Mr. Speaker, Honourable House,
In accordance with our constitutional traditions, at the beginning of Parliament’s autumn session I shall report to you on events which have taken place in the months since the end of the spring session. Then, with the Speaker’s permission, I shall share with you my view of the challenges that Hungary will face during the autumn session which is now beginning. I can report to Parliament that we have successfully organised the biggest sporting event in Hungary’s history, the World Athletics Championships in Budapest. We have proven once again that we are among the best in the world at hosting, organising and running international events. We hosted guests from around two hundred countries, with one billion viewers watching the broadcasts. We saw 170,000 visitors come to Budapest, spending 460,000 guest-nights in our city. The revenue the World Championships generated for the Hungarian economy was twice as much as the amount spent on them. Congratulations to our competitors! I thank the organisers and the thousands of volunteers who won recognition for Hungary. We thank you!
Honourable Members of Parliament,
As you know, in spite of the upheaval in the global energy market, one of the national government’s most important commitments is to maintain Hungary’s energy security, and – even in this turbulent situation – to build up an energy economy that guarantees our independence. This is why this summer we established energy cooperation with Türkiye, Azerbaijan and Qatar. Here in Budapest we held talks with all three countries’ leaders, the presidents and the emir, concluded agreements and opened up new opportunities. As you know, Brussels has decided to cut Europe off from Russian energy supplies. I am convinced that this is against the interests of both Europe and Hungary, but now we do not have sufficient power to prevent it. The Government’s aim can only be to reduce the negative effects of the Brussels decision and to adapt to the new situation. Türkiye and Central Asia – the countries of Turkic world – play a strategic role in Europe’s energy supply. Half of Hungary’s gas supply – almost 5 billion cubic metres – comes from the south, through the TurkStream pipeline. We have now agreed that Hungary will not only receive gas transported through Türkiye, but we will also buy directly from them. Gas purchased from Azerbaijan has also begun to be delivered to Hungary, and – together with the European Union and Romania in particular – we have also agreed with the Azeris on large-scale energy supply plans. You are also no doubt aware that the whole world is in a race for Qatari gas, with a continuous parade of European Union leaders visiting Doha. Hungary has entered this race, and His Highness’s visit to Budapest has greatly improved our chances. You can see, Honourable Members, that for Europe the influence and role of the East – and of the Turkic world within it – will grow, and will slowly and surely become inescapable. The Hungarian government has long been aware of this. The fragility of the Minsk agreement, which was concluded in order to resolve the Russo-Ukrainian conflict in Crimea, was obvious to me from the very beginning. We saw that if Ukraine did not abandon its desire to join NATO, it would only be a matter of time before we had to accept the possibility of another conflict, which would also jeopardise energy supplies from Russia. Well in advance, therefore, we upgraded our relations with Central Asia to a strategic and friendly level, and in 2018 we also joined the political and economic community of the Organization of Turkic States as an observer. Thus the Russo-Ukrainian war and the terrorist attack on the Nord Stream pipeline – presumably a state terrorist attack – did not present us with an insurmountable challenge in terms of energy supply. If we turn our attention to the growing investments from Eastern countries, to this expanding trade, we can say with due modesty that Hungary’s foreign policy strategy towards the East is working. I can report to the Honourable House that the Government has “done its homework”, and has filled our country’s gas storage facilities. At present we have gas reserves equivalent to 60 per cent of annual consumption. Over the summer we also made good progress on renewables. We have reviewed our entire electricity grid system. We have identified areas where we cannot accommodate solar connections and generation without upgrades to the grid. The results of the review are encouraging. We will be able to open up a significant part of the national grid system, and – once billing disputes have been resolved – we will also be able to receive residential solar energy provision.
Hungary is one of the few countries that has reduced its carbon dioxide emissions since 1990, while at the same time increasing economic output. We are making Hungary independent by building Paks II, extending the lifetime of Paks I, building solar capacity, and building back-up power plants. We are four to five years ahead of schedule, while right now other European countries are opening dozens of coal-powered plants. The latter is a twist of fate and of a chaotic green policy. It is no exaggeration to say that Hungary belongs to the club of “climate champions”.
One of the Government’s most important strategic decisions is for the Hungarian Defence Forces to be combat worthy and to have a world-class defence industry. This summer, production started in Zalaegerszeg, where the world’s most modern troop transport vehicle is being manufactured, a research and development centre has been established, and a test track and experimental hall are in operation. We are accumulating knowledge that we did not have before, including training for military engineers and skilled workers. In the next decade Europe will become militarised, will become militarised again, and for the sake of its own security Hungary will need to adapt to the new situation. We have therefore concluded further agreements, and within the context of German-Israeli-Hungarian cooperation we will also launch the production of combat drones in Hungary. For the same reason, we have strengthened our strategic partnership with Serbia and extended it to defence and the defence industry. This is unprecedented in the history of our two countries. The NATO Innovation Week has just ended in Budapest; this is important, because Hungary is a founding member of the NATO Innovation Fund and the Defence Innovation Accelerator for the North Atlantic. I would like to inform the House that this year 4,000 people have signed contracts with the Defence Forces, and our recruitment programme is also continuing at full pace.
Over the summer there was a major clash between Central European countries – including Hungary – and the bureaucrats in Brussels, over the dumping of grain from Ukraine. Brussels claimed that without Ukrainian grain, African countries would face severe famine. After the war made transportation via the Black Sea impossible, Hungary – at the request of Brussels – opened a solidarity corridor, a transport corridor, to allow food to reach Africa from Ukraine via Hungary. Let us say it straightforwardly: we were cheated! The Ukrainian grain was not exported to Africa, but has been sold here in Hungary at a price that is lower than that of grain from Hungarian farmers, squeezing our farmers out of our own market. This is how Ukrainian grain was dumped on the Hungarian market, bypassing Hungarian quality standards. The Government does not want Hungarian families to be sold bread baked with Ukrainian grain of uncertain quality, rather than good Hungarian grain of guaranteed quality. We succeeded in getting a European supply ban implemented, but in September the Brusseleers lifted the ban in favour of Ukraine. This is seriously damaging the interests of Central European countries, and is also ruining Hungarian farmers. Therefore, together with Poland and Slovakia, we have imposed an import ban on twenty-three agricultural products from Ukraine. Since then the dispute has expanded and harshened, and has been referred to the World Trade Organisation. We continue to call on Brussels to stand by the Central European Member States and not to betray Hungary either.
Here I should also mention that at the start of this school year the new Ukrainian management of the Hungarian high school in the Transcarpathian city of Munkács/Mukachevo banned the singing of the Hungarian national anthem and the wearing of Hungarian national colours at school events. For years the Ukrainians have been harassing Hungarian schools, seeking to turn them into Ukrainian schools – and if that does not work, to close them. At every international forum the Hungarian government is fighting for the rights of Hungarians in Transcarpathia, especially the rights of Hungarian children. We shall not support Ukraine in the international arena on any issue until it reinstates the earlier laws that guaranteed the rights of Hungarians in Transcarpathia.
Mr. Speaker, Honourable House,
During the summer the Government also took important economic decisions. The Government’s target is to have inflation below 10 per cent by the end of the year. This is a new development, as inflation targets are not usually set by governments, but by central banks. But energy prices and Brussels sanctions have pushed inflation in Hungary to a level that the Central Bank cannot cope with. The Government has therefore taken over the task and responsibility of fighting inflation. We have made our own commitments and deployed our own instruments. We have introduced an online price monitoring system to curb the practices of multinational retail companies which introduce unjustified price increases, and we have imposed compulsory price-reduction campaigns. Our plan is working: inflation will be around 12 per cent in September, and certainly below 10 per cent by the end of the year. And we shall intervene again if traders are unable or unwilling to constrain fuel prices, which are a major driver of inflation. This summer we also had to tackle another problem at the Central Bank. As you know, in recent years the Central Bank has run up a significant level of debt, which needs to be dealt with – to be paid off – by the central budget and us MPs. The budget can do this – but only if we take significant amounts away from important areas in the economy and society. The Government recommends that we do not do this, but that instead we rescue the Central Bank from its predicament with a legislative amendment, which we are submitting to the Honourable House.
The Government has also taken decisions to encourage Hungarians with savings to invest their money in government bonds. This is beneficial for the budget, and beneficial for those with savings, because the interest on the loans is given to Hungarians rather than foreign creditors, and the budget also receives a secure source of finance. Two-thirds of Hungarian public debt is held by Hungarians and one-third by foreigners, and 24 per cent of total public debt is held by Hungarian households. This puts us in first place, at the forefront of the European Union.
Mr. Speaker, Honourable House,
As far as the events of the coming session are concerned, I can tell you the following. Although Hungary will continue to do its utmost for peace, the war between Russia and Ukraine will continue. The front lines are not moving, yet tens of thousands of people are being killed on both sides. We share the grief of the families, and with inexhaustible patience urge for a halt to the bloodshed. We want an immediate ceasefire and peace negotiations. There is still no military solution to the conflict. The diplomats must take back control of events from the soldiers – who should never have been given it. If they do not, there will be tens of thousands more families waiting in vain for their sons and fathers to come home. Tens of thousands of refugees from Ukraine have found a new and safe home in Hungary. Both Hungarians and Ukrainians from Transcarpathia. Those who fled here from the war have found safety in Hungary. Children, women and men. I would like to inform the House that the Hungarian government shall not comply with the Ukrainian government’s request this autumn either, and we shall not force anyone back to Ukraine.
During the autumn the debate between the Brussels bureaucrats and Hungary on the issue of migration will continue, even deepen, and probably widen. At the end of June a new migration pact was pushed through, despite protests from Hungary and Poland. It is now September, and it is clear that the pact has already failed. Those arriving by sea on the island of Lampedusa now give the impression of a veritable invading army. So far this year we have thwarted 128,000 attempts to breach Hungary’s southern border. Attacks on border hunters have become commonplace. There have been 168 serious attacks, and many of our police officers have been injured. Migrant violence is on the rise. For three nights now, Serbian-Hungarian patrol units have come under fire from automatic weapons. With this, the migrants have crossed the Rubicon. Under these circumstances Hungary cannot meet the demands of the Brussels bureaucrats. Brussels is demanding that these migrants be allowed into Hungary. It is demanding that in Hungary we create a migrant camp, a migrant ghetto, for thousands of people – even tens of thousands of people. What is more, they also want us to not only take in those besieging our borders, but also migrants from other European countries. The people they want to impose on us are those against whom we are currently protecting our southern border, those who are attacking Hungarian border guards with violence and weapons. This is an insane idea that our common sense does not even enable us to comprehend. When we joined the European Union, there was talk about the free movement of capital and goods, and the free movement of Europeans. In our treaty there is not a single word about the compulsory admission of migrants, about migrant quotas or about migrant ghettos – and neither can we accept such things at this later stage. This autumn will be difficult, because the Brusseleers want to ram the migrant pact down our throats before the European Parliament elections next year.
The Government’s position is that we do not need a migrant quota, but a border fence and border guards. We do not need to bring the problems here, we need to bring help over there. Hungary is ready to play a stronger role in crisis zones, including in the increasingly volatile Sahel region; but in Hungary there will be no migrant quota and no migrant ghetto. And there will only be a European solution when Brussels understands and accepts that entry to the territory of the European Union will only be allowed to those whose applications have been assessed in advance, and who have been granted permission to enter.
I must also inform you that, in addition to the migrant battle, there is another battle in progress between Hungary and Brussels. They have made demands on us. I quote from the relevant Brussels document: by the end of 2023 Hungary should “Wind down the emergency energy support measures in force, using the related savings to reduce the government deficit.” Another quote: “Hungary should phase out interest rate caps.” Another quote: “In Hungary domestic ownership increased in banking, telecommunications, utilities, the media, TV and radio broadcasting to the detriment of foreign ownership. The decreased presence of foreign capital and know-how risks curbing Hungary’s opportunities for productivity growth and innovation.” It will be difficult. We are facing a period when the conflict with Brussels can only be fought and won in a fully open debate and with the strong and – if possible – full support of the Hungarian people. In Brussels it must be made clear that Brussels is not opposing the Hungarian government, but the Hungarian people. Without the protection of reductions in household utility bills, the livelihoods of Hungarian families would be at risk. Today Hungarians pay the lowest utility bills in Europe. We have worked hard to ensure this. We do not accept that the price of energy in Hungary should be decided by bureaucrats from Brussels who do not live here, who do not know the situation of Hungarian families, who know little about Hungary and who represent opaque interests. Nor can we accept that taxes on price-gouging multinationals and taxes on the windfall profits of banks and energy companies should be abolished by Brussels. This is the money we use to pay for the fund protecting reductions in household utility bills, which is a bulwark against skyrocketing energy prices. We must not give multinationals a free hand to raise prices again and boost their profits skyward. Today, more than half a million Hungarian families are protected by the system of interest rate caps. Obviously this cannot last forever, but the phasing out of interest rate caps will only be possible when inflation – and with it interest rates – falls significantly and does not ruin families paying off their loans. This is not the case now, so the time has not come to lift the interest rate caps, and Brussels cannot demand this of Hungary. I think we should do the exact opposite of what Brussels is demanding. Austerity is not an option! Families must be protected; the protection of reductions in utility bills must be maintained; in November pensioners must be given the additional inflation-linked increase they deserve; jobs must be protected; state debt must be reduced; domestic corporate ownership must be increased, not reduced; and by the end of the year wages must be brought into balance with prices, so that salaries do not lose value, at least on an annual average, with the economy and wages starting to grow again in 2024. What we need from Brussels is not a set of unrealistic economic instructions and the imposition of austerity, that has failed a thousand times. Instead, Brussels should give us the money that is due to Hungarians, and the state of public finances will already look brighter. Hungary can easily meet this year’s budget deficit target if Brussels does not trip us up. This year it owes us 3 billion euros, while we have met our payment obligation of around 1 billion euros. The amount owed to us would – and, I am convinced, will – smooth out the balance of the budget. Meanwhile, Ladies and Gentlemen, Brussels – backed up by its initiative – is expecting us to agree to an amendment to the European Union budget that requires unanimity. They are asking the Member States to come together to pay in around 99 billion euros. They are asking us – and we will discuss and debate this in the autumn – to give even more money to Ukraine, while we Hungarians do not even support this war. They are asking us to give money to pay the increasing interest on the RRF [Recovery and Resilience Facility] programmes, while they are not giving us the money we are owed from this fund. They are also asking us to give money to pay the Brussels bureaucrats a pay rise, while they have led Europe into a hopeless war and forced the world’s most unsuccessful economic sanctions on us. They are asking us to give more money, while – for political reasons – they are also denying us what we are entitled to.
You can see that this autumn Hungary’s opponents are expected to come forward to make their demands simultaneously. What the Soros empire, the Brussels bureaucrats and the Democrats in America want from us is what we cannot give them – and, I think, do not want to give them. In the autumn the US administration will continue to want us involved in the war: to supply arms and to give more money to Ukraine – but at least to allow Brussels to give Ukraine our money. Brussels wants us to let migrants in and build migrant ghettos for them, to let sexual propaganda into schools, for us to yield economic decision-making powers to them, and furthermore to relinquish autonomous foreign policy and the right to have foreign policy issues decided on a unanimous basis. They are threatening that if we do not do all this, they will put continuous pressure on us, withhold funds from Brussels, and – through the coffers of the Soros empire – pay the Hungarian left, the Hungarian government’s domestic opponents.
What can we say to this? Beyond that... Firstly, that Hungary does not belong to the club of “Jawohl countries”, who, when they receive a phone call from Brussels, simply answer: “Jawohl!” Secondly, we can say that Hungary cannot allow anyone to restrict its independence and sovereignty. This is not only because of common sense and not only because of historical experience, but also because the Hungarian Constitution simply does not allow it – and indeed expressly forbids it. Thirdly, we can reply that we stand by our previous proposal. Hungary has made a proposal of tolerance to Brussels, whereby we will not demand that they adopt our views on migration, on the education of children or on foreign policy, and in return we ask them to tolerate our views. Fourthly, we can say that we cannot accept their economic demands, because we do not want to go back to where Hungary’s enemies want to take us: back to the Gyurcsány era. That was when the fate of Hungary was decided not here in Budapest, but in Brussels and Washington. When the IMF was sitting on our neck and imposing austerity. When banks, energy companies, the media and telecommunications were all foreign-owned. When lending was in Swiss francs, ruining millions of families and almost the whole country. When pensioners were deprived of one month’s pension, nurses, doctors, teachers and civil servants were deprived of one month’s salary, family support was abolished, and Hungarian families were paying the highest utility bills in Europe. We do not want any of that: once was enough. And finally, we can say that Hungary is politically stable enough and its economy strong enough to crush inflation, to protect pensions, to protect salaries, to protect jobs and to achieve significant economic growth again next year.
In the light of all this, I wish you all a productive session, high-quality debates conducted in good faith and for the good of the country, and steadfastness to you all in each of your watchposts.
Thank you for your attention.