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Mar 21, 2018

Speech by Viktor Orbán at the official opening of a new synthetic rubber factory

19 March 2018, Tiszaújváros

Good day to you all, Ladies and Gentlemen,

We are grateful to the Japanese Ambassador for being with us here today. Thanks are also due to Mr. Kawasaki for his presence here, and thank you Zsolt Hernádi for visiting us here. My sincere greetings are also due to the local people present here today – especially the mayors. In the speech he gave before me, Mr. Hernádi said that it is good to write industrial history. That is definitely the case, but not primarily because it offers some sort of remedy – admittedly only partial – to human transience. It is mostly a good thing because with it one can give people work: it is good because we can provide security to hundreds of families. It is good to write industrial history because we can serve our homeland – not with weapons, but in peace and industrial development. It is a good thing because we not only give families the means to live their lives, but we also give young people vocational skills. MOL is a leader in this respect, and I hope that this is what will happen here as well. I do not think that the people of Debrecen have come here to annexe the town of Tiszaújváros, but they have come here with such a high-ranking delegation because at the University of Debrecen there will be courses financed by MOL – or at least financed jointly by MOL and the Hungarian state – which will train skilled workers for this factory. And I hope that there will also be students at the training centres in Tiszaújváros whom MOL and the Hungarian state are jointly training so that they can work here in one of the world's most modern factories. Therefore we can see that, from several points of view, writing industrial history is indeed a good thing.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would especially like to say a few words of thanks to our Japanese partners. Perhaps in this context the following figures are new to us: every year Japanese companies in Hungary provide work for 25,000 people: livelihoods for 25,000 families are provided by Japanese-owned companies in Hungary. We are grateful for this. I always refer to this, because there are now many younger people among us; and there are ever fewer of us who remember the fall of communism, 1990 and the collapse of Hungarian industry, and the wretched state of the Hungarian economy back then. We remember the days when there were few countries in the world which would have been willing to give as much as a brass farthing for the future of Hungarian industry. But at that time, when we were in such a difficult situation, our first friend that we could count on and who offered help was Japan: not the Americans, nor the Europeans, but the Japanese. They were the first to appear in Hungary: they offered investment and they negotiated the debt which we owed them; and indeed they appeared and offered assistance so that Hungary could get back on its feet in the new world in which we found ourselves. Therefore for Hungary cooperation with the Japanese is always a notion which denotes respect and gratitude.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is difficult to make a distinction between individual investment projects in Hungary. Clearly for any individual the most important investment will be the one from which they personally earn a livelihood. Obviously if I were to ask people from Kecskemét, they would say that the most important investment in Hungary is that of Mercedes. If I asked someone from Győr, they would saying that it is the Audi factory there, and someone from Miskolc would say that the Bosch plant there is the most important. Clearly this is the case. But if we view things from a higher vantage point, from a national perspective, then I must say that the most important investment – the investment which is closest to our hearts – is the Tiszaújváros project, and MOL projects in general. The relationship that we Hungarians have with MOL is not merely an economic one, but also an emotional one. The simple fact is that we love MOL – and most of all we love it because it is ours. It is a Hungarian company, a national company, and while of course they also recognise the benefits of factories owned by others, people are most emotionally attached to that which is theirs. We love MOL because in it we see the work of Hungarians – and not only the work of those who are now employed in the company: in our mind's eye we see a procession of the generations who have worked for the company, who have earned a living there. They were energy experts, they took part in crude oil and natural gas exploration, they were extraction specialists, and they developed the refining and transport capacities over the past several decades. So MOL is the embodiment of Hungarian work, discipline, enterprise, the desire to take action and the will to work. Therefore we can safely claim that it is not simply a national company, but that it is the pre-eminent national company. In it we see the culture of work, we its specialists present here, and we see the capacity for renewal and innovation. MOL has set out on a long journey, which we hope will be a success story in the chemicals industry. We would like the entire Hungarian economy to be like MOL: large scale, modern, competitive and Hungarian.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As we see it, the Hungarian economy will be in a state of equilibrium if, alongside international companies, large Hungarian films also emerge and strengthen. Of course small and medium-sized enterprises are extremely important, as those companies are where most Hungarians work, but one cannot build a national economy with SMEs alone. We also need large national companies like MOL: companies which are headquartered in Hungary and whose market is primarily here in Central Europe. As we have heard, this is also a Central European company with a reputation throughout the whole of Europe; and we need companies which not only compete in the international economic sphere, but which are also able to conclude long-term strategic agreements with other large concerns, which may sometimes be larger than them – such as is now the case with Japan’s JSR Corporation and MOL.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This is the path of the future: joint investment and development between a large Hungarian company of Central European significance and a reputation throughout the whole of Europe, and an even larger international company. In the future I would like to see as many such cooperative projects as possible. There are several justifications for our claim that MOL is the pre-eminent national company. The first reason is that MOL provides work for 8,000 people in Hungary. This is a Hungarian company which is able to provide a living for 8,000 people. The second reason is that this is an important company of Central European proportions. Both the workers and managers present here today know that it is now universally recognised that in the future Central Europe will be the economic engine and driving force for the whole of the European Union. So whoever is strong in Central Europe will within a few years be strong in Europe – indeed they will be a determinant force. The third reason that we love MOL is that it operates in a special area. The area in which it operates is one which is the basis of our joint security, as without MOL there is no energy security in Hungary – and therefore without MOL there is no security in Hungary. The fourth reason we love MOL is that it is strong enough to attract international companies here to Hungary. And of course there is another, fifth, reason as well: we love it when it pays its taxes. I'm calculating now, but most recently from its profits MOL contributed around 20 billion forints in tax to the Hungarian central budget. Chief Executive Hernádi, may God enable your company to continue this practice!

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The investment which we are talking about now is not insignificant: this is an investment of 100 billion forints, for which the Hungarian state has provided a development tax allowance of 12 billion forints. The latter can be claimed by MOL in a twelve-year period following the launch of operations. Here I would like to make a public commitment that if in the future MOL wants to implement investments similar to this one, then it can count on the Hungarian government, the Hungarian state. This is because the support of such investments offers every Hungarian voter the best possible value for money.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

MOL is also an important company because it not only operates in the present, but it also has a clearly defined future. If I am not mistaken, this is supported by two pillars: it must preserve certain positions in the energy industry, and it must gain access to new markets – for example, the world chemical industry market. I am pleased that MOL has set out on this path. In 2015 we opened a butadiene plant, and now we are opening synthetic rubber factory. In 2021 there will be another investment here in Tiszaújváros, but the most important fact mentioned here by the Chief Executive is one that I would like to underline now: MOL will be investing 1,300 billion forints up until 2030. For us ordinary mortals who are not involved in the business world this is a large number, and we are not able to fully apprehend its magnitude. For our benefit I will say that this means that up to 2030 the amount of capital that MOL intends to invest is larger than the Hungarian investments of Mercedes and Audi combined. This truly illustrates the strength of our national company. This is what I am thinking of when I say that in Central Europe the future is written in the Hungarian language.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

If you will allow me, for a few minutes I would like to echo the feelings of déjà vu related to Chief Executive Hernádi’s comments. Déjà vu is something which expresses the feeling that we’ve already passed this way before: that what we’re experiencing is something that has already happened to us once before. I also sometimes have this feeling. The old thoughts that tend to come back to me are my memories from 2011, of giving thanks to God after having come back from Moscow, where we had taken part in what could rather understatedly be described as tough negotiations: in fact I could say that we had sweated blood. Those talks had resulted in us buying back more than 20 per cent of MOL from the Russians. Nowadays no one remembers this, but when we entered government in 2010 we found that our predecessors had – behind our backs, under the counter, and disguised as all kinds of international transactions – sold off more than or around 20 per cent of this large Hungarian national company. In such situations one doesn't criticise the purchaser, since they only acted as their interests demanded. But our predecessors had recklessly sold off part of the company to a Russian buyer – who was incidentally the now newly-elected President of the Russian Federation. So we had to enter into very tough negotiations, a protracted series of encounters, with the Russian president – who is not exactly the weakest kid on the international block – to eventually reacquire this interest, to buy it back. Perhaps you remember that at the time we were subjected to all kinds of criticism. That was quite a while ago, and even you do not visit Parliament as much as I do; so I have a rather clearer memory of how back then our opponents wanted to tie us to the whipping post, and how on account of our decision the opposition flung all kinds of abuse at us. But in the end I can tell you that the intervening period has vindicated our actions; because if we had not been able to buy back that large share in MOL, then it would be hard to imagine us being able to contribute funds from the Hungarian taxpayer to investments of this kind.

Well now, Ladies and Gentlemen,

One thing that I've learnt from this series of events is that if something has been sold off, and can be reacquired only with great difficulty, then it was huge folly to have sold it in the first place.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In addition to this, however, the lesson to be learnt is that even the biggest mistakes can the corrected – although it may not be easy to do so.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am convinced that the handover of this factory today is another step towards Tiszaújváros becoming Central Europe’s most important chemical industry centre. I believe that the handover of this factory today is not only good news for the owners of MOL, and not only good news for the local people working here, but it is also good news for every resident of Tiszaújváros. This is because this investment increases the influence of the town, and it means that we can justifiably set the goal of making Tiszaújváros Central Europe's most important chemical industry centre. This will be particularly true if we can realise the developments announced by the Chief Executive.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I also think that it is important to tell you that the Hungarian economy will operate well, there will be increases in pensions and wages – and overall the standard of living in this country will not only be bearable but acceptable – if every year economic growth runs at a minimum of 4 per cent. We achieved this in 2017, we shall achieve it in 2018 and, if we win the trust of the Hungarian electorate, there will be economic growth of 4 per cent every year over the next four years. But for this we need investments and developments. Therefore we are counting on MOL – not only in terms of its own company investments, but also in terms of maintaining the dynamic of the entire Hungarian economy. If there are no MOL investments, then it will be difficult to maintain an annual economic growth rate of 4 per cent in Hungary. But there will be investments like this, and therefore the prospects are good.

In closing, Ladies and Gentlemen, I would not like to give the impression that everyone is unaware of the fact that there will be a parliamentary election in Hungary in twenty days’ time. We are facing an important decision. I would like to make it clear that investments and developments only occur in a country if that country is safe, if its legal system is secure, if its political life is stable, and if the reins of government are not being jerked continually from right to left. Investments can only occur in a country where there is physical security: where there is no threat of terrorism and public safety is not threatened significantly. I would therefore like to make it clear to you that there will be no immigration in Hungary, and Hungary will not be an immigrant country: in Hungary public safety will not be endangered, and there will be no acts of terror. Large foreign investors can continue to come to Hungary, and we also reassure large Hungarian investors that they can confidently continue their investment activities in Hungary with the most important criterion in place: the assurance of security.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Hungary is developing because Hungary is a safe country. Even a blind person can see that the country is developing, and so, even in the midst of an election campaign, nobody is challenging thebasic premise that Hungary has developed in recent years, and will continue to develop in the future.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Only one thing remains for me to do. There are many people whom I would like to thank for their work. First of all, perhaps, those who have been working here and have made it possible for this factory to come into being. So I would like to thank the builders of this factory for their work. I would like to thank those who will operate this plant and this factory. I would like to thank the people of Tiszaújváros for having been good owners and good hosts, and for having assisted in this investment by MOL. I would also like to thank the management of MOL: the Chief Executive and his colleagues, who have shown such commitment to this investment. I propose that the “holy trinity” of MOL, MOL Petrolkémia and Tiszaújváros be maintained in the future, and that they continue to stand firmly side by side. All I can add to this is that in the future they can continue to count on the Hungarian government.

 Thank you for your attention.