Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s “State of the Nation” address

  • Written by  Viktor Orban
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Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s “State of the Nation” address

[Former] President of the Republic, [former] Prime Minister, Mr. Speaker, Mayor of Budapest, Ladies and Gentlemen, It is a pleasure to see you here again. I am always surprised by how many people come to my state of the nation addresses. Although if I think about it, it’s understandable for people to be curious to see whether the Prime Minister is able to say anything new. I’m also curious about that, and so that’s why I’m here as well. If I had to summarise this assessment of the past year in a single sentence, I would say this: may every year be at least as good as 2018 was! We won our third consecutive two-thirds majority in a parliamentary election, and the Hungarian economy grew by some 5 per cent. If you suspect that there’s some kind of link there, you’re not mistaken.

There is indeed a deep-rooted connection between politics and the economy: in both, results are never due to blind luck. Although there’s some truth to the saying that “even a blind chicken can find one grain of corn”, that might be true once, but not three times. Economic growth can also be the result of a coincidence of fortunate conditions. Such a year may come along; but, Ladies and Gentlemen, the Hungarian economy has been growing for the past seven years. Therefore we can state that neither this third two-thirds majority nor outstanding economic growth has been gifted to us: Hungary has worked hard to achieve both. So this afternoon let us first of all express our gratitude and thanks. Let us thank God for giving us life and for helping us in times of difficulty. And let us express our gratitude to all those who set off for work every single morning, honestly fulfil their duties, and pedal the Hungarian economy’s bicycle. And thanks are due to those who have recognised that secure jobs and increasing pay can only exist if the governmental sphere is also consistent and well ordered. Thanks are due to those who have recognised that only together can we be successful – or, more accurately, only if we cry together and laugh together. And thanks are due many times over to those who have recognised that each of us can only realise our individual plans if we face the world together as a single country and face the trials of Hungarian life as a single nation. To put it more briefly: thanks are due to you! Please do not forget that in unity there is strength, but in division there is weakness.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

If we think about the country – or rather the collective life of the Hungarians – in essence we must answer a single question, which will enable us to deduce what we should do and how we should do it. This question – of paramount importance – is the following: Can the situation that the country is in today be interpreted as a story of national ascent? Are the Hungarians on the way up? We can arrive at the answer if we compare today’s state of affairs with our previous situation. Even a decade is a quite a long time – a measurable period – in the history of a nation: it’s long enough to enable us to draw conclusions. In 2009 we were approaching the end of the nightmare that was the Left’s eight years in government – by which time they had dissipated our collective wealth and reserves, and had crushed our future prospects under mountains of debt. In my state of the nation address back then I said that what Hungary needed wasn’t simply crisis management packages, but much more: it needed complete renewal and a new direction. Today, however, ten years later, I can tell you the following. A Hungarian child born today will have a good chance of living into the 22nd century, because Hungarians are living longer: they can hope to live longer lives. The number of marriages is rising, and we have dramatically reduced infant mortality. We have increased employment from 55 per cent to 70 per cent, and cut unemployment to one third of its previous level. We have pruned back state debt from 85 per cent to 71 per cent. Meanwhile we have continuously increased people’s incomes – more than doubling the minimum wage, for example. You might say that these are just numbers, and people’s happiness isn’t dependent on whether lines on graphs curve upwards or downwards. That’s true, but one shouldn’t underestimate the importance of people being able to plan their lives in circumstances which are well ordered and economically predictable. I believe that people’s confidence, strength, willpower – and, indeed, personal success – are strongly determined by how they see the prospects for their children and their homeland. What I see today is that Hungarians are working hard, planning, setting their houses in order, building homes, sending their children to school and encouraging them to study, and working to ensure that they will have something to pass on to their children and grandchildren. What is this, if not a story of national ascent?

Ladies, and Gentlemen,

As I see it, after ten years of collective effort, Hungarians once again have confidence in their future. Confidence in the future is a great treasure, which must not be squandered. This is why we must speak clearly about what our nation can expect from the future. What will it have to contend with, what tests of strength should it expect, how well is it prepared to compete in the world? Are the Hungarian people, the Hungarian state, the Hungarian nation, capable of survival and endurance, capable of emerging victorious from these tests of strength? This question is a serious one – indeed a deeply serious one – and it therefore demands an honest answer. My answer is that over the course of around ten years our nation got back on its feet. Its descent into the valley became an ascent of the mountain. It has regained the right to determine its own fate; and for this reason alone it stands ready to fight the battles awaiting it, and has the chance to win. In short, my reply is this: we shall win; we shall win again and again!

Ladies and Gentlemen,

For us victory is not when our party wins: for us victory is when our country wins. I am one of those who share the deep conviction that every Hungarian child will have a better life than his or her parents – and I believe that the great majority can take advantage of this opportunity. We are the community that has always wanted the life of every Hungarian to count, and for everyone to have their place in the Hungarian future. Our community stands on national foundations. We are not engaged politics in order to follow fashionable ideas, but to sustain the Hungarian nation and its continued life in the future.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This is the thirteenth year in which I have led the work of governance; but in our decisions I am still amazed at the daring required to see the lives of ten million people at once. Hungary consists of ten million lives – fifteen million if one includes Hungarians outside our borders – all on interweaving and divergent paths, which again and again our decisions must lead towards unity. For this to be possible, everyone must get what they need. For those Hungarians whose lives are going well, all that is needed is that their appetite for enterprise and work does not run into absurd obstacles, is not shackled by a foolish tax system, and does not lose its way in a maze of bureaucracy. We are glad to give them this; all we expect in return is that they obey the law, pay their taxes, provide work for as many people as possible, and do not seek to hold sway over government policy. We have already provided convincing arguments with regard to the latter. Another historic task awaits our successful entrepreneurs: they must create investments outside Hungary, the profits from which will be brought home to enable us to counterbalance the profits which are taken out from Hungary. This is a true national mission, and a huge task which will take us at least ten years to realise. The bulk of the country – the vast majority who are neither rich nor poor – expect to have work, and for their work to have meaning. They expect to live in safety, to have their work recognised, and to receive the respect they deserve. In exchange for their honest work they expect to have a secure home, a decent life, and a future for their children. This is what we have achieved: 800,000 new jobs, a doubling of the minimum wage, tax allowances for families with children, free school meals and textbooks, the extra childcare fee scheme, reduced public utility charges, and a stable pension. As you can see, we have provided something for them also. But the toughest nut to crack will be opening up the path towards a life of dignity, of recovery, and even of betterment, for those of our compatriots who struggle with the burden of poverty. Let’s not beat around the bush: the bad news is that I’m talking about people who still number in the hundreds of thousands, and who everyone apart from us has given up on. It is to the historic shame of the Hungarian Left that during their twelve years in office they only provided hand-outs, held them back with benefits, and accepted “subsistence-level criminality” as a way of life. In other words, they didn’t treat them like human beings. I am proud of the fact that we committed ourselves to the fight against poverty. We have rolled back the spread of criminality. We have given everyone the chance to lead an honest and law-abiding life. As a country we have exceeded our potential in supporting those who live for their children; but we have been neither understanding nor lenient with those who don’t want to live for their children, but want to live off their children. I have always believed that if we offer people a fair deal – meaning work that provides them with more than benefits do – they will be glad to shake our hands on it. So we’ve played our strongest card, as one should do in cards: a trump against an ace; work against poverty. We were persistent and consistent. We ignored the hecklers, and we did well to do so. There is still much to do, but the change is already conspicuous. As we know, we are not the EU’s Lieblings, but despite this they’ve reported that in Hungary since 2010 more than one million people have been able to break out of poverty, and while in 2010 23 per cent of the population had serious financial problems, by 2017 that figure had fallen to 10 per cent. The situation has improved, but to me it is still unacceptable. Even at the age of thirty I didn’t believe that it’s impossible to eliminate poverty in Hungary. And today I’m still not prepared to give up the fight. Step by step, year by year, we are moving forward with persistent effort. And yes, we shall eradicate poverty in Hungary. Everyone will have work. Everyone will have a home. Every child will have a place in a crèche, nursery or school, and they will all have school meals and textbooks. There will be support for young people, and everyone will be able to enjoy a dignified old age. Hungary will be a place where everyone will see how good it is to be Hungarian.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

On this occasion we don’t usually speak about the Hungarian opposition. This is because we could hardly say anything new or more damning than the widely-known fact that the Hungarian opposition is an assemblage of pro-immigration politicians which George Soros and the European bureaucrats are keeping on life support. Nonetheless, painful conclusions drawn from Hungarian history compel us to say a few words about them. Ladies and Gentlemen, what has happened in Hungary, what has been made possible, is a coalition between socialists and the far right. One’s first reaction is that this has to be the definition of political pornography: a joint march of red shirts and brown shirts. The old army story comes to mind: “Commander, soldiers are approaching.” “Friends or foes?” “They look like friends, because they’re coming together.” Well they are indeed coming together, and they may well be one another's friends, but they’ve always seen our kind of decent patriots as being their enemies. This is a betrothal. A betrothal between the communist tradition and the Nazi tradition: one which caused suffering for hundreds of thousands of Hungarian families; and the other which liquidated hundreds of thousands of our Jewish compatriots. Looking back on this history, we are shocked to hear someone say that drawing up a list of MPs of Jewish descent is not an example of anti-Semitism. Instead of creeping off silently into the shadows, the man who said this aspires to be the Mayor of Budapest. All we can say is that this is shameful. And it is to the shame of all Europe that the international Left is supporting this - indeed, they’re sending their leader here to give their blessing to this political perversion. Mr Timmermans would do well to consider how a marriage between the Left and the far Right can possibly be compatible with European values, and instead busy himself at home with bringing happiness to the poor people of the Netherlands. The situation is somewhat relieved by the fact that the politicians of the Socialist-Nazi coalition seem more like comedians than political leaders. Charging into closed doors, throwing themselves face down on the floor with arms behind their heads, playing at Spiderman on staircase handrails in the television headquarters: all this seems more like the attempts of drama graduates desperate for publicity. My apologies to (television host and comedian) Sándor Fabray, but this was better than the New Year’s Eve cabaret show. If we add to this their use of physical force in Parliament - when they ran amok, pushing their mobile phone cameras into our faces - all we can say about our fellow Members of Parliament in the opposition is that they are indeed every inch people of courtesy and refinement: every inch up to their ankles, but no further! What an agreeable topic.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today the Hungarian economy is shifting into a new dimension. Alongside traditional industrial production, the share of high added value, research-based industry is increasing. In my view, it is an illusion to believe that in the future there will only be laboratory workers in white coats. There will always be physical labour, and workers in overalls with oil on their hands will not disappear. Their work will always be needed, and we do well to appreciate them. But it is also true that alongside them we must also promote new research and development sectors based on digital technologies and robotics. This is an industrial paradigm shift. In major new investments implemented in 2018, the average salary was 425,000 forints; this compares with 304,000 in the previous year. This 40 per cent increase shows that in Hungary new types of jobs are coming into being.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

You can measure the standard of an economy, including that of Hungary, by the way its products stand their ground on the world market. In terms of population, Hungary is ranked 88th among the world’s countries, but in terms of export volume we are the 34th. There is also an economic basis for our national pride, as the performance of Hungarian engineers and workers ranks us 54 places higher than our population would suggest. We could add that, despite being a country of ten million, globally we are ranked 20th for automotive exports, 19th for pharmaceutical exports, and 15th for grain exports. It is good to know one’s place, but this is true not only downwards but also upwards, and we must target Hungary’s place in the world in light of this. We know that everyone expects the world economy to cool and to slow down. We also have responses to that scenario. We will not lose the thread, and we will not give up our plan for growth in the Hungarian economy to exceed the European Union average by at least 2 per cent annually. If the others slow down, we will overtake them on the bend. I am convinced that our greatest achievements are ahead of us. We have only just started to pick up speed and the best is yet to come. Believe me, this is no exaggeration: economic facts show that Hungary is a country of highly valued people who commands respect and are capable of great achievements.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This week the German Chancellor and the four Central European prime ministers celebrated together the thirtieth anniversary of the final days of communism and the Soviet Union. As I look around, I see there are many here who only know the Internationale from history books, whereas we had to sing it at the end of every school event. For their sake I’ll quote from it: “The Internationale shall be the human race!” Thirty years ago we thought that we had consigned the communist way of thinking - which advocated the end of nations and a supranational world - to the dustbin of history. It seems that we were wrong. Today the slogan is the same: “The Internationale shall be the human race!” They are advocating a world without nations again, they want open societies, and they are fabricating a supranational world government. And again we have here those who wiped away our traditions, and would flood our countries with an alien culture. Thirty years after the fall of communism, on the eve of a pan-European parliamentary election, Europe finds itself in the position that we must stand up again for our Hungarian identity, for our Christian identity, protect our families and communities, and also protect our freedom. We, too, could do with some peace, but from the Internationale we also know that they will never rest; because – and again I quote them – “This is the final struggle”. Today Also they are controlled from abroad. The stronghold of the new internationalism is in Brussels, and its means is immigration.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Drawers in Brussels are full of plans, and if they are given a chance they will deploy them. A seven-point action plan with which they seek to transform the whole of Europe into an immigrant continent has already been completed in Brussels, and is ready to be deployed. First of all, unable to control themselves, they again want to distribute immigrants on the basis of mandatory quotas. A proposal for creating an EU relocation framework is already complete. They want to weaken the border controls rights of Member States. Brussels is taking our powers away from us one by one, and then they do not know what to do with them. George Soros has openly announced that his goal is to protect migrants, and national borders are an obstacle to this plan. The introduction of the migrant visa – which the European Parliament has already voted for – is also on the agenda. This is an invitation for many millions of immigrants. Today in Turkey alone there are four million migrants waiting for the route leading to Europe to be opened. The European Parliament has even voted to increase the grants of political activist groups, organisations aiding immigration. And to back this up, they are offering bank cards with automatic credit provided. They are launching pilot immigration programmes together with African countries: as the President of the Commission has put it, “we need to create legal ways” for immigrants to come to Europe. And finally to break down resistance, they want to blackmail the countries rejecting their plan by imposing fines on those which refuse to obey their orders. You can see, Ladies and Gentlemen, that there are serious issues on the table in the European elections. Only the People of Hungary have been able to state their views on migration so far. We have an opportunity before us: the whole of Europe can do so now. We can argue all day about the possible kinds of democracy – liberal, illiberal or Christian – but one thing is certain: what cannot be left out of the equation of democracy is the demos, the people.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Migration boosts crime - in particular, crimes against women - and spreads the disease of terrorism among us. But we must not get bogged down in our fears. We must see beyond our fears. We must understand that the European peoples have come to a historic crossroads. Those who decide in favour of immigration and migrants – to whatever end they may do so – are in fact creating countries with mixed populations. The historical traditions of these countries are coming to an end, and a new world is unfolding. In immigrant countries a Christian-Muslim world is coming into being, with a continuously shrinking percentage of Christians. There are some who do not mind this, and there are some who dismiss the issue with a wave of the hand, because they believe that this will be a slow process. They are wrong, and they will be surprised. An ethnic group of 10 per cent will first increase to between15 and 20 per cent. Then everything will speed up, and the rest requires no imagination, just simple mathematics. Those of my age will live to see the rapid transformation of what were once great Christian countries. It makes our hearts ache, but we can do little to help. Once on the express train they will reach the final destination. And there is no return ticket. However, we Central Europeans still have our own future. We have our own future which is the continuation of the lives of our parents and grandparents, the preservation of the traditions of a thousand years, the protection of our economy, our families and our Christian culture. Such a future is also possible. To be more precise, such a future is possible for us.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We can see through the smoke screen, we understand the situation, we know the plight of countries with mixed populations. We must act now. We must reject the financiers who see themselves as demigods; reject the Brussels bureaucrats representing their interests; and reject the fake civil society activists - fattened on their money - who want to tell us how to live and with whom, how to speak, and how to raise our children. They must not break through our defences, they must not even find a gap. In precarious times precarious governance is dangerous, and therefore our immigration policy will remain firm, and we will not chop and change. These financiers think that their success gives them the right to control the world. However, it is well for us to be aware that their success is the result of the losses they have inflicted on others. We are not aware of a single country which has been made great and strong by speculators, but we do know countries which have been driven into poverty and misery by speculators. After World War II, the European Left came to the erroneous conclusion that, in response to the devastation caused by National Socialism, the nation had to be removed, and socialism retained. This is how the European Left has become the advocate of speculators, world citizenship, world government and, most recently, of global migration, taking on the role of the gravedigger of nations, the family and the Christian way of life. Since George Soros appointed a socialist called Timmermans as the leader of the pro-immigration troops the fight has become open. He leads the list of pro-immigration politicians. Well, Ladies and Gentlemen, this is what the European elections are about, this is what Brussels is preparing for. At the same time, we are preparing to stop formation of a pro-immigration majority. We want a European Parliament which respects the decisions of countries and peoples about their own future, and accepts that we Central Europeans want to pursue our own path.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We are living in times when fewer and fewer children are being born throughout Europe. People in the West are responding to this with immigration: they say that the shortfall should be made up by immigrants, and then the numbers will be in order. Hungarians see this in a different light. We do not need numbers, but Hungarian children. In our minds, immigration means surrender. If we resign ourselves to the fact that we are unable to sustain ourselves even biologically, by doing so we admit that we are not important even for ourselves. So why would we be important for the world? The fate of such peoples is slow but certain obliteration, until they become a mere cloud of dust on the highway of nations. It is not written in the great book of humanity that there must be Hungarians in the world. It is only written in our hearts - but the world cares nothing for that. God will only help those who want to be helped. We can argue all day whether there are few children because the people have changed or rather because circumstances restrain them. This debate cannot be decided definitively, and it leads nowhere. Therefore, instead of theorising, the government has had to act. First of all, we have created national unity on the issue of families. One million three hundred and fifty thousand people took part in the national consultation. According to research, 80 per cent of the people support the government’s family policy. In our line of business, it is as rare as hens’ teeth for a government to stand on such firm ground. The people want us to continue what we’ve started. In nine years we have doubled the support for families, and on a pro rata basis it is the highest in the whole of Europe.

I am now announcing a seven-point family protection action plan. The government has decided on seven measures, but this list is not definitive, as life does not stop. First of all, we will introduce an allowance that is designed to encourage young married couples to have children. Every woman under the age of forty who marries for the first time will be eligible for a preferential loan of 10 million forints to start their new lives. After the birth of a child we will suspend repayment of the loan for three years, and after the arrival of a second child we will suspend it for another three years, and write off one third of the principal debt. If a third child is born, we will cancel the remaining part of the loan in its entirety. Secondly, we will extend the preferential credit provided by “CSOK” (family housing benefit). Families with two or more children will also be allowed to use their loans for the purchase of existing properties. People living in villages should wait just a little bit longer because for them, within a few weeks, we would like to announce a scheme specifically customised to their needs. This means that today young married couples agreeing to have two children are eligible for grants worth 22 million forints for starting their lives and creating their first homes, while families agreeing to have three children are eligible for grants worth 35 million forints. Thirdly, so far we have assumed one million forints from the mortgage loans of large families upon the birth of the third and every further child thereafter. We have extended this option now: already upon the birth of the second child we will assume one million forints, we will assume 4 million forints upon the birth of the third child, and another one million forints upon the birth of each further child. Fourthly, I hereby announce that women who have given birth to and raised minimum four children will be exempt from the payment of personal income tax for the rest of their lives. Fifthly, we will launch a car purchase programme for large families. We will provide a non-repayable grant of 2.5 million forints for families raising minimum three children for the purchase of new cars with at least seven seats. Sixthly, we will provide comprehensive crèche care. In order to have enough crèche places, over a period of three years we will need 21,000 new places. We will build 10,000 of these up to the end of this year, and another 5,000 and 6,000 in 2020 and 2021, respectively. This means that by 2022 every parent who so wishes will be able to take their children to crèche facilities. And finally seventhly, we will introduce child care allowance for grandparents. In the future, if the parents so decide, the grandparents will be able to go on child care allowance instead of them. And while it does not fall within the issue of the births of children, let me announce to you that finally, thirty years after the fall of communism, we may be able to achieve a breakthrough in the foreign-language education of young people. The government decided to modernise the system of foreign-language teaching in secondary schools, and every secondary school student will be able to participate in two-week foreign language courses abroad in the summers of their 9th and 11th grades, the costs of which will be covered by the Hungarian government. We have complained enough that we are locked inside our own language; it is time to not just complain but to do something about it. This is an enormous organisational task, in particular, if we want to make sure that this is not an opportunity for a holiday, but for serious learning. I sincerely hope that our education experts will cope with it. And I also wish to announce that, pursuant to the government’s decision, we will spend 700 billion forints on health care developments, including the construction of central hospitals in Budapest. If we add to this that we will increase the salaries of nursing staff by 70 per cent over three years, we may see that something has started in health care as well.

So this is how we stand and this is where we are in February 2019. In summary, allow me to bid you farewell by inviting everyone to defend and to build our country. Our police officers and soldiers are protecting the borders with firm hands. Our officers are building a new Hungarian army at maximum speed. Our representatives in Brussels are standing their ground. Out of ten million almost five million of us are in employment. Our young people are smarter and more talented than we were, and if they pull themselves together they may even catch up with us in the department of capacity for work. Our neighbours respect us, and are happy to team up with us. The era of one hundred years of solitude has come to an end. All we need is a sunny disposition and some humour, but the Hungarian opposition will take care of that.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Hungarian people have yet to embark on their real great adventure. And the greatest victories have yet to come. We should not shy away from openly stating that the stars above us are forming a lucky constellation, and we may feel every day – even if we do not deserve it – that we have the blessing of Providence. Hungary before everything, God above us all.

Go for it Hungary, go for it Hungarians!

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