Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen.
It is good to see you again. We always meet before elections to avoid any mistakes. It is not only good to see you here again, but also to see so many new faces. I am happy that there are so many young people. This is proof – better proof than any political speech – of the fact that the countryside and agriculture do not belong to the past, but to the future. It does not matter how many speeches we give about this if young people are not there beside us and behind us. But now they are. Thank you for coming, we wish you every success – not just for the election, but also for the rest of your lives. May you, too, become successful Hungarian agricultural entrepreneurs.
We gather together before elections, Ladies and Gentlemen, because at the end of the day we can absolutely rely on people from the countryside. Of course there are also voters elsewhere, and we must value every vote and be grateful for every single one. But if the question is whom we can ultimately count on, I must say that we can count on one another, we can count on the countryside. This is also my opinion. I do not normally talk about this, but here I can perhaps mention that I am the first prime minister since the fall of communism to have come from a village. Young people have some difficulties looking back, because someone who today is, say, twenty, was only eight at the beginning of our first term in government – or rather our second term of government, that began in 2010. For twelve years they have known only us. I would not be at all surprised if they had become tired of us. But it is very important to make it clear to young people that while politics does indeed involve an element of new beginnings and rebellion, continuity is at least as important. Because if young people do not continue what their parents and grandparents started, then the whole nation, the whole country will find itself in very deep trouble. In Hungary, too, I truly hope to see the development of a tradition in which the political stances taken by families are stable and reliable in the long term. After a while, you do not have to think about why you vote for one party or another; it is enough that your father and mother – and also your grandmother – voted for that party, so that is where your place is. So I hope that young farmers will not only integrate into the professional world of agriculture, but that they will also find their place in the political tradition of Hungarian agriculture. If this meeting was taking place sixty or seventy years ago, then this would be a smallholders’ conference, and we would be talking to each other under the logo of the Smallholders’ Party. We live in the modern world, however, and many things – including parties – have changed. It is nonetheless important for young people to know that the tradition that was the tradition of their grandparents and great-grandparents – the political tradition of the Smallholders’ Party – is today called the Fidesz–Hungarian Civic Alliance.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
So we always gather together before elections. The standard script is that we review the troops, line up and take stock of our goals. This situation has changed, however, because our preparations today are overshadowed by the clouds of war. Therefore our meeting today cannot be sunny in outlook: if a cloud looms over one’s head, one does not feel sunny. We cannot deny this, and it is why we cannot celebrate with light hearts. We cannot wave our flags as we normally do, because at the same time we are concerned for Hungarians who are over there on the other side of the border. We are concerned for the innocent people dying in the war. And we are also concerned for ourselves, because we do not know what consequences all this will have for our lives. Therefore in the present election campaign enthusiasm will continue to remain very important, but common sense will be at least as important. This is a strange campaign. I have seen many things in my life, but nothing like this – when we must line up, go to the polls and show enthusiasm, and at the same time continually remind ourselves that here and now common sense takes precedence. In our political jargon this is called “strategic calm”.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Naturally we condemn the war – especially as it is here, right next door. We reject violence and stand together with our allies. All this is important. But for Hungary the number one priority is to stay out of this armed conflict. Every war can and should be analysed from many different viewpoints. But before we make our decisions, there is only one possible viewpoint for us, and we can only view matters through one prism: the Hungarian prism. In this situation, what is in our interest? In this situation, what is in the interest of the Hungarians in the Carpathian Basin? As you may have seen, I can reassure you that in the past few days the Government has not taken a single wrong turn, and we will not do so in the difficult weeks ahead. Even in the most difficult moments, we will be able to keep our calm, and we will not substitute our view of the war – the prism through which we Hungarians view the war – with any other alien views suggested from abroad.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
This also means that we must assess what impact the war will have on Hungary, not only in military and higher geopolitical terms, which I would prefer to avoid talking about here; we must also assess the impact it will have on the economy, and on our agriculture. It is very important that now and in the coming months the Government succeeds in making decisions which prevent Hungarians being made to pay the price of this war. As you have seen, there has already been a bank that could not cope with the pressure, and as a result many Hungarians suffered losses. Yesterday I had a long meeting with the Governor of the National Bank, and I can reassure you that the Hungarian banking system, the Hungarian financial system, is stable. There is no doubt that the link that has now snapped was the weakest one, the weakest point in the Hungarian financial system. The rest will hold up under the pressure, but this is a warning sign that the war could have consequences in unexpected areas.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I suggest that we review what consequences the war will have for the Hungarian economy, and Hungarian agriculture within it.
First of all, there is a major underlying political relationship that adversely affects you and us. This is that Hungary has built up a set of open trade relations: no one was our enemy, we wanted to gather friends everywhere, we wanted to trade with everyone, we welcomed investments here and we, too, wanted to invest elsewhere. So we had an interest in a free and readily accessible world. This is not only instinctive, as Hungarians are a freedom-loving people, but also because it is dictated by our pockets: it is good for us if we can trade, do business and invest. This will become more difficult, Ladies and Gentlemen, because the world is becoming more tense; this is not a time for easy access, for building relations, but a time when certain earlier opportunities are coming to an end. We must therefore adjust our entire Hungarian foreign trade strategy – of which agricultural foreign trade forms an important part – to the present situation. We will do this in the next few days. This war can only limit our opportunities and cause us economic losses. This also clearly shows that we have a vested interest in the earliest possible restoration of peace – not only because our hearts dictate it, as we are good people, but also because our pockets dictate it. The Hungarian agricultural sector, too, has an elemental interest in the restoration of peace as soon as possible, and in us regaining at least part of the market the war has taken from us.
The other major threat we are facing is the problem of the sanctions. When you hear about them on TV, they do not appear so frightening. Someone’s got kicked in the shins, sanctions happen, that’s nothing unusual. But these sanctions are different from the earlier ones. The sanctions that the West is now imposing on the Russians will hurt us, too. If we are lucky they will hurt us less, but no one can say anything certain about that. We can expect international sanctions against Russia, the country which started the war. The consequences of these sanctions will also be felt by the West; and as Hungary is part of the West, we will also feel them. The most important thing is to make sure that energy is left out of the policy of sanctions; you are already in trouble as it is, and the entire Hungarian national economy is in trouble, because of rising energy prices. We have managed to protect families from them because the system of reductions in household energy bills protects them. But this does not apply to businesses, which are paying the price for this situation, as we are only able to provide some assistance or protection for the smallest ones. This is bad, but there is something even worse: a lack of energy. In that event, instead of simply paying more, the entire economy – or certain segments of it – would come to a halt. Therefore it is in everyone’s interest for the West to only impose sanctions that do not affect the safety of our energy supply and do not push energy prices sky high. This is not impossible. On this I am not able to call on the memories of young people, but some of us here are more advanced in years. When you think about it, we cleverly managed to stay out of the conflict in 1999 when there was a war on our southern borders. Then, too, our hearts were open, we helped everyone who came across the border, but we did not yield to any Western European – or rather American – demands that would have pushed us into war in a neighbouring country. So in 1999 we managed to stay out of that war. Then came the Crimea conflict in 2015, the first Ukraine-Russia war, and we managed to stay out of that, too. We succeeded in shaping the policy of sanctions to enable the Hungarian economy to survive that period without a major shock, if not completely unscathed.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In the language of numbers, this means that Hungarian agricultural and food industry exports bound for Russia account for 2 per cent of Hungary’s total agricultural exports, while exports to Ukraine account for 1.8 per cent. So the two combined are still below 5 per cent. Naturally 5 per cent is a lot in terms of agricultural exports, but it is bearable. So I can say that the exposure of the Hungarian agricultural sector to the markets of the two warring countries is limited – it is bearable and manageable. The import side is a more difficult challenge. Raw materials imported from Russia, including artificial fertiliser and animal feed, amount to 7 per cent of our total imports. Meanwhile imports from Ukraine account for 8.4 per cent. So the two combined amount to over 15 per cent of our total imports. This war is affecting 15 per cent of our imports. That is a lot. It is not so easy to protect ourselves against this, and it is a headwind that is not so easy to tack into. My greetings to István Nagy, the Minister of Agriculture, with whom we are monitoring the situation continuously, and who will also be at the meeting this afternoon at which a government decision will be adopted in response to these problems. Then there is the issue of energy, which has become more expensive and is built into the prices of goods and raw materials imported from abroad. This, too, is causing us losses – indirectly, if not directly. And there is one other thing we must pay attention to: exchange rate fluctuations. Everyone can see that since the beginning of the war Central European currencies have experienced major fluctuations, and clearly we can only partially compensate for this at the most.
Well, on the whole, I can tell you that there will be an election, involving tasks for us all. But this will be an unusual election, an election determined by the mood of the war taking place next door. It will be an election in which enthusiasm is important, but common sense is perhaps even more important. This war has direct consequences for your lives, and therefore the Government can only concentrate part of its energies on the campaign; even during the height of the campaign we must use the bulk of the Government’s strength and energy to protect against these negative impacts.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Now let us talk about the reason we have gathered together here: the issue of the cooperation and alliance between MAGOSZ and Fidesz. Let us recall why this alliance was forged in the first place. Although we have known each other for a very long time and have cooperated for a very long time, there is something which my friend István Jakab has said: history has an ebb and flow, and in essence it inevitably created this alliance. The only questions were when and why we would formalise this cooperation. The reason was that after 1990 the communists – that persistent breed – did not leave the field of politics, but remained here. There was a change in the formation, with urban liberals supplementing them, which became a strong left-wing political sphere with a strength that must not be underestimated. When you think about it, 32 years have passed since the fall of communism, and they were able to return to government time and again for a combined total of sixteen years. This is the reality. We had to formalise our alliance because every time they returned, Hungarian farmers and the Hungarian countryside paid the price. In essence we entered into an alliance of defence and defiance, and we formalised our cooperation so that we could protect rural Hungary and Hungarian agriculture from the harmful policies of the Left as it kept returning. This is how this cooperation came into being, and this is why we are here today.
Because they know less about it, let me just remind young people about the magnitude of the threat faced by Hungarians in the countryside whenever a left-wing government comes to power. I say to young people that this is not political rhetoric or some element of a political speech, but this is a real threat, a danger. Now I am not harking back to the really old times when they emptied peasants’ lofts and confiscated their land. I am not talking about that, but just about the period since 1990 – and even more about the times since 2010. I am telling you young people who want to make a living from farming that between 2004 and 2010 when Hungary had its last left-liberal government, agricultural output, the performance of Hungarian agriculture, fell by 20 per cent. You do not remember this because you could not remember it. But if you envisage your future in agriculture, then you should always bear this historical fact in mind: whenever a left-wing government is elected, the output, the performance, of Hungarian agriculture always falls. This is not only true of primary production, but also of the food processing industry. Between 2004 and 2010 the output of the food industry fell by 16 per cent. Agricultural output fell by 20 per cent, and food industry output by 16 per cent. I do not think that with such agricultural policies in place it would be possible for you to realise your goal of making a decent living in agriculture and thereby – as I hope – having large families. Just do some calculations, Dear Young People: if in the next four years the output of Hungarian agriculture fell again by 20 per cent and that of the food industry by 16 per cent, how much of that would fall on you? You would hardly be able to stay in business. It is in our fundamental interest, Ladies and Gentlemen, it is a fundamental interest of rural Hungary and Hungarian agriculture, to keep the Left and left-wing liberals – calmly and without raised fists – away from Hungarian agricultural policy, and away from the levers of government in Hungary.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Of course, it is not good form to sing your own praises; but if there is no one else to do it for you, you have to do the job yourself. Therefore I would like to say a few words about what – since the formation of our alliance, when we have effectively governed together with the Hungarian farming community – we have to show before God, the country and the Hungarian farming community. The first thing we have to show for our alliance is that in the ten years between 2010 and 2020 the output of Hungarian agriculture increased by 29 per cent. In our predecessors’ time it fell by 20 per cent, and in our time it rose by 29 per cent. Between 2010 and 2021, Dear Friends, added value per hectare increased by 45 per cent. We are Hungarians, and we will never be satisfied, and the profitability of Hungarian agriculture is also something that we are never satisfied with, and never will be: there is never a number that you cannot add one more to, and something may be high, but it could always be higher. But between 2010 and 2021 the profitability of Hungarian agriculture more than doubled. For comparison, I can tell you that this was the best result across the entire European Union – although it is true that we started from a low point. The mechanisation of agriculture is a complex problem, but I believe that in this department, too, the numbers are more in our favour. In 2010 farmers were able to spend 40 billion forints on the procurement of new machinery, while in 2020 they spent 256 billion forints. So it was 40 ten years ago, and it is 256 now. And forecasts point to a further increase. We have the Modern Cities Programme aimed at cities in the provinces, because those towns and cities are also part of the countryside. We will spend more than 600 billion forints on developments there in 2021–22, and the three-year budget of the Hungarian Villages Programme is over 600 billion forints. I think it is important to also give us credit for the fact that we managed to increase the number of leaseholders to fifteen times what it was in 2010.
I thank János Lázár, who oversaw this in our previous government and implemented this programme. This was ultimately successful: I repeat, we finally succeeded in increasing the number of leaseholders to fifteen times what it was in 2010. This means that fifteen times more farmers were able to use state land. Naturally things like this do not happen without debate, and everyone remembers these debates more than the facts themselves; but facts are the most important thing, and the fact is that it happened and this is how it happened. I would also like to remind you that Hungarian agricultural exports have increased by 10 per cent compared with last year – or, to be more precise, compared with 2020. In 2021 Hungarian agricultural exports increased by 10 per cent. This is a major achievement.
Let us talk about the future, Ladies and Gentlemen. We have gathered together here in order to sign this agreement in a few minutes’ time. Before signing the agreement, it is perhaps important to thank you for something very important. The situation in Hungary now is that Hungarian land is in Hungarian hands. Of course it helps to have a fully functioning government, but in fact Hungarian land is in Hungarian hands in Hungary because over the past thirty years you have never allowed any government to sell Hungarian land. I still remember when the Left wanted to sell land. Tractors at protests and all the rest – does everyone remember those good old times? Many of us present here today were there, when we had to use force to prevent the sale of Hungarian arable land to foreigners. We managed to achieve that. On behalf of Hungary I would like to thank you for never allowing this; because Hungarian farmers know the simple truth that those who own the land own the country. Therefore land must be in Hungarian hands.
Perhaps it is important for me to also say a few words about how we stand in terms of the countryside’s capacity to retain population. We are not doing well. Although it varies from region to region, a significant proportion of the Hungarian countryside has lost its capacity to retain population, and is unable to keep its young people there. Many young people are moving to the big cities – mostly to the capital – and some are moving abroad. I think they are not driven by a sense of adventure – although I am sure that some of them are. But the truth is there is nothing to keep them there. Therefore in the period ahead it is very important that, in cooperation with you, we enable the countryside to keep its young people at home. The starting point is not bad, because we are Hungarians; and most Hungarians are happiest if they make their way in life in their native land. Left-wing sociologists often criticise us for not being mobile enough. I would say to them: “You can be mobile if you like, my friend; we like living in the place where we were born and where we feel our place is in this world. Our goal in life is not to have a certificate in sociology enabling us to say that the Hungarian people are mobile, thank you! We will go when we must, when it is necessary and when it makes sense. Otherwise, we want to die where we were born, and that is also where we want to raise our children.” So all I would like to say is that our starting position is not at all bad, because we are Hungarians; and, after a few adventurous years – we can all remember from our own lives, without going into detail – the young also return home, and pick up the thread of life that they saw from their parents and grandparents. This is the starting point of the Hungarian people’s spiritual character. So keeping our young people is not impossible. But the truth is that for this in all 151 districts in the countryside – in Hungary this is how many districts we have outside Budapest – we must make available all the civilisational facilities and opportunities that are available in cities. Without these, people will not stay in their home areas. We must make available job opportunities that offer the prospect of a decent living. These should not be too far from where people live. We need adequate health care and good schools. There should be local primary schools if possible and quality schools for higher grades somewhere in every area. These must provide children with competitive knowledge, so that they can go on to good secondary schools. We need leisure facilities, sports halls, cultural centres and libraries; and we also need infrastructure investments, good roads and cycle paths. As we live in the modern world, we also need internet access. This crazy world has decided that we have two lives, a real one and a virtual one; and young people like to spend time in both. So young people should be able to join not only the real world but also the virtual one, without having to move away from where they live. What I am saying is that in this agreement we undertake to ensure that neither adults nor students should have to travel more than one hour a day in order to lead a life of European quality and to have access to services of European quality. This is a major undertaking, but it is possible – in fact, it is an inevitable necessity.
Now let me say a few words about the link between rural agriculture and sovereignty. In just one day, the war removed the pandemic from the agenda. But it would not be right to simply forget the experiences of the pandemic, because even in such a time of war we would do well to recall them again and again. With this pandemic, the world was taught a lesson in the importance of national sovereignty. It is often said that we live in a globalised world; but national independence is nevertheless a uniquely important value. We once thought that globalisation was unstoppable, that it would gradually overrun rural lifestyles, smaller settlements and nation states, and that we would eventually be united in a big world state. I think that this fever dream – and I do think it is a fever dream – was wholly contradicted by the pandemic. One must not undervalue independence and self-sufficiency in industry – and especially in agriculture, as our life depends on it. So it is important for us to have an economic policy for the future which does not simply seek to integrate the Hungarian economy and Hungarian agriculture into global supply chains, but also embodies another approach always focusing on the need for developments to serve Hungary’s self-sufficiency – be that in the production of vaccines, or developments in the agricultural, food industry or energy sectors. In this context it is very important that we consign to the past the widely-held Hungarian belief that Hungary is a country without natural resources. I myself sometimes fall into that trap. This may have been the case earlier, before soil and water had gained in importance, when the whole world was under the spell of industry, and we only regarded ores, gas and oil as raw materials. A different world is now in prospect, and we can regard soil and water as raw materials that are at least as important as those needed for industry to function. Therefore, in addition to participating in global trade, I am convinced that Hungary will be one of the future’s winners if we wisely use these two raw materials, soil and water, and build a resilient and self-sufficient national economy.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would now like to speak briefly about another three aspects of sovereignty.
Energy sovereignty. We must not allow these fine, silver-tongued city folk to talk us out of the construction of Paks II [nuclear power reactor blocks]. We must not allow this, because without cheap, affordable energy Hungarian agriculture cannot be competitive. And if we do not build up our nuclear power plant, if we do not renew and strengthen the existing one, if we remain continuously dependent on energy imports, you will pay the price. This whole debate on nuclear energy seems to be far from your world, but in truth it is absolutely crucial for you, too.
The second important question of sovereignty – which is seemingly far from you – is the issue of the monetary or banking system. I believe that already back in 2010 you vested your trust in us because we undertook to take at least 50 per cent of the Hungarian financial and banking system into Hungarian ownership. This was a fine, patriotic, clear, comprehensible and important undertaking, and more complex than something one can take care of with a bludgeon. And in Hungary we have finally got to the point where the majority of the banking system is in Hungarian hands. We must not give this up, so I ask you to always support those government measures which clearly seek to increase the percentage of Hungarian ownership in the banking system. As we finance Hungary with government securities, I think it is very important that you should hold government securities. We pay higher interest than you would get from other financial products on the market. It makes a difference whom we give that interest to: foreign institutional investors, funds like those run by George Soros ; or Uncle Józsi Kovács and Uncle Lugosi next door, who buy some government securities from their own little money and get a fixed income from it. I urge you to buy government securities. Everyone here is an honest farmer. I look at the numbers, and they show that there is a lot of money stashed away under mattresses. It is right for you to trust in cash, and it is good to keep money at home, but the numbers are ever higher, and I would ask you to please reconsider this – also in your own interest – and try to divert some of the money kept at home towards securities guaranteed by the state. This will be good for you, and also good for us.
The third issue of sovereignty that we must mention is the issue of demography. It is very important that we preserve our sound judgement. Children are not just units: if we do not have enough of our own, we do not simply bring in others from elsewhere. To be more precise, Christian children cannot be replaced with Muslim adults. That is the situation, let us not beat about the bush. Because this is the question that is torturing the world. And not everyone is able to answer it as well as we are: not everyone stands with two feet as firmly on the ground as we do. So I ask you as representatives of the Hungarian countryside to support the Government’s demographic policy which does not give up on helping young people raise as many children as possible; because only Hungarian children will be able to keep Hungary a Hungarian country.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
And finally, I would like to speak about one more important issue: the issue of our national food industry. This is an issue on which the Government will have things to do in the coming years. The fact that land has remained in Hungarian hands means that we have 5.3 million hectares of good arable land. This 5.3 million hectares of land is owned by 2.7 million people. I think this is splendid, but it is being cultivated by just 170,000 agricultural businesses, which is too few. Furthermore, the majority of these agricultural businesses – 80 per cent by our calculations – are small businesses, mostly family-owned. This has both advantages and disadvantages. One advantage is that these small and medium-sized enterprises are in fact the supporting pillars of rural life: without them there would be no rural Hungary. They are us. These businesses provide a living and create culture around them. And anyone who knows the history of Hungary knows that without this culture Hungary would not have been able to survive over the past one thousand years. This is not just economic activity: Hungary’s culture would be one-sided without this culture, without this cultural contribution, without responsible people who are self-reliant on their own land, in their own businesses, around their own houses. I could say that we would be like Budapest across the country. And one cannot survive like that. We are proud of our capital, we are very proud of it, and we would like it to look even better. It could also be cleaner, more splendid and more radiant, because we want to be proud of it. But Hungary cannot sustain itself as Budapest from border to border. Without the countryside there is no Hungary, and without family businesses there is no rural Hungary. So without the countryside there is no Hungary, and without family businesses there is no rural life. But the disadvantage is that unfortunately size is connected to economic strength, and our small and medium-sized family businesses lack capital. And if I compare the numbers for, say, a Dutch or Austrian family business and a Hungarian business, I see that we continue to lack capital. It is very important that in the period ahead we increase the capitalisation of our small and medium-sized enterprises. In addition there is something that you appreciate better than me: your line of business – agriculture – is increasingly moving in the direction of technology and innovation. And while traditional agriculture also requires a lot of money, innovation and technological innovation requires not only a lot of money, but an enormous amount of money. If you do not have enough capital, then you do not have access to these technologies. Unfortunately, very few people in Hungary can afford modern technologies. We must find a solution to that.
There is only one solution left: our under-capitalised small and medium-sized enterprises must somehow – in a healthy and useful way – link themselves to processing capacities and the food industry. This, in fact, would be the way forward. Most processing capacities, however, are in the hands of large enterprises. This need not be a problem in itself, but it could lead to problems. We must pay attention to three things, there are three threats that we must avert.
The first is that problems arise if the majority of the processing capacities and large enterprises are in foreign hands – which is the situation today, and is something to which I will return presently. So if the businesses that Hungarian farmers supply with their work and products are not in Hungarian hands, there is no guarantee that their decisions will be in the interests of the Hungarian economy. This shows the important role played by the composition of capital – Hungarian and foreign – in the food industry, in the processing industry, and in the sphere of big business. And so it is vital to increase the presence of Hungarian businesses in those segments. This situation could lead to the second problem: the possible refusal or reluctance of these big Hungarian processing enterprises to cooperate in the integration of smaller ones. If producers lack access to these industrial capacities, or lack access to them at a fair price, then this will lead to problems. And the source of the third problem could be the dominant role of large food industry processing companies prompting them to acquire land. This would upset the healthy balance of small and large estates that has been achieved in recent years. It would result in the small ones being pushed out of land ownership, and the large ones advancing. This is not a desirable process. These are the three problems: potential long-term foreign dominance in the food industry ; small businesses being prevented from accessing food industry capacities; and strong players in the food industry seeking to acquire arable land. If we can avert these problems, then we will be able to organise the production of the Hungarian food industry in a way that will also be beneficial for small and medium-sized enterprises and family farmers. Accomplishing this will be the most important agricultural policy task in the period ahead. Again, a bludgeon will not be a sufficiently precise instrument for this. This is a task that will require a great deal of intellectual effort.
This is also connected to another important issue, with which I would like to conclude. This is that in land ownership and the sphere of agricultural enterprises we want the proportion of large agricultural estates to be 20 per cent, and that of small and medium-sized ones to be 80 per cent. Obviously you know the history of agriculture, and this is part of a great battle that has been under way in Hungary for a thousand years: what should be the ratio of big fish to small fish? One can come up with a variety of formulae. A few years ago I arrived at the view that I have today: a workable structure, and one that creates peace, is for 20 per cent to be in the hands of large businesses and 80 per cent in the hands of small and medium-sized ones. This is the kind of situation in which everyone is more inclined to focus on the task at hand rather than on devising agricultural revolutions. The latter is, no doubt, a noble enterprise; but in the long run it does not benefit either a balanced agricultural sector or the Hungarian national economy. So, on the whole, I have to say that we must aim at maintaining this 20-80 per cent ratio. For some mysterious reason, in your lives in the years ahead this 80 per cent will be a key number, because regrettably today the vast majority of big food industry businesses, the vast majority of big agricultural processing companies, are in foreign ownership. It is not that we do not want foreigners here, but that we want us to be here. Naturally, there is room for them as well as us – but alongside us, and not instead of us. For this we must strengthen the Hungarian food industry. We also need money, and this is where we see the meaning of the number mentioned by István Jakab when he spoke before me. After the election there will be a new order for the financing of agriculture – if we receive your help and the help of God. In the past few years we have supplemented European agricultural subsidies from the national budget at a rate of around 17.5 per cent. We have survived with this rate, and we have come this far with it. But this is no longer enough, and it must be increased – especially as our competitors are also working with higher figures. Preparing for the future, a few months ago we set up a government agricultural committee. We looked at all the numbers, including all the complexities of European funding that I need not introduce you to now. No doubt the Finance Minister – who was present – furrowed his brow; but we came to the conclusion that we will raise the rate of national agricultural subsidies from 17.5 per cent to 80 per cent. I think that this is a historic breakthrough.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
This means that in the coming years some 9,000 billion forints will be available for the agricultural sector, using national, EU and anticipated private investor funds. It is hard to imagine such a number. We know the story from a Jenő Rejtő book, when someone is promised a thousand dollars, and he says, “Just say a hundred; I’ve seen that and I know it exists.” This is how I feel about this 9,000 billion, imagining it all in one place. It is an enormous amount of money; perhaps it is better to say that this is three times as much as earlier, and in this way it is perhaps easier to appreciate its significance. This means three times as much money spent in the countryside, in agriculture, as we were able to spend before. If this is not enough to enable us to modernise agriculture, nothing is. This is our last historic opportunity. If we fail to take it, our competitors will race past us, and we will fall behind in the competitions in which we must perform well, because without this we will be unable to operate profitable businesses in agriculture. Our last chance, we must not miss it. Let us grasp it!
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The essence of what I have to say today is that this huge amount of money means that we must get to the point at which domestic processing businesses have an 80 per cent share in the food industry. We must support basic production, but the food industry must also be developed. This means that, going far beyond the present situation, we want to build a Hungarian agricultural processing industry which is 80 per cent owned by Hungarians. If we have a processing industry with 80 per cent Hungarian ownership, then 80 per cent of the food we consume will be Hungarian. If the food industry is in the hands of foreigners, then it is very difficult – in fact, in the past few years I have learnt that it is impossible – to increase the percentage of Hungarian food we consume. We can achieve this if the ratios are also right in the processing industry. Let me repeat: if there is 20 per cent foreign and 80 per cent Hungarian ownership in the food industry, then we can achieve the goal of 80 per cent of the food consumed by Hungarian people being Hungarian. This is not impossible, but to achieve it we must take a number of steps. You must take the most important one. You must take the first and most important step for the implementation of this far-reaching programme.
I ask you to vote on 3 April, and to make the decision that is the most reasonable for your future. If that is not your approach, then listen to your hearts, vote for Fidesz, and help us to continue in government after the election.
Thank you for your attention.