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Jun 16, 2017

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s reply to opposition comments on his address in Parliament before the start of daily business

12 June 2017, Budapest

Thank you for the opportunity to reply, Mr. Speaker.

I am really spoilt for choice: we’ve heard so many things here that we could talk about these issues until sunset. I’ll to try to put these contributions into some sort of order.

First of all, I’d like to say a few words about the general level of debate. Although everyone has aimed their arrows at me, I’d like to remind you that it’s not me you’re arguing with. This is a consultation in which one million seven hundred thousand people took part. You may well not like the opinion of 1.7 million people, but that’s no reason to get angry with the Prime Minister. Please come to terms with the fact that this is the nature of this country, and this is what the people think: don’t be angry with the people. What the people want doesn’t coincide with your party political programmes. That’s why you’re in opposition. I must also say that it’s hard not to be somewhat shocked when listening to you: not so much because of what you’re saying – I’ve heard a thing or two within these walls – but rather the way you’re saying it. It seems as if someone has secretly launched a competition to see who can say the most shocking things, and who can be the coarsest. Congratulations! It seems to me that here, within the confines of this Honourable House, standards are deteriorating rapidly. When I first heard this shocking and vulgar tone – which is a stain on Hungarian constitutional traditions – I thought that in fact you were addressing us. I even tried to find some grain of truth at its core. But after a while I realised that in fact you weren’t addressing us, but competing with each other; and the point of this competition was to see who can be the strongest opposition party. I realise that this is a serious competition. I have to say that in the past we have taken part in such competitions, but we’ve never allowed ourselves to drag standards in the Hungarian parliament – in the house of constitutional traditions – to such a low level as this.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As for the specifics, as regards corruption, I suggest perhaps that everyone observes the law, and then there will be no problems. Isn’t that right, Honourable Jobbik?

And as for Saint Ladislaus – since the boundaries of the debate have been extended – it is not my duty to deliver a secondary school history lecture; after all, in the MSZP parliamentary group there is a historian finer than any of us on this side of the chamber, who will perhaps correct what has been said. But now that there has been mention of Saint Ladislaus and a one-sided westerly orientation, it’s well worth making some corrections. The historian in your group – who is of international renown, and also well respected in Hungary – will probably tell you that there was a reasonSaint Ladislaus married his daughter to the Byzantine emperor, and there was a reason he strove for balance. He too was intelligent enough to appreciate that there was more to the world than the Holy Roman Empire, and that neither the world nor Europe ends at the edge of Hungary somewhere down there in the South, but that there were powers beyond which were variously called Islam, Byzantium and the Russian Empire. And no serious Hungarian king in this country ever suffered from “Western blindness”. I don’t think that it’s my duty to tell you this: I believe that the MSZP’s parliamentary group has the internal resources needed to correct the distorted view of history and the flawed interpretation of Saint Ladislaus that we have heard from that side of the chamber.

In relation to corruption linked to the MSZP, I agree with my fellow parliamentarian Lajos Kósa: I believe that a party which can lay claim to the scandalous Sukoró affair should perhaps exercise more humility when talking about corruption.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Several of you spoke about the issue of EU funding. It is perhaps not my duty to correct factual errors, but the insulting approach adopted by members of the LMP – now for the umpteenth time, here, in the Honourable House – is perhaps worth of mention. With regard to EU funding, you describe our approach – I’ve written it down to avoid exaggerating your description – as “servile, beggarly and grovelling”. The words you use to talk about European funding are simply incompatible with our way of thinking. And – as we’ve mentioned Saint Ladislaus – I think it is also incompatible with Hungary’s self-esteem. We do not receive a penny from the EU as a gift. Just so that you may appreciate the size of the sums involved, because I believe that you’re talking about this without such knowledge, the Hungarian gross national product amounts to thirty-five thousand billion forints, while the funding we receive from the European Union amounts to around two thousand billion forints. This is to help you appreciate the magnitude of the sums involved, Ladies and Gentlemen. I’d like to inform you that the EU is structured so that those of us who joined later do not enjoy any advantages. The EU is structured so that the Westerners make money from us; it’s nevertheless true that if we play our cards right we can also make money from them, and these two aspects can balance out. This is what we’re trying to do, and I think that we are more or less in equilibrium. There’s a reason our government wants to protect the existing division of powers between Brussels and Budapest, as with this division of powers here in Budapest it is possible to pursue EU policy which is able to keep in balance the money they make from us and the money we make from them. But if they change the division of powers – if some powers are transferred to Brussels and fewer are left here – we won’t be able to maintain this policy of balance, and we’ll get to a point at which they will make money from us without us making any money from them. This must be avoided, and this is why we must prevent the transfer of powers to Brussels. This mentality – based on foundations of fact and with sufficient national self-esteem – will, I think, enable us to create a relationship with the European Union. Beggary, grovelling, a beggarly culture – this language is unworthy of this House, and it is unworthy of Hungary.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As regards a wage union, I’ll repeat what I said earlier: we aren’t initiating a wage union, but we are increasing wages. Hungarians have never earned so much as an extra forint from a wage union initiative. By contrast, people can now earn more as a result of the government policy of Fidesz and the Christian Democratic People’s Party, through significant pay rises. Please excuse us for the fact that the Hungarian government wishes to rely on pay rises funded from our own resources, rather the deranged dream of a wage union.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Honourable Speaker,

The Socialist party told us what we should really have held consultations on, and asked why we didn’t ask the people about this or that. Here I would just like to quietly note that you did not hold a single consultation during your eight years in government. That was when you had the chance to consider a means of consulting the people, and a subject on which you could do it. Given that in eight years you didn’t consult the people once, it’s surely a bit rich for you to try to give advice in hindsight – isn’t it, Ladies and Gentlemen?

As for belittling the number of people participating in the consultation, if I were the Socialists I’d be more cautious in this department as well. I’d just like to remind you that more people took part in the consultation than voted for the Hungarian Socialist Party in the last election. And as regards security, let’s get this straight: the Hungarian Socialist Party didn’t and doesn’t try to hide its plans, and has made it clear that if it were up to them, they’d dismantle the fence. They have said that if the left gets into power, they’ll make every effort to dismantle the fence as soon as possible. You also pointed out publicly that you wouldn’t have built the fence in the first place – and I’m quoting you – because you think it’s completely useless. Furthermore, you have, I think, insulted millions of Hungarians by saying the following, and I quote: “Surely no decent person, regardless of party affiliation, wants to have a fence on a state border in the middle of Europe.” But we do – and as long as the migrant threat exists, there must be a fence.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We also know that the Hungarian Socialist Party accepts the mandatory migrant resettlement quotas being forced on us by Brussels: they’re prepared to talk about this with Brussels, and they’re also prepared to support migrant resettlement measures without an upper limit on numbers. I don’t want to interfere in any international socialist matters, but I’d merely like to remind and inform Hungarian public opinion that even the Czech socialists want nothing to do with the quotas, as they’ve clearly stated that the quota system is flawed, and the quotas don’t work.

Honourable Socialists,

At times like this, it is hard to resist the wish that we had such socialists. But I’d like to reassure you that we’re not going to push for any kind of population exchange for political parties: we must live with the socialists we have. If this is what we have, this is what we must live with.

At the same time I would also like to remind you, Ladies and Gentlemen, that something unprecedented is unfolding here before our eyes. We have lived to see a terrorist convicted in Hungary for an act of terrorism being supported and protected not only by George Soros’s mafia, but also by the MSZP. Earlier they merely tried to find excuses for this terrorist, then they fought for him politically, and now they’re also defending him legally. I don’t want to challenge the right of any former justice minister to take up any case he chooses after the end of his political career; but it is telling that the lawyer for “Ahmed H.” is none other than your former justice minister, who quite simply wants to see him released from prison and set loose among the Hungarian people – even though he clearly committed an act of terrorism.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We’re talking about the terrorist who encouraged migrants to break through the Hungarian border barrier. This fact was established by a Hungarian court. You want to release from jail and set loose among the Hungarian people the terrorist who threw stones at Hungarian police officers. With the assistance of your former justice minister, you want to release from jail and let loose among the Hungarian people a terrorist who the Hungarian authorities found in possession of seven passports. Seven! No fewer than seven! You want to release from jail and set loose among the Hungarian people a terrorist whose residence is in Cyprus, where he has a villa. Is this appropriate, Honourable Socialists?

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Allow me perhaps one more remark, because we have also lived to see Jobbik attempting to teach the Hungarian parliament a lesson in the European way of thinking, European integration and European sensibilities. Therefore I’ll quote a statement from 2013 by the President of Jobbik – who was President of Jobbik then, and still is. It is a statement which has been widely published. I quote: “I would be very happy – and I sincerely hope that it will happen – if Hungary leaves the community of the European Union as soon as possible, and creates a union with its true brothers.” There is no excuse for this statement – not even the fact that he made it in Istanbul.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In summary, I can tell you that the only conclusion I can draw from this debate is that the Hungarian people expect more seriousness, more respect and more responsibility from you. And I think they’re right to do so.

Thank you for your attention.