Speech given by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán
after swearing his prime ministerial oath
16 May 2022, Budapest
Madam President of the Republic, Mr. Speaker, Fellow Members of Parliament,
My first words are those of thanks. I thank my fellow Members for their support. I thank the electorate for placing their trust in me. I have been elected by the Members of Parliament, but I will not forget that the mandate comes from the voters, from the Hungarian people. We – and I – have worked hard for the trust of the electorate and this mandate from them. In recent years I have tried to serve my country to the best of my ability. In the election battle, we – and I – fought unceasingly. Therefore I stand before you now with the serenity and confidence derived from work completed with honour. I do so for the fifth time.
I thank all my compatriots – both within and beyond our borders – for casting their votes, whether in their places of birth or in distant parts of the world. I thank them for taking part in the Hungarian nation’s joint decision, which has set the course of our country for the next four years. Our opponents ensured that the election was conducted under unprecedented international and domestic scrutiny. Everyone could see that Hungary is a country where electoral abuses do not and cannot happen. I thank opposition activists for their monitoring work, which helped to protect Hungary’s reputation and public confidence in Hungarian democracy. High voter turnout is a sign of a healthy democracy. This may be a cliché, but it is true. The Hungarian people care about their fate, they have opinions on public affairs, and they do not hide them. In the thirty-two-year history of Hungarian democracy, never before have so many people voted for any party as this time voted for the Fidesz-KDNP list and its candidates. And what is yet more important is that after twelve years in government we have received an absolute majority of votes. I shall strive to be worthy of this enormous trust, which is unprecedented in the whole of Europe. It is food for thought that we have won by the largest margin ever, at a time when all human reasoning suggested that we were also competing on the most difficult terrain. The Hungarian left and their international allies, politicians, financiers and the media all rallied against us. Let us make it clear: Brussels and George Soros were also playing to ensure our downfall. They threatened us however they could. No wonder this victory fills us with electrifying energy. My friends, there is nothing so exhilarating as to be shot at without result. We have won four times in a row, despite financial crises, a global pandemic, floods of migrants, and even a war that was – and is – threatening our country. Such a winning streak is unusual in Europe, and even in the wider Western world; and the scale of the victory is unprecedented. It is also worthwhile – even obligatory – to look for a deeper meaning in these things. I am convinced that Hungarians – not only the leaders, but also the broadest sections of the population – have a highly developed historical instinct, and a particularly highly developed sense of danger. This is no wonder. A thousand years is a long time, and the Hungarians have learned that – in times of danger – disunity, confrontation and internal conflict can lead to serious consequences: to decline, to fall, and even to the loss of one’s country. Internal conflict and discord are luxuries to be reserved for the happy years of peace. We are not living in such times. In troubled times, the order of the day is unity. It is the order for such times. Whoever evades it is a danger to the community, the nation and the country. Such parties and politicians are therefore soundly thrashed by the electorate. And Hungarians also know that unity and consensus do not emerge automatically. Consensus is not something to be sought and found, like an Easter egg, but something to be created. In politics this demands strength, ability and – above all – a good heart, goodwill and patriotism. Those who have this can gain the trust of the people. For me, this is the historic lesson of the 2022 parliamentary election.
The beauty of prime ministerial work is that whichever minister deals with whatever major decision, ultimate responsibility lies with the Prime Minister. This is a heavy burden; some of us are crushed by it, and some of us are inspired by it. I believe that the main responsibility of a prime minister is to in some way understand and anticipate what times lie ahead for us, and to prepare the Hungarian people for them. As a task, understanding the future teaches you that you can never be smart enough on your own. In addition to ministers, successful governance requires dozens of experts, advisers and intellectuals. Fortunately, Hungary has never suffered from a shortage of outstanding minds, and I count on them in the course of my work.
Everything that has happened since 2020, and everything that is unfolding today – that is, everything that enables us to understand the nature of the decade between 2020 and 2030 – points in one direction, or follows one course: Europe and Westerners – and with within them Hungary and we Hungarians – have entered an age of danger. This decade will be an age of perils, uncertainty and wars. The decade began with the coronavirus pandemic and continued with war. The war and the European sanctions policy in response to it have created an energy crisis. The energy crisis and US interest rate hikes have combined to bring an era of high inflation. Together all this will bring a period of recession, of economic decline, with European economic performance seeing alternating years of decline, stagnation and modest increase. Threatening pandemics may re-emerge. The economic downturn could deepen. Migration towards rich countries will intensify with tectonic force. On top of all this, a protracted real war harbouring the threat of escalation to a global level is being fought on the territory of our eastern neighbour. The picture of a decade of war is unfolding before our eyes. It would be good if this were not the case; but our starting point cannot be our wishes, but reality. We Hungarians must be prepared for this, and in this tumult we must set our course and create our own policy. Part of the picture of the decade of war facing us will be recurring waves of suicidal policy in the Western world. One such suicide attempt that I see is the great European population replacement programme, which seeks to replace the missing European Christian children with migrants, with adults arriving from other civilisations. This is also how I see gender madness, which sees the individual as the creator of their identity, including their sexual identity. And this is how I see the programme of liberal Europe, which leaves behind Christianity and the nation states that up until now have held the West together, while putting nothing in their place. This sees freedom in individuals being cut off from their communities, from their families and their countries, while forgetting that the solitary individual can never be free, but merely lonely. Thus we are simultaneously struck by economic woes, the threat of war, Europe’s internal spiritual weakness and Brussels’ political errors. It is in this situation that we must map out Hungary’s course; and once we have done so we must set the country on that course and keep it there with a steady hand. This is a difficult task, but we can succeed in it. We can succeed, because Hungarians are hewn from the hardest wood, and so we are stubborn in our resistance to decline. Rational order, stability, no complacency, but all the more humility; and, above all, uncompromising, unbending loyalty. And all the while sincere kindness, sober self-interest, a serene, self-respecting and courageous Hungary. This is the task for the next government. I am particularly counting on the historic churches’ communities of believers, the very existence of which is a great asset for Hungary. We shall ensure the conditions needed for the proclamation of the Gospel, freedom and respect for the churches. We see a growing demand for church schools, hospitals and homes for the elderly. Helping these will be an important part of our work. And across the Carpathian Basin I see the spiritual and physical imprints of a reviving sense of national belonging. This is not only good for Hungarians living beyond the borders, but it also strengthens universal Hungarian identity and the motherland. Hungarians beyond the borders can count on us, and we will be untiring in continuing our work of national unification.
Madam President, Honourable House,
First of all, I must talk about the security of Hungary. The Russo-Ukrainian war is in its eighty-second day. This war should never have started. The old Roman saying still applies: you cannot see both the beginning and the end of things at the same time. In other words, a war is easy to start, but difficult to end. Today Europe has no means for managing the conflict in its neighbourhood. Lacking the strength and the means, the continent’s leaders are convinced that European sanctions can bring Russia to its knees. This is possible on paper, and many paper politicians are floating some kind of theoretical evidence. But try as I might, I cannot recall any continental blockade that was effective. But I have seen those that brought down the people who conceived them. Let us hope and pray that this time will be different. In the interests of European unity, Hungary will not block sanctions, as long as they do not cross the red line that is Hungary’s defence of its economy – in other words, as long as they do not endanger Hungary’s energy security. Hungary is a member of NATO. We brought Hungary into the Western military alliance system in 1999. Our political community, my government and I consider Hungary’s membership of NATO to be an existential question. This is the sure point from which we can build Hungary’s security strategy. NATO is a defence alliance. It must not yield to the temptation of carrying out military offensives outside the territory of its member countries. It must not be transformed from a defence alliance into a military alliance of war. NATO is not the Entente, and it must not become the Entente. The importance of our membership of NATO has never been as obvious as it is now, during the Russo-Ukrainian war. Things are going from bad to worse. The Russians have declared the war a military operation that can be fought without conscription, therefore envisaging no end to it; and the Americans have opted for the unlimited financing of military equipment and materiel for Ukraine through a Lend-Lease Act of the kind known to us from World War II. Taken together, these form the worst possible combination. The war in our neighbourhood will therefore continue for a long time to come, with weapons in amounts that common sense finds it difficult to comprehend. This will pose a constant security threat to Hungary. The next decade’s most important task will be to stay out of this war and to protect Hungary’s peace and security. This will not be easy, because we are under enormous international pressure. To my way of thinking, anyone who supplies weapons already has one foot in the war. We are on the side of peace. Peace builds, war destroys. This is why we want an immediate ceasefire and peace negotiations. And I promise you that I will stand by our position. NATO is a sure support, but it will not defend Hungary instead of us. In the event of trouble it may do so alongside us; but it certainly will not do so instead of us. The desire for peace and good intentions are not on their own enough. If a country’s army is weak, if its soldiers are not fit to fight, and if its people do not want to defend themselves, then that country will be the first to be attacked. To defend oneself against a dragon, you need appropriate means. Those means are called the Hungarian Defence Forces, and the most urgent task is to strengthen them and turn them into an army capable of real defence.
In this war, Ukraine has been attacked and Russia is the aggressor. This is why we are supporting Ukraine, and why we have launched the largest humanitarian aid operation in Hungary’s history. Proportionally, we have admitted the largest number of refugees, and we are providing for those in need. We will help Ukrainian refugees. We are now putting aside the fact that in the past Hungarians in Transcarpathia have suffered violations of their rights. And we are also putting aside the fact that the President of Ukraine and his government openly interfered in the Hungarian election campaign and supported our opponents. Despite all this, Ukrainians can count on Hungary and the Hungarian government.
On account of our disputes with Brussels, I must also speak separately about the European Union. I would like to make it clear that Hungary is a member of the European Union, and in the decade ahead it is in our interest to remain a member of the European Union. It is true that today Brussels is seeking to curb the sovereignty of the Member States, including Hungary. It is also true that, instead of a Europe of nations, it is trying to build a new European empire, a United States of Europe, following earlier French and German traditions. There is also a widening cultural distance – almost a cultural alienation – between the western half of Europe and Hungary. This is because we believe in Europe’s Christian civilisational foundations and we believe in the concept of nation states, which has already been abandoned in Brussels. For us it is important to have God’s blessing. For us it is important to have a country that we can love and be proud of. For us it is important to maintain the continuity of a thousand years of Hungarian life, the Hungarian quality of existence in the Carpathian Basin. For us it is important that before we die we know that our children and grandchildren will have a homeland, something to continue and preserve. We know that this is the greatest thing that Hungarians can give their children. And for us this takes priority over all the confused talk and politics about common European values and ever closer integration.
Unfortunately, Honourable Members, it is also true that every day Brussels abuses its power and tries to impose on us all manner of things that are bad for us and alien to us. In the spirit of “live and let live”, we have proposed that there should be tolerance on migration, gender and – most recently – the oil embargo. Our proposals for mutual tolerance have been rejected. But we shall continue to defend our borders, we shall not dismantle the fence and we shall not let in migrants. We shall protect our families, we shall not let gender activists into our schools, and in Hungary a father shall be a man, a mother a woman, and our children shall be left alone. We stand for peace and security in Hungary and we shall not accept economic measures that would ruin Hungarian families. If this is the case, and it is, the only question is this, Honourable Members: What are we doing in the European Union? The answer lies in our dreams. We seek our dreams. We seek a community of free and equal nations, we seek a homeland of homelands, a democracy of democracies. We seek a Europe that fears God and defends the dignity of its people, a Europe that strives for the pinnacles of culture, of science and of the spirit. We are members of the European Union not because of what it is, but because of what it could be. And we shall fight for this for as long as we believe that there is even the slightest chance of attaining it; because such a Europe offers the best possibility and the widest scope for a free and independent Hungary. When we look ahead to the next decade, we see Hungary in the European Union, determined to fight for its rights and to seek allies to renew the Union.
Fellow Members, Honourable House,
The challenges of the coming decade of war will therefore be faced by a Hungary that is a member of NATO and the European Union. This is a good starting point, but it is not the answer to the challenges of the decade. The answer can only be a successful economic policy based on national foundations. This is why I must now talk in more detail about the economy. The ten years between 2010 and 2020 were the decade of our great breakthrough. In the European Union of twenty-seven Member States, we were second in terms of employment growth, second in investment growth, third in minimum wage growth, first in tax cuts and third in household savings growth. Not bad. Moreover, in terms of development, we have managed to overtake Greece and Portugal, even though they joined the European Union much earlier, when we were still a country under occupation and the communists were still dominant. But the last decade was not an easy one either, as you will remember: it started with a big financial collapse in the West, then came the migration crisis, and then the coronavirus pandemic with all its consequences.
We have seen many things, but we have never seen the world economy turned upside down twice in such a short space of time. The first time was the global pandemic, which led to a global economic crisis from 2020 onwards: 114 million jobs lost, global investment falling by 42 per cent and world trade declining by 5 per cent. There were mass factory closures and production capacity shrank. And as the pandemic abated, factories did not reopen automatically, but we saw the start of fierce competition between countries for the location of new production centres, plants and factories. Let us appreciate that Hungary has fought well in this competition over the last two years and has emerged as one of the winners: last year we saw our best ever investment performance. Investment in Hungary amounted to 1 886 billion forints, and we broke the record for our country’s largest greenfield investment. These investments now give us the possibility and the hope that we will be able to deal well with the coming economic crisis in Europe, and that, instead of contracting, the Hungarian economy can continue to grow. In early 2022 the world economy was hit by another shock: the Russo-Ukrainian war. East-West transport routes need to be redrawn, sources of supply need to be replaced, and many countries around the world are facing the threat of food shortages and famine. In this situation, several of our previous strategic decisions are being reassessed. As a continuation of the maritime transport route entering Greece, the Belgrade-Budapest rail line has a good chance of replacing the routes through Ukraine which have been destroyed. The southern gas pipeline, jointly built with the Balkan countries, has the potential to replace the pipelines from Ukraine. In the current era of energy supply crises, the safest countries will be those that are able to produce their own energy. The construction of new reactor units at Paks and solar investments will therefore be key to national security. Honourable Members, we sell three quarters of what we produce to Europe, but the largest and most modern investments now come here from the Far East. We are standing on two feet, and this makes our economy crisis-proof. We have been forward-looking and we have prepared for the revolutionary renewal of the automotive industry: we have done a great deal to make our country the European leader in the automotive industry’s next generation. The world’s largest battery production capacity is being built in Hungary, and we will soon be third in the world export ranking. The two countries now at war with each other are among the world’s largest exporters of grain. Thanks to the development of Hungarian agriculture and our food industry, we can now produce twice as much food as we need, so Hungary is not threatened by food shortages. But to be on the safe side, we are maintaining the state’s right of pre-emption on grain exports. In the competition for investment in the coming decade, the main arguments will be low taxes, physical security, developed road and rail routes, and political stability. In these areas we are well placed, and we will continue to build our economic strategy on a high level of investment.
To sum up, the commitment of the new government is to safeguard our key achievements and not to renounce our important goals – even in Europe’s unfolding economic crisis. Even in such difficult circumstances, we – and I – are committed to Hungary moving forward, not back. I pledge to defend full employment. I pledge to defend our family support policies. I pledge to protect the value of pensions. And I pledge to defend the cuts in household utility bills. So everyone will have work, pensions will have value, families will have security and children will have a future. In Hungary, we plan to first tame the inflation which is rampant throughout Europe, and then to suppress it. As you know, I am generally wary of direct state intervention in the economy, but in situations like this the Central Bank and the Government must intervene. We will coordinate our actions, and we will enact cautious but firm price-control measures. The results will be visible as early as September, and by the end of the year we will have established a sustainable and tolerable situation, until Brussels finds its way back to the path of sober economic policy. I have restructured the governance system accordingly. I thank the members of the previous government for their work. They have performed outstandingly, we should be proud of their achievements, and I am indeed proud of them. But now we are facing a very different decade, and the machinery of government therefore needed to be dismantled into its component parts and reassembled according to the logic of the new tasks. Thank you for giving me the support needed for this.
Honourable House, Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Speaker,
For centuries, the Hungarians have become accustomed to nobly sacrificing their lives for their country. And for that we admire them. But now we want to reverse that trend: we want to prove that it is also possible to live for your country; as our President suggested in her inauguration speech, to live more, better and more beautifully. For this we need a country that is proud of its values: proud of the most difficult language in the world, its inimitable and unmistakable folk art, its world-class high culture, its cutting-edge science and its world-beating sporting achievements. The government now being formed will work for such a Hungary. In the years ahead, Hungary will protect its families and be proud of its children. We believe in the nobility of work, and we know that the character of our nation is compatible with an independent individual and a cohesive community. I have found that we can be both individualists and collectivists, because we know that there is a time and a place for everything. There is a time for unlimited freedom, a time to soar on high; and also a time for hierarchical discipline, for service. It is this instinct for life, this capacity for survival and continuity raised to the level of art, that allows us to have not only a past and a present, but also a future in the Carpathian Basin. This geographical entity given by nature and God is destined to be the best place in the world. And, in cooperation with the peoples and countries living here, it is our task to make it so. This is in the common interest of Slovaks, Ukrainians, Romanians, Serbs, Croats, Slovenes and Hungarians. This is why in the future we will not yield to provocations or attempts to divide us; and I assure our neighbours that they can count on us, the Hungarians, their friends. We firmly believe in the shared future of the peoples of the Carpathian Basin. We can achieve it and we will achieve it. Or if we do not, the young people of today will. Today’s young generation is our greatest asset and resource. We do not always see this, because it is perhaps not those with the sharpest minds who speak for this generation. But if we look around the country, everywhere I see young people who love their country, who understand the world, who speak languages, and who use the latest technologies with the greatest ease. This is why Hungary has a bright future ahead of it. As is written in the Constitution, they will make Hungary great again.
Finally, I would like to say that it is important for a nation to know its place in the world. We must neither overestimate nor underestimate ourselves. Today Hungary is not the focus of unusual Western public attention because of its population, its army or its economic strength. The reason for this attention is that Hungary – alongside Poland – has become the last Christian, conservative bastion of the Western world. The way we think about the world and the future is different from that of the liberal, globalist mainstream; and we are building our country in a way that is different from the way that they are building theirs. We may be able to live side by side with one another – after all, we believe in the benefits of competition. But today Brussels strives for absolutism. Or rather, today Brussels is the symbol of the pursuit of absolutism and homogeneity. Politics, national governance – and even Europe – can only be imagined and practised in one way, they say. Anyone who does not march in step will be punished by the evening. Hungary is rebelling against this. We will not be brought to heel! Ugocsa non coronat!*
But, Ladies and Gentlemen, Honourable Members, let us also recognise that in the process we have made many friends. An increasing number of people feel that Hungary is an island of peace, a fortress of order and security, one of the last strongholds of freedom. We make no secret of the fact that we also want to give hope to others: hope that the Christian outlook on life, love of country and national pride – in other words, national politics – are not things of the past, but of the future. Thirty years ago we thought that Europe was our future; today we think that we are Europe’s future. Let us feel the weight of our responsibility.
God save Hungary! God above us all, Hungary before all else! Go, Hungary, go Hungarians!
*With these defiant words the historical county of Ugocsa refused to approve the coronation of a new king in the Kingdom of Hungary.