Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Fellow Members of Parliament,
I’ve asked to speak because at the end of last week the European Council brought to a conclusion a long series of talks which lasted six months. We all know that Europe is in a difficult situation. Its share of the world’s gross domestic product is in continuous decline, having fallen from just over 20 per cent to 16 or 17 per cent. Meanwhile, we’ve lost the United Kingdom: a nuclear power and one of Europe’s largest economies. And the European continent was assailed by the coronavirus pandemic, bringing with it consequences for health care and economies that we must face up to. Six months ago Germany took over the presidency of the European Union, and decided to set up a recovery fund. They hope that this will modernise the European economy, thus halt the decline in the EU’s share of world gross domestic product, and help restore the momentum lost with the absence of the United Kingdom. The Germans also hoped that this recovery fund would enable us to manage the healthcare and economic consequences of the virus.
We must also acknowledge, Fellow Members of Parliament, that the debt of the countries in the greatest difficulty are sky-high. There is a country in the European Union with national debt of over 200 per cent, one in which it is around 160 per cent, and before the end of this year the debt of the EU’s second largest economy will very probably exceed 100 per cent of GDP. By comparison, Hungary’s debt is still under 80 per cent. The German proposal was that we should take out a joint loan, and use it to set up a recovery fund called Next Generation. It’s important to note that every penny of this fund is credit which will have to be repaid. If at some future date there are some who are unable to pay back their share of this debt, it will have to be paid back for them by the others. We Hungarians were not at all happy about this idea, the idea of this debt collective; we understood the arguments of the group of countries called “the Frugal Four”, who said that sooner or later we will have to work for every single forint, for every single euro. We eventually accepted the Germans’ crisis management concept, however, as we recognised the need for solidarity with these countries in distress – of which there are several.
The Honourable House itself decided on this here sometime during the summer, and the Hungarian National Assembly set conditions on approval of the German proposal. The parliamentary resolution stated that “Member States in comparable situations must be subject to equal treatment, and the citizens of richer countries must not receive more funds than the citizens of poorer countries”. And the resolution that I’m quoting also states that “linking the disbursement of funds to political and ideological conditions described as ‘the rule of law’ is unacceptable”. We conducted talks on this basis, and accordingly reached an agreement at the European Council summit of prime ministers in July.
Between July and November the Germans held talks with the European Parliament, as the approval of the latter is also needed in order to create the recovery fund. They finally came to an agreement which would have linked financial aid – the recovery fund – to clear political and ideological conditions. Meanwhile these months saw crude and graceless rhetoric used to attack Hungary. Someone spoke of a “rule of law crisis” in some Member States, particularly in Poland and Hungary. The European commissioner responsible for gender affairs said that this mechanism would be the means with which to force Member States to toe the line. One of the Parliament’s vice presidents, a former high-ranking German government official, said that Hungary and Poland must be “starved”. An incumbent high-ranking German state leader said that they would finally have an instrument which would be very painful for Hungary and Poland. It was in this environment that Hungary had to form its position. We did not deviate from the direction set out by Parliament, and so Hungary and Poland announced that the agreement between the European Parliament and the German presidency was not acceptable: political issues would again have to be disengaged from the issue of economic aid. On this we would not budge an inch, but we would seek to continue negotiations until there was a solution that was acceptable to us.
Finally last weekend common sense prevailed. We defended Hungary’s sovereignty, and protected Hungarians’ money. Perhaps at this point we ought to thank Poland for their part in the friendship, perseverance and camaraderie with which we fought together throughout. On the whole, it's no exaggeration to say that we won: we carried the day in confirming that economic support must not be tied to political conditions - and all the more so in hard times such as during the current pandemic, because such things simply hinder our capacity to take swift action. The other reason to say that common sense prevailed is that with this decision we managed to preserve Europe’s unity. We defended the European constitution, and we didn’t allow it to be circumvented or subverted. We fended off the threat of budgetary instruments being used to force immigrants on the Hungarian people. We blocked the mechanism for financially punishing countries which refuse to take in immigrants. And finally we protected Hungarians’ money: Hungary will receive the money that it is entitled to.
The results achieved, Mr. Speaker, Honourable House, also have a higher purpose: protecting the unity of the European Union. The agreement is a promising result for the future of Europe, because, after long and difficult debate, it has become clear that the European Union can only function successfully as a community of nations. What was truly at stake was the question of who would control Europe in the future: whether it would be governments elected by the citizens of Member States and the Council comprising prime ministers and heads of state; or whether George Soros would succeed in forcing on us his own power network. We here in Hungary are very familiar with that: it’s a network which comprises NGOs spreading liberal, post-national and post-Christian ideas, the international mainstream media relaying and amplifying their ideals, a significant group of Members of the European Parliament and Soros agents embedded in the Commission. They wanted to have a new weapon which at any time they could use against countries that George Soros doesn’t like.
At the last minute, however, the governments of Europe woke up, and we adopted a unanimous decision. We stated that political issues must not be tied to financial issues, that subjective criteria must not serve as the basis for financial decisions, and that the legal procedure laid down in the Treaties must not be circumvented. Let me repeat, the European Union has preserved its unity and prevailed. The agreement makes it clear that the European Union is an alliance of nations and states.
Fellow Members of Parliament,
A very important phase has come to an end, but there are still unresolved areas of conflict. Just recently the Commission has released a migration action plan. In this it states that we must continue the resettlement of migrants – and indeed that we must also provide them with housing, welfare benefits and voting rights. The Brussels commissioner responsible for migration openly speaks about 34 million migrants, about providing housing, benefits and the right to vote to 34 million migrants. This is the challenge we’re facing. And if this weren’t enough, a gender action plan has also been tabled: the Commission’s official action plan. Honourable House, I think that it is right for Hungary to oppose both the migration and gender action plans with all its strength. I think that instead of supporting immigrants we must support the birth of children, and that instead of strengthening gender rights we must strengthen the traditional family model.
Europe must also confront a global pandemic. Everywhere in Europe the situation is critical. Coronavirus has not loosened its grip, and throughout Europe the second wave has broken records. And although Christmas is approaching, almost without exception European governments everywhere are introducing further restrictions for the holidays. In Germany, for instance, there will be a total lockdown from Wednesday.
We, too, are fighting the virus. At present this battle is being fought on two fronts: in hospitals, our doctors and nurses are fighting for our infected compatriots; in schools and nursery schools, the goal is to save parents’ jobs. We must continually thank our doctors, nurses, teachers and everyone taking part in this struggle. I wish to inform the Honourable House that difficult weeks lie ahead of us, but the vaccine – with which we can conquer the virus once and for all – is now within reach. We must hold out until the vaccine arrives. I can inform the Honourable House that we are expecting the first shipment of vaccine in the final days of December. The Operational Group has completed the country’s vaccination plan. Vaccination will be voluntary and free. In the first round we will vaccinate healthcare workers and frontline workers in the defence operation, followed by the chronically ill. We have launched the website vakcinainfo.gov.hu, where members of the public can register for vaccination. We are also mailing letters with registration forms to our senior citizens. I ask those of them who wish to be vaccinated to register.
As regards the vaccine, for us the battle against the pandemic and the vaccine are not political issues, and so we’re negotiating both in the East and in the West. I see how large pharmaceutical companies are fighting for the market and for money. The interests of multinational pharmaceutical corporations are not our concern, however: for us the main priority is that Hungarians should have access to a reliable vaccine as soon as possible. Human lives are at risk, and for us every life matters. We have contracts with every credible vaccine manufacturer, and we are doing all we can to ensure that Hungary has fast and reliable access to vaccines.
Up until we start vaccination we must keep disease control rules in force. These rules are strict, but I ask everyone to observe them. Let’s look out for one other and, once more, together we shall succeed!
Thank you for your attention.