Speech by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán at a ceremony inaugurating Highway 83

14 October 2023, Pápa

Good day,

This is such a homely and friendly gathering, could you come a little closer? Let’s take away those cordons, because I can speak to you better if you come closer, if you don’t mind. Come over here! Yes, take those barriers away from there. Take them away. Sure, come over here. This isn’t a big meeting, it’s just a small meeting. Thank you very much for coming. It’s really much better like this.

I would also like to welcome the people of Győr, Pápa and the surrounding area. It is a pleasure to be together again today. It has been a long-standing promise that this moment would come, and I am grateful to the organisers and the Members of Parliament for inviting me here to this event today. I have a few thoughts to share with you at this handover event. First of all, one morning I am sitting in the kitchen with my wife, with the sound of coffee brewing and a brief discussion about whether it is being burnt. The radio is on, and I hear a report from the Russian front. I hear a report on the war in Israel. I hear a report from the crisis zone in Kosovo. And I thought, “I’m sitting here drinking my coffee, and I’m going to the handover of a road. Because this is Hungary.” And I thought that the most important thing is first of all to give thanks to God: let us be thankful that we can be here today, that the news of war is not about us, and that in such difficult circumstances we are able to come together to celebrate such a beautiful occasion. Perhaps we should also say a few words about the fact that we have not made any missteps. We should also give thanks for this, because – although many people want it – we did not allow ourselves to be pressed into this Russo-Ukrainian war. And there are many people who wanted to force us to let migrants into Hungary, to allow Hungary to be flooded with migrants crossing the border illegally; if that had happened, in Hungary today we would be seeing the kind of images that are being broadcast to us in the media from several European cities. We are thankful that we had the strength to hold out against that!

We have come here to celebrate. We must thank the Members of Parliament – first of all, to the Members from the “other end of the stick”: from Győr. Ákos, thank you very much for your many years of hard work. I also thank Gyopáros, my fellow parliamentarian, for his work on the Hungarian Village Programme and on rural development. But the truth is that the lion’s share of the success belongs to the representatives of the town across the road. This is a very strong team: Speaker of the House, László Kövér; Károly Kontrát; Zoltán Kovács; and the mayor, our friend Tamás Áldozó. This is the Bakony outlaw band within Fidesz, and it must be taken seriously; because outlaws carry shepherd’s axes, and – as you can see – this has yielded results.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

All boats can be steered well in clear weather and calm waters. But today the conditions are not at all to our liking, and the waters are not at all calm. We have never experienced such war and such difficult, terrible times as Europe is experiencing today. We have entered an age of dangers. The sea of nations has risen up, and the waves being whipped up and crashing onto ships’ decks can be seen from everywhere – from here in Hungary, and from here in Papa; and if we are not careful, the waves may even crash upon us. Sailing in a storm like this is not easy: one’s course, the hull, the sails and the crew must be in order; and it does no harm if the captain is not hare-brained. When these things are not in order, one fails to reach one’s destination and dry land. This is why we should be proud to be here today and to be part of such an event. Let us be proud that, even in times of bloodshed, our country is on the right track. And we should be proud that it is not only on the right track, but that, despite the difficulties – I could talk about inflation and I could talk about high interest rates – and even in times like these, we are able to solve problems which have been with us for decades. What we have solved here today – to provide Pápa with connectivity – is a decades-old problem. My fellow Member of Parliament Mr. Kovács has spoken about the fact that this was even a problem back in communist times. I also remember that the left-liberal governments also promised this, and that there has not been a meeting or public forum held by me in Pápa when someone did not, sooner or later, raise this issue – alongside that of the hospital. We settled the hospital matter in our first administration, and I am pleased that we are also settling this second debt.

Indeed, we are not simply handing over a road, but are paying off a debt. Today we are paying off a major debt to the Hungarian provinces. What do we want from the Hungarian provinces? The Hungarian government, or the nation in general, expects two things from the Hungarian provinces. First, we want local communities to be strong. If there are no strong local communities, there is no strong country either. We cannot be successful without local communities. So we want the provinces not to be left behind, but to develop. But at the same time we also want to ensure that the true character of each region does not disappear, that its features do not disappear, that its specificity does not disappear. We want the area around Pápa and its people to remain as we have come to love them. The quietness, the calm, the order, the peace, the customs – in other words everything that distinguishes Pápa from the rest of the country and that makes it worthwhile and good to live here – should not disappear. We want both development and the retention of that which is good. This is not an easy task. In order for Pápa to develop, and for the settlements around Pápa to develop, it must not be cut off from the country’s bloodstream, it must not be cut off from the country’s economic bloodstream. The people who live here are doing their utmost to ensure that this does not happen. When I came here to see you I looked at the figures, and I saw that 270,000 people live in this region; and one can describe those living here as hard-working people. Here in this region, thirty thousand more people are in work than were in work before 2010. And there are more than thirty thousand businesses operating in these three districts. This is an outstanding figure when compared to the Hungarian average. Despite the beautiful countryside and the many hard-working people of the richly historic town and its surroundings, whenever I came to Pápa I always had the feeling that it was somehow a little isolated from the outside world: that it was not connected strongly enough to the surrounding settlements, relying only on thin connecting threads. This was also a long-standing grievance of the local people, who said that Pápa’s historical mission is more important, being a mission that can be conceived on a higher plane than the one on which the city has been for the past twenty or thirty years. Because this town really does have a mission: it should somehow connect the Little Hungarian Plain with the Bakony, and through it this region can be connected to the rest of the country. Now, in order to pay off this debt, in order for Pápa to remain Pápa while at the same time developing, we had to create a link and build a road.

Here I see a lot of grown-up people, and we know some of the basic laws of life: where there is a new road, there is investment, trade surges, the economy develops, and even cultural life is galvanised. What is more, this road will make everyday life easier for the people living here, because now they will be able to visit the villages in the area without having to worry about traffic speeding along the streets and past the gates of their houses. And, as we have heard, it also has defence implications, because it will give easy access to the military airfield in Pápa.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would also like to say a few words in a nationwide context, as a good road network not only keeps the region on the path of development, but also the country. Today Hungary has a denser network of highways than that of France, Ireland or Scandinavia. It lags a little behind Austria – for the moment. And I think we can be proud of this, of a country that is able to expand its road network in such difficult times, a country that is able to achieve great things in difficult times. The final question that we still have to answer is what makes us capable – in such difficult times – of achieving major results, such as the construction of this road. I am convinced that we can do this because we have not lost sight of one thing. And this is that Hungary must always go its own way: it must go the way that it has built itself. If we allow others to tell us when to fight, who to fight, who to live with, who to trade with, if others tell us that, then the storms of the world will destroy Hungary. Therefore Hungary must go its own way and believe that its own way is the right way. Today’s handover strengthens our belief in this. 

I would like to congratulate all those whose work is commended by the completion of this project. Congratulations to the engineers, congratulations to the designers, and congratulations to the workers who built this link between Győr and Pápa. And I wish much strength, good health and peace to those who will enjoy the daily benefits of this project.

Go Hungary, go Hungarians!