Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s address to the Hungarian parliament before the start of daily business

26 February 2024, Budapest

Mr. Speaker, Honourable House,

We have a busy day ahead of us. Today we will accept the resignation of the President, elect a new President of the Republic, and approve Sweden’s accession to NATO.

Honourable Members,

I thank the outgoing President for her work. The reason for the resignation of the President was a decision on a request for a presidential pardon, in which there was only one way to decide: the request should have been rejected. This did not happen, and therefore it was right for her to resign. In Hungary there is zero tolerance in the matter of child protection: children enjoy absolute and full protection. Offenders must be punished and sentences must be served. There can be no loopholes, no mitigation, no conditional freedom, no pardons. Anyone entrusted with children who does not act in the interest of a child has no excuse, and can expect no clemency in Hungary. It seems that in this regard human judgement is not enough, and therefore the law must also guarantee that this never happens again. It is therefore important to review the rules in force, including the guarantees provided by the Constitution. In addition to the issue of the pardon, another issue that needs to be resolved is that of ensuring that no offender convicted of paedophile offences can be offered conditional release on any grounds. In Hungary this gap in legislation has not been closed. I ask my fellow Members of Parliament to start work on this. And I respectfully ask the courts to bear this in mind when making their decisions on current cases. The crimes committed at the Bicske children’s home raise serious concerns, regardless of the question of the presidential pardon. Why was it only possible to convict the paedophile director of a children’s home on the second attempt? This must be thoroughly examined, and so I have ordered an investigation, which will apply to all directors of institutions caring for children. We are screening everyone, because the suitability criteria for the head of an institution caring for children must cover everything: conduct, sexual deviance, and psychological fitness. Crimes against children are distressing for everyone and arouse strong emotions in all of us, because we all immediately think of our own children. We therefore rightly expect the authorities to carry out the most complete and thorough investigations.

Honourable Members,

Today we can decide on the resignation of the President and the election of a new president on the same day. Hungary is a strong and stable country. A change of president must be managed in such a way that there is not even a temporary disruption in the life of the country. After all, this is why the people elected us. We can fulfil this duty by electing a new president without delay. I would like to thank the Fidesz and KDNP parliamentary groups for acting in this spirit and once again showing that they are worthy of the voters’ trust. Tamás Súlyok, the President of the Constitutional Court, is a man of enormous experience, admirable knowledge and unquestionable authority. In recent years the decisions of the Constitutional Court have shown a clear path on the most important issues, and these decisions have met with the agreement of legal experts and the people. I believe that now Hungary needs such a president. I would like to thank the President of the Constitutional Court for accepting this invitation, and I ask my fellow Members to support him.

Honourable House,

The Hungarian government has submitted to the Members of Parliament Sweden’s application to join NATO. We support its accession. NATO is a defence alliance. We form and alliance in order to defend one another in the event of an external attack. There is no more serious commitment than this. This is why it is important that, before we allow a new member into this alliance, we first resolve our disputes. Our relations with the Scandinavian countries are longstanding, and over the years have been marked by many disputes. Several external players have attempted to intervene in the resolution of our disputes, but such attempts have hindered rather than assisted. Hungary is a sovereign country, and it does not tolerate being dictated to by others – whether on the content of decisions or on their timing. Hungary and Sweden are two countries with a long history in Europe. We know how to settle our disputes: we have no need for unsolicited tutelage and overbearing – and indeed disrespectful – interference from others. Do not be surprised if such attempts fall flat. The success of the Swedish prime minister’s visit on Friday has contributed to a fair and respectful relationship between our two countries. There are – and will be – differences of opinion, because Swedes and Hungarians are not the same; but we view our differences with understanding, as befits serious nations. I would like to inform the House that Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson and I have also concluded agreements of mutual benefit to our countries. These will strengthen the security of both countries. Military and military-industrial cooperation between our two countries has existed up until now also: we started it under my first government – in the face of opposition from many NATO member countries, because Sweden was a neutral country at the time. We have strengthened and expanded this cooperation. Hungary’s air defence and air attack capabilities are provided by Swedish-made fighter aircraft. The previous contract for fighters is being extended, and we are purchasing four new fighters. This will enable the Hungarian Air Force to carry out NATO missions outside the country with fighters from our own national fleet. The air defence system also includes logistical services, and we have extended this contract to include training. We have also agreed that the Swedish defence industry and Hungary’s Defence Innovation and Research Institute will open what NATO calls a “centre of excellence” for research. In plain language, cooperation will begin in the field of research and development. Swedish-Hungarian military-industrial cooperation and Sweden’s accession to NATO will strengthen Hungary’s security, and so today I ask my fellow Members to vote for the parliamentary resolution on Sweden’s accession to NATO.

Honourable Members,

We need to strengthen Hungary’s defence capabilities, because for two years now a terrible war has been ongoing in a country neighbouring us. Two years ago Russia invaded Ukraine. For two years there has killing and destruction. Hundreds of thousands have been killed, millions have fled their homelands, and the scale of the destruction is incomprehensible. Hungary mourns the victims of the war and offers condolences to the hundreds of thousands who have been widowed and orphaned. We are assisting Ukraine in caring for the wounded and the war-disabled. We have been supporting millions of displaced people and refugees with the largest humanitarian aid programme in Hungarian history. We are contributing to Ukraine’s energy supply and its reconstruction.

Honourable Members,

From the beginning we Hungarians have known and said that there is no military solution to this conflict. The war should not be deepened and widened, but ended. Therefore, on the anniversary of the war, Hungary is once again calling for an immediate ceasefire and peace negotiations; we direct this call to the belligerents, and we also urge that such action be taken by our EU and NATO allies who have been supporting the war. We do not want to live next to a war that is being endlessly protracted and that is dangerous for us, too. We are convinced that peace is in the interests of Europeans, Ukrainians and Russians. In the arena of international politics we will work for a ceasefire and peace, because only a new peace process can bring security back to Europe and our neighbourhood.

Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members,

Since the last session of Parliament, the Government has taken a number of important decisions. You are familiar with these measures, from the expansion of home creation support, through wage increases, to the development of green energy production and storage. I would ask you to refrain from reviewing these, on account of today’s busy agenda; there will be many opportunities to do so later.

Thank you for your attention, and I wish us all every success in the work of the session ahead of us.