Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen,
As on every occasion – including the last, three years ago – I’ve asked the Secretary of State to allow an amendment. I don’t want to make a formal address, because this isn’t the stage for that, but we need to devote time in the schedule for some kind of situation report or curtain-raiser – so something in another genre. As always, Zsolt [Semjén] will give a formal address; in the Hungarian governing coalition he’s the best at that, while I try to excel in the field of informal speeches.
I respectfully welcome you all. The last time we saw each other in person, around the same table, was in 2019. It’s a good feeling for all of us to be here. It’s good to know that we’re not only managing, but that we’re all stronger than the last time we saw one another. First of all, I’d like to make a comment about our starting five minutes earlier than planned. This isn’t for the joke, but in order to honour the memory of our brother Laci Varga, to whom we all owe a great debt. He returned home from America, and was – and still is – the KDNP president in perpetuity. When we were young, it was from him that we learned that there are two things for which it’s not worth calling a taxi: a Fidesz event and a Spanish aeroplane. In these situations, our brother Laci said, both are a waste of money. Now we’ve disproved that, because – for the first time in the history of the coalition – we’ve started a meeting early, and not late.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Part of what I’ve planned to say here today involves repeating what I said at our meeting in 2019. I’ll now highlight some elements of that, and then talk about what’s happened since then. The most important conclusion from our deliberations at that time – and back then this was crucial – was whether it was permissible to depart from the basis and foundation of ethnically unified Hungarian representation, and move towards ethnically mixed Hungarian representation. This is an ongoing problem everywhere. Everywhere there are proposals from the majority nation – let’s assume that these are well-intentioned proposals – about how we Hungarians can better represent our interests in our neighbouring countries. They ask why we insist on organising political communities on an ethnic basis, when we could do so on a mixed basis, saying that Hungarians could assert their interests more forcefully with mixed parties. This offer or temptation is a constant presence in policy for Hungarian communities abroad. There have been times when we’ve not been united in our response to this question, and in this sense 2019 was one of the more confusing years. The situation now seems much clearer, because it seems that all Hungarian communities in neighbouring states are clearly responding to this question by saying that there’s a better chance of representing our interests and values in a political structure organised on an ethnically unified basis. And so everywhere now we’re much more clearly rejecting the – permit me to repeat – well-intentioned proposals suggesting that we move to a system of ethnically mixed Hungarian representation. So this is an area in which there’s been significant strengthening and improvement since 2019.
Here, I congratulate our friends from Felvidék [in Slovakia], who have been switching between alternate paths – sometimes that of unity, and sometimes of disunity – and now seem to have chosen the path of unity. And if I understand the numbers correctly, although on this we should listen to them, it seems to me that the language of numbers makes it clear that in Felvidék unity has made us stronger.
We aren’t surprised by the significant influence of the RMDSZ. In Budapest there’s a political joke: “What are Romanian elections about? Romanian elections are about deciding who will be the coalition partner of the RMDSZ.” Now I see that we’ve returned to that routine. Congratulations, and every success to the leaders of the RMDSZ!
And we must also mention István Pásztor and the Hungarians of Vojvodina. This is because there we’re in an important phase of a long process of building strategic relations, the essence of which is that the Serbs should see us far more as allies than as enemies; and this should be the case not only in diplomatic relations between our two countries, but also in relations between the two ethnic groups. I think that the Serbs are respected members of the Hungarian community here in Hungary. And I think that the same is increasingly true for us: Hungarians living in Serbia are becoming respected members of the Serbian state. So I offer my congratulations on the successful steps that have led to this, because since 2019 the VMSZ has been able to claim several such successes.
The second statement I made in 2019 was in essence that, looking at the development of the European economy, we could conclude that Central Europe would be Europe’s economic engine. The intervening three years have confirmed this. In 2021, which we see as the last full year, Central Europe grew 1.5 per cent more than Western Europe. Central Europe came out of the pandemic with growth of 6.7 per cent, and our downturn has been smaller than that when the pandemic broke out. So I believe that events prove the validity of the claim that it’s worthwhile for Hungary to invest resources and energy in building the Central European economic area. By the way, part of this is the investment programme in which we1’re trying to provide economic assistance in the areas inhabited by Hungarian communities beyond the borders. This is the best investment Hungary can make today.
Three years ago we also talked about the Balkans being the key to European security in the future. This is apparently now being overridden by the Ukrainian-Russian war. But perhaps this statement will be valid after all, because we’re seeing clear rivalry for power in the Balkans: the European Union isn’t able to exert sufficient influence; the Russians are becoming increasingly powerful; and the Turks are also becoming ever more powerful. If we look at the recent elections in the Balkans, we can see clear signs of this. So it’s in Hungary’s interest for the countries in the Balkans – and among them primarily Serbia, which is considered a key country – to become part of the European Union as soon as possible. This is so that we can create a safe zone: a territory from which Europe is threatened by neither rivalries nor challenges.
And three years ago we also stressed the importance of the V4 [the Visegrád Four]. I must now make a few comments on this. The V4 is still important today, but the dynamics of the whole V4 have changed significantly. There have always been efforts in Brussels to weaken the V4’s ability to assert its interests. This is because, according to the rules of the Hungarian language, the ability to assert one’s interests means being able to assert oneself in opposition to someone else, and the Central Europeans have realised that if they do this together, they’ll be more successful than if they do it separately. Basically, the V4 is a Brussels-focused organisation, a vehicle for Central European advocacy within European structures. Obviously, after the departure of the British, there are those who think that the European Union is a structure based solely on the German-French axis. Unlike us, they don’t want to see a third player – the V4 from Central Europe – developing into a factor with structurally determinant potential, and it’s not in their interest for the V4 to function in this way. And the Czechs and the Slovaks have also expressed uncertainties and opinions that have downgraded the importance of the V4 within their foreign policy.
Cooperation with the Poles isn’t easy either, because although there’s still agreement between us on the basic goals of the V4, the Russo-Ukrainian war has transformed this relationship and made it more complicated. This is despite the fact that – if I understand the situation correctly – the goals of the Poles and the Hungarians are the same: we both have an interest in Russia not being a threat to the region; and we both have an interest in there being a sovereign state between Russia and Central Europe – which for the sake of simplicity we now call Ukraine. So, to achieve these goals, the creation of a Ukraine with its sovereign integrity intact and a Russia that doesn’t threaten us are two goals on which we agree with the Poles. The problem is that we have different opinions on the means of achieving these goals. We believe that the vehicle of war and its escalation is inadequate to achieve these goals – and will even produce the opposite result. This is why to this day we’ve been much more in favour of a ceasefire, peace negotiations and a European security arrangement in which Russia has a designated place: a place that isn’t detrimental or dangerous for us. This geopolitical divergence of approach is also having an impact on the cooperation within the V4, which is why the whole V4 has become more complicated.
Now yesterday – or the day before yesterday – it seems that the Czechs have cancelled a meeting of our countries’ parliamentary speakers. And there are plans for a summit of prime ministers in Kassa/Košice sometime at the end of November; but, in light of what happened yesterday with the meeting at the level of parliamentary speakers, it’s highly doubtful that this summit will take place. We’re ready to negotiate, and we’ll see what comes out of it. Perhaps it’s not worth saying any more about that.
There’s the strategic concept that, with the right organisation of Central Europe, we can enable the peoples of Central Europe to collectively be a major European player in their own right, and ensure that their place and influence in Central Europe aren’t defined by their relations with other states, with states larger than themselves. This is a dream or a plan which has a history of a few hundred years, but perhaps I can allow myself the ill-humoured observation that today it’s further from reality than it was three years ago. It’s worth noting that only we Hungarians talk about the situation in Central Europe within our own system of logic, while everyone else talks about what’s worth doing in Central Europe in terms of relations with the Germans, with the Americans or with the Russians, rather than following the path of an independently built Central Europe. Unfortunately in this respect the past three years have been rather negative in relation to the V4.
Since Hungary has a committed national Christian government, it’s important to know what kinds of government are in office in our potential partner countries. This will determine the possibility for cooperation on an ideological plane, and set the scene for conflicts of an ideological nature. This has all kinds of significance in the life of the state. It wouldn’t be right if it were the only dimension, but it’s undoubtedly significant. This is why the Hungarian government’s task is always easier – and through the Hungarian government Hungary’s task is also easier, and the task of Hungarians beyond its borders is also easier – if governments like ours, based on national Christian foundations, are in the majority – or if there are even any such governments in Europe apart from ours.
We’ve been helped by recent political developments. In Sweden, such a government has been formed. In Israel – which isn’t part of the European Union, but is obviously spiritually linked to it – the same thing has happened, as it has in Italy. And our American partners – the Republicans – have taken back the House of Representatives. So, all in all, I have to say that today we have more friends and more allies in the international arena than we had earlier.
Moreover, we’re building new relationships – in unusual dimensions and frameworks. I returned from Belgrade just yesterday, or the day before, where we launched an Austrian-Hungarian-Serbian cooperation aimed at building a lasting structure. This is essentially rooted in the issue of migration, but we also discussed broader contexts, because migration cannot be separated from security issues, and security issues cannot be separated from the war and the European Union’s response to it. So I hope that Austrian-Serbian-Hungarian cooperation will also develop lasting structures.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Of course I need to say a word or two about the war. There are many ways of looking at the war. It can be seen in its brutality, with tens of thousands of people dying; this is a prism through which we must view it. One can look at it in an economic context, with a country being destroyed. This is something that doesn’t leave our economic system – the European economic system – untouched. And, of course, we can look at it from a third dimension, as part of a broader global realignment. This assumes the truth of the starting point – which I indeed believe to be true – that we’re actually talking about one stage in a process in which the power structure of the whole world is being transformed. So this war isn’t only a development with serious immediate consequences for us, but it’s also part of a larger trend.
I’d like to remind everyone that the financial crisis and then the migration crisis were among the most important stages in this major reorientation, the essence of which can be expressed in many dimensions. Now I’ll only go so far as to say that there are changes in the world whereby the goods, resources and profits produced by the world economy are being distributed in proportions different to those that existed earlier. The statisticians express this complexity simply as the percentage of the world’s total national product or GDP that each centre of power in the world produces, and the share of the profits that it makes. And if we look at this, we see that over the past ten years Europe has slipped back from a share of the world economy of over 20 per cent – closer to 25 per cent – to somewhere around 18 per cent. Meanwhile the Chinese are rising inexorably and will soon move past Europe. The Americans, who were at somewhere around 25 per cent, are engaged in a mighty struggle to maintain that share. And if the wealth and profits produced in the world are distributed differently than they were earlier, there will be consequences. This is never a zero-sum game, because while there’s always an absolute increase, there are also distributional consequences: those who previously received more will now receive less, and those who previously received less will now receive more. This has consequences, because – as Zsolt rightly said – nations also have to “live on bread”. This has all kinds of consequences, putting pressure on political systems, especially those of countries in decline; and it creates resources for those countries that are winners in the process, where there will be an accumulation of the economic resources needed to satisfy all kinds of national ambitions.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The big issue, the big issue of the age, is that this process – which for such a reorganisation normally takes place slowly, over a time horizon of many decades, and sometimes centuries – is now taking place within a very short space of time. It’s much more intense than at any time in the history of the world. The question is whether the great powers can manage it, whether this kind of realignment can take place without wars, or whether it will inevitably bring conflict. I think that one element in this logic, one element in this process, is what we’re seeing in the world now in the form of the Russo-Ukrainian war.
So the question is how we’re affected by this war. First of all, we must start from our most basic instincts. If your neighbour is at war, you aren’t safe either. We can thank God that so far there has been no military action in the Hungarian-inhabited areas of Ukraine, in Transcarpathia. As far as I understand, so far no rockets or bombs have fallen there and no buildings or facilities have been destroyed. If I’m not mistaken, it’s probably the only region in the whole of Ukraine for which this is true, because every other region has suffered a military strike of some kind. So despite the fact that we can still consider Transcarpathia to be relatively safe, we aren’t safe. The events in Poland three days ago show this very clearly: if your neighbour is at war, you aren’t safe yourself, and no matter how skilfully you try to defend yourself, war can cost you human lives – quite aside from the economic consequences. One thing is certain: the longer it takes for peace to come, the more expensive that peace will be, the higher the price of peace will be. We’re actually in a second phase of the conflict now, because the Crimean conflict broke out in 2014, and back then in the mid-2010s we Europeans still had the ability to contain a Russo-Ukrainian conflict as a local conflict. The war that’s now taking place could have broken out in 2014–15. Then, too, in terms of international law the Russians occupied Ukrainian territory by military force, and then – just as now – they sought to legitimise that through a referendum. All the conditions were in place for a war to break out. The reason it didn’t break out was that the Europeans were able to control the process. It didn’t explode because the Franco-German axis was able to put together a settlement plan in a matter of moments. This was called – or was later called – the Minsk agreement. Within a matter of moments there was a negotiating framework put together by the Russians, Ukrainians, Germans and French, which placed the process under European control and which had clearly defined objectives for both sides in the conflict. I think we did that well. It’s a tribute to the leaders of the big European states back then that they were able to localise that conflict. The same has not been achieved now. So in 2022, instead of being localised by similar European actions, this conflict has become globalised. In a matter of moments it became internationalised, and the players that have an interest in localising the conflict – Hungary among them – haven’t been strong enough to assert this interest. Those players that had an interest in widening the conflict to international dimensions were stronger. Today it seems a little distant – not a little, but today it seems very distant – and bizarre in terms of content, but a debate took place in Europe around March 2022. This was about whether, if Europe or the countries of the European Union were to supply weapons, they could be lethal weapons. That’s where we started from, if you remember. Of course the Ukrainians reacted to this with indignation, saying that they shouldn’t be sent pillows, but weapons. But that’s where we started from. So Europe didn’t want to get involved – or there were many of us in Europe who didn’t want Europe to get deeply involved in this conflict, and we tried to be as careful as possible about sending weapons. Compared to that, where are we now? By comparison, it’s no longer a question of whether we should supply lethal weapons from the West, but of how much and how powerful they should be. We’ve now reached the point at which, on the territory of the states of the European continent, forces are being trained which are then returning to Ukraine to take part in the war. And we’ve now reached the point at which we’ll soon be financing the entire state operations of a Ukraine that’s at war. In fact we’re gradually reaching what I still thought was a fantasy back in mid-December 2021, when the Ukrainian president visited NATO headquarters and held a press conference with the NATO Secretary General: although I think nobody else back then saw it as an important moment, to my great astonishment he said that if there was a conflict, Ukraine would be the tip, the arrowhead, of a united NATO force. That was said back in December 2021, and we’re now gradually arriving at that stage. We’ll soon be at that point. So the situation is quite difficult.
The question is how Hungary should behave, and what strategy it should follow in this situation. The first and most important thing is to try to do everything we can to avoid a fatal escalation: to do everything we can to ensure that what’s happened in Poland is a unique and exceptional case; and to ensure that our everyday experience doesn’t replicate that of the Ukrainian-Russian conflict – first in border zones and then in interior areas – and that the war doesn’t claim lives from among us too. So it’s a thankless role for Hungary to essentially be the only European state – and here I’m excluding the Vatican – that’s talking about a ceasefire, that’s talking about peace negotiations, and for us to be the only ones adopting this tone and approach. But avoiding escalation is so important to Hungary’s strategic interest that I think doing so makes it worth enduring every political conflict, and being the target of comments and reactions that are sometimes defamatory. We must stand firmly by our most important national interest: peace.
The second issue Hungary needs to deal with is the impact of the war on the economy. The plan was that we would dig a huge pit for the Russians and they’d fall into it – and this pit was called “sanctions”. This was when there was still a debate about whether – and if so, what – weapons should be supplied to Ukraine. So it was still a question of using indirect means to help the Ukrainians defend themselves, and also to strike a blow at the Russians – because there are countries whose strategic objectives don’t stop at helping Ukraine, and who see the current situation as a good opportunity to strike a blow that will weaken Russia. And we devised the introduction of economic measures that would weaken the Russian economy to such an extent that this would undermine its ability to wage war. In doing so we would be acting – indeed we would be using our most important tool – to bring peace and to bring the war to an end. Now, in the light of what’s happening in Poland, what we see is that the situation has never been as acute and at such a level of escalation as it is at the moment. So everything that we’ve done so far has not led – and isn’t leading – to the end of the war, and not to a victory for the Ukrainians, but to prolongation of the war. This is why Hungary has no confidence in the sanctions. We believe that the sanctions are ill-considered – even though the Germans were involved in devising them, and we still like to believe that precision and engineering knowledge are German qualities. But when we look at the sanctions we’re no longer convinced of this; because the sanctions don’t have an impact where they’re designed to have an impact, and they don’t hurt in those areas we’ve targeted. So these sanctions are badly designed sanctions, and they definitely need to be reviewed; they need to be reviewed at the very least, they need to be rethought. Instead of competing with one another to see who can make wider and stronger proposals for new sanctions packages – we’re now on number nine – we should stop now, we should rethink what we’ve done so far, and think about which sanctions policy elements can be continued and which should be abandoned.
As far as the economy is concerned, this is all, of course, most obviously focused on energy issues. Everyone can see that energy prices are sky-high, that the prices we’re paying for electricity and gas are many times higher than their pre-war levels. In Hungary we call this the “sanctions surcharge”. We, too, are paying five or six times the earlier prices. For you to understand what this means for the Hungarian economy, the following rules of thumb are worth bearing in mind. I’ll just quote them off the top of my head, so please forgive me if there are any inaccuracies in the figures. There are different ways of calculating it, but overall I can say that in 2021 Hungary’s energy imports cost 7 billion euros. So for the Hungarian economy to function – and our manufacturing industry is energy-intensive – we need to import energy from outside. We have to pay for this, and this cost us around 7 billion euros. I repeat, there are different calculations, but let’s accept this figure to get an idea of the proportions. This year, in 2022, instead of 7 billion that figure will be 17 billion. The optimists say it will stop at 15.5 billion, but I think it will be more like 17 billion. And looking forward to next year, if the situation doesn’t deteriorate it will be 17 billion again, but if the situation deteriorates it could go up to 27 billion. Let’s leave aside the future and just look at this year. So instead of paying 7 billion euros, we’re paying 17 billion euros for the same amount of energy as before. This means that 10 billion euros has been lost to the Hungarian economy. So the Hungarian economy has to pay 10 billion euros more for energy in order to be able to function, to keep households functioning and to keep the Hungarian economy functioning. And that 10 billion has to come from somewhere. This isn’t an easy task. The increase in GDP may provide some of the resources, but it’s inconceivable that growth will be high enough to completely offset the loss. This creates burdens, and these need to be spread. Of course nobody can be sure what the figures will be at the end of the year, but somehow it seems that 6 billion of the 10 billion euros will have to be borne by the economy, and about 4 billion euros will be borne by the budget. We call this the household utility bills protection fund, along with other elements: here we’ve built up a whole institutional system to deal with this problem. Four billion euros from the budget: that’s 1,600 billion forints! So 1,600 billion is coming out of the budget that could otherwise have gone to you, for example. We could use it for economic development programmes or education development programmes in Hungarian regions beyond the borders, or we could launch family policy programmes beyond the borders similar to those in Hungary. We could do this with 1,600 billion forints. And if we weren’t thinking of you, we could be thinking of the Hungarian education system, or the restructuring of the Hungarian energy system, or the expansion of the family support system in Hungary, or pay rises for state employees or tax reductions. So 1,600 billion forints can be spent very nicely and well in an economy the size of Hungary’s, with clear, visible results. But that won’t be the case now. That’s being lost.
And in the longer term, of course, we’ll also be burdened by the fact that in the meantime the interest rates on the loans needed to finance the country have risen, and when they mature we’ll be obliged to pay higher interest than in the past year or two, for example. So it’s clear that this whole policy of sanctions, which is driving up energy prices, isn’t a philosophical issue or a matter of principle: Europe’s botched sanctions policy is costing the Hungarian economy 10 billion euros every year, and diverting 1,600 billion forints of funding away from state coffers and away from social goals. This is the situation we must confront. From this point of view, it doesn’t seem excessive for Hungary to call for an immediate review of sanctions – hoping that if the sanctions policy were to change, the price of energy in the world would also change, or even halve. Even if it doesn’t return to the level it used to be, it could return to a sensible zone. In that case, we would no longer be losing 10 billion euros a year, but only 5: we would no longer be losing 1,600 billion forints from the budget, but only, say, 800 – which is half of that. And so on and so forth. Every revision of the sanctions policy that steers our behaviour towards a sensible approach will have benefits for Hungary that can be measured in billions. So let me repeat: when it comes to sanctions, we aren’t engaged in geopolitical or philosophical debates, but in a battle for vital resources against those who don’t see the consequences of the sanctions – or who are so rich that they can cope with such consequences in their national economies.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As in all wars, this one has winners and losers. Here we must be very wary of conspiracy theories. If someone likes to construct such theories, their intentions are problematic themselves; but what we have to be most wary of is confusing consequences with objectives. It’s often the case that the consequences of a conflict are the results of premeditated, intended goals; but there are also times when they’re not. So obviously there are many of us here who like to study history, and we could give you many examples of certain things that have happened not because someone planned them, but because processes were set in motion, everyone linked their own interests to the processes, the direction of the processes was changed, and we ended up in a very different place: at the end of a particular conflict the place we ended up in was very different from the place we wanted to get to with the help of the conflict. There are many examples of this in Hungarian history and in world history. Therefore it’s not certain that those who are – or will be – the ultimate beneficiaries of this war are also the ones who were behind its initiation. So we can permit ourselves this intellectual uncertainty – if I can put it that way. But the fact remains that there are winners in this war – whether or not they wanted to be winners. This is regardless of whether or not they were among the instigators, and whether or not they had a plan. The fact is, however, that as a result of this whole conflict, in eight months, throughout Europe – with the exception of a few Central European countries, of Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, whose rights for an exemption we fought for – Russian energy has been replaced by American energy. This is the situation. And the price we’re paying the Americans today for energy from America is about four times the price that Americans are paying for that same energy at home. And even if I take into account the distance, the transportation and everything else, that differential is still a brutal one. It’s so brutal that the French president himself has already taken note of this figure; and what I’ve just said about this phenomenon didn’t originate with me, but in a speech by the President of France, who said that this price ratio cannot be considered friendly. I don’t know what a friendly rate is, or whether in economic policy this approach is even sensible, but this is certainly the situation.
So in historical terms the cards have been redealt, and now the European economy – which was previously competitive because it combined its own technological development with raw materials and energy from Russia – has had its energy source replaced. And now the European economy isn’t linked to the Russian economy, but to the US economy. I don’t want to speak about all the consequences of this here, and I cannot yet give you the full picture, because many of the consequences of this process aren’t clearly visible yet; but we must recognise that we’re in this process, and this circumstance is probably influencing events. By the same logic, we can also clearly see that on the winning side is the great new phenomenon in world history: China. It’s not investing a single penny or losing a single person in this war; yet by decoupling itself from the Russian economy, by decoupling itself from Russian energy, Europe is giving China a huge opportunity to absorb the Russian economic potential which is being squeezed out of the European market, and to incorporate it into its own development. And it’s getting this as a gift, so it doesn’t have to give anything, it doesn’t have to pay anything extra: it simply has to use this global economic opportunity. Knowing the Chinese, I don’t think that they’ll fail to do so.
For those of us on the losing side, our biggest problem is a lack of leadership. So it’s not a decision or decree from God that Europe should be the loser in this situation. We’re losers because there’s no European leadership. And in this respect the situation is worse than it was in 2019. We’re Hungarians, and we’ve never been satisfied with European leadership. I’d even ask people to show me a European leader with whom we’ll ever be satisfied: I’d like to see one. But despite this, at least the European Union used to have some kind of leadership that we could understand as leadership. But now we cannot think about Europe in this way, because we simply don’t know who the dominant players are, who the dominant forces are. We can’t take a sociological approach, and there’s no clear definition of where the power lies within European structures today. And since we have no leader, no European leader, Europe is unable to find a way of asserting its interests – even if it were aware of them and had the will to do so. So Europe is becoming weaker and weaker with every passing day. The Americans are increasingly winning, the Chinese are growing ever stronger, and the Europeans are getting ever weaker. If things continue like this, this is the process that will continue to determine our daily lives in the future.
In this situation Hungary must find its own foreign policy path. What we need to reckon with is the resurgence of a trend which, according to historical experience, has always brought only bad things for Hungary. That trend is the separation of the world into power blocs. So if you look at the map, you’ll immediately see that if there’s East-West cooperation – political cooperation, trade, investment policy and so on – then Hungary is located in the middle of a large region. The moment bloc formation begins, and there’s a Western and an Eastern economic bloc, then we’re on a periphery: we’re on the edge of something. If God helps us, then we’ll be on the western edge – or rather on the eastern edge of the western bloc, and not on the western edge of the eastern bloc. But even if Hungary is part of the West, it’s on the edge, which places it on the periphery. And for the Hungarian economy and for Hungary’s representation of its interests this presents a situation which is completely different from that in which there’s a system of international cooperation in which Hungary is positioned to gain an advantage: one in which it can adapt flexibly and channel benefits from all directions into its own political and economic system. For this reason, the formation of power blocs isn’t in Hungary’s interest. If the world economy splits into two world economies, eastern and western economies, the Hungarians will be the losers in this process. This is also the source of an idea that I’ve seen appearing recently in European politics. If I were to talk about where it came from that would lead us far away from the point, and so that’s not worth talking about now. This idea is called “decoupling”, and it means that after ending the European economy’s dependence on Russia, we should also end its dependence on the Chinese economy. So this decoupling would involve separating the European economy from the Chinese economy. If this happens, the price for Hungary will be even higher than that already being paid by the Hungarian national economy for the decoupling from the Russians. So it’s not in our interest for Europe to develop military policy based on the formation of power blocs and economic policy based on the formation of power blocs. In such a process we’ll never be the winners, but always the losers.
In this situation, in which everything around us is changing, we need to develop a new strategy. We’re in the middle of this process, we’re trying to renegotiate our relations with the Americans, the Chinese, the Russians and the European Union. So in a situation like this, when we’re in the middle of a process like this, when we have to redefine our position, our starting point must be our strengths. The question is what strengths Hungary can mobilise in its national strategy for the coming decade – or perhaps decades.
In order to find our strengths, the first thing we need to do is to have well developed self-awareness. And here we need to say a few words – not for the sake of philosophical reflection, but for the sake of a very practical strategy – about what makes us different from other Western countries. This is very important.
Here I’ll digress for a few sentences about how the Western nations came into being at a particular moment in time, in response to particular challenges. This relates to all European nations, with the exception of two: the Polish and the Hungarian. So if you had set off to travel around Europe in the Middle Ages or the early Middle Ages, when you entered Hungary you would have experienced to your surprise that the lower and upper classes of Hungary’s population spoke the same language, understood each other and could communicate with each other. This was not the case in the West. And they could not only speak to one another across a particular area, but across the entire area within the nation’s borders. So a northern Hungarian could speak the same language as a southern or an eastern Hungarian, and a northern Hungarian could speak the same language as a western Hungarian. István Nemeskürty wrote about this a long time ago, but when we read the professor’s words then, we didn’t think that they’d have such direct political significance. A long time ago Professor Nemeskürty wrote that when Westerners use the term “nation”, they’re talking about a political entity associated with the modern age, with industrialisation, as a political and cultural phenomenon. This isn’t what Hungarians talk about when they use the word, because Hungarians’ sense of nationhood goes back much deeper into the past, many hundreds of years further back than it does in the West. And therefore our thinking is different. Westerners laugh at us when we say this, because they don’t understand that in Hungarian it’s a meaningful expression when we say that we think in terms of the nation. Let’s try to translate it into some other language, some Western languages, say. This causes problems, because the cultural meaning is quite different. So for Western people a nation is a piece of clothing, while for us it’s our skin. And they can – and do – speak, without any sense of spiritual or moral shock, about the fact that their countries have entered a post-national era. For a Hungarian, does a post-national era mean that we discard our Hungarianness? Or what does it mean? But in the West this isn’t what’s going through their minds: their conception is that the nation is a formation defined by a historically bound period, and that now they are transforming it into something else. It’s very important that, when we’re looking for the right strategic direction, we should be aware that the Hungarian sense of nationhood and thinking in terms of the nation means something different in content from that which Western Europeans feel in relation to the nation and their attachment to the nation: for us it’s not our clothing, but our skin. And therefore their political possibilities extend to the point at which they want to enter a post-national era. For Hungarians, entering a post-national era means discarding their Hungarianness. So for us that’s incomprehensible. It’s important that we feel this, and we must decide whether we insist on this heritage, whether we think in terms of the nation, whether we seek a response to this situation in terms of the nation, or whether we adopt the Western European approach – which in this strategically open situation simply includes among the possible responses the construction of a post-national structure. And I recommend that we don’t leave the path that we’ve been following. This isn’t just because we feel comfortable on it – not every day in life is like that, of course, but in principle we do feel comfortable on it – but also because we cannot move on the other path.
Excuse my digression, but I’d like to remind everyone that in 2010, when we won our first two-thirds majority, there was what we could call a long-lasting intellectual process within the coalition parties about the fact that we had a parliamentary system, but that – once a new constitution could be drawn up – a two-thirds majority would also enable us to move to a presidential system. We had long debates about whether this was sensible, not sensible, desirable or not. And in the end we decided not to move to a presidential system, because – as we’ve seen over the past two hundred years – it’s clear that we can think in terms of parliamentary systems: we know how they work. A presidential system might be a fine adventure, but we aren’t familiar with it, we don’t know how it works. This is why, returning to what I was saying, I recommend that we remain within the framework of the traditional conception of the nation, not only because it’s dear to our hearts, but also because we’re familiar with it. We know what it’s like. When we make decisions in this system, we know the consequences. If we turn a screw in this machine, we know what will happen. But if we set out into a post-national Western European world, where we’ve never been before, the potential for error increases by orders of magnitude. This is why – once again, on the basis of values and history, and also for practical reasons – I recommend that the strategy we need to develop in the current period should be based on the nation, on the interests of the nation, and on a national framework: on thinking in terms of the nation. Westerners aren’t doing this, because they say that not every challenge needs a national response. They say that a response to a challenge can also be given outside the national framework by taking as a starting point the interests of the world as a whole. So they say, “We don’t derive our decisions from the national interest, but we try to do it, let’s say, in the context of the whole of humanity.” The whole issue of climate policy, the whole issue of the environment, that whole issue is also tempting leaders to move in that direction. Or there’s also the possibility of trying to derive a strategy from ideologies, for example: not by thinking in national terms, but by thinking in intellectual terms, by thinking in ideological terms, which we’ll then need to employ in the situation that has now been transformed. So there are certainly three options open to us: to give a national response, to think in terms of the nation; to think in terms of the whole of humanity; and to think in terms of ideology. Of course these aren’t hermetically sealed off from one another, because you always have to think in terms of the whole of humanity and you always have to think in terms of ideology; but how you define your starting point is important. And in our case, I think the starting point must be the national framework, because this is the ancestral condition of the Hungarian nation, and this is the ancestral experience of Hungarian existence. So the nation, as an enduring entity, should, in my opinion, also be the starting point of our strategy for the period ahead. Now let’s look at our strengths. We have four strengths that we can use.
Our first strength is that in times of trouble Hungarians unite. This is a great strength. I’ve seen this throughout the past twelve years: with the financial crisis, with migration, with COVID, and I’m seeing it now. I think that we can build on this. In more tranquil times we become divided. In times of trouble we somehow unite. This is why Hungarians show very different character traits when things are going well and when things are going badly. We’re now in a time of trouble, and I think we can count on the ability of the Hungarian nation to realise that in such times we must move towards unity. This is when Hungarians tend to place themselves on alert. An absolutely commonplace example of this is how Hungarian households have adapted their habits to the new economic situation that has emerged in just the last two or three months. So in no time at all, businesses have placed themselves on alert, households have placed themselves on alert, and everyone is trying to find some way to deal with the situation. There’s no waiting, there’s no anticipation, there’s no fence-sitting, but there’s some kind of search for a solution. And, if a country has good political leadership, this search leads to a united front. Furthermore, there’s another interesting feature of Hungarian politics, which Churchill cynically expressed in his English way: “You should never let a good crisis go to waste.” So when we talk about Hungarians placing themselves on alert and uniting, they see moments of trouble as the best time to correct their previously poorly functioning systems. This is what we did in 2010, if you think about it. So in such times we don’t just seek to survive, but we try to transform, say, the functioning of the state, and in the very midst of trouble repair its deficiencies. So the way in which Hungarians reform and transform their social and economic system isn’t by thoroughly investigating it, seeing it for what it is and then making intelligent decisions in times of peace. On the contrary, they do so when there’s trouble, when everything starts to shift and it’s clear that it has to be held together; obviously general rational considerations prevail, but it’s then that they’re willing to accept changes that they’d never accept in calmer times, based on persuasion and discernment alone. In this situation, therefore, we must now also see an opportunity; and in this difficult situation we must effect change in those areas where the Hungarian state isn’t functioning well. One of these, for example, is energy policy, where we’re now going to make quite significant changes. If everything had stayed as it was, these changes would probably not have happened, or would have happened much more slowly. Now these changes – which are good for Hungary’s national interests as a whole – will take place more quickly.
Our second important virtue, let’s call it a strength, on which we can build, is that the national interest comes first. I’ve already talked about this in intellectual terms, but it’s also true politically. So we condemn Russian aggression and we’re helping the Ukrainian people, but we aren’t willing to put Ukraine’s interests before our own. Let’s be frank about the matter. This is because we’re acting in the national interest. And we don’t expect Ukraine to put its own interests before those of Hungary – I don’t believe that it ever has, or could do in the future. This is how the world works. Sometimes this sounds harsh, but it needs to be said. We’re helping them, we condemn Russian aggression, we’re helping the Ukrainians, but we aren’t willing to put Ukrainian interests before Hungarian interests. This is our second strength; because I think other countries also think like this, but saying it in other countries today is impossible. It would be sacrilege there, precisely because in those countries policy isn’t derived from the national interest, but from some kind of liberal worldview or whatever, which in such a situation collides head-on with thinking based on national foundations. But even though there’s a price to be paid for it, we must calmly and courageously say that of course we shall never subordinate Hungarian interests to Ukrainian interests. And we don’t accept anyone’s resentment towards this stance. That’s why we don’t accept the Ukrainians’ argument – which from their point of view seems perfectly understandable – that they are now making sacrifices for us. This isn’t the case! The Ukrainians aren’t making any sacrifices for Hungary. It’s not true to say that the Ukrainians are defending European freedom, defending Europe or defending Hungary from Russia. This isn’t true. We aren’t being defended by Ukraine; we can defend ourselves, together with NATO. Our security isn’t guaranteed by Ukraine. What’s happening there isn’t worth a penny to us. We aren’t helping because doing so benefits Hungary, but because they’re in distress; and a people in distress must be given help to an extent which doesn’t actually harm Hungarian interests. This is why we’re helping, and not because doing so is in our interest. Let’s make that very clear. Helping Ukraine isn’t in Hungary’s national interest; it’s quite simply a civilised way of behaving, which we can of course extend to them provided doing so doesn’t harm Hungarian interests. For this reason we won’t accept, for example, the Member States of the European Union jointly taking out loans and using them to finance Ukraine. But what we can accept is looking at how much money we want to give the Ukrainians for their country’s operation, and dividing this up fairly and proportionately to determine how much of this money will come from the Hungarians, the Germans, the Spanish and so on. I think that at the moment such an amount from the Hungarians would still be within the limits of what we can do and could still be squeezed out of the budget without ruining our national interests. Then we could make this amount available to Ukraine from the Hungarian national budget, in accordance with a bilateral agreement with the Ukrainians – not through Brussels, and not through collective borrowing. If we want to help, let’s help in the way we must: let’s ensure that this doesn’t fundamentally harm Hungarian national interests. And although there will be a budgetary shortfall of 60–70 billion forints per year, this won’t wreck our national interests, so we can provide that much help. And let’s say it in the way that I’m trying to say it, rather than embedding it in some kind of joint European framework of aid, credit and God knows what. If we were to allow that to happen, the European Union would irrevocably turn into a debt and credit community. Today’s European Union isn’t a country or an integration of that kind: the European Union today is a system of cooperation between Member States. By agreeing to a common borrowing policy during COVID, we’ve already shifted the development direction of the whole EU towards a credit community. Many people on the other side who were against us called it a “Hamiltonian moment”, because a decisive moment in the creation of the United States of America was when the states first took on collective debt. A lot of people said that, and I had to debate the matter in the Hungarian parliament – perhaps, I think with Members from DK [the opposition party Democratic Coalition]. They welcomed this development as a positive Hamiltonian moment, in which we were finally turning the European Union into a debt community. I think that for Hungary such a thing is deadly. We must not do this: we would lose our influence over such a process and the future of generations of Hungarians would be mortgaged and indebted, with us having very little influence – if any – over it. We must not do this! Very well, COVID was a one-off, it was extraordinary, the Germans and everyone else said that it was an exceptional event. But now we’re providing money in this way for the second time – to the Ukrainians. Because of the energy crisis, the French are already knocking on our windows to get us to create another joint loan package of this kind, which we would again distribute among ourselves. The European Union is slowly but surely turning into a debt community. I don’t think that this is in Hungary’s interest. That’s what I have to say. Meanwhile we can help the Ukrainians in other ways.
Our third strength, which we can build on when we look to the future, is that we’re realists. This is a very important virtue, because although ideas of world improvement – especially from our poets and writers – are always greeted with great enthusiasm in Hungarian public life, fortunately politics tends not to fall prey to them. If we look back at the changes that have taken place in European politics since the French Revolution, I have to say that the Hungarian nation has been quite resistant to ideologies. This is because we’re realists. We love world-changing ideas, we’re happy to see them refresh our lives, but we tend not to get swept up in the tide of these world-changing ideas, because we always ask this question: What is in the Hungarian interest? Of course Jesus Christ is an exception to this, because he didn’t proclaim a kingdom of this world. So that’s something else we can discuss, but the temporal world is another matter. All in all, therefore, I must say that it’s worth preserving this sense of reality.
And finally, we have a fourth strength, which is popularly known as Hungarian ingenuity, but which is really the Hungarian ability to see the potential in everything. It sees opportunity even in adversity. This is a huge advantage, and this is why I’m endlessly optimistic. The situation isn’t an easy one, but I want to end on this by saying that looking at the difficulties ahead I’m very optimistic. I see unrepeatable opportunities. This may sound strange at first sight, but I’d like to remind everyone that, for example, we looked at COVID in the same way. Of course COVID had to be fought and people died, so it tormented us and was not a funny story. But in fact COVID forced out or offered economic opportunities that we’ve taken – just look at the fact that in the European league table, where countries in Europe are ranked according to their development, we’ve been ahead of the Portuguese for the past two years. Of course it would be better to avoid any crisis, especially one that involves human lives, and it would be better not to have one; but I just want to say that if we do have one, we must see it as an opportunity, and look for ways to strengthen. Of course strengthening is always relative, because it’s not just a question of whether you’re stronger, but whether others are able to strengthen at the same rate as you. But if you manoeuvre well in such a crisis, as was the case with COVID, you can certainly help your country to move up the competitive rankings. So you have to see an opportunity in this situation. This is why we aren’t willing to give up on relations with Russia, for example. We understand everything, we’re in solidarity, we’re cooperating; but we have to take advantage of the possibility to cooperate with the Russian economy for as long as we can. And we’ll find ways to do that, just as others are finding ways. For example, I’d remind everybody that, even though it’s a NATO member, Türkiye is imposing no sanctions on the Russians. None! Not just no energy sanctions, but none at all! So here too, even in matters involving political conflict, I’m saying that it’s worth seeking out opportunities which – if we use them well – will give us a competitive advantage over our competitors. From time to time one needs to tweak things, and then things work. In the third quarter of this year the Hungarian economy grew by 4.1 per cent. For the Czechs the figure was 1.6 per cent, for the Germans it was 0.3 per cent, and for the Slovaks it was 1.2 per cent. This is the result of the management of the COVID crisis, by the way. During the COVID pandemic we launched an economic crisis management programme which supported capital investment, which supported business; if you remember, you had to start investment within a year, and you couldn’t lay people off. And these capacities are just starting to contribute to production. I don’t want to give a lecture on crisis management now, but I just want to make it clear that the only possible kind of behaviour in such a situation isn’t simply to adapt to it, to survive or seek cover, but to look for opportunities.
The aspect of this which relates to you is for you to look for opportunities with your neighbours. I suggest that we look at this moment of crisis as a time when we may be able to improve our cooperation with our neighbours more easily than we’ve been able to do hitherto. We can say that Serbia is the best example of this. In times of economic crisis, there are problems. Sometimes we find ourselves in distress, sometimes others do. Right now natural gas is arriving in Hungary through Serbia, because it’s transported through the South [Balkan] Stream pipeline. But the Serbs haven’t been able to store it, and they needed extra quantities. We’ve given supplies to them, we’ve sold supplies to them, and we’ve stored supplies for them. I’m just saying that this problem is also an opportunity to develop closer cooperation with our neighbours. So let’s not look at this as a case of everyone independently trying to save themselves in this crisis, but let’s look to the Slovaks, the Romanians and the Serbs, and identify points of economic contact with them which have increased importance as a result of the current crisis. And wherever there are such points of contact, let’s immediately try to be active and cooperate with these neighbours, because close cooperation with them is also the starting point for our national economy and our national strategy. So let’s use the difficult economic crisis period that we’re facing to improve relations with our neighbours. And now we can do this not on the basis of party politics, but by seeking joint methods for dealing with the problem, with the crisis.
The Romanian foreign minister visited me the other day – or rather he visited the Hungarian foreign minister, but he also dropped in to meet me. When he came to see me it turned out that now there are much stronger arguments in favour of implementing certain major flagship projects in Romanian-Hungarian cooperation than there were before, when the economies were working quite well independently of each other. Now large projects – for example the construction of the Bucharest-Kolozsvár/Cluj-Budapest high-speed railway – can also be interpreted as a crisis management tool that can give a boost of power or energy to slowing national economies. And I could go on. I’d also suggest to those of you at the table who have come from neighbouring countries that we shouldn’t simply aim to prevent our economic and political relations from deteriorating, but that we should look for opportunities to strengthen our cooperation with the leaders of majority populations in neighbouring countries, while at the same time benefiting Hungarian minorities.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I think I’m coming to the end of what I have to say, and perhaps it has been longer than it should have been. Perhaps I need to touch on one more topic. This is the matter of negotiating with the EU. This should be a particular delight for crossword puzzle enthusiasts, who are interested in how to put words together so that they still have meaning when intersecting with one another. I’ve already referred to our debates with the European Union, and I won’t go into them again; but in nature they are philosophical, spiritual even, and economic. At the heart of the economic debates is money. There’s a debate on how Hungary should be linked to the EU in terms of financial transfers. In practical terms, this means that today there are four channels through which money flows from Hungary to the EU and from the EU to Hungary. At the moment the balance of these two directions of flow is positive for us – and at the end I’d also like to say a few words about what “positive’’ means. So there are four channels.
We have an agreement with the EU on the payment of the outstanding items for the budget period that has already come to an end. This is about completion of the financing of the remaining programmes from the seven-year budget period 2014–21. We have no dispute there: no dispute at all! Last year – I should know the exact figures – I think we received around 1,000 billion forints, this year between 500 and 800 billion forints, and next year we’ll receive around 500 billion forints. This is from the previous budget.
Our second debate centres on the Recovery Fund, which is the name given to the reconstruction fund. This is the financial fund set up because of the COVID crisis. By the way, this is of a different nature to the resources from the EU budget, because here we aren’t distributing one another’s money in some proportion, but we’re distributing a loan that we’ve taken out together. So it’s not a case of the Germans – or the more developed countries – giving us money in the name of cohesion because we’re less developed, but of us jointly taking out a loan, with an agreement in advance on who will get what proportion of it. These negotiations have stalled. When you see the news, you’ll see that the matter under negotiation is whether or not we even have any access to this financial instrument. In this we’re at the back of the queue, while the Poles are one step ahead of us – because the Poles at least have a signed contract stating that they’ll receive this money at some point. What they can do with that paper contract is another matter, and so now there’s popular speculation about it, as if it were an unfinished crossword puzzle: at the moment they have the paper, but no money. Hungary isn’t yet at the stage at which it gets its money, but it still needs to get to the point at which the Poles are: having a signed contract. I believe that this will happen, probably because this isn’t money from other countries, but money from a joint loan, and the rules on this state that it must be given to the countries that have participated in the loan. And so it must be given. The worst that can happen is delay – as has happened in the past. This doesn’t reflect well on the European Union, where fair competition in the single market is the guiding star. In stark contrast with that, there are countries that have received billions of euros in advance, and we haven’t received anything after waiting a year. So how is this fair competition, and how is this a single market? But anyway, returning to what I was saying, it can only be postponed, and sooner or later Hungary will have to get it. I think we’ll have a paper on it in the very near future.
The third source of money is agricultural cooperation between the EU and Hungary. No blocking is possible here, simply because agricultural support is for production, and if just one country doesn’t receive the production support due to it, then the national budget will fill the gap, and if the national budget does this, then we’ll see the start of competition in the sphere of agricultural subsidies and agricultural support. That would tear the European Union apart. One of the most important pillars of the European Union is that there are limits on how much money a country can give its producers from its own budget. If this system is overturned, then the whole agricultural system is overturned. No one wants that, which is why we’ve signed an agreement on these amounts. These funds are coming in as they should be, and so rural development and agriculture is outside the scope of this debate.
And the fourth source of money that you will hear about is the money that Hungary is entitled to over the seven years of the 2021–27 budget period, which has already started. An agreement on this needs to be signed before the funds can be disbursed. We still don’t have the agreement, and even when we’ve signed the agreement, there’s the question of whether or not it will be paid, or what will be suspended and how. This is both a jungle that’s impenetrably obscure for a normal person, and a minefield. But the point is that something will happen there. This is the fourth source, but also the biggest.
But even with the biggest, what’s worth knowing? So what are we talking about, what are we talking about in forints? We’re talking about the fact that if we look at the net amount of resources that will be coming to Hungary every year in the next seven-year budget, we can say that it will be a net, positive sum of 2 billion euros. That is, say, 800 billion forints. So that’s how much we’ll gain every year. We’ll receive a net 800 billion forints in new, fresh funding from the European Union. Eight hundred billion! It’s true that it’s in euros and for development, but overall we’re talking about 800 billion. Hungary’s GDP is 62,000 billion forints. So where is the centre of gravity in the national economy? Hungary’s national GDP is 62,000 billion forints a year, and now we’re talking about 800 billion forints. This is why I say that of course it’s possible to play political games with EU money, but what we see in the hands of the EU isn’t really an instrument of blackmail. It is in political terms, because it’s obvious that governments can be attacked by saying that there’s still money available for this and that, and this amount is 800 billion forints – provided we don’t cause problems here, there and elsewhere. That’s a political attack, but it’s not significant in economic terms. So in negotiations with the EU, the Hungarian starting point is that we cannot be backed into a corner. So if someone wants to negotiate with us by backing us into a corner, they’re signing a death warrant on their own goals: they’ll never achieve their goals against Hungary, because these funds are too small for that to happen. Now, of course, after not receiving the development funds an absurd situation could arise; for example, we could use a Chinese loan, say, to green the Hungarian economy. I’ve also told the EU that if we don’t receive the funds we’re entitled to from the EU, we’ll of course raise funds on the world market, and we could even see the absurd situation in which Hungary uses a Chinese loan to finance its programme to green the Hungarian economy. Well, hello, that’s what we’ll see! All I’ll say is that you can cause Hungary harm, you can be insolent, you can play political games, but you cannot back Hungary into a corner economically. It hasn’t always been like this. There was a time when Hungary was so weak that this was possible, but we’ve long since moved beyond that. So the 150 billion euros of GDP that the Hungarian economy generates every year has already taken Hungary out of the category of those that can be blackmailed financially. Of course there are easier situations and harder situations, sometimes there’s more money, sometimes less, but Hungary cannot be blackmailed in this way.
And then, in conclusion, we come to the economic context as it relates to you. Árpád, I still have two minutes, don’t I? That’s good news. What would we have done if I didn’t? But what I want to say is this. As we’re in such a difficult situation, which I’ve tried to unpack here in detail, one possible line of thinking is to say that this isn’t a time in which a nation can achieve grand strategic goals, and such things should be put on the back burner. And there’s another approach that says that to survive and manage a crisis, what you fundamentally need is willpower. And if you give up your strategic goals, you lose some of your spirit, and therefore you actually become unable to manage the crisis. Therefore one shouldn’t abandon one’s strategic objectives, and in a time of crisis one should reinforce some strategic national objectives that everyone else might surrender, or put on the back burner, or postpone. I don’t think that we should do that. So by December – we’ll have to wait until then – we’ll see the pattern for the 2023 financial year – if nowadays there can be a forecast about anything at all. Hungary now has a budget, which we adopted in the usual way back in July. But the direction that the world has moved in means that the figures are only partially valid, and will have to be amended. We’ll make this amendment sometime in the first half of December. And when we make the amendment, we must make an effort to express in the language of the budget the fact that we aren’t abandoning strategic national goals. Family support, for example, is a strategic national goal, so we’ll expand the family support system. We shall not back out of it, but expand it. We shall not give up on the economy, on full employment, but we shall support investments that create jobs. And one such investment is in national unification. This is why we’re now resolving unresolved issues that have been on the agenda for a long time. This is our plan, at least for the beginning of December.
What I say now should be interpreted by those present as a strong intention, and not a decision that has already been taken. But now is the moment to remedy the problem that, for a long time, the amount allocated to the support of education has not increased; it’s ridiculously low, and has lost the motivating force it used to have. It must be increased, and it must be increased appreciably and significantly. I have some pretty wild numbers in my head. It’s not important to specify them here, but we’d like support for education to be several times higher than it is now. We owe a long-standing debt to the Hungarians in the diaspora. This is because, while we spend a lot of money on bringing students from other countries here, for people of Hungarian origin living in the diaspora – who perhaps don’t speak Hungarian – there’s no special scholarship system which would enable them to come to the motherland to study for six months or a year. This is another imbalance that for a long time has been crying out for a solution. This isn’t the kind of thing that’s usually resolved in times of crisis, but I think that the logic I’m using is that we need to resolve this issue now, and we need to launch a dynamic, robust scholarship programme there. So what I’m saying to the leaders who have come here from communities beyond the borders is that I’d like to talk to you – and I’m not sure that I’ll be able to meet all of you before the end of the year – about how to implement things in the coming period, and not about how to avoid implementing them. Indeed, I’d like to talk about how to set targets that we earlier thought to be unrealistic, and therefore failed to set. It’s true that we probably won’t propose the launch of new developments, but we want to carry through all the ones that are under way, provide the resources needed to run them, and also make new types of funding available. The next year or two might not be the period for high-budget investments, and those will need to be tabled later. But that doesn’t mean that overall the funding available in the future won’t be greater – and better structured – than it has been in recent years.
Thank you very much for listening. I hope that I’ve succeeded in at least giving you a sense of – if not explicitly describing – the kind of year that Hungary is facing. We’ll be under pressure, we’ll have many disputes, we’ll stand up for our interests, there will be conflict, and we’ll have to deal with an energy crisis. But Hungary shall not retreat from any of its strategic goals. We shall not retreat, and in some areas we shall even move forward in a decisive and inspiring way.
Ceterum censeo, the precondition for this is always that Hungary has a stable government that’s capable of taking action. We haven’t even mentioned that there was an election this year, because it seems so long ago that we don’t even remember it. But I’d like to draw everyone’s attention to the fact that there was an election in Hungary, and we won that election with a two-thirds majority. This gives us the huge opportunity – unlike any other country in Europe – for this government, with a two-thirds majority, to pursue its mandate in a period of crisis management for more than three years, for perhaps another three and a half years. It can do so in line with the kind of thinking that I’ve tried to present to you here. From this only good can come.
Thank you very much for your kind attention.