The European future lies in the Visegrád Four
29. 03. 2017.
At a conference in Warsaw on Tuesday entitled “Congress of Innovators from Central and Eastern Europe”, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said that the European future lies in the Visegrád Four (V4). He was attending the conference together with his counterparts from the V4: the prime ministers of Poland (the host), Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

In a panel discussion the Prime Minister said that he expects the centre of gravity of European growth to shift from the continent’s western region to its central region.

In explanation he argued that everywhere to the west of the V4 the ethnic and social compositions of societies are changing significantly. In his view this is a negative development: “We are protecting ourselves against this, and this is a major advantage for us.”

On the other hand, he said, the countries of the V4 continue to have strong cultural foundations, the essence of which is that, while they are modern societies, they continue to insist on their Christian roots.

In addition, the Prime Minister continued, in Central Europe we have unwavering faith in the strength of families, and this is also an enormous competitive advantage in economic growth.

A further argument he put forward in favour of the region is that in Central Europe credit is not given to those who always seek to find the easy way, but to those who make a genuine contribution. Therefore, he said, here we will not see the development of a benefit-based society, but a work-based society – and this is likewise a great advantage.

In summary he added that “If Europe has a future, it lies mainly in Central Europe”. In his view, Westerners are entering the race wearing “backpacks”, which they will find to be a burden.

The Prime Minister expects that in eight to ten years’ time the V4 will be spoken of as Europe’s most powerful economic engine.

He praised the Visegrád cooperation by expressing the belief that the Visegrád Member States will be able to renew European democracy and the whole of the European Union.

In relation to Hungary, Mr. Orbán stressed that, while the country has overcome the financial crisis, economic growth stands at around three per cent; this level traps countries in a state of average development. The question, he proposed, is how to move from this range to a growth bracket of around five per cent.

The Prime Minister observed that there is a need for innovation and a completely different economic mentality, adding that it is in this spirit that Hungary has transferred sources of innovation funding from individual ministries to the National Research, Development and Innovation Fund. This means that Hungary is pursuing a bolder development policy, he said.

Photo: Balázs Szecsődi

“We have high hopes that, in consequence, we shall be able to move from a three per cent growth rate to a five per cent bracket”, the Prime Minister added.

He went on to say that “If we are not more innovative than the Western European countries, […] our state of development will remain at an average level”. He noted that this is, of course, still far better than being members of COMECON and living under Soviet occupation.

Mr. Orbán also said that, unlike many European leaders, he sees the 2008 financial crisis as a structural crisis, which has resulted in a loss of competitiveness. He thinks that to regain competitiveness we must renew our policies, and the answers we give today must not be the same as those we gave earlier. Therefore, he said, the path that Hungary has set out on is completely different from the one it pursued before.