Speech by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán at a ceremony marking the handover of the MOL Group’s Polyol Complex

14 May 2024, Tiszaújváros

Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen.

I would like to extend a warm welcome to everyone who has been mentioned by the previous speakers. It is a pleasure for us to be here together on this beautiful day. With all due modesty, I can say that, with MOL and with its CEO Zsolt Hernádi, we have developed a good habit: every few years we get together here in Tiszaújváros and inaugurate a new MOL factory. We did so in 2015, three years later in 2018, and now six years later in 2024. I could have come sooner, we could have kept to the three-year schedule, but the pandemic and the war made it difficult for us. Yet we know that as a company MOL is too tough to allow such difficulties to deter it from investing – as is shown by the fact that we are here together today.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

On the previous two occasions – in 2015 and 2018 – I had the honour of welcoming investors from Japan and representatives of the Japanese government. This time I welcome from Germany Ms. Ilse Henne, the representative of thyssenkrupp – and we have to admit that today’s investment would not have been possible without her company’s technological contribution. MOL was right to buy this technology. Our general approach is that when we do something, we should do so at a world-class level. From this point of view, it is a good decision for MOL to invest in development, and not to settle for less than the top Japanese and German technology. This is reassuring, because MOL is Hungary’s largest and most successful company, and we can see that – as they used to say in the army – if they build something, it’s built.

Dear Friends,

The fact is that Hungary – and if we think of Hungarians beyond its borders, the entire Hungarian nation – owes a lot to MOL. I remember that MOL was our bastion in difficult times: when, as communism was starting to fall, the truly obsolete branches of socialist industry were being sold off at knock-down prices in the name of privatisation, MOL remained the only major Hungarian company that was successful even in the most difficult of times. If this had not been the case, Hungary would have suffered far deeper scars during the fall of communism – and again in the 2000s, under the inglorious governance of the Left. 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

MOL and the fate of the Hungarian economy are two pages in the same book: a book that is essentially about how to win the twenty-first century, after having lost the twentieth. MOL is on the same path as the Hungarian economy itself. If you recall, twenty years ago MOL’s field of activity was, we could say, non-diversified: it only traded in oil. MOL had oil fields, but it bought most of its oil, processed it and resold it. And then it became the first company in Hungary to expand into surrounding countries. I am glad that the company was not satisfied with this. From this point of view, Zsolt Hernádi’s role and work as the Chairman and CEO of MOL is unparalleled, since it was under his leadership that MOL began its regional expansion, establishing biogas and biodiesel plants alongside the traditional ones, entering the freight market and, more recently, becoming a key player in waste management. It is like a fun fair shooting gallery: the hardest target to shoot down is the one held up with the most rods. This is how MOL maintains its position. Usually the prizes you can win for this are also the most valuable. No wonder MOL has become Hungary’s most valuable diversified company.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

There is a well-known way for a company to make itself valuable. The experts call it “moving up the production chain”. MOL has performed strongly here too, as it has not only moved up the production chain, but has become a complete production chain itself. Here in Tiszaújváros it has set up a chemicals complex in which the raw materials it produces and processes are converted into finished products, and at the same time it is involved in their transport. Polyol, the compound that will be produced here, is what we laypeople might call the “Swiss Army knife” of plastics production: it is used for everything from the automotive industry to furniture, construction and textiles. We cook with what we have, and we produce what is good for everything. It is as simple as A-B-C, and yet there are few who can do it. MOL has been able to. Congratulations!

Ladies and Gentlemen,

If it is true that MOL is a page in the book of the history of the Hungarian economy, then it is logical to say that what is happening with the Hungarian economy is also happening with MOL. As MOL has acquired more areas of competence, it has moved up the value chains and become more valuable. The same has happened with the Hungarian national economy. We have acquired more areas of competence, we have diversified, we want to move up the production chains, and we want to make Hungary ever more valuable. We call this the Hungarian strategy of connectivity. At the national level, too, we want to reduce our exclusive dependencies. MOL itself is helping us in this – by finding new natural gas and oil deposits in Hungary, for example. We look forward to MOL or its CEO being Hungary’s J.R. Ewing. Good luck in your future prospecting, Mr. Hernádi! The Hungarian economy is diversifying its sources of energy supply, and we have built new energy transit routes. We are sourcing natural gas from Qatar, we will buy green electricity from Azerbaijan, we are increasing our solar energy capacity, and we are building a new nuclear power plant to make us less vulnerable to world market developments that are independent of us. We will also need a lot of energy, because by 2030 we plan to increase the country’s electricity demand by 50 per cent.

In a nutshell, this will be because we are bringing the most advanced industries into Hungary. We have set out to make Hungary a meeting point between Eastern raw materials and resources and Western technology and know-how. We will have Western and Eastern car factories, and we will have the technology and manufacturing capacity to store green energy. We will participate in space research, we will link Hungary to state-of-the-art information technology networks, we will build the most modern European military industry, and we will improve our position in the food, pharmaceutical and chemical industries. There are those who are sceptical and say that there will not be enough energy and workers to do this; but I am one of those who are convinced that Hungarian industrial policy will be able to provide industry with sufficient energy and well-trained workers. In this respect your example is encouraging, because we are now handing over a factory where, as far as I can see, around three hundred skilled Hungarian workers will be employed. These Hungarians are getting better jobs, and this factory is a good example of this: three hundred new jobs with high added value that are competitive in the long term will mean a secure, predictable future for three hundred people.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

An important element of Hungary’s industrial strategy is that we use state support to encourage Hungarian companies to enter foreign markets. We have grown so much, Hungarian industry has grown so much, that it has outgrown Hungary itself. We should not be jostling for position here, but finding new industries and new areas, investing abroad, and bringing profits home from abroad. All this should be done in order to offset the profits exported by the multinationals that produce in Hungary, and to restore the balance of capital in the Hungarian economy. This will not happen tomorrow, but in a few years’ time. This is why we plan to create and support five thousand new SMEs in addition to the existing twelve thousand companies that are currently operating abroad or are able to ship abroad, enabling them to step up to this level. We will announce a programme for this soon. The Hungarian industrial strategy, Ladies and Gentlemen, is a good plan, and MOL has an important role to play in it. This Hungarian industrial strategy, like MOL, is enterprising and, indeed, highly ambitious. It is enterprising and highly ambitious, but it has its two feet on the ground. We have good reasons to ensure this is the case. One of these has already been mentioned by Chairman Hernádi. Today’s European policy does not support industry. Today’s European policy sees industry as dangerous, wants to restrict it and wants to dismantle it – calling this “greening”. But in fact we are losing a lot of industrial capacity in what I believe is a badly designed process of so-called “greening”.

So it is a good thing that we have our two feet on the ground, because at all costs we must change European industrial policy. And then there is another kind of danger; because in fact today the greatest danger is not misguided European industrial policy, but war. We Hungarians know what war means: destruction, the loss of homes, and the devaluation of our money. It is not far away, as we can see Ukraine and we see what is happening there. In a war, there is really no need for furniture, textiles, cars and creative industries, far fewer consumer goods are needed, and we do not even need a food industry providing the wide range of products we are familiar with in peacetime. Because in war, there is only one thing you really need: in war, everyone produces military equipment and ammunition. In war, labour does not go to the factory, but to the front. There is no need for anything except the war industry, there is no one to work in other factories, and consequently there is no purchasing power to keep the economy running. We can see Ukraine: in war, everything goes into decline. In war the economy declines, the country declines and the people themselves decline. And yet in Europe today there are many people who would lead the continent into war, and would drag Hungary into it. This is why, alongside ambitious economic plans, attention and energy must be devoted to restraining, containing and crushing those forces. I therefore encourage everyone here in Tiszaújváros to go and vote in the elections on 9 June. Vote in the election for local leaders, but I also ask you to vote in the European election, because that election will be a decisive factor in the question of war and peace. I urge you to turn out and stand up for peace, to help drive out the Brussels war hawks. This is an essential precondition for continuing the industrial policy construction work we started fourteen years ago, and for making Hungary one of Europe’s most thriving countries.Thank you for your attention. Congratulations to all of you. Congratulations to the designers, the contractors, the financial backers, and the foreign partners. Congratulations to the workers here, the members of the skilled workforce that is always the decisive factor in choosing a location for industrial investment. No matter what the bosses say, the truth is that investment will go where there are well-trained skilled workers who are able to work and are willing to work. So congratulations to the workers in Tiszaújváros who have finally acquired this investment.

Go Hungary, go Hungarians!