Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s statement in Parliament, responding to reactions to his address before the start of daily business
14 December 2020, Budapest

Thank you very much for the floor, Mr. Speaker. We heard a lot of important questions, for which I’d like to thank the Honourable Members.

Before I turn to the most important questions, I’d like to put a stop to talk about this rather childish question of “who won and how”. I think that what you think happened in Brussels is an important subject, and I’m glad to have heard you say it; but I think it’s even more important to hear what your master has to say about it. George Soros has spoken, and I can inform you that your master is disappointed. This speaks for itself; and as far as I can see you’ll be the poorer for it.

As regards the more serious issues, the Honourable [former] Prime Minister cited a historical analogy, rightly referring to a former US secretary of the Treasury. This is a well-known case, and when the council of European prime ministers debated the issue of this loan… You’re sitting next to the President of the Socialist Party, so you could explain to him that this entire fund is a loan – because as far as I see he hasn’t quite grasped that idea. So all of it is credit. When the council of prime ministers debated this issue, there arose the question which is famously referred to in the specialist literature as a “Hamilton moment”. What happened in the United States was that the debts of member states were converted into joint obligations, and the collective debt thus created eventually laid the financial foundations of the United States of America. This is the question that was debated by the European Council. Both the French and the Germans – there’s no point in naming all the prime ministers – said that this is not the plan now. So there is no Hamilton moment now. I understand this, because for the time being – and incidentally Hamilton later died in a pistol duel, as could happen in those legendary old times – the leaders of Europe believe that such a moment hasn’t arrived yet, which is why in every single document they continually stress that this pandemic crisis management fund is unique and unrepeatable. But this is not quite an answer to what the Honourable Prime Minister suggested; because despite the fact that they haven’t admitted to it, and without assuming any ill will on their part, it may well be that despite their aversion to any Hamilton moment, Europe could find itself driven into that position after all. Because once they’ve created the first such package, the need for a second could emerge, and after the creation of a second we would only be a step away from starting to talk about assuming collective responsibility not only for individual countries’ national debt linked to this loan, but also to all previous loans. I think that this is a realistic threat. The Honourable Prime Minister doesn’t see this as a threat, but as a great opportunity and a historic moment. But I see it as a threat. This is no coincidence, as we look at the world from completely different viewpoints. Those of us on this side of the House – or at least this is certainly true for me – believe that drifting into, or deliberately embracing, a United States of Europe would mean surrendering one thousand years of Hungarian historical tradition and surrendering our homeland. Therefore we don’t want to find ourselves in such a position, we don’t want to drift into such a position; and this is one reason that we weren’t happy to learn that this crisis management fund would lead to the creation of a debt collective. Now that this is the situation, the options are clear to the citizens of Hungary. There are two political strategies and visions for the future. Over there is one from the Left, of which Jobbik is also a part, as is the LMP and everyone else on that side. They want to surrender Hungary’s thousand-year-old statehood and join a United States of Europe, while comforting themselves with the notion – in my opinion the delusion – expressed by the Honourable Prime Minister, that states will nonetheless survive. But if there’s a common currency, if there’s a common budget and if we assume responsibility for the debts of the Greeks, the Italians and heaven knows who else, then where is our national sovereignty? This is an illusion.

So that’s where you are. Yes, Fellow Members of Parliament, including Jobbik. That party, which once may have deserved better, is now happy to be on a joint electoral list and nominate candidates alongside a political party which has never tried to hide the fact – not only over the past thirty years, incidentally, but that’s another story – that the heart of its politics is not the preservation of the Hungarian nation’s independence and sovereignty, but something else. I won’t evaluate that now, because I’d like to speak in intellectual terms, rather than engage in a verbal fist fight.

So I’d like to make it clear that these are two different futures, two different possibilities, two different ways of life for our children and grandchildren. Those of us on this side of the House would like our children and grandchildren to be Hungarian: not as a Hungarian ethnic group within the European Union, but as the proud heirs of an independent, sovereign Hungarian state. This is what we want. I believe that this debate is a serious one, and one that is worth continuing. I also think that this is a reasonable basis for interpretation of the European Union’s decision; and in the coming years the Hungarian parliament would do well to continuously analyse the development of European financial affairs in the context outlined here by the Opposition. I could stop here, but there were a few other specific issues I’d like to address, if you’ll allow me.

It is not merely tasteless for [opposition party] Párbeszéd to use the issue of the number of deaths as a political instrument. I believe that it is not merely tasteless, but a sign of enormous disdain for the efforts of doctors and nurses who work day in, day out to save lives. Do you think people are dying because they’re not receiving medical care? Do you think people are dying because doctors don’t want to save them? Do you think people are dying because nurses don’t want to care for them? That is not the case. Who are you castigating when people suffer incurable illness and are taken by the virus? I understand that you’re castigating me, but, believe me, I am not the virus. You have misunderstood the situation. I’m convinced that you don’t need to help the Government, but rather patients in hospital. You should do so by rooting for doctors and nurses to save these people – but if you’re incapable of anything more, at least you shouldn’t be making fake videos. Ladies and Gentlemen, people are dying not because of the government party, but because there is a pandemic. And the question is this: who stands where? Who is on the side of the sick, those who have been infected and those fighting for their lives? And who is on the opposite side, hoping that the statistics will worsen? That is what this is about. This is not simply tasteless; it is profoundly amoral.

I shall now also describe this to you in the language of numbers. In less than one year, since the beginning of the pandemic, Hungary has spent 1,014 billion forints – more than a thousand billion forints – on disease control measures, and 2,991 billion forints on the protection of jobs. And I can also tell you that without this more people would have died. If you put aside your emotions and look at reality, you’ll see that another result of spending this enormous amount of money is that in Hungary now there are 4,458,000 people in work – 4,458,000! This is 64,000 fewer than one year ago. So 64,000 people have lost their jobs. I’d like to make it clear to you that we shall launch economic programmes which, after the lockdown, will restore work to every one of these 64,000 people. And we shall create as many jobs as the virus destroys. I would like to tell Jobbik MPs that these 4,458,000 people in work represent precisely 800,000 more than when your new-found allies were governing Hungary. You’re hitching a ride on a party list led by someone whose government ten years ago presided over 800,000 fewer jobs in Hungary than we have today – than we have today with the government that you’re attacking on this matter. I think that what you’re saying about this is unfair.

As for the veto, I’d like to say something to the LMP Member of Parliament who addressed the House. In part this is in agreement, because several times the veto has been spoken about in negative terms, with some using the word as a synonym for blackmail. The veto is a national right guaranteed in the Treaties: under the Treaties it is due to every country in relation to issues which form part of vital national interests. Therefore when a nation exercises its veto, it doesn’t issue threats, it doesn’t blackmail, and it doesn’t force anything on others; it merely exercises a constitutional right guaranteed in the Treaties. It’s a pity that you’ve agreed with the opposite interpretation of this word, and have lined up with our Western friends who have tried to exert pressure on us.

As regards the average wage, because this was also mentioned, I’d like to tell the clearly underinformed Jobbik Members of Parliament that statistics on the average wage in Hungary are not released by us Hungarians – not even by our Central Statistical Office. The statistics that you quote and claim to be false are, without exception, from Eurostat. So when we say that when you – or rather your prospective partners – governed Hungary the average Hungarian wage was 200,000 forints and now, according to Eurostat, it is 383,000, I don’t intend to vouch for that figure’s authenticity: that’s what appears on Eurostat’s records. I can see that this disturbs you, Dear Jobbik MPs, so I’d like to repeat that the former government officials that you will share a list with in the next election pursued economic policy in Hungary which resulted in the average wage in 2010 being 200,000 forints. This is according to the Europeans; and now, according to the Europeans, the average wage is 383,000 forints. Congratulations on your fine choice of partners!

There was also a remark – perhaps by the President of the LMP – on a broader question, stating that we should take action against China. Why, exactly? I’d like to inform you that China became Germany’s number one economic partner in 2017, and that it has remained so ever since then. Why should we take action against them? Why should Hungary take action against Germany’s number one economic partner? Excuse me, but what kind of an idea is that? I can tell you that I lived 26 years of my life in cold war conditions, when the world’s two great powers faced off against each other, and everyone else had to position themselves around them – one way or another. Believe me, it wasn’t good for the world, it wasn’t good for Europe, it wasn’t good for Hungary. Why do you want to reinvent the Cold War? I see that there are some in America who want to reinvent the Cold War; but why would it benefit us Hungarians if the world chained itself to that logic again? Why would that be better than saying that a new era stands ahead of us, an era of cooperation, so let’s cooperate with one another wherever we can? Why – unless we’re required to do so to serve American interests – should Hungary, as you suggest, disengage itself from the system of economic relations with China, instead of following the German line, within which China has risen to be their foremost economic partner? Why don’t we follow that line? I’d like to make it clear that in foreign trade and economic policy an ideological approach is an erroneous one – one which would eventually lead us into conflicts with an unfavourable effect on Hungary’s national interests. That is not good for us. Therefore I ask you to refrain from urging the Hungarian government to confront China. Perhaps this would be in America’s interest, but it can’t by any means be in Hungary’s interest – and neither is it in Europe’s interest. If you pay attention, you’ll see that European leaders are especially keen to avoid becoming embroiled in another Cold War. This is why the Europeans are neither on one side nor on the other, but seek to develop independent economic policies both in relation to the Americans and the Chinese. Why don’t we try to understand this European line and find Hungary’s place in it?

Ladies and Gentlemen,

You also spoke about pensioners. I’d like to repeat the Hungarian government’s following commitment: regardless of the pandemic and its economic consequences, from January we shall start reintroduction of the 13th month’s pension. This will also be a fine symbol of our future, and will show that after the economic crisis Hungary will return to an upward path, enabling the civic government to return to people everything taken from them by the Socialist governments.