Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s address in Parliament before the start of daily session [full text in English]
Budapest, September 12, 2016
Ladies and gentlemen, Dear Polish friends,
According to our constitutional traditions, at the beginning of the autumn session it is my duty on behalf of the Government to recount the most important developments at home – and for us in the outside world – since the end of last parliamentary session. And it is only right that I should also talk about the more important topics facing us in the upcoming session.
The past few months have been extremely eventful. The United Kingdom has decided to leave the European Union, and terrorist attacks have rocked Europe. The Olympics have come and gone, and here at home life has followed its usual path: this year’s harvest has been gathered, and Hungarian agriculture has demonstrated it strength by producing 5.2 million tonnes, which compares with 2.7 million tonnesneeded for self-sufficiency.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Despite the positive news at home, the truth is that today in Europe the general feeling is of living in turbulent times. Events have crowded in on us, time is limited and decisions need to be taken. If we want to be the masters of all that lies ahead of us, and not its victims, we must gauge our strengths and possibilities, and face in the right direction. As you will hear, however, serious challenges await us: a difficult and punishing struggle. Therefore I suggest that we first take stock of where we are now, where Hungary is today. We are at the mid-point in this government term. It is worth examining in detail where we stood in the middle of the previous term and compare it to what we have done since then. Regardless of political debates, there is nationwide consensus that we have put in years of hard work. We have put the country’s finances in order. We have curbed inflation and unemployment. We sent the IMF packing, and repaid the loan taken out by the socialists down to the last penny – not only the IMF loan, but also the one from the European Union. We have introduced unprecedented measures to support families. Wages have been increasing for some years – since 2013 to be precise – and meanwhile Hungary has also managed to preserve the value of pensions. We implemented a reduction in household utility bills, and for four years have defended that reduction. We have rescued families and municipalities from their debt trap. We have taken important steps on the long path of unifying the nation. To give you some figures, in the summer of 2012 there were 3.85 million people in employment. This number has risen to more than 4.3 million, which is an increase of 450 thousand. In the summer of 2012 463 thousand Hungarian people were without work, but today this figure stands at just 227 thousand – and it is worth reiterating that there are more than 100 thousand job vacancies in Hungary. So we have halved unemployment. Back in the summer of 2012 unemployment stood at 10.7%; today it is 5%. I repeat: five per cent. While earlier we were ranked eighteenth in the EU, today there are only three countries ahead of us. Only three.You know that the Government does not intend to stop here; as I have said on a number of occasions, our goal is full employment. If there is work, there is everything: this has been the essence of the government programme. And this old wisdom has proved to be true. While growth in the Hungarianeconomy shrank by 1.6% in the second quarter of 2012, we have seen a 2.6% increase in the corresponding period of 2016. We have also succeeded in reducing government debt by a considerable amount: while it was 78.3% at the end of 2012, at the end of this year it is expected to stand at 74.6%. So our economic indicators are doing well: even the IMF would be pleased – if we hadn’t sent them home. We have not only made progress on the macroeconomic figures, but also as far as people’s wallets are concerned. Wages increases are being paid for through our own efforts – our own performance– rather than from credit. At the end of 2012 the minimum wage was 93 thousand forints; this year it is 111 thousand. In the summer of 2012 the pre-tax average wage was around 220 thousand; it is 260 thousand today, and meanwhile inflation is effectively zero. It is good news, Honourable House, that more and more families can afford to go on holiday. While in the first seven months of 2012 the number of Hungarian guests in hotels was 2.3 million, now it is 3.2 million: an increase of 900 thousand. We have also made progress in making the beginning of the school year less of a problem for families’finances. I know that the beginning of the school year is something of a burden, which causes headaches for some Hungarian families, but I am pleased to say that every yearthere is some positive change. In this school year some two-thirds of students are receiving their textbooks free of charge:37 thousand more than one year ago. The overall picture of our development is beginning to look good, but we are still not where we would like to be. We want to ensure that no family should have a problem in raising the money needed for a decent living. We are working hard to make things easier year on year; we are working hard so that everyone can take a step forward from one year to the next.
Summing up our comparison, I can say that we are further forward than we were four years ago. We should thank everyHungarian for the work done. We have worked hard, and as a result we are on the right path – we are on the right track. We have a future once again and we have something to hope for. We can say that every single Hungarian’s effort is meaningful, and in addition to improving their own lives with their efforts, they are also improving the life of the entire community. The components of Hungarians’ community life are well-assembled: we are a community, a nation once again.
Honourable House, Mr. Speaker,
This summer we were also able celebrate the achievements of our Olympic athletes. We raise our hats to every Hungarian athlete, and carry the champions shoulder high. We are proud of them. We thank them for having shown us once again what a great feeling it is to be Hungarian.
Ladies and gentlemen,
There is a slight problem here, however. While I have just said that, thanks to our joint efforts, we have a future once again and Hungary is on the right track and heading in the right direction, in fact the situation of our country and the Hungarian people is not that simple. We must not bury our heads in the sand. Hungary is not a self-contained planet, it is not a globe standing alone and only revolving on its own axis. We are in the middle of Europe – in the middle of a Europe going through ominous times. We are in the middle of a Europe which will be fatally weakened if it cannot responddecisively and well to the threats it is facing; and if it cannot,there will be no point in being proud of our own achievementsas Hungarians.
This summer has further added to Europe’s troubles. Now Brexit is no longer just a possibility, but a harsh reality: it cannot be undone. Post-Brexit Britain is fine, thank you very much. So we should not worry about Britain. The United Kingdom is the world’s sixth largest economy, it stands firmlyon its own two feet and it knows what it wants. Our headache is not caused by London, but by Brussels. As we see it, Brexitis the failure of European politics, the failure of Brussels. And on top of that, instead of examining ourselves, we are playing at being the injured party. The truth is that our leaders had at their disposal all the means to keep the European community together. But they failed. It would be a popular response, but cheap one, to blame everything on President Juncker –especially as Hungary did not support his appointment in the first place. But I suggest that we avoid this. This is no time for in-fighting: Europe needs sensible debates, the conclusion of those debates, and unity.
Ladies and gentlemen,
But the British are not the only ones who are dissatisfied with Europe. If you look around, you can see that the whole of Europe is arguing, protesting and in a state of turmoil. As a result of modern-day population movement, terrorism and violence have become part of life in Western Europe. Since we last met, terrorism has moved to Europe: Nice and a number of small towns in Germany stand as a reminder to us here. Let me repeat: we should not bury our heads in the sand. What has happened in Belgium and France – indeed in Germany – could happen anywhere in Europe. There is a reason why Europe’s traditional political structure is crumbling. The problem was caused by the parties and governments which responded with naivety to the challenges caused by immigration.
Naivety is a dangerous thing, and in politics it is doubly dangerous. Here it is a mistake. And not even good intentions are an excuse, because we know – at least we Hungarians know – that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. Naive politics lead to a state of stupor, deprive us of our capacity to act, and finally bring trouble upon our heads. Today this naivety is a general state of affairs in Brussels. They think that there were troubles before, and they went away somehow. Brussels is shrouded in the fog-like layer of a vain hope that things will return to normal of their own accord– to the earlier prosperous and safe existence that we had. They think that a few million Muslim migrants are nothing for a Europe which, without the British, now numbers 440 million. They are wrong. This hope is nothing more than wishful thinking, a mirage, and naive self-delusion. Things will not return to normal of their own accord, but will get worse.
Ladies and gentlemen,
This is why internationally Hungary says that the European Union must wake up at last. On 16 September the prime ministers of the EU Member States will meet in Bratislava. The Bratislava summit is important because there the Prime Ministers of the EU must come up with proposals on how to change the European Union. Our proposal stands on firmfoundations. First of all, we say that the foundations of the EUare formed not by the Brussels institutions, but by the Member States, and therefore Europe must be strengthened at the level of the Member States. So the Hungarian proposal to be delivered in Bratislava is about returning to the concept of a Europe of nations. We also say that Europe must be strengthened economically. Globally the EU’s economic competitiveness has declined enormously. We should not forget that before the crisis in 2008, the European Union accounted for some 30.3% of the world’s gross domestic product. After less than a decade this share has now fallen to 22.5%. We also say that Europe must regain its competitiveness. The Visegrád Four represents this position. It is worth noting that today the citizens of the Hungarian and Polish nations are the ones who most believe in the European Union. It is in these countries that EU membership has the highest popular support. The Finnish, the Danish, the Austrians – or the Germans, for that matter – are much more pessimistic than we are. Neither are we like the British. We do not want to leave, but we want to remedy and improve whatwe have and what is important to us. The time has also come to seriously consider setting up a European army. Hungary supports this idea. I can also tell you that in Bratislava I will stand up against this naive and dangerous immigration policy, in place of which I will propose a realistic, rational migrant policy of self-defence which demonstrates strength.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I believe that we cannot afford to waste any more time. Everyone can see that Europe is reeling from an unprecedented wave of mass migration. The policy whichBrussels is now pursuing will lead to civilisational disaster. The nature of civilisational disaster is that it does not happenovernight. Instead it proceeds slowly, but inexorably, as differences in fertility rates and repeated flows of mass migration change the composition and culture of the European population. One tends to take one’s eyes off the historical and civilisational horizon, as there are enough problems in the here and now, in our everyday lives. Everyday life will continuously adjust, conform, and accept. This is in its nature. And in the end one will be unable to recognise one’s own world.
We may lose our European values – our very identity – by degrees, like the live frog allowing itself to be slowly cooked to death in a pan of water. Quite simply there will be more and more Muslims, and Europe will be transformed beyond recognition. If we are unable to change things now, we can predict with sufficient mathematical accuracy – all one needsare some mathematical calculations – what Europe’s cities will look like in two or three decades.
No one should doubt that the migration pressure will increase. We would all like to believe the opposite, but that would only be a continuation of the naive policy which got us into trouble in the first place. What we have seen of mass migration so far has only been the initial warm-up; the match is yet to begin. In Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East excluding Syria there is a huge and increasing number of young people for whom the ailing economies and poorly-run states in which they will live will be unable to provide jobs, food and services. I would remind you that across the globe there are some three billion people living on less than two dollars a day. In order for the migration pressure to increase, Honourable House, we do not even need a war. The year 2050 is in the foreseeable future, 34 years from now. Many of us have realistic hopes of living to see that world with our own eyes. By 2050 the population of Egypt will have risen from 90 million today to 138 million. The population of Nigeria will increase from 186 million to 390 million. Uganda’s population will increase from 38 million today to 93 million. Ethiopia’s will more than double, from 102 million to 228 million. And as today the key states in North Africa are unable or unwilling to restrict population flows through their territories, in the next few decades Europe can expect even more people knocking at its doors.
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is time for straight talk. The situation is that not every country can be a member of the European Union; and not every person in the world should be able to become an EU citizen, simply because that is what they would like. Despite all our internal troubles and ailments, it is true that Europe continues to be a wonderful place, and life is good. Brussels bureaucrats give the impression that this good life is easilyattainable: all you have to do is come here. And vast numbersof people will come here if we encourage them to – or even if we allow them to. At the same time, Honourable House, our firm resolve should not blind us to the fact that the migrants themselves are victims: victims of local conflicts and a policy that makes false promises. Therefore, from an emotional and moral point of view, our situation is far from simple. We fearthe flood of migrants due to civilisational differences, but from a humanitarian point of view we feel sorry for those who are setting out to come here. Our hearts are not made of stone, but we must put an end to an immigration policy which is a threat to Europe. In the face of this challenge we must give a response which is both moral and rational. I am convinced that our response – the Hungarian response – is just that. The Hungarian policy is a morally well-founded policy. I can sum it up as follows: aid must be taken to the places where the migrants come from, rather than the problems being brought here. Common sense dictates that we change today’s immigration policy. The quotas are flawed. We need the fence, we need external borders and we need protected areas outside the European Union. We must decide who we let in, and whowe do not let in. But who should decide on this: Brussels or the nation states?
Mr. Speaker, Fellow Members of Parliament,
And so we come to the meaning and purpose of this autumn’s most important political task: the quota referendum. I am convinced that the disintegration of the European Union – which is intensifying daily – can be prevented by curbing illegal immigration. If we succeed, we rid ourselves of a threat, restore our capacity to act, and may regain the trust of our citizens.
As a first step, with the quota referendum we want to change the decisions already adopted by the Brussels Commission. Deny it as they may – and I hear voices of denial here too –the truth is that the Commission has adopted its own decisions. They summarised them and made them public in writing. I am not going to mention all eight of them now, but only two. The first decision is that they want to introduce an automatic immigrant distribution mechanism with no upper limit on numbers. In this the institutions of the European Union will decide on admitting immigrants according to a mathematical formula. And the governments of the nation states – and you parliamentarians – will have no role in this decision: none whatsoever. The second thing that I find particularly dangerous is that they want to make the process of family reunification easier – a process which is already not very difficult. But, Fellow Members of Parliament, even this is not enough for Brussels. They are preparing a trick in Brussels, because if they fail to convince the nation states, they will approach left-wing towns and cities and ask them totake in the migrants. If they cannot reach an agreement with Hungary and Budapest, they will strike a deal with Zugló, Salgótarján or Szeged. This is what the President of the European Parliament has announced. Now it is to be decided whether there will be any migrant estates, and if so, where. Therefore I advise those living in settlements with left-wing councils to vote on 2 October. And I suggest that those who do not like what I am saying should not take me to task, but should read the statement of the left-wing President of the European Parliament: President Schulz has said that they will come to agreements with left-wing cities if countries do not accept their decisions. This is what the left-wing President of the European Parliament has said. This is not my fault, Honourable Socialist Members of Parliament – this is not the place to register your protests.
Fellow Members of Parliament,
I think it is right to understand the fears of the leaders of local governments. The quota referendum is not just a national referendum, but also 3,200 local referenda. We can see that migrants are distributed across European countries – in Germany, for instance. Therefore I draw Hungary’s attention to the fact that Brussels’ plan is a threat not only to the countries, but also to settlements. This is not an abstract threat:the quota is not something abstract, but very real. It is a threat to everyone, from the largest cities to the smallest villages, and so we also call upon settlements to protect themselves.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The purpose of the referendum is to protect Hungary. Hungary should be proud to be the only European state in which the people have been given the chance to state their opinion on this in a referendum. You can see that the referendum is a national issue; on this issue there is no right or left wing: we only have the Hungarian people and the future of Hungary. There are no party political matters here, only a national cause which transcends parties. We have worked hard and struggled a great deal. Finally we have a future once again. I ask you not to put Hungary’s future at risk.
Thank you for your attention.