brought into the European Union directly from Turkey. These are the bitter dregs which Europe is yet to taste. I assume that such a non-public agreement does indeed exist, because it was once raised publicly, at the Malta summit. At that time it was voted down – or to be more precise, there was no vote on it, but it was perfectly clear that it would not pass and was therefore left out of the Turkey-European Union agreement. I believe that this secret background agreement does exist, however, and we shall be faced with it in the next few days. There will be a lot of pressure on us, and on the rest of the Visegrád countries as well, as it will be said that someone has already agreed to it. In order to avoid diplomatic complications, I am not going to say which country Berlin belongs to! Anyway, given that a deal has been agreed, they will say that we should not simply bring these people into Europe, but should immediately distribute them. And the decision, they will say, is binding. This pressure will determine Europe policy over the next few days and weeks. It will not be easy because, naturally, we cannot accept this under these conditions – and in fact we cannot accept this at all. So I am asking you to make your voices heard in the debates on this issue.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Hungary is now an economically successful country. You are aware that in Europe for someone to dare speak up, they must first put their budget in order, their sovereign debt must follow a favourable trend, their economic growth must be above the European average, and their unemployment rate must fall faster than elsewhere. If one can combine all these achievements, then one can take part in intellectual debates as an equal partner. For as long as this is not the case, until the right to participate in the intellectual debate is matched by a country’s economic performance, the attitude to that country is that it should first put its own house in order, and then broadcast its wisdom on bigger European issues. Now that Hungary has already put its own house in order in this respect, we no longer need to speak from a defensive position, but can do so from the proactive position of a successful European country. So I think it that now we do not simply want to defend ourselves and Europe against something bad and adopt a defensive stance – as a boxer would do in the ring – but we have proposals, recommendations and ideas for the entire community. I propose that we should not stop at a few, but should gather together all our thoughts, including the ones I have just shared with you, and many others as well. And we should say out loud that the European Union must be fundamentally reformed. The migrant crisis has most clearly demonstrated that there are profound problems in the European Union, which we should liken to a car manufactured on a Friday afternoon. In a certain respect we should be grateful that this crisis has pinpointed the weaknesses which European politics and the whole of Europe are suffering from today. We should not just defend ourselves against troubles, but here in Central Europe – the Visegrád Four is meeting tomorrow in Prague in this spirit – we should define Hungarian or Central European proposals for reforming Europe. For if it is true that today the Central European countries’ economic performance is the engine within the economy of the entire European Union, the courage coming from that role as engine should also prompt us to identify concepts for comprehensive European reforms. We must also bring to an end an intellectual and political era, and we must open a new one. We must do this so that we can protect the cradle of Western civilisation, because we want to avoid the cradle of Western civilisation becoming that civilisation’s coffin. But if things continue as I have described, this may transform from literary exaggeration into political reality.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Exactly what these reform proposals should entail is not something we should discuss here now. I would sum up their main thrust as being that we need a democratic era instead of a liberal era. This may not be the linguistic framework of the final proposal, because it is provocative – but for our purposes this is more understandable. There was a time when the liberal era and the democratic era coincided; there was a time when freedom was at the centre of liberalism; there was a time when democracy could not be conceived of without liberal thought. But these two ideas have become detached. Today Europe is dominated by a liberal politics which the people do not agree with, and we must make a choice. And if we must make a choice, I recommend that we identify a democratic European reform concept. Whilst there should be recognition of all the merits of the liberal era, it should finally be followed by a democratic political era in Europe, together with the policies which will bring this about.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

After this European overview, allow me to say a few words about Hungary. It is not easy to speak about Hungary, because we grew up in a political culture – the older ones among us may perhaps say that this was the same in the old days – in which we do not have political debates. Instead, the facts which form the basis for political debates are called into question. So the reason it is difficult to speak sensibly about national and economic strategy in Hungary is that we are not debating about directions, but about whether there are even facts which all sides can accept as facts. And as the nation strategy is being developed and ideas are being identified within the framework of intense ongoing party struggle, party interests always necessarily emerge, and party interests always necessarily shift even the most elementary facts. In Hungarian political debate, no one is surprised if someone says that two times two is three, while someone else says that it is five. They do not see this as stupidity, idiocy or silliness, but as a natural position from which one may view the world. This is why I say that it is not easy to talk about Hungary. Yet we must make an attempt, and perhaps the person best placed to do so is the Prime Minister. He is, of course, able to exercise the principal power of governance against a party political background, but he must nonetheless speak the language of the people, and consequently there is a natural constraint on silliness: he cannot allow party interests to lead him to present the public with just any nonsense. This is why I am asking you to accept what I am going to say about Hungarian reality as being within the range of facts.

Here we have some mental props, as every year various institutes publish reports on the situation of Hungary. Only yesterday or the day before a very comprehensive analysis was released for the year 2014. Given that I am party to shaping events, I am also fortunate to be familiar with the relevant 2015 data; I can tell you with confidence that the trends which started unfolding in 2014 have also continued in 2015, but we will only have academically well-founded, complete knowledge of this from around the middle of next year. The record shows that 2014 was a good year for Hungary. Our gross domestic product increased by 3.7%, unemployment fell to 7–7.5%, and we know that it stands around 6.3–6.5% at this stage in the year. Our employment rate has increased: at the end of 2014 four million one hundred thousand people were in employment, and in the last quarter – if I remember correctly – this figure rose to four million three hundred thousand. Not since 1991 have so many people been in work in Hungary. As the territories offering natural resources were detached from Hungary after World War One, the Hungarian economy can only expand on the basis of a single approach: that of work. We cannot boost the Hungarian economy through the wise management of oil revenues, we cannot generate additional economic strength from the revenues of ore mines in former Hungarian territories which are now in Slovakia, because now we have none; and I shall not even mention the other territories. The essence of the matter is that we have to make do with what we have left, and this forces us to pursue the path of a work-based economy. This means that if the Hungarians do not work we shall be ruined – both as a nation and as individuals. If they work, we have a chance of survival, and of finding advancement and prosperity – on a national as well as a family scale. At present, the number of people in employment is between four million one hundred thousand and four million three hundred thousand; employment has not been this high since 1991. If we add to this record high number of people in work the fact that in 2010 only one million eight hundred thousand people were paying taxes, while now some four million three hundred thousand people are, you can see the very long way that Hungary has come. Meanwhile, as a result of the policy of reducing household utility bills – commonly referred to as the “household utility bill war” – inflation is practically zero, and we may therefore say that these growth results are net figures rather than gross, with no further deductions. Real earnings increased by some five per cent last year, and this trend has also continued this year.

There is always a moral case. The Hungarian people is one which is highly attuned to justice and, beyond improved economic indicators, Hungarians always ask about the situation of the neediest and poorest. I can tell you the following, and now I am talking about the situation of those at the bottom and within the lower middle-class; these people form the core of the nation, as this is the most populous stratum in society. So, even in 2013, the stratum of society in Hungary exposed to poverty or the threat of poverty still accounted for 32–33% of the total population. This percentage fell to 27–28% in 2014, and has continued to fall in 2015. This means that the situation of the lower middle class has stabilised, has consolidated – obviously as a result of foreign currency loans being converted to forints, and the removal of these people from debt slavery. There is an upswing in their fortunes; this is not very fast – regrettably, not as fast as we would like, by far – but there is some upswing. Let me repeat: in the world of the lower middle class – the core of the nation’s population – employment is higher, wages are increasing, and the situation of this wide stratum in society is perceptibly improving at a rate which is not enough, but is acceptable. If it continues to improve at this rate every year, by the end of the electoral cycle the country will be in an acceptable position, though this does not mean that subsequent governments will not have plenty more to do in this department. In absolute terms this means that the number of people living in extreme poverty fell by 166,000 in 2014. We should acknowledge this achievement – particularly against the background of a stagnating European environment.

Something else I should tell you in this context is that Hungary is doing well in terms of security and law and order. We are ranked better than the European average both in terms of low crime figures and the population’s perception of security. This is particularly significant, because Hungary’s principal economic asset and the Hungarians’ greatest cultural creation are one and the same thing, and how we can use this and turn it to our advantage is very much related to the safety of life here. This asset and the Hungarians’ greatest cultural creation is called Budapest. In global terms this city has recently become a fashionable destination and a major cultural attraction, while at the same time superlatives are being used to describe its economic performance. Budapest is a treasure in the hands of the Hungarian people which must be used wisely. And our city should not just be dynamic, but should also be safe, in order that it can exert a positive influence on a global scale, which may be felt both in our national self-esteem and in economic figures.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In essence this is the situation. It is not my duty to make evaluations of this kind, but perhaps in light of the friendly relationship that exists between us, you will excuse my overstepping the customary boundaries. I can tell you that you belong to the external ranks of a successful, well-respected and important country which, whilst engaging in ongoing battles, has highly positive prospects. I think that the time when the unpleasant feeling that being Hungarian will provoke criticism and doubt is coming to an end – perhaps not overnight, but slowly. This may be replaced – let me repeat, not immediately, but step by step – by well-deserved appreciation. Of course nothing of this kind happens of its own accord. I would like to ask you to join us in pushing the railway turntable, so that we do not have do this on our own here, in Budapest. I hope we may rely on your contribution to this effort.

Thank you for your attention.

Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister

« vissza

On Saturday morning, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán received President of Poland Andrzej Duda in Parliament.
In answer to questions from foreign journalists in Brussels on Friday, the second day of the summit of the European Union’s heads of state and government, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said that Hungary does not like double standards, and therefore does not support them being applied to anyone, including Poland.
At a press conference in Brussels on Friday afternoon, in which he evaluated the agreement between the European Union and Turkey, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said that Hungarian diplomacy has achieved its goals.
  • Viktor Orbán, 52
  • Lawyer, graduated at Eötvös Loránd University and studied at Pembroke College, Oxford
  • Married to Anikó Lévai
  • They have five children: Ráhel, Gáspár, Sára, Róza, Flóra
  • Chairman of FIDESZ, vice-chairman of the European People's Party


© Minden jog fenntartva, 2010