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Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s “State of the Nation” address on 12 February 2022

Reading Time: 23 minutes

Good afternoon, Mr. Speaker, Ladies and Gentlemen.

It has been a long time since we last saw each other, and it is a good feeling to finally be together again. This time last year our usual meeting was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. We are tempted to surrender ourselves to the joy of seeing one another again, but today we have serious matters to discuss – after all, the election is now just fifty days away.

When preparing for a “State of the Nation” address, there are two things one must always be clear about: who one is and what one wants to talk about. So far this has not been a problem for our community. Nor has it been a problem for me personally; because after sixteen years in opposition and sixteen years in government, with five children and five grandchildren, one has gained a clear picture of who one is. All of us gathered here today are distinct individuals, but we all have one thing in common: we are Hungarians with a shared passion for Hungary. Now, however, we have unexpectedly learned from the Left that in this we are mistaken: in fact we are mushrooms. We are mushrooms which are kept in the dark and fed with manure. We have also learned that those of us from outside the capital and from villages are unable to even complete a crossword puzzle properly; and the Left say that by 10 o’clock in the morning we are drunk – and brainwashed, to cap it all. We have also learned that, because we are in Fidesz, we must also be aberrant. We have also learned from the Left that in Fidesz there are Jews – although only a few. But we have learned that there are plenty of gays. The Left has arrived at the following reckoning: too few Jews, and too many gays. It is a mystery how this result came out. I have puzzled over what the Left had said and come to the conclusion that the mushroom analogy must be right. Because you can only come up with such gibberish if you have been eating the wrong kind of mushrooms. But it could also be a strategy, a new political strategy: insulting people to their very core, mocking the disabled, abusing “provincials”, threatening pensioners and disparaging women. Not in living memory have Hungarians been spoken to like this; one cannot believe one’s ears. If this is a strategy, it must have been given a world patent.

De Gaulle may have been right: everyone can talk; a leader knows when to be silent. Anyway, this is embarrassing – not a little, a lot. It is even for us, because the Left is what it is, but it is still part of the nation – like the “Ill fate” in our national anthem.

But over there on the left they are even more embarrassed: [former Socialist prime minister] Gyula Horn is turning in his grave; Medgyessy [former Socialist prime minister Peter Medgyessy] cannot manage to look people in the eye; the former members of the SZDSZ [a now defunct liberal party] are staring at their shoes in shame. Only Gyurcsány [former Socialist prime minister Ferenc Gyurcsány] and Bajnai [former prime minister Gordon Bajnai] are unabashed; after all, they are the ones who landed the country with this whole pantomime. They brought it to the stage as a distraction, so that it would not be so obvious that they are preparing for a comeback. This would be the great team running Hungary: Gyurcsány and Bajnai, the leaders of Hungary’s most corrupt government, reinforced by the addition of a mushroom expert. This is what the Left is offering Hungary. One does not know whether to laugh or cry.

The only question left now, Dear Friends, is what I will talk about today. A child comes home from church. “What happened?” his parents ask.
“The usual: the priest talked.”
“What did he talk about?”
“About sin.”
“And what did he say?”
“He said he’s against it.”
This is how I feel about what I have to say this afternoon. Just the usual: “Hungary must go forward, not back.” But what is forward and what is back? It seems simple, but what really is forward and what is back? Well, this is what I am going to talk about today.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

You have also lived through two difficult years: a global pandemic; waves of mass migration; an energy crisis; the imperialist tantrums of Brussels; the chill breath of the Cold War on the back of our necks; and the ominous shadow of war hanging over Eastern and Central Europe. It was in this situation that we had to organise our defence against the coronavirus. It was in this situation that we had to relaunch the economy, replace the jobs that had been lost, and provide support and a lifeline for young people, families and the elderly. All that would be a lot to get through if they were just scoops of ice cream, let alone governmental tasks. For their superhuman work, thanks are due to doctors, nurses, paramedics, organisers of the vaccination campaigns, and the members of the Operational Group. Thanks are due to President János Áder and his wife for the work they are doing to help children orphaned by the pandemic. Thank you for this, thank you Mr. President!

My Friends,

A pandemic that comes out of nowhere like this is also a kind of “stress test”. It puts us all under pressure: it pressure tests countries’ political systems and economies. As you have seen, the Hungarian state has withstood the test. Parliament has continued its work throughout all this, giving the Government the room for manoeuvre and the means to mount a successful defence operation, while monitoring the situation. The disease control authorities, the hospitals and the often unjustly maligned and underrated Hungarian health service have performed outstandingly well, and we have seen coordinated, swift and disciplined work from state administration, the police and the military. The Government has remained united and calm, and the country’s ability to act has never been in jeopardy. In other words, the new constitutional system of governance introduced in 2011 has passed the test. In Europe, one coalition after another has fallen apart, rule changes have been so frequent that they have been# impossible to keep track of, and thousands of protesters have been subdued through force of arms. Slowly but surely, people’s trust has evaporated. Nothing like that has happened here. Here in Hungary we have managed to maintain – and even strengthen – public confidence, because the majority of people think that Hungary has defended itself well. We also need to talk about this, because in truth Hungary has been attacked not only by the virus but also by the Left, in the hope of bringing down the Government. When tighter restrictions were needed, they demanded the lifting of restrictions; when restrictions needed to be lifted, they demanded that they be tightened. They shouted about dictatorship; they launched smear campaigns for foreign consumption; they spread fake videos, fake news and scare stories.

My Friends,

This is gross irresponsibility – or even more than that. Let us not shy away from using strong words. In a deadly global pandemic, exploiting the fear of millions of families to bring down a government is indefensible in any court of justice. The time will come for two verdicts: one on 3 April; the other as decreed by the Good Lord above.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Since 2010 we have not only reorganised the state, but we have also built a new Hungarian economy. In 2010 we decided to give people jobs instead of welfare handouts: there is a job for whoever wants to work. Despite the pandemic, never since the fall of communism have so many people in Hungary been in work: more than one million more than under the Gyurcsány government. What is more, the standard of their work is high, because we need to competitively produce goods and services that can be sold on international markets. This is vital, because we have built an economy based on the sale of these products abroad: an economy based on exports. Last year we managed to break another awe-inspiring record: Hungary’s export performance rose to 119 billion euros. To put this in perspective, in terms of population we are 95th in the world, but our export performance is in 34th place. And in terms of exports per capita we are now 27th. Let us savour that.

In 2010 we decided to achieve majority Hungarian ownership in key sectors. So we have reduced foreign ownership to below 50 per cent in the banking system, in the media and in the energy sector. Let us remind everyone that in banking our starting point was 60 per cent, in the media 66 per cent, and in energy 71 per cent; but now in all these areas Hungarian ownership is in the majority. This is no small matter.

Even during the coronavirus pandemic, we were able to keep what we had brought into Hungarian hands – and we even continued to take back key companies. This time it was the turn of the gas and electricity companies in Transdanubia. The areas of the Hungarian “kuruc” insurgency are free; now for Pannonia! Crisis or no crisis, we have continued – and even boosted – foreign investment by Hungarian capital. Perhaps you will recall that earlier we decided that the amount of profit taken out of Hungary by foreign companies operating here should be matched by the profit brought home by Hungarian companies operating abroad. This is the way – and the only way – to keep the Hungarian economy in balance. This is still a long way off, but during the pandemic we did not turn back: we went forward, not back. MOL is expanding: it has also bought 417 petrol stations in Poland. OTP is present everywhere in the Balkans. In Indonesia, a country of 270 million people, a Hungarian company is poised to build a road toll system. In the Czech Republic, MVM is supplying energy to 1.6 million consumers. There is already a Hungarian poultry processing plant in Vietnam, a livestock feed mill and rubberised asphalt plant in Russia, and Hungarian-owned telecoms companies in Albania and Montenegro. Go, Hungary!

These are no small achievements, but I think that in the crisis the Hungarian economy’s greatest feat was ensuring that during the pandemic families did not need to make drastic cutbacks. On the contrary, tax exemption for the under-25s has come into effect, families can now receive their income tax refunds, and the thirteenth month’s pension has just been delivered. The thirteenth month’s pension is not simply a show of bravura, but also a true act of reparation: we are giving back what was taken away by the Gyurcsány-Bajnai government. For twelve years the country has worked to make amends for the historic crime committed by the Left. Let us appreciate its significance. Hungarians beyond the borders have also come to realise that they belong with us not only in fair weather, but also in times of trouble. We have also continued their programmes: across the borders we have built 170 new kindergartens and renovated 790. Go, Hungarians!

And, as we have always done since 2010, during the crisis we have trodden our own path; in relaunching the economy we have used the Matolcsy/Varga remedy, not the prescriptions from Brussels. We did not slam on the brakes and we did not make for the safety lane: we bravely overtook on the bend. We took risks. The degree of risk was not small – but you know that in truth it never is. In economic policy, sooner or later those in the “safety first” camp always end up at the back of the field. It is like riding a bike: if you stop pedalling, it falls over. Well, it did not fall over: in 2021 we grew by 7 per cent, and we have more than made up for the downturn of the pandemic.

However dry it may be, Ladies and Gentlemen, in an annual review one has to speak the language of numbers. We have managed to keep state debt below 80 per cent, and by the end of the year we will have brought it down to 77 per cent. Meanwhile France’s state debt has risen to 115 per cent, Spain’s to 120 per cent and Italy’s to 154 per cent. And something has happened that few people thought possible – I certainly did not think so: Austria’s public debt has overtaken that of Hungary.

Despite the pandemic, in 2022 the minimum wage will rise by 20 per cent and taxes on labour will fall by 4 per cent. We have concluded a comprehensive national agreement involving the trade unions, the employers and the Government. And it involved Parliament, which voted in favour of it – except, of course, for the Left, who have not voted in favour of anything. I ask you to remember on election day that the Left did not vote for the coronavirus law as the basis for the defence operation. They did not vote for the debt moratorium. They did not vote for the increase in the minimum wage. They did not vote for the family tax refund. They did not vote for tax exemption for under-25s. And they did not vote for tax cuts. And I hope that in the election the electorate does not vote them into power. Please also remember that the governments of Gyurcsány and Bajnai took a very different path from the one we have taken. They went backwards: they took away the thirteenth month’s pension; they took away one month’s salary and one year’s childcare; they abolished the home creation programme; they abolished tax relief for families; they introduced co-payments in health care; and they doubled the price of electricity and tripled the price of natural gas for households. But they need to continue to pay for all this, and you can submit your bill to them now, on 3 April. To sum up, with both confidence and due modesty we can say that even during the pandemic we did not renounce our goals, and that is why Hungary will emerge from the current crisis in a stronger condition than when it entered it.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As far as the future is concerned, we face serious questions. Will there be war? Will there be money? Will there be another pandemic? Will there be another wave of migration?

Will there be war? Everyone is talking about this now. The situation is both grim and fragile. You are familiar with the map of the region, and know that Hungary is surrounded by unstable regions: the Western Balkans and Ukraine. In the Balkans we can find the big boys: the United States, the European Union, Russia and the Turks. And all this on our borders. Let us not forget that Bosnia is 70 kilometres from Hungary’s southern border, and there are still 665 Hungarian soldiers stationed in the Balkans. The recipe for reconciliation and reassurance in the Balkans is simple: rapid EU membership, reconciliation with Serbia and an EU Marshall Plan. It is a pity that this is not happening. Hungary has grown stronger in recent years. This is why I say to you that we shall not sit back and allow wrongheaded great power politics to cause damage in our neighbourhood. Neither Berlin nor Brussels will be able to pursue Balkan policies to the detriment of the Hungarians, and they will not even be able to pursue their policies without us. We shall not accept decisions from Brussels that run counter to Hungary’s interests. And since Hungary’s interests lie in peace, economic development and the integration of the region into the European Union, there shall be no room for sanctions, punitive measures, lectures or any other kind of arrogance from the great powers. We must not talk about the Balkans, but with the Balkans. And we must act together with them. The Balkans are infinitely complicated, as they have always been; but there is the possibility of a peaceful settlement that is acceptable to all.

More pressing, however, is the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Here too, Hungary’s interests are clear: first and foremost, war must be avoided. This is dictated not only by humanity, but also by Hungarian interests.

Just think: in the event of war, refugees would arrive from Ukraine in their hundreds of thousands – even millions; and this would fundamentally redraw Hungary’s political and economic situation. Think back to the 1990s, when tens of thousands of people arrived from the former Yugoslav territories. That was not easy either – but many more would come from Ukraine, probably with no hope of return. We are working for peace, but of course the designated state bodies have begun to prepare. We also have a playbook and an action plan in the event of war.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Hungary’s size and military and economic strength do not enable it to exert decisive – or even considerable – influence on relations between the European Union, the West and Russia. But this is no excuse for inaction. We are playing with our cards face up on the table, never hiding our view of Brussels’ strategy as a failure, and the sanctions against Russia as a dead end. I am convinced that without economic cooperation with Russia, Europe will remain weak and anaemic. It would be a strategic mistake to turn our backs on cooperation and completely hand over huge economic opportunities to the Chinese. But in recent years I have also come to realise that we cannot change the European Union’s foreign policy direction. And so, instead of unnecessary arguments, we have developed and are operating a Hungarian model. We are members of NATO and the European Union, and at the same time we have balanced political and economic relations with Russia. The Hungarian example proves that this is possible.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

East-West tensions, conflicts and war – whether hot or cold – have so far brought Central Europe and Hungary nothing but distress, suffering and heavy losses. It is understandable if we do not want to step into that river again. This is why I undertook a peace mission to Moscow. We need to break the ice of frozen relations and open the way for negotiations. It is true that Hungary does not have a nuclear-powered icebreaker; but we do have an ice axe, and sometimes a crack is enough for some common sense to force its way to the surface. We all benefit from the fact that European leaders are now visiting Moscow in relay. Of course we Hungarians have also learned that security is not a question of friendship, but of strength. From this two things follow. Firstly, there must always be an area of sufficient width and depth between Hungary and Russia. Today this is Ukraine, whose independence and viability are intrinsically in Hungary’s direct interest: intrinsically! Secondly, Europe’s military strength must be at least comparable to that of Russia’s; until it is, the security of the European peoples will be decided not by us Europeans, but by the Americans and the Russians. Therefore Hungary supports the development of European military capabilities and a joint defence force. In this spirit, we have embarked on the construction of a modern Hungarian army and its associated military industry. Unfortunately, we have not yet achieved a breakthrough. The military industry still needs to be linked to the economy, and universities, research institutes and innovation parks need to be involved. And of course we need young people who are ready to serve – and, if necessary, defend – their country. The bonuses we have just paid to police and military personnel is a good expression of our appreciation and a serious recognition by society, but in itself it is not enough. We still have much work to do. We need our own strength, we need our own national army. No one – no ally of ours – will take the place of Hungarians in risking their necks for Hungary. Whether a NATO member or not, no ally in the world will take our place in defending our homeland. Alongside us, with us, they might; but certainly not instead of us. If we are not strong enough, Hungary cannot be safe. Clint Eastwood taught us this: if there is a gun nearby, it is best if we are holding it.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Will there be money? The “Iron Lady” [Margaret Thatcher] used to say that the problem with socialists is that they are always running out of other people’s money. And, indeed, first they use high taxes to take money from those who have earned it. Then they soon spend it, so they have to take out loans, which they try to pay back with money that they again take from people through even higher taxes. In the end both taxes and debt are sky high, and the economy – crumbling under the weight – is on the floor.

Unemployment, austerity, a mountain of debt, the IMF, no money. When the Left is in government, there is no money. This is always how the song ends. Today, however, developments worth many thousands of billions of forints are ongoing, the number of those in poverty and the depth of poverty are falling, and the middle class is strengthening.

The minimum wage is now higher than the average wage was under the Gyurcsány and Bajnai governments. So there is money, and there will continue to be if we are able to continue in government. For example, we will spend three times as much on rural development as we have done so far. In a work-based economy, money will come from work: taxes are low, incomes rise, people buy and invest, and it pays to work. We could be running a victory lap if the European economies had not been dented by inflation, by rising prices, which we know swallows up money. In the United States, inflation has reached a 40-year high of 7.5 per cent, and there are EU countries where inflation is already above 10 per cent. This would also be the case here if we were not continuously protecting families. This extraordinary situation has called for extraordinary decisions. So we have not stood idly by and watched prices rip, but have introduced a policy of four caps: a cap on utility prices, a cap on fuel prices, a cap on interest rates and a cap on food prices. Nothing like this has happened in Hungary for thirty years. Today we have the lowest electricity prices in the European Union and the third lowest gas prices. The reductions in household utility bills are working, and now France and Spain are taking our lead and adopting this policy. We have the fifth lowest vehicle fuel prices: today we are paying 480 forints per litre, but without the price cap it would be well above 500 forints. The price cap has worked here, too, so we are extending it by another three months. The interest rate cap protects families with mortgages, and the food price cap helps everyone – but mostly those on low incomes.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The reductions in household utility bills will reduce inflation by 1.5 per cent, the fuel price cap by 0.5 per cent, and the food price cap by 0.9 percent. According to a recent report just published by the EU, inflation in Hungary will be 5.4 per cent this year and 3.6 per cent next year, but these figures are – and will be – far exceeded by wage increases. So there will be money, because Hungary will continue to work. Family allowances will be maintained, and even extended. We will not give up on making the commitment to have children a financial positive rather than a financial negative. There will be children, there will be money, and we will protect families. This is what we mean by “going forward”!

Ladies and Gentlemen,

But with inflation there is another snag, a speed bump. This is called Brussels. Gas and commodity markets have been liberalised, but no legislation has been developed or introduced in order to reduce wild price fluctuations. This means that they have left Europe at the mercy of financial speculators. This is a serious mistake, because energy prices are responsible for 50 per cent of inflation. We have fought a huge battle to get Brussels to finally declare nuclear energy and natural gas as sustainable sources. In the end we succeeded, but we lost a lot of time, and price formation has already slipped out of the hands of the Brussels bureaucrats. Their actions have been too little too late, and will not solve the crisis that has already emerged. This is why – according to our present state of knowledge – high energy prices will be with us for years to come. Fortunately – or, more precisely, thanks to the resourcefulness and daring of [Foreign Minister] Péter Szijjártó – we have concluded timely and sound gas supply contracts with the Russians. But in Brussels, my friends, the problems are not receding, but growing. Instead of being given a lifejacket, we are now tethered to a millstone: their prospective introduction of a punitive tax on home and car owners across the whole of Europe. It is absurd that the Member States not only have to battle against high prices, but also against Brussels.

The time has come for someone to say the following: Brussels’ plan to defend itself against climate destruction by raising energy prices has failed. It has failed because it is wrecking European businesses and European families. It is a dead end. We need a new plan!

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let us see if there will be more pandemics after this one. Today the world must live with the fact that the age of mass migrations has also become the age of pandemics. The pandemic has gone global, claiming lives, attacking jobs and crippling the world economy. We have not been spared, but at least we have been among the first to wake up. We were the first in Europe to establish an Operational Group. We were among the first to acquire ventilators and prepare hospitals to receive patients in the pandemic. We were among the first to get the vaccines we needed, among the first to vaccinate more than half of the population, and among the first to relaunch the country. Today we seem to be over the worst. In the meantime, we have effected thoroughgoing transformations in the sphere of hospitals: we have rectified doctors’ salaries, eliminated gratuity payments, and separated private and state healthcare provision. And we have done all this with the agreement of the Medical Chamber, in peace and harmony, in the middle of a pandemic. Thank you for this! During the pandemic we have already started to develop the domestic healthcare industry, and today we are producing what we need – or could need – in the event of another pandemic: masks, ventilators and medical appliances. Of course, the biggest project is the 55-billion-forint vaccine factory in Debrecen, which could be up and running by the end of the year.

My Friends,

In a global economy with millions of interconnected strands, no one can guarantee that there will not be a series of new pandemics. But we can guarantee that, if the need arises, the Hungarian healthcare system and pharmaceutical industry will be fully armed to face new pandemics.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

And finally, will there be another wave of migrants at our borders? Not only will there be one, but there already is. Every day hundreds of people are trying to enter Hungary by force. Last year there were 122,000, and in January this year there were more than 12,000. For a while we – and I – hoped that if we could rapidly secure our borders, migrants would accept that it was not worth trying to cross into Hungary. They did not accept that. Whether or not we like it, or are even aware of it, the reason for this may be that – as has been true in the past – Hungary is in fact the border fortress for the interior of Europe, and mainly the territories of Germany. That is where the migrants are heading for. The life of border fortresses has never been easy. So far, we have spent more than 600 billion forints on border protection; 600 billion forints! Before the migrant crisis, we could have pumped this money into the economy, or given it to families. Today we have to spend it on defence.

János Hunyadi stopped the Sultan’s troops at Nándorfehérvár [present-day Belgrade], and we have stopped George Soros’s troops at our southern borders. But the example of Nándorfehérvár also tells us that on its own a single victory solves nothing, and the road from Nándorfehérvár to Mohács is an easy one.

Border defence demands constant readiness, tenacity and perseverance. It is hard work, very hard work. In addition, we have to keep watching out behind us, because we cannot feel secure with Brussels. Gathering there are the agents of George Soros, the Judases who would do anything for their thirty pieces of silver, the horde of pen pushers, experts and advisors who see nation states as the enemy – or at least as a historical remnant to be discarded. And of course alongside them are the wolves of global capital, which sniff out money in everything, including migration. They are all working to make us accept the invasion – the flooding of Europe – as a natural state of affairs, and as an inexorable historical necessity. In some places they have already succeeded. The Italian border is as leaky as a pasta strainer. The French are just managing to keep their heads above the water. And, with noble simplicity, the Germans have declared themselves to be a country of immigrants. Afghanistan has been abandoned, and Africa has a massive level of overpopulation – the waves of which could spill across the Mediterranean at any moment.

Christian Europe is in deep trouble, because of its own internal weaknesses and external shocks. It seems – and this is also how I see it – that Western Christianity in Europe can no longer stand on its own feet. Without the Orthodox world, without an alliance with Eastern Christians, we will be unlikely to survive the coming decades. Ceterum censeo, Europe needs the peoples of the Balkans.

My Friends,

Please keep in mind that the Hungarian lines of defence will only remain on the border for as long as we are in government. Gyurcsány et al have made their position clear: “The migrants are not hurting anyone, and in a generation or two they would become Hungarians too; so the important thing is for those who come here to feel at home.” If we allow pro-migrant Brussels bureaucrats to assist into government the ridiculous and dangerous players in the Gyurcsány Show, they will open the borders. And once they have let them in, that act cannot be undone. We will have such an “open society” that even our grandchildren will groan under it – if they are still here at all.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Here it is also perhaps worth talking about why we are on a different wavelength from the Brussels and Western European intellectual caste, their experts, policymakers and opinion leaders. Because the fact that we are on two different wavelengths is beyond doubt: we think differently from each other about Europe’s precious legacy of tradition; we think differently about the future of nations and nation states; we think differently about globalisation; and now we think differently about the family – and have even come to think differently about the binary structure of society, based on women and men. And because this is so, and indeed it is so, we inevitably envisage and aspire to a different future for ourselves and our children. And I want to make it clear that on this we shall not yield. On 3 April we shall defend our children in a referendum: a father is a man, a mother is a woman, and hands off our children!

I am not looking for your sympathy, but the truth is that in my work I have been dealing with them for thirty years. My personal observation is that amidst the differences between us, deep down our experience of the end of the Cold War – and therefore our understanding of it – has been completely different from that of the Western countries that were not invaded by the Soviets. Those countries include America. This is fundamental. The point is that they did not live under dictatorships, and their freedom – as [Sándor] Márai put it – is inherited. We, however, lived under dictatorship. Freedom was not given to us: we fought for it. We do not downplay the West’s contribution, but to us it is as clear as day that the Cold War was won by the Poles, the Czechs, the Hungarians, the Germans, the Bulgarians, the Romanians, the Estonians, the Latvians and the Lithuanians: it was won by us. We all know that anti-communism and the concept of the nation won the Cold War by restoring nation states. Our stance is that the nation triumphed over class, that faith in God triumphed over atheism, and that private property triumphed over property owned by the socialist state. Their stance is completely different. They think that it was their liberal democracy that triumphed over communism. The focus of their thinking was not – and is not – nation states, but a globalised world controlled by global organisations, institutions and networks, and bound together by grids of global trade and technological communication. Therefore they sincerely view George Soros as their hero – and of course the pocket money to be picked up is not bad either.

This is one of the reasons for our inability to reach agreement on the questions of democracy and the rule of law. We all know that we live in a constitutional system under the rule of law, which is clearly laid down and protected by the Fundamental Law of Hungary. For them, the rule of law is a tool with which they can mould us in their image. Therefore they are not interested in the facts, nor in our arguments. They are now fighting a holy war: a rule-of-law jihad. And, my friends, words rarely help against jihad. Here we must show strength; so let the Reconquista begin!

The situation is the same with democracy: here they see the dismantling of democracy and “backsliding”; we, however, see it in our everyday lives, with elections, referendums, a thriving left-wing media sphere and heated political debate. They are like the woman in the Freudian joke, who flees from the terrifying shadow pursuing her. When the shadow catches up with her, she asks it, in the faint whisper of someone on the verge of death: “What do you want from me?” The shadow replies, “What do I want? It’s you that’s dreaming of me!” So this is how we stand in relation to each other. The truth is that we do not want to become like them; and we can hardly believe that they would want to be like us now – which is how they once were themselves. There is no point in denying our differences. In the Western world this debate is unavoidable. It is of course an important debate, but it is not the most important question. The most important question is whether we want to stay together – especially here in Europe, because the European Union only has a future if we can stay together in spite of our growing cultural estrangement. For our part, we want to keep the European Union together, and this is why we have repeatedly offered Brussels and Berlin paths towards tolerance. We do not expect them to adopt and elevate to European level Hungary’s migrant policy, our family policy or our policy on foreign affairs and Hungarian minorities beyond our borders. Yet at the same time they cannot demand that we adopt their policies either. There is no other solution but tolerance. Only in this way can we find a common path; and the EU also must go forward, not back.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This is how things stand in the winter of 2022, fifty days before the Hungarian election. As we can see, the stakes in the election are enormous, and for the Hungarian nation this is a matter of life and death. Yet we would like to have an election that is not a matter of life and death, but simply about electing a good government! Unfortunately this is not possible now. This election is still about Gyurcsány and Bajnai wanting to return. Yesterday Ferenc Gyurcsány announced that they are ready to return. And if he returns, he will take us back to where we have already been, and where not a single cell in our bodies wants us to be. Do not forget the disappointment of the people of Budapest under their new left-wing leadership. After nine years in opposition, they were given a chance to show what they could do. Moreover, the Government has been initiating developments in the capital far greater than could be expected from our country’s resources. Yet in Budapest we see chaos, dirt, homelessness, traffic congestion, corruption, incompetent leaders, grandstanding and laziness. Gyurcsány’s people are in the cashier’s office, while Bajnai is quietly running the system for paying out commissions. And two years of botched left-wing city governance has been enough to achieve all this. Everyone can see that they are going back, not forward. Of course it is also true that when the sun is shining and the wind is fair, even a drunken captain can steer the ship. In calm winds it is enough to be tall and thin, and have a penchant for getting up late. But believe me, in strong swirling winds, when a storm is threatening, you need a good seafarer. We may have weather-beaten skin, furrowed cheeks, a rough handshake, manners not always in line with court etiquette, and movements not exactly suited to ballet; but sailing is our passion, and – above all else – we love the ship we are charged with. We know the waves and we respect the sea. We have seen huge storms, we have steered in mighty winds, and, most importantly, we know where we want to go. It is written here in front of me: “Forward, not back!”

My Friends,

The Left is now coming up with the nonsense that those who join them will be leaving their lives behind them, as Christ’s disciples left their fishing nets. Please note, this is the umpteenth leftist candidate for the role of redeemer. I remember that this is how Ferenc Gyurcsány started out. But he reminds me more of a fraudulent TV faith healer who promises you a cure for your ills, but in the end only offers you a discounted three-pack of DVDs. And when you have been taken in by all the bunkum and bought everything on offer, he takes your money and makes off to the Bahamas. You are left with no cure, empty pockets, and a bunch of cheesy DVDs.

My Friends,

For the fourth time since 2010, they are trying to sell us the tale of a transformed and renewed, reconstituted and reorganised Left. I am sure that the stomachs of Hungarians will not stand for this on the fourth occasion either. However tough the communist class warriors are, and however advanced their cloning technology is, I confess to hoping that if we defeat them now they will not be able to clone enough Mini-Me Feris [Gyurcsánys] to even take up the challenge again. We know who we are up against. We will soon be able to address every one of Uncle Georgie’s paratroopers by hand. And neither is this the first time that the mercenaries from Brussels have been deployed against us; we know how to chase them off the battlefield. But now we should not be focusing on them, but on our own camp. My friends, we have never been as strong, organised and determined as we are now. Let us roll up our sleeves and finish the job. Saddle up, the campaign has begun. The time has come for us to ride out.

Look to our coming on the fiftieth day. Look to the right!

God above us all, Hungary before all else! Go Hungary, go Hungarians!

Translation provided by the International Communications Office of the Hungarian government.