Viktor Orbán’s Speech at the Opening of the World Science Forum

7 November 2015

Dear President, Your Royal Highness, Commissioner, Distinguished Guests,

Welcome to Budapest. First of all I have to apologize for not speaking in English. As you know, we are in Budapest, and as you know, each job has its duties. And taking into consideration that I am currently the Prime Minister here in Hungary, I have to use our native language. But those who don’t use the translation can easily realize our splendid linguistic isolation.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great honour and joy for Hungary that the Hungarian Academy of Sciences is able to once again welcome to Budapest prominent representatives from the world of science, science policy experts, decision-makers, specialists researching the links between science and society and representatives from the media. Many of you may remember that we met here, in the same place, four years ago. At that time the economic crisis was our central topic, because then we were busy working on how we could pull Europe’s cart out of the mud.

Honourable Guests,

Here today, in the countries of the Western world, if a leading politician takes the stage, their audience can rest assured that they will speak about migration, the causes of modern-day mass migration, and the effects and consequences of the movement of this multitude of people. Indeed, we have no choice. There is an eastern curse disguised as a good wish: “May you live to see interesting times”. This is just what we are experiencing in Europe today.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We are living in interesting – indeed, crazy – times. Europe is under pressure from mass migration on a colossal scale. The whole world is looking on in astonishment at what is happening. Perhaps different people have different reasons for their reaction, and perhaps different feelings are aroused – but the common factor is astonishment. We must confront a flood of people pouring out of the countries of the Middle East, and meanwhile the depth of Africa has been set in motion. Millions of people are preparing to set out. Globally the desire, the urge and the pressure for people to continue their lives in some place other than where they began them is increasing. This is one of history’s largest tides of people, and it brings with it the danger of tragic consequences. It is a modern-day global mass migration, which we cannot see the end of: economic migrants hoping for a better life, refugees and drifting masses mixed up together. This is an uncontrolled and unregulated process, and – now that I am speaking before the scientific community – the most precise definition of this is “invasion”. Yes, Europe is under invasion, and this feeling is not alleviated by knowing that the countries neighbouring the war zones are even worse off than we are. Our continent is yet to appreciate the gravity of the problem: there is a challenge to its very culture, way of life and pattern of existence up to now.

It is as if we did not yet want to see that the Western world is facing an unprecedented challenge which could crush and bury under itself the form of existence we have known up to now. The stakes are therefore enormous. At the same time, what is happening, what will happen and what we allow to happen have significance far beyond the borders of Europe or Western civilisation. This is true even if the gravity of the crisis is anchored in Western civilisation; for behind the processes, a new map of a cultural, world power and global economic realignment is unfolding. And unless we are careful, we may see changes in this map which could have far-reaching implications, including political – or even armed – conflict. This is why I am saying that the migration pressure which is weighing down so heavily upon us is of a global nature, and the questions raised by the current migration are also of a global nature. Therefore it would be reasonable for the whole world to play its part in the management of the situation. Preserving peace, keeping the processes under control, and maintaining the stability of political leaderships are in everyone’s best interests – regardless of which continent we live on.

Esteemed Guests, Honourable President,

What follows from this with respect to the world’s academic community? We should perhaps begin by saying that, following the rules of common sense, there are after all two types of person: the type who looks at what is and the type who looks at what is not. The type who ponders upon what already exists and the type who ponders upon what does not yet exist. One type of person is locked into the problems of the present, and seeks answers from the existing store. The other type starts from the assumption that the world is always more than what we see or know of it at any given time, and is therefore ready to ask new questions and to find new answers. It is my personal experience that in politics today we need people with the latter approach. In this way of thinking, science could be of great assistance to us, for the essence of science lies in looking for that which does not yet exist, that which we do not yet understand, that which we do not yet know. At times of crisis, there is a greater need for people who look upon life in this way and want to see in it that which no one before them has ever seen. After all, it is not too difficult to see that this crisis is a sign of our fear of having run out of opportunities, and of not having sufficient strength, knowledge or even means to continue the ordinary course of life. This research gives meaning to our being together and to the presence of politics here: together we should look for the new opportunities arising from the new challenges. Therefore I believe that nowadays this forum and all similar meetings and conferences are of the utmost importance.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

How the world faces previously unknown challenges depends to a large extent on the courage of those who are prepared to act, and on the responsibility of scientists. Together we must undertake to prove that, even in the midst of the crisis, we have not run out of opportunities, and we are able to find solutions through which we can conquer the challenges emerging on a global scale. We all know that genuine knowledge is there to serve, rather than to rule. Science, which seeks the world of “the not yet there” serves life, and concerns itself with the questions which play a major role in the lives of people. If this is how we approach the mission of such conferences, the essential questions awaiting an answer present themselves almost of their own accord. We could go on listing them all day long: the issues of sustainable economic growth, energy production and energy management, exploitation of the environment and nature, the issues of arable land and water reserves, or demographic problems. The questions related to our lifestyles, too, are important, as are the social challenges arising from wasteful consumption in the more developed parts of the world. In the poorer parts of the world we are faced with the problems of overpopulation, a shortage of food and social tensions escalating into wars; the combination of all this also induce global migration.

We who have gathered here today at this forum – scientists, business executives and politicians – should perhaps bear one thing in mind: our work should at all times be imbued with humility in deference to our goal. Politics, economics and also science should bear in mind that they cannot exist purely for their own sake. We want to find solutions for our fellow-human beings, and this is something which calls for sobriety and more humility than ever before. As I mentioned, history has moved, and unless we are careful reality will bury us under itself. 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We are living in crazy times; we are blindly racing towards an uncertain outcome. I think everyone knows that no good can come from this, and yet people have the feeling – at least here in the West – that, while this is obvious, we are not doing enough to prevent it. The responsibility we share for the common goal must lead us back to the path of common sense, and perhaps to the elementary reflexes of self-defence which do not allow the core values of humanity to fall victim to the shocks induced by a world in motion. This is what the motto of the conference “the enabling power of science” encourages us to do.

Please allow me to wish you all the best of luck with the successful accomplishment of your work here, which involves a great deal of responsibility. I wish you good health, strength, and a successful conference. Thank you for your attention.

Europe is being invaded

Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister

« vissza

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  • 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


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