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Address by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán at the 29th congress of the Fidesz – Hungarian Civic Alliance

Honourable Congress,

A great deal has happened since we last met, so today we need to talk longer than usual and dig deeper beneath the surface than usual. But first of all I want to thank you, Dear Friends. Thank you for honouring me with your trust. Thank you for once again entrusting me with the leadership of Fidesz, Hungary’s most successful political community. But I have to admit that your trust, your well-earned trust – or what I hope is your well-earned trust – would not be enough on its own. I also had to be given permission. Many people here have families, and they know how it is. We are on the front line, delivering blows and receiving them. And although we deliver blows, we are not the only ones receiving them – or when we do receive them, we are not the ones who are hurt the most. My point is that if you have a family, you cannot decide alone, because your partner, even if they are not in the spotlight, feels the effects just as hard as you do – or perhaps even harder. The reason I was able to accept the honour of your trust is that I received permission from my wife. So immediately after thanking you, I must also thank her. I have been doing this for more than thirty-five years, and you have always been with me – even when I did not deserve it. Thank you, thank you Ani!

Dear Friends,

My Dear Friends, why have I accepted? This is a fair question, because over the past ten years, following in the footsteps of our generation of founders, we have seen another one growing, maturing, and proving itself: the next generation of Fidesz, a generation of Gergő Gulyáses and Péter Szijjártós. And this is true not only in central government, but also in local government: it is enough to think of Cserpa [András Cser-Palkovics] or Mayor [Zoltán] Balaitz. And finally, among us there are also fantastic young women leaders: Kata [Katalin Novák] and Judit [Varga] in the Government, and Dia [Diána Széles] from Debrecen. The list is long, so please forgive me for not mentioning everyone. So why have I accepted this, despite the long line of well-prepared people capable of taking my place? First of all, because I feel that I am at the right age for it. Yet I too find this a little suspicious, as I have always felt this way. Secondly, because I see the first thirty-three years and everything that has happened so far as only a warm-up period. Yes, a great deal has indeed happened, we have taken on a great deal, we have achieved a great deal: out with the Russians, away with the communists, back from bankruptcy, in with the Constitution, home with the IMF, energy bills pushed down, migrants outside, Hungarians beyond the borders brought together with us, and – most importantly – hearts lifted up. Truly, no small matters. Yet still I feel that this has only been the beginning, only a preparation for the truly great things that await us. And those are things that I do not want to miss out on. The surest position to be is at the front; it is true that here the hail of bullets is heavier than anywhere, but on the other hand you get the best view. Thirdly – and most importantly for me – Fidesz means loyalty, faith and trust. Fidesz is a loyal party: loyal to Hungary and its people; loyal to Hungarians. During the thirty-three years of Fidesz’s existence, world orders have clashed in wars both open and covert. Empires have broken up, empires have collapsed and empires have risen. Crises have shaken the West and the East. We were prisoners and gained freedom, and then we had to – and have to – fight for our freedom once more. Meanwhile, we have moved from the Cold War to an age of pandemics and mass migrations. But in the midst of all adversity, we, Dear Friends, remained loyal: we remained loyal to ourselves, to one another, and – most importantly – we remained loyal to Hungary. Let us not indulge in false modesty. With due humility, but also with appropriate confidence, let us say this: over the past thirty-three years, Hungarians have voted for us in greater numbers than for any other party in Hungary’s parliamentary history. This imposes an obligation, and for as long as I can bear it and you can bear it, I must act upon it. And I will act upon it.

Honourable Congress,

We are Hungarians – or, more precisely, we are those Hungarians who do not exchange or sell their homeland, faith or motherland. We have always been able to prevail, because what Kossuth said is true: “For as long as this loyalty endures, Hungary will not be overthrown – even if the gates of hell are flung open in the attempt.” People are rarely successful in things they do not relish. But we are successful. The explanation is that what we do is also our passion. Hungary is our passion, and this is clearly visible. Our eyes are on the summit, we want to reach it, and we want to take Hungary there. High stakes do not deter us, but energise us. When the stakes are low, our mood is low. You can only reach the summit if a mountain stands before you. So far there has been no shortage of these, and the soothsayers say that there will be no shortage in the future: whole mountain ranges await us. But fides – faith – moves mountains, and of that we can be sure. For Hungarians there are three kinds of patriotism: in oratory, in lamentation, and in creative action. Fine oratory is highly valued, and we do not need to leave the house to find something to lament. But by and large we are [Kuno] Klebelsberg’s grandchildren, who believe in the creative love of one’s country through a productive life. This is our life force, this is what nourishes our political community; and as we are no strangers to failure as well as success, this is what has raised us up, time and again. Sixteen years in opposition, sixteen years in government: this can only be completed with a supply of unquenchable optimism, confidence, and deep faith.

Honourable Congress,

But what is the goal? How much further can we go? What can Hungary’s destination be? Without clear goals, there is no successful governance, no successful country, and no nation at peace with itself and living in contentment. Twelve years ago we spoke straightforwardly and had clear goals: ten clear and simple goals. We would create one million jobs. We would free ourselves from debt slavery. We would restore public order and public safety. We would protect pensioners and the value of pensions. We would put families at the centre: with no children there is no future. We would restore Budapest to its former glory, because Hungarians scattered around the world need a city – the nation’s capital – that they can all be proud of, and that belongs to all Hungarians, wherever in the world they live. We would save the villages condemned to death by the socialists, and restore their vitality. We would reach agreement with Roma Hungarians: we would free them from hopeless existences and attitudes to life, trapped and barely subsisting on welfare; we would provide them with work instead of welfare, and they would have decent lives offering them self-respect that they could sustain through their own efforts. We would preserve our Hungarian communities that were torn from us, reuniting the nation, regardless of borders. And tenth, we would not be a colony, in Brussels we would not be subjects, but we would stand up for – always stand up for – the interests of Hungarians. Summa summarum, these were the goals twelve years ago. Summa summarum, we were left a bankrupt country by the socialists, we put it back on its feet and launched it on an upward path. We committed ourselves to this task, and we fulfilled it. We gave our word and we kept our word. This is our moral capital, and this is why we can stand tall and, with fair expectations, ask the Hungarian electorate to once more place their trust in us.

Honourable Congress,

Our most important ally is reality. How different this is from the situation on the Left – and especially among the liberals! Our achievement is the work we complete. Theirs is that they are liberals: good Europeans of some kind. It is true that they bankrupted the country, it is true that they would even sell Budapest City Hall, it is true that they are so lazy that they even got bored of the debate for their prime-ministerial candidate, and it is true that they cannot show one completed task of any consequence. Nevertheless, they are proud liberals, and the extent of their abilities is to tell others how to live and think.

Dear Friends,

By contrast with that, what are we committing ourselves to for the next ten years? How far and where can Hungary go? In some things we excel, but our overall economic performance shows that Hungary is still only an emerging country. In terms of population, it ranks 94th out of 195 countries in the world. Our per capita economic output of 14,000 euros puts us in 59th place. In terms of so-called “human development” – life expectancy, education and literacy – we are now ranked 40th. If we were socialists, this might be enough for us. But fortunately we are not them, and we are not satisfied with this. We are a state in the middle of Europe with a history stretching back eleven centuries, and we are not yet at a level that is worthy of us. But, Dear Friends, you need to know that the only way to move forward from here is to be better trained, to produce at higher quality, to work with greater accuracy, to manage our time more intelligently, to have better organisation in our companies, towns and cities and government, and to raise our children to be smarter, more industrious and better than we are.

The first question is whether you want this at all, whether or not you are content with where you are and how you live. We suggest that Hungary should aim for more. We cannot be satisfied with what we have achieved, because there are still poor people, there are still not enough children being born, there are still people with inadequate housing, and neither salaries nor pensions are high enough. Quite simply, we need more. So why settle for what we have now? My friends, if we continue civic, Christian democratic governance, in ten years we can make further enormous progress. We can join the ranks of developed countries. We can eradicate the remnants of poverty. We can be a green, healthy country, preserving its natural treasures and beauties, with people who live healthier and longer lives. Why shouldn’t Hungarian engineers be among the best in the world? Why can’t Hungarians be the best skilled workers in the world? And why can’t we compete for the title of the world’s best-governed country? All this is not a question of size, but quality. Why shouldn’t Hungarian agriculture be in the global vanguard? And why shouldn’t Hungarian banks, including the central bank, be among the best in the world? Why can’t Hungarian medium-sized companies be as good as their Bavarian or northern Italian competitors? After all, we already have 12,000 companies with export capacity. And why shouldn’t Budapest be the cleanest, best-managed, safest and most radiant capital in the world? After all, it has everything it takes to be that.

I know that few countries have managed to rise to the ranks of the most developed. Some have, however, and so it is not impossible. Look at employment. In 2010 we had perhaps the lowest employment rate – as a proportion of the population – in the whole of the European Union. It was shameful: just 55 per cent! Today it is over 73 per cent, and above the European Union average. This is already something. We only have to go one step further to approach 80 per cent and we will be among the best. We are the 34th largest exporter in the world: 16th in cereals, 15th in livestock and 21st in pharmaceuticals. You can see that rising to the top is not a hopeless task. And we here in Fidesz know exactly how to do it: tax cuts, investment, university development, research, innovation, greater respect for work and workers, rural development, and even better governmental work. We can do it, Hungary can do it. In ten years we can and will get there. We have 183 Olympic gold medals and 12 Nobel laureates in the natural sciences. We invented the ballpoint pen, the transformer, the carburettor, light-transmitting concrete, the Rubik’s Cube, the hologram, vitamin C, the computer, the automatic espresso coffee machine and, most recently, the radically new mRNA-based vaccine against the coronavirus. We send our words of appreciation to Katalin Karikó. You see, we have no reason to be sheepish!

Honourable Congress,

Today the level of development in Budapest is 151 per cent of the European Union average, while that of the Northern Great Plain is only 47 per cent. This is why we have decided to launch our biggest ever rural development programme, worth 8,000 billion forints. This is unprecedented! We are spending the largest amount ever in Hungary – 2,700 billion forints – on development of our universities. This is also without precedent! To the doubters, I say this: 70 per cent of all Hungarian industry is high-tech, the same percentage as in Germany. And the Hungarian defence industry is just starting up. We expect a lot from defence. We expect a lot in terms of defending the homeland, military culture, and strengthening young people. We want to respect our soldiers and look up to them, but we also expect a lot in terms of cutting-edge cyber technologies and combat vehicle production. Few people know that we not only produce firearms, but that we will soon be producing high-tech combat vehicles, and we already have a fighter aircraft factory. Over the next ten years we will be replacing 8,000 buses, and we will be rebuilding the railway rolling stock industry, in which we Hungarians were once among the pioneers. We rank fourth in the European Union for high-speed internet access. We are building the V0 rail ring, a high-speed rail line linking the capitals of the Visegrád 4 countries, and we are buying back and developing our national airport at warp speed. We are building the Paks 2 nuclear reactor, and by 2030 90 per cent of our electricity generation will be carbon-free.

My Friends,

Our view extends into the far distance, the horizon is wide, and what lies ahead of us is more than inspiring. We need only answer this question: if it is so inspiring, why is no one inspired – apart from professional futurology enthusiasts like myself? The first reason is that the world has entered an era of pandemics and mass migrations. In such times people are not gripped by inspiration, but by anxiety. What becomes attractive is not soaring aspiration, but everyday security. One does not long for the moon, but for home. One wants to know that one’s family and loved ones are safe. And indeed, here too in today’s Hungary, the most important issue is security. The most important thing is to defend what we have achieved so far. We are defending our borders from migrant incursions. Every day we are detaining hundreds of people illegally crossing the border. Meanwhile you can see the masses at the Polish border, and Soros’s NGO boats transporting migrants across the sea from Africa are arriving in ports, one after another. Europe – and within it Hungary – is under siege, and we must defend ourselves. And what we have achieved must also be defended against the pandemic: we must protect people’s health, we must treat the sick, and we must save as many lives as possible. We have already saved tens of thousands of lives, thanks to the doctors and nurses, to the soldiers and police officers who have assisted, and to the civil servants who have organised the response. We are proud of them and grateful to them. We will be counting on them in the future.

Honourable Congress,

Instead of creating plans for future decades, today we must mobilise our forces against those who oppose vaccines. Vaccines save lives – and only vaccines save lives. Those who deny this truth, those who dissuade people of it or make them doubt it, those who make fake videos, who spread scare stories, who want to source vaccines on ideological grounds, who would let people die rather than use Chinese or Russian vaccines; well, they are actually and literally endangering the existential interests of the Hungarian people. And as if migration and pandemics were not enough, there is the international network, spearheaded by Brussels, which, on the pretext of climate protection, wants to impose brutal taxes on those who own homes and drive cars. As if the threat to our physical security from migrants and pandemics were not enough, they also want to put people’s material and financial security at risk, and send the bill for climate protection to families, instead of the big international multinationals destroying the climate. The situation throughout Europe is worrying, but in Hungary it is particularly dangerous. It is particularly dangerous here because an election is approaching, and our opponents – who are fervent believers in Brussels – want recognition from Brussels, rather than the defence of Hungarian interests. They want to let in migrants, they are sneakily supporting anti-vaccinationists, and they want to abolish the cuts in household utility bills on the pretext of climate protection: “Turn down your heating, use less water, do not drive; but if you do, pay more for it.” We have returned to the days of communism. Remember what the Kádár regime told us: “The bread rolls aren’t small – your mouths are too big.”

Distinguished Delegates,

It does our enthusiasm no good that the community to which we belong, the European Union, is stumbling from crisis to crisis, a shadow – a rainbow-coloured shadow – of its former self. And if it continues like this, it will disappear like a waning moon. It is not enough for us to defend ourselves against Brussels, which in itself is a huge task: Brussels must be reformed. But even reform will not be enough: it must be completely renewed, before it disintegrates. This is why we support the initiative of the Poles and Chairman Kaczyński to reorganise the entire European Right.

Honourable Congress,

We joined the European Union because we were offered the prospect of integration. This seemed like a good offer: they could win, and we could win. Integration means that we do things together, and do them in a friendly and cooperative way. We agreed that only certain types – and a limited number – of things should be decided at EU level, with everything else remaining within national competency. After experiencing communist bureaucracy, we do not want to be under the yoke of another bureaucracy from the West, with diktats from Brussels. There was no mention of our rights being gradually appropriated by the members of a fairly new species, indigenous to the bubble: Homo brusselicus. We must not passively accept every plan and project from Brussels. There was no mention of surrendering important aspects of our culture, traditions and history in favour of supposedly higher principles and ideologies. As they are saying on the streets of Pest: “Over here we will not freeze to death in winter, and over there they can give birth as men – to each as decreed by their government.”

My Friends,

In the past the threats to our region have mainly come from the East. But this is not an East-West conflict: it is a West-West conflict. We are living through it, and the situation is increasingly worrying. We shall not give up the right to defend our borders. We shall not give up the right to stop migrants. And we insist that in Hungary marriage must be between one man and one woman: the father a man, and the mother a woman. And our children must be left alone. This is what we have always believed. Just think of Fidesz’s first campaign poster: “Choose between these” [Tessék választani, 1990]. And the judiciary, media regulation, schools and education all belong to national competency. We want to be sovereign and we do not want, instead of integration, to find ourselves in a United States of Europe. Yes to integration, but no to unification. Remember this: “Unbreakable union of free republics, Great Rus’ has united forever to stand!” [from the State Anthem of the Soviet Union]. But now we must sing “Great Germany”. The Baltic states can give us a detailed account of what it was like to be in the former United States of Eastern Europe: the Soviet Union. Just because the present one is Western does not mean that we want it. I hope that the German government now being formed wants a European Germany rather than a German Europe, in which it tells the others what they must do. My Friends, the European Union now seems to be disfigured. Our aim is to bring about change. We have not the slightest intention of leaving: it will not be that easy to get rid of us. We shall stay and demand change. We must stop this unification by stealth, because it is not in the interests of the European people, but only in the interests of the European elites, the politicians, the ideologues, the bureaucrats and the bosses of big international corporations. That is the world of Uncle George, and that is his army. We are against the creation of a new European race with a politically correct, multicultural mentality which denies any distinction between sexes. We see that as an experiment on people, and every state has the right to refuse participation in it. We also have the right to opt out of the great European resettlement programme disguised as migration.

Distinguished Delegates.

After Europe, let us look at the world. The race between nations will be decisively influenced by the manner in which each adapts to the shift in the world economy’s centre of gravity from the West to the East. Those which have identified themselves not with their own nations but with the West are now in trouble. We Hungarians have not made that mistake. We have always seen ourselves as Hungarians, who belong to the West precisely because we are Hungarians: as József Antall said, “I am Hungarian, therefore I am European.” Fifteen years ago 80 per cent of all investment in the world was financed by Western capital, and only 20 per cent by Eastern capital. Today, fifteen years later, the figure is 70 per cent Eastern and 30 per cent Western. We are not happy that the Western European countries and the United States are gradually losing their economic leadership. But for us this is not an identity problem, it is simply a challenge: it is a new situation, and we Hungarians must adapt to it. Our task is complicated by the fact that we are – absolutely rightly – members of NATO, an alliance led by the United States, which is fighting with daggers drawn against a rising Asia, and especially against China. The United States would like the European Union, and the Hungarians within it, to cut back on their economic and trade relations with China. But trade with China is huge business for everyone, each according to their size. My Friends, last year the United States traded more with China than it did with the European Union; so what the Americans are asking us to do is to give up a business opportunity that they themselves are exploiting to the full. I think we should refuse to do so. Instead, we should follow the example of the United States and build the best possible trade and economic relations with Asia and China. You should know that 2019 was the first year in which the highest amount of foreign investment in Hungary did not come from Germany: it came from the East, from South Korea; and in 2020 it came from China. And now, in 2021, Korea and China are once more vying for the top position. My Friends, if everyone is doing it, why are we the ones being picked on? In truth it is because we are exposing the hypocrisy of the West, which, while criticising China – and Russia, of course – is making ever bigger deals with them. Just look at the Nord Stream pipeline. We Hungarians, on the other hand, feel better when we decide what we will do. Mutual respect, good diplomatic relations, growing investment, increasing trade: these are Hungarian interests, and there is no reason to say otherwise and depart from them. To the left-wing demands that unscrupulously serve foreign interests against Hungarians, our only reply is that we are Hungarians, not fools. Yes, Dear Friends, we must acknowledge that in the future the world economy will consist of two parts: a larger one in the East, and a smaller one in the West. If we Westerners want to prosper in the East, we must learn how to do business with them. In the future it will not be enough for Hungarians to prosper only in the West: they will also have to prosper in the East. This is why every educational establishment which prepares our children for this – primary, secondary and tertiary, Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Turkish – is necessary, useful and worthy of support.

Honourable Congress,

And finally we come to the general election. Hungarian politics has a special characteristic: from time to time we see the natural emergence of a large party which not only represents a principle and an ideology, but also aspires to serve the entire nation. This did not apply to the Arrow Cross or the Communists, because they could only be large in an occupied Hungary as the hirelings of the Germans or the Soviets. The great parties that emerge in a free Hungary become established over several decades – for as long as they are earning the trust of the citizens and the freedom of the homeland is maintained. This was the case with the “Tisza Party” in the era of the Dual Monarchy of Austria-Hungary, and the “Bethlen Party” after Trianon [1920]; and it would have been the same with the Independent Smallholder’s Party after World War II – had the Soviets gone home on time. Ideology, political principles and political ideas with international audiences are very fine. But at the end of the day there is just one inescapable, non-negotiable and immovable force, one power factor: the Hungarian people. As Lincoln said, “of the people, by the people, for the people”. Today, of course, we must not say such things, because that is populism. But when a party understands this, realises its opening, finds a way to serve not just a guiding ideology but people – the people, the nation – and is willing to act accordingly, that party will itself become an ineluctable force. That is us today, Dear Friends. It is also true that communists, post-communists and liberals have had their chance. They also made their attempts: they had a two-thirds majority between 1994 and 1998, and they were given two four-year mandates between 2002 and 2010. We know the result: they were unable to make use of the opportunity. We, however, were able to: on our side a strong, united party, a strong vision, enthusiasm, passion, an army of people eager for action; on the other side, a mix of small, power-hungry dwarf parties. Even with all the gallantry at my command, I could only say the worst about our opponents. But I would rather not say it. Instead we should heed the words of [Kálmán] Mikszáth: “On the other side is not an opposition monitoring the politics of the Hungarian nation with the politics of the Hungarian nation, but a hodgepodge of political swindlers, moral corpses and overambitious numskulls.” Well, how divisive that Mikszáth was! I do not feel so brave, so I would only add the following: our policies also benefit those who do not vote for us; but the policies of the Left also harm those who vote for them.

Honourable Congress,

Due to our strength, our importance and our support, we do not need to explain ourselves: we simply need to appreciate that the historical situation and the logic of political development in Hungary demand that there should be a party like Fidesz. Of course everyone wonders what might be the key that opens the lock to the room of secrets. They wonder how such a powerful party can be created and operated, how it is possible to repeatedly earn the trust of the people. There is nothing mysterious in this, no jealously guarded secret. We are the keepers of neither secrets nor keys. We are more like master craftsmen, whom you can sit next to, learn the tricks of the trade from, imitate, and perhaps even outperform. An English gardener was asked what makes the lawns in English parks so beautiful. “There’s no secret,” he replied. “You have to mow the grass for 400 years – that’s the only way.” The essence of serving one’s country is perseverance and tenacity. A marathon is 42 kilometres and 195 metres, and never believe anyone who tells you they know a shortcut. How many self-proclaimed comets we have seen – and we know how they usually end up. The most recent has turned out to be a real estate agent for Budapest City Hall.

My Friends,

In Hungarian politics, every cunning trick has already been tried. We remember [Zoltán] Tildy, who sneaked over to the Left, and we remember the moustache and boots of Péter Veres; and there was another fine bewhiskered Hungarian, who sat in the box seat of the SZDSZ [the Alliance of Free Democrats]. Those who want to cheat the Hungarians must get up earlier in the morning. We believe in work instead of cunning – and that is why we will win. In recent months we have been pulling out all the stops and going at it hammer and tongs. Whatever the pandemic situation, we have fired up the engines again, and the economy is roaring. In the months ahead things will happen that no one has ever seen before. It has started with the 80,000-forint bonus for pensioners, and will continue with the full payment of the thirteenth month’s pension. From January, young people will pay no income tax, the minimum wage will be 200,000 forints, and the guaranteed wage minimum will be 260,000 forints. Soldiers and police officers will receive a six-month bonus, nurses, social care and cultural sector workers will see their wages increase by 20 per cent, and families will be refunded the tax they paid in 2021. Nothing like this has ever happened before. Yes, Dear Friends, Honourable Congress, this is several million people. This means that an overwhelming majority in society stands behind our programme.

The question is simply this: will this majority in society become a majority in the election? I say it will, if in the remaining weeks we work with dedication. On 23 October we held a gathering as a kind of training session. We looked to be in good shape, but we were only flexing our biceps. The attendance was not sparse, but by the time we reach the home straight there will be two or even three times as many of us. And there will be no point in the entire Left, Brussels and the whole army of George Soros standing in our way: together we will plough through even the thickest wall. And we will win again, because Hungary must go forward, not backwards.

God above us all, Hungary before all else! Go Hungary, go Hungarians!