Speech by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán at the ceremonial swearing-in of volunteers for military service

15 October 2022, Budapest

Lieutenant General and Major Generals, Mr. Chairman, Dear Oath-takers, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today nearly two hundred and fifty young volunteers have sworn their oath of military service – something which is reason enough for joy. Things would go easier if we had a few more such battalions of these. But today we can celebrate another important milestone in the development of the Hungarian army, as the Lynx troop-carriers are also now entering service. Therefore I would like to extend a special welcome not only to the oath-takers, but also to our German guests. This is a great day for us. Thank you for your presence here.

Dear Oath-takers,

For centuries the Hungarian nation has been famous for its valour and military virtues. The Hungarian nation is a nation of soldiers. A clear example of this is the weapons we have given to the world. There was a time when self-respecting armies called their own light cavalrymen “hussars”, and the hussar way of life was considered to be the Hungarian way of life.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

An innate quality of us Hungarians is that if there is no immediate threat, we will divide up our strengths in dealing with various smaller difficulties. If danger does not filter out idleness and indiscipline, the well-organised army will soften, the well-organised Hungarian state will disintegrate, and our country will go to the dogs. It is then, as Vörösmarty wrote in warning to us, that the age of helplessness will dawn, and “stronger pious fathers produce children more eager for soft comforts.” We Hungarians can only really perform well when there is an obstacle to be overcome, and when the bloody sword is borne around the country [calling troops to battle]. When the Lord of History paints the path of armies with red markings, we echo the words of [Endre] Ady: “Something is afoot in Hunnia.” We now live in such times, and this imposes a special burden on us Hungarians alive today, when we have good reason to detect serious dangers on our country’s borders. We must pull through the difficult years ahead and emerge victorious. The dangers are many: in the East, cannons roar and war rages, and from the West untold amounts of weaponry flow to the front. And if that were not enough, Europe is besieged by tens and hundreds of thousands of illegal migrants coming from south of our borders, armed groups of them roaming the countryside. The time has come to awaken our soldierly spirit! Because a nation that cannot do this will surely fail in the future. There are nations that have already begun to prepare, and we must not be left behind either. And the preparation begins in people’s minds and souls. We have always considered it our primary task to reorganise the weakened Hungarian state. And although when we started we were in the eleventh hour, our economy has already caught up and is overtaking many of its competitors. We have beaten back crime, restored public safety and renewed public administration. But we owe a great deal to the Hungarian armed forces and to Hungarian soldiers. We need soldiers who want to serve their country and modern weapons which will be effective against all the world’s threats. Therefore we are restoring the Hungarian Defence Forces’ esteem, self-respect, organisation and capacity to act. We are building a military industry capable of producing modern weapons here at home in Hungary. We must break bad traditions and misguided opinions which go back a hundred years. For a hundred years there have been attempts to make us Hungarians believe that Hungarian soldiers are useless, and that if possible we should not have any. The time has come to say this: the Hungarian soldier is the cream of our nation, the best of us; and therefore every soldier deserves the respect of the Hungarian people. The vocation of the Hungarian soldier is not everyday work, but a matter of constant preparation and sacrifice. Soldiers’ working hours do not end at the close of each day, and when they go on leave they do not shed their skins to become civilians. We want there to be interplay between civilian life and military service. If people feel the call to take up arms for their country when trouble strikes, we want to give them the opportunity to do so, in addition to their civilian profession. This is why we have renewed the institution of voluntary military service.

Dear Oath-takers,

Your service begins today. In the midst of difficult times, you have committed to training to become effective soldiers, in addition to your lives as civilians. The knowledge you have acquired and will acquire will not only be useful in war. Volunteers are the bridge between civilians and the army, and volunteers will be the Hungarian soldiers that people will most often meet. The discipline, cooperativeness, team spirit and competence acquired during training will serve as an example to us all; and this example will reach many places, and perhaps even take root. This is why, from this December, we will launch new recruitment campaigns, so that everyone who wants to find his or her personal vocation in defending the homeland can become a Hungarian national defence professional with the necessary prestige and honour, equipped with the latest technology. Hungary honours the defenders of its homeland.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today sees not only your swearing in, but also the entry into service of Lynx armoured fighting vehicles. Together with military equipment, we are also bringing military industry to Hungary, and by the end of the decade we will be able to produce complete weapons systems on our own. Parts for military helicopters are being produced in Gyula. In Kaposvár we are building armoured vehicles for use by the Hungarian Defence Forces, and we are also producing military drones. Firearms are being made in Kiskunfélegyháza, and Várpalota is home to the production of ammunition and mortars. In Nyírtelek we are building radar systems, and Zalaegerszeg is the manufacturing site for the Lynx infantry fighting vehicles being inaugurated today. Budapest provides the IT base for high-tech military systems. We have also purchased a factory that is at the forefront in terms of subsonic military aircraft, and we have acquired Hirtenberger, which will be based here from 2024. Special thanks are due to [Chairman of Rheinmetall] Armin Papperger, who has been open to cooperation from the very beginning. As a result of our joint work, a completely new industry, a previously non-existent sector – the military industry – has become established in Hungary, providing hundreds of jobs.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We must not bury our heads in the sand like ostriches. We must face reality. If this situation continues, sanctions will convulse Europe. The continent’s economy is down on one knee, people’s livelihoods are at risk, and it looks like we need to prepare ourselves for a protracted war. We Hungarians do not need war hawks, but an army that is combat-ready, capable of guaranteeing peace and acting as a deterrent. Those without such readiness and discipline cannot be successful. Those without might will not be proved right either. And those without faith will have nothing to fight for. It is in this spirit that we must conduct our affairs. And in that spirit I thank you for your work and your sacrifice.

God above us all, Hungary before all else!

I wish you all much strength and good health!