“We condemn the war, especially as it is right next door to us; we say no to violence, we are together with our allies, and all this is important, but the number one priority is for Hungary to be left out of this armed conflict,” Mr Orbán said.
He added that every war can and should be analysed from many different viewpoints, but before making decisions, there is only one possible viewpoint for us, “we can only view things through one type of eyewear, the Hungarian spectacles”.
He stressed that in the past few days the government “didn’t take a wrong turn” and neither will it in the coming weeks because even in the most difficult moments they will be able to keep their calm. “We will not replace our view of the war, the spectacles through which we view the war, with any other alien views suggested from abroad,” he highlighted.
The Prime Minister said it is important that now and in the coming months the government should adopt decisions which prevent “the Hungarian people from being made to pay the price of the war”.
He pointed out that Hungary had built a set of open trade and investment relations, meaning that we have a vested interest in a free and accessible world, but the war will make things harder. Therefore, Hungary’s entire foreign trade strategy will have to be adjusted to the present situation, he stressed, a job that the government will perform in the next few days.
He said we have a vested interest in the restoration of peace and in us regaining at least a part of our markets now limited in access due to the war not only because that is what our hearts dictate, but equally because that is what our pockets dictate.
Regarding the sanctions, he said the most recent ones are different from the earlier ones, “these will hurt us, too”. He said the most important task is to achieve that energy should be left out of the policy of sanctions. He pointed out that expensive energy is already causing problems, but it is even worse if there is no energy at all because in that case the economy or certain segments of it come to a halt.
He highlighted that while Hungarian agricultural and food industry exports bound for Russia and Ukraine combined account for less than 5 per cent of Hungary’s total agricultural exports, meaning that our exposure in this field is manageable, the issue of imports is more difficult as 7 per cent of raw material imports come from Russia and 8.4 per cent from Ukraine.
He said he is maintaining ongoing consultations with the Minister of Agriculture about how to handle this problem, and a government decision is expected to be released on Saturday in the interest of resolving the situation.
He further spoke about the effect of energy price rises also manifested in the prices of goods and raw materials coming from abroad, but we must equally pay attention to exchange rate fluctuations, he observed. Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, Central European currencies have been exposed to major fluctuations, the effect of which the country can only compensate for partially at best.
He said while the election is a major task in hand, this will be an unusual election because of the war next door. The government must now concentrate most of its strength on warding off the negative impacts caused by the war. He confirmed that the Hungarian banking system is stable, and will hold up under the pressure.
Regarding cooperation with the Chamber of Agriculture and MAGOSZ, he stressed that this partnership had to be formalised because whenever the Left returned to government, the Hungarian countryside found itself on the receiving end. Therefore, in his view, agriculture has an elementary interest in keeping the Left away from Hungarian agricultural policy and from the country’s steering wheel.
The Prime Minister said while between 2004 and 2010 agricultural output decreased by 20 per cent and that of the food industry by 16 per cent, between 2010 and 2020 it increased by 29 per cent, and the added value falling on one hectare of land increased by 45 per cent.
At the same time, between 2010 and 2020, the profitability of agriculture more than doubled which is the best result in the whole of the EU, and while in 2010 just HUF 40 billion was available for the procurement of new machinery, in 2020 as much as HUF 256 billion, the Prime Minister listed. He added that compared with 2020, by 2021 agricultural exports had increased by more than 10 per cent.
He also mentioned that as part of the Modern Cities Programme that equally provides assistance for the countryside more than HUF 600 billion will be available for developments, while the three-year budget of the Hungarian Villages Programme contains over HUF 600 billion.
Regarding the future, he stressed that those who own the land own the country, and therefore, land must be in Hungarian hands. “In Hungary, Hungarian land is in Hungarian hands” because in the past thirty years Hungarian farmers have not allowed a single government to sell it.
Mr Orbán announced that the government will raise the national supplement of agricultural subsidies from 17.5 per cent to 80 per cent.
He stressed that this means that in the coming years some HUF 9,000 billion will be available for the agricultural sector, national, EU and expected private investor resources combined. This is three times as much money as there was before, he added.
If this large amount of money does not enable us to modernise Hungarian agriculture, nothing will, this is our last historic chance; if we fail to take it, our competitors will race past us, he warned.
According to the Prime Minister, with this amount of money available, we must reach an 80 per cent Hungarian ownership ratio in the agricultural processing industry. He added that if there is 20 per cent foreign and 80 per cent Hungarian ownership in the food industry, then we can achieve that 80 per cent of the food consumed by people should also be Hungarian.
Mr Orbán argued for maintaining in agriculture the ratios of “20 per cent large farms and 80 per cent small and medium-sized ones”.
The Prime Minister said it is important to boost the countryside’s population retaining capacity. Therefore, he took the view that in every district in the countryside all the civilisational facilities and opportunities that exist in cities must be made available. We need decent job opportunities, good public education and health care, leisure time facilities, good roads and Internet access, he listed. He stated that in the agreement to be concluded with the agricultural organisations the government will undertake to limit commuting times for both workers and students to one hour daily so that they can their lives to European standards.
He said he is convinced that Hungary will and can be a winner of the future if it is able to use its two important raw materials – land and water – well and builds a resilient and self-sufficient economy.
He warned the attendees of the farmers’ congress that they should not allow “these fair city people to steal the cheese from our mouths and to talk us out of the construction of Paks II”. Without cheap, affordable energy there is no competitive Hungarian agriculture, he stated.
The Prime Minister said it is important to preserve the banking sector’s present majority Hungarian ownership structure, and encouraged members of his audience to buy government securities because figures indicate that there is a significant portfolio of cash kept at home, “there is much money tucked away in pillow cases”. He stressed that it is not irrelevant whom the state pays interest: foreign institutional investors, funds “the kind that George Soros runs” or “Uncle Józsi Kovács”.
He also asked his audience to support the government’s demographic policy because in his words, “children are not just a number, Christian children can’t be replaced with Muslim adults”.
In the context of the upcoming elections, the Prime Minister stressed that “the cloud of war casts a shadow” on the present situation, people cannot celebrate in a carefree manner, “waving flags” as they normally do, and so while in the present election campaign enthusiasm will be important, common sense will be even more important.
He wished young farmers that they may also find their place in the political tradition of the Hungarian countryside. It is important for them to know that the political tradition of the smallholders is today called ‘Fidesz’, he added, observing that since the fall of communism, he is “the first prime minister from a village”.
At the same time, he expressed hope that the tradition that long-term, stable reliability dominates the political stance families take will take root also in Hungary, meaning that after a while, people are not required to think about whom to vote for because they vote for those that their parents and grandparents voted for.