Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán gave his state of the nation speech in Budapest on Saturday afternoon, at the usual venue of these annual addresses, the Várkert Bazaar (Várkert Bazár) at the foot of the Castle Hill. The prime minister has been assessing the state of country since 1999, a custom he did not give up even during the eight years Fidesz-KDNP spent in opposition between 2022 and 2010.
Recognition of the Life-Saving Work of Hungarian Rescue Teams in Turkey
Viktor Orbán began his address by acknowledging the devastating earthquake that had hit Turkey two weeks prior. He stated that times of trouble reveal who can be counted on, and highlighted that Hungarians had stepped up to the plate by sending 167 rescuers to the country, who saved the lives of 35 people. Orbán and his audience applauded the representatives of the rescue teams who were present at the address.
Great Challenges Faced with ‘Brussels-defying Courage’
Orbán then went on to discuss the two new enemies that Hungary will be facing in addition to illegal immigration: war and inflation. He pledged that
inflation will be pushed down to one digit by the end of the year,
noting that ‘Inflation is like a tiger. If we don‘t shoot it, it will bring us down.’
Despite these challenges, Orbán remained optimistic about Hungary’s future. He highlighted the progress that the country had made over the past ten years, stating that the economy had tripled, and that one million people had started working. He also noted that the minimum wage was higher than the average wage had been under the previous Socialist government. Orbán credited these successes to the reorganisation of the Hungarian state with ‘Brussels-defying courage’, and the creation of a new Hungarian economy in which everyone had a chance to succeed.
Despite the Foreign Funding, the Left Failed in the Elections
Orbán also took a moment to address his political opponents, particularly those on the left. He noted that George Soros had given a lot of money to the Hungarian left to try to replace the government, but that they had been unsuccessful in doing so. Despite the funding from abroad, Fidesz won a landslide victory in the 2022 parliamentary elections. Orbán attributed this victory to the hard work of his supporters, stating that winning required a strong heart and not just luck.
Europe Is Indirectly at War with Russia
The premier then turned his attention to the global political climate, stating that the world was heading towards becoming the Wild West. He noted that 2022 had been the most difficult year in the last 30 years, and that the West’s decision to embark on a sanctions policy had required his government to re-examine its goals.
He suggested that 2023 will be the most dangerous year for Hungary since the fall of communism. The ongoing Russo-Ukrainian war will continue to rage, and the global economy will be threatened by inflation. In order to save lives, a ceasefire and immediate peace talks are needed to save lives. NATO membership is of key importance for Hungary, but NATO is a defence alliance, not a war alliance, and does not impose any other obligation but common defence, the PM stressed, adding that
‘No Brusselites have died in the war yet, but Hungarians have,’
and demanded ‘more respect for Transcarpathian Hungarians in Munkács (Mukachevo), Kyiv and Brussels.’
Orbán added that in the EU and NATO, everybody but Hungary is pro-war, while his government believes that providing non-humanitarian aid to Ukraine goes against Hungarian interests. ‘This is not the war between Good and Evil, but a limited war between the troops of two Slavic countries,’ the PM declared. He suggested that as opposed to that, Europe is now ‘indirectly at war with Russia’ after several countries have pledged to send tanks to Ukraine and is ‘now drifting into the war like a sleepwalker.’
The Prime Minister said that Hungary’s pro-peace position and the others’ pro-war position only bring differences to the surface, and the fact that we are in full agreement on the strategic objectives becomes secondary:
Hungary wants Russia not to pose a threat to Europe, and to have a sufficiently wide and deep space between Russia and Hungary, a sovereign Ukraine.
Foreign Policy Goals: Make Friends and Connect with Cross-Border Hungarians
Orbán argued that while the means of achieving Hungarian foreign policy goals may change, the goals themselves will remain the same: making friends with other countries and connecting with ethnic Hungarians in neighbouring countries.
As far as the United States is concerned, Orbán noted that Joe Biden sent a ‘press man’ to Hungary, with the mandate to ‘press’ Hungary into the war—the PM was quite obviously referring to US Ambassador to Hungary David Pressman. He noted:
they should not go so far as to send a man called Puccini—as in a putsch man—next time.
He noted that he expects the Republicans to come back to power ‘with bulging muscles’ in 2024.
Focus on Families, Strategic Sectors, Countering Gender Propaganda
Orbán also outlined his plans for Hungary’s future. He stated that his government’s family policy, the principle of a work-based economy, the agreement entered with pensioners and along with it, the thirteenth month pension would remain. He also stated that the the government will continue the utility cost reduction programme, the linking of universities and businesses, and will stick to the goal of keeping strategic sectors such as banking, energy, and media in Hungarian hands. Orbán stressed that
the government is working on ‘re-Hungarianising’ the information and communication sector.
Orbán also stressed that Hungary must have here the most stringent child protection system in Europe. The Prime Minister said that although the necessary legislation is adopted, that might not be enough. However, he noted, on this matter not even a government with the utmost determination can succeed on its own. Thus Hungary will need parents, grandparents, mothers and fathers as well as teachers because
‘gender propaganda is not some silly messing about, not some rainbow babble, but the greatest threat to our children,’
Orbán said ‘we want them to leave our children alone because enough is enough,’ there is no place for things of this kind in Hungary, and especially not in the schools.
Development of Rural Hungary as Top Priority
Orbán emphasised his commitment to the Hungarian countryside, stating that unprecedented developments were planned that would provide more resources than rural Hungary had ever seen. He also highlighted the need to revive the Hungarian food industry and create national champions in the sector who could compete on the world market. Orbán argued that Hungarians should not be forced to buy food that had been dumped on them from abroad.
Finally, Orbán warned that the coming year would be difficult, but stated that Hungary would not give up on its goals. He reiterated his commitment to families with children and to ensuring that they could have the same standard of life as families without children. He concluded by stating that Hungary faced many challenges, but that its people could be counted on to meet them head-on.