Press statement by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán after talks with Chairman of the Board of Management of Audi Hungária
15 June 2020, Győr
Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen,
My heartfelt thanks to our host for the invitation to come here today. We’ve had very enlightening talks, which turned out to be much more important than I had expected. We are in the citadel of Hungarian industry. This factory is the pride of Hungarian industry. It is operated by Hungarian workers and Hungarian engineers, and it produces the world’s most modern vehicles. As you’ve heard, fantastic things have happened here since my last visit a few years ago. A simple mortal like me would think that only cars are made here – this is Audi after all. But this is not the case, as since then a centre of excellence has been created here, and vital components for other models are also produced here. So this factory is not only geared for the production of Audi vehicles, but also for providing a world production centre bearing the name of Audi with the most advanced components. This is a huge thing, and I would like to congratulate the workers, engineers and managers working here – including the Germans and the factory owners. We are also somewhere important in terms of the national economy, because more than EUR 11 billion has been invested here so far. As a proportion of the entire Hungarian national economy this is a significant sum. Moreover, since I was last here, it has been turned into an environmentally neutral plant, thus giving an indication of the future that European industry seeks to attain one day. But Audi and the people of Győr are already living in the future that others are setting out towards. All this is the good news.
Nevertheless the sky is heavy with cloud, and while of course we’re here to express our delight at the relaunch of the facility’s third shift, the situation is far from easy. Indeed the situation is difficult – to be honest, the situation is very difficult. Even such world-class factories as this are extremely sensitive to the economic impact of the current pandemic, and the owners, managers and workers here need to conclude a good agreement with each other so that everyone can fulfil their aspirations in the future just as they have done in the past. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, I have said that agreements – sound, intelligent and fair agreements – can protect jobs; otherwise jobs will be lost. And it is also completely self-evident that government aid is needed to relaunch the economy, and even to relaunch this self-reliant factory.
So without government help the economy will not restart – not in a general sense, but factories will not restart production. So we need strong government support measures, which is why I’ve come here with Minister Palkovics. I pledge support to factory managers in general, and he does so in a specific way – since he also has the money. He can make the agreements with which we can help to protect the jobs here. We are ready for that anyway. We will do everything we can to ensure that all workers and all engineers continue to fulfil their aspirations here. We encourage an agreement that will ensure this in the longer term, and we’re ready to provide a financial background for the agreement and for the factory to operate at full capacity, given the circumstances of the Hungarian budget. But I’d like to make it clear that now the aim is to save jobs. So what’s at stake in the fight nowadays is saving the jobs of the people who work here; and while this is one of the most modern factories in the world, we still have to fight for it. It is not clear that this factory is able to operate at a capacity that gives everyone working here the chance to work. Effort is needed for this. This is why we have to work, and this is why we have to make agreements. We have to fight, even for the Audi factory itself. Those of us who lived under communism – people like myself, though our German guests didn’t have such luck – are familiar with the quip from that time: “We know what will happen, but what will happen until then?” So here also we know that Audi will once more fly high. Because if it’s true that the world’s population is growing – that more people are being born than are dying – and freedom requires freedom of movement, then for that cars are needed. So we know what will happen, that the market will grow; but the really big question is what will happen up until the point at which that process starts. And that’s not going to be a week or two from now, or a month or two: it could take one year – but easily two full years – for us to reach the point of announcing big plans for the future in production facilities such as this which surpass plans from the starting point before the pandemic.
This is the reality we have to face. I can say that we are Hungarians, we are not Fate’s favoured children, and that which we can survive will strengthen us. Not only will we survive this crisis, but we will also emerge from it stronger – and part of this will be the continuation of the success story called Audi. To this end, I wish much strength and good health to the Mayor, the factory’s managers and workers.
Thank you for your attention.