Interviews / Interview with Prime Minister Viktor Orbán on “Blikk Talk”

Interview with Prime Minister Viktor Orbán on “Blikk Talk”

Dávid Szirmay: Welcome, I’m Dávid Szirmay, and this is “Blikk Talk”, the political and public affairs talk show of Blikk. My guest today is the Prime Minister of Hungary, Viktor Orbán. My respects, and thank you very much for accepting our invitation.

Thank you very much for inviting me.

Prime Minister, we won’t start with happy news. A week ago, not far from here – 180 kilometres from Budapest – there was an assassination attempt on the Slovak prime minister Robert Fico. Five shots were fired at him, but thank God he survived. So the following question is topical, I think. Do you wear a bulletproof vest in public? And then I’ll tell you why I’m asking.

I’ve never worn one, and I don’t wear one now.

But logically it would be a good idea, because your narrative is that one of the pro-peace prime ministers – there are few pro-peace prime ministers in Europe – has been put out of action by a pro-war would-be assassin, and you have to fight on alone.

That’s what happened, and that’s what’s happening.

Logically, then, this means that you’re also in danger – because it’s the pro-peace people who are being targeted here, isn’t it?

We don’t yet know whether we’re dealing with a lone perpetrator. What we do know about him, as you’ve written, is that he campaigned for the former left-wing candidate for the Slovak presidency, a pro-war person whose main objection to the current Slovak prime minister is precisely that he doesn’t support the war.

Yes, pro-war, yes – but left-wing? There’s been a semantic debate about whether he was left-wing or far-right.

Yes, but it’s not semantics, it’s an intellectual problem.

Whether someone’s left-wing or right-wing?

In Slovakia, of course! Few people know that the government itself, Prime Minister Fico’s government, is a left-wing government.

Of course!

But… if you look at the people who are…

You’ve not always been on good terms.

But most of us would think that the left-wing government is opposed by a right-wing opposition. But no! So in Slovakia we see a traditional left-wing type of government confronted by a progressive, liberal left-wing opposition. So it’s not so easy – and I’m not joking here – to decide intellectually who is left-wing there. What’s certain is that Fico’s, called Smer, has formed a government that defends traditional values, is sovereigntist – that’s to say, a government that values national independence – and is also pro-peace. Opposing this is a progressive, left-wing, internationalist, pro-war would-be assassin. We don’t know if he acted alone. 

Yes, it is still being investigated, that’s right.

I’m still looking at the texts of the conversations between the intelligence services, and they haven’t been able to take a position on that yet.

Do you see conversations between the intelligence services?

There is cooperation between the intelligence services. So the Hungarian intelligence service is talking to the Slovak intelligence service. So there is cooperation, of course.

And then, yes, you find out… 

And I get… I start every day of my life – after getting in the car and reading [the sports daily] Nemzeti Sport – by getting to my office and reading that day’s reports, so to speak. First among them…

There are the intelligence reports…

Of course! So there’s information that cannot be obtained from any other channel. And, together with the foreign affairs liaison system, the intelligence services form a European network – indeed a North Atlantic network within NATO. They exchange data, they cooperate, and so on. So we don’t have to make our own investigations into what happened in Slovakia, for example, because there’s already a link between the two services.

Speaking of intelligence reports, obviously some of that’s classified…

All of it.

…indeed, top secret information. But then have you read about this spy novel called “Russian attempt on the Hungarian foreign ministry’s servers”? 

Not only about that. In general, I can say that in today’s international politics, the more advanced a country’s info-communication system is, the greater the tendency for intelligence gathering to shift to cyberspace. So there’s traditional information gathering, in which there are attempts to get citizens of other states to hand over valuable information; but nowadays most of the work is based on the collection and analysis of electronic information. Consequently, it’s a daily practice for states to try to access each other’s data; and Hungary’s no exception. From north, south, east and west there’s what we could call constant interest: attempts to break in and data collection interventions are frequent. We don’t talk about these, because interventions always target the weak points, and it’s not my job to reveal to the world where our weak points are. So in such cases we always fend off questions and try to keep the whole thing under wraps. 

I see. So it’s understandable that you didn’t react to the information that came to light with a multitude of statements and ministerial statements.

There are no such statements, there won’t be, and even if there are, they won’t be welcomed, because no sane person can read anything into them: they’ll remain at the level of general denial.

I see. Since we’re talking about peace here, tell me how we imagine… You know, we know the Fidesz narrative…

Let’s go back for a moment to your first question, if I may. It was about security, right? Because really, if the prime minister of a neighbouring state is shot, it’s reasonable to ask what should be done in Hungary. I’ve thought a lot about this, and the fact is that there’s no such thing as absolute security. I’m not going to talk about this for too long, because I don’t want to invite anyone to commit an act of violence against a Hungarian prime minister; but it’s very difficult to deal with this, because you must have seen the footage. You can never, I’m talking about Prime Minister Fico…


…you can never expect a politician not to meet citizens. Well, in part no one wants to live in prison, isolated from the people, and they don’t want to lose those relationships that are outside politics. And anyway, you rely on your supporters, you talk to them, you go there, you meet them. Now everyone’s slamming the poor Slovak security services for doing a bad job…



As a layman watching that video…

…it’s overdone…

… I’d say that… 

But what were the poor people supposed to do? The Prime Minister goes out among the people. For me, too, that’s an everyday activity. Someone comes and stabs me, like in Brazil, for example – there they stabbed, here they shot. So there’s a risk that we must try to minimise; I think that’s right, and that’s why we have these services – that’s why we have the Counter Terrorism Centre. But to completely eliminate…

There’s no such thing as 100 per cent security.

…the truth is that you can’t.

That’s right. So, then, the pro-peace stance. Fidesz says, “Vote for us, because then we’ll bring peace, vote for Fidesz in the European Parliament elections, because then peace will arrive.” How can we imagine… Let’s assume Fidesz wins 21 out of 21 seats – even you don’t think that Fidesz will win 21…

But it’s nice to imagine…

But let’s assume that it wins 21. Okay, and then the voters will come and say, “Now, how can this bring peace?” What will you do?

In Western politics there’s a European arena and an American arena. In the European arena, there’s a wrestling match between the pro-war and pro-peace sides…

There you’re on the back foot.

…and the same thing’s happening in America. If we’re talking about Europe, then we’re not doing well: there are more than twenty Member States in the European Union that are strongly pro-war. There’s one Member State – Hungary – which is firmly pro-peace, and there was one country – Slovakia – which recently manoeuvred itself from a pro-war position to a pro-peace position, with the help of its new government after the election. This is what the would-be assassin in Slovakia has interrupted, what he’s shot across, what he’s tried to stop. At the same time, while the number of prime ministers is important, their electorates are even more important. And what I see throughout Europe is that the number of citizens who want peace and those who are against war is growing at a noticeable rate. And the European elections won’t simply be about the distribution of seats in the European Parliament, because what you say is true: the Hungarians have 21 seats, and of the 21, let’s say 13, 14, 15 – we don’t know how many – will be pro-peace, and the others won’t. Well, this won’t change… 

Now I know what you’re expecting at the least: 13, 14 or 15.

Yes, the relative power dynamic won’t change; but everywhere these will also be national elections, and governments will certainly be exposed to the will of their citizens. So if – from Ireland to Cyprus – it turns out that in the elections the weight of the pro-peace forces has increased everywhere, this will have an impact on the prime minister of every country. My assumption is that after the European elections prime ministers’ attitudes to the war will change perceptibly, because – for all its weaknesses – European politics is still fundamentally democratic, and in the long run one cannot swim against the tide without consequences. Prime ministers will have to adapt to public opinion. I expect that there will be a European Parliament in which the pro-peace people outnumber the pro-war people. But the European Parliament is not in itself the decision-making body in Europe. There will be the European Council, where we, the prime ministers, sit, and I think that there also the power dynamic will change: there will be more pro-peace people and fewer pro-war people.

That’s a striking change.

I think it is.

Because you’ve just said that there are hardly any now.

As long as the war is an abstract issue, then perhaps these numbers that are seen as certain are indeed valid. But we must also take into account that war is a species of animal that doesn’t stand still, but moves around – and now it’s moving towards escalation. The question is not whether one is pro-war or pro-peace in general, but whether or not one wants the next stage of the war. As I see it, the next stage in the war would be one that even many formerly pro-war prime ministers consider to be excessive: it would mean providing Ukraine with technology that could strike Russian territory, or – heaven forbid – troops from Western European states or NATO entering Ukrainian territory. So it’s not a question of war or peace, but life’s going on, and war is becoming increasingly dangerous. Accordingly, fewer and fewer people are remaining in what’s an increasingly radical pro-war position. Because this is a process, and we need to manoeuvre skilfully within it. Capability and support matter, and so the European elections will also influence this process. But it’s not just a European process, because the US election will be in early November, when we’ll see what the American people think about war and peace, and what kind of president they’ll send to the White House. Together, these two elections could bring about the turnaround that will take us from a pro-war attitude in the Western world, in Western politics, to a pro-peace attitude, to peace. What does peace mean? Peace means first a ceasefire, and second peace negotiations.

And, while we’re on the subject, peace negotiations have a condition, clearly recognised by leading European politicians: there’s little point in peace negotiations when one of the two warring parties isn’t present. 

This is true. This doesn’t require…

But here – and you know this very well – Putin and Zelenskyy won’t sit down at the same table.

One doesn’t need to be a rocket scientist to conclude that, since peace negotiations must be between two opposing parties, if one of them isn’t there, it’s not a peace negotiation.

And everyone’s talking about peace negotiations, while the two sides themselves are declaring that they don’t want to negotiate with each other. What’s the solution?

In fact those who take part in such talks solidify the position of one side – but that’s not a peace negotiation. I think we need to think about who the peace negotiations will be between. This Ukrainian-Russian war is not simple enough to say that there are two countries facing each other. We went beyond that a long time ago. Ukraine has the whole West behind it. Although it seems to be a strong term, there’s truth in the claim that in some respects it’s a proxy war. Here the West is engaged in a war with the Russians through an intermediary. And I find elements in this war that support this explanation and interpretation. Therefore I think that two completely different negotiations will be conducted in parallel. However weak it may be, and – according to the forecasts – however much weaker it may be by the end of the war, since the Ukrainian state exists, there must be some contact between Ukraine and Russia. But somewhere behind, above and below that, there will also be a real negotiation between the Russians and the Americans – which won’t just be about Russia and Ukraine, but about the whole European security system, and which could well determine our next twenty or thirty years. So a twin-track…

Will this be the case even if the President of the United States isn’t Donald Trump?

I think it still will be, but the outcome of the negotiations with President Biden could be different from what it would be with President Trump. So I think we have to imagine a twin-track negotiating process.

Let’s move onto domestic politics for a while. It’s rare to hear you use strong and astonishing phrases such as “nightmare” when talking about your own political community. Do you remember the last time you said that?


In your annual “State of the Nation” speech, after the resignations of [President of Hungary] Katalin Novák and [Fidesz’s lead candidate in the European Parliament elections] Judit Varga.


How was it a nightmare for you personally?

The fact that it was like a thunderbolt. There are some things you can prepare for, face, look at, analyse, weigh up and consider the consequences of.

How did you find out about it? Was the news that had already appeared just put in front of you? 

All of a sudden I saw that the left-wing parties had launched an attack on the President of the Republic. And then I saw that this was true. Just so. 

And what kind of actions did this nightmare elicit from you when Katalin Novák was still President of the Republic and Judit Varga was a minister?

The problem was that in that situation I was completely powerless. In Hungary, the institution of the President of the Republic is well separated from the government and parliament of the day. Therefore dealing with matters relating to the President is a delicate matter, and I try not to get involved. There are one or two matters which are the exclusive competence of the President, and it’s better that the Government doesn’t interfere in them. One such matter is the system for granting presidential pardons. And, of course, in such cases you’re powerless, because you’re waiting for the President to make a decision. She pardoned someone, and then, after being attacked, she has to assess whether or not she’ll stand by what she’s done: if she thinks her action was right, then she’ll defend herself, and I’ll be willing to help her defend herself; and if she thinks her action was wrong, then there’s no alternative.

Did they approach you for advice?

No. If it’s a serious matter, then one simply has to make a decision. President Novák made her own decision, and I think she made the right decision when she resigned. And that’s it. I can only look on: this process must not be influenced by the Government. And perhaps we’re unable to.

Now there’s no influence, because Judit Varga also resigned, but…

Well, she was more of a “queen sacrifice”. That was the unfortunate part. Katalin Novák made a bad decision, and took responsibility for it. That, by the way, earned her my respect, because I think that there are very few people in Hungarian politics who would not try to fudge or explain away what was an obviously bad decision which was obviously her responsibility. But instead she stood up and said, “I made a mistake – and in a matter where I cannot maintain the unity of the nation, because I was the one who divided that unity with my decision.” 

How is the case of Judit Varga different? 

Well, there was a twenty…

You said it was unfortunate…

Yes. There was a twenty- or thirty-year practice. The way it worked was that when the President of the Republic finally decided to pardon someone, it was a formality for the Minister of Justice to sign off on it. This was the case even if the Minister had disagreed with the decision earlier – because they consult each other as a first stage. But when the President comes to a final decision, the Minister will sign it. And in the past twenty-five years there hasn’t been an occasion when the Minister of Justice has refused to sign something. So there was an unbroken practice. And I think that Judit, instead of bringing it to the Government or discussing it with us, thought there was an unbroken practice, and so she signed it. And I think she had no choice, she had to go. But… 

Was it the law of politics?

Yes, and here I have a sense of disproportion. I feel that fate was unfair to her. Not to the President. Because our life is like that: you decide, you make a mistake, you have to accept the consequences, and you resign. But if somehow someone else gets drawn into your decision from the side and has to leave office along with you, then there’s always a sense of injustice. I’m very sorry that the Minister of Justice found herself in that situation.

It’s been almost four months. Have you spoken to both your former counterparts since then?

Which prime minister are you talking about?

Oh, I was thinking of your counterparts: the former Minister of Justice and the former Minister of Family Affairs [later President of Hungary].

Colleagues, perhaps we should put it that way.

Sorry, excuse me: your colleagues.

It’s only that Hungarian politics is full of misunderstandings, that’s why it wasn’t clear… 

Let’s clarify.

…whether you meant [former Hungarian prime ministers] Ferenc Gyurcsány, Gordon Bajnai or Péter Medgyessy.

Oh, no, no, no, no. I didn’t know, by the way, that counterpart can only ever refer to someone of the same rank. So your former colleagues…


…Katalin Novák and Judit Varga.

Yes, of course, I’ve spoken with both of them. I spoke with Katalin first, when she’d made her decision and she’d been through it all. We sat down together for a coffee. After all, in our political camp there are personal feelings; we don’t talk about this, because it’s not a matter for the public, but there are friendships on the Right. We’re not simply colleagues or partners, but we’re friends. And I don’t want to disown this friendship with Katalin Novák. It wasn’t a light-hearted conversation; she had a coffee with me perhaps a few hours before she left the presidential office. I meet the former justice minister more often: I’m interested in hearing her opinion, and there are cases, even now, in which I specifically count on her expertise, even though she has no formal position. In Hungary it’s very rare for a politician with the competence, experience and European outlook of Judit Varga to come to the fore, and so I try to somehow incorporate her knowledge into my own decisions. 

Speaking of Judit Varga and the nightmare, does the word “nightmare” come to your mind in connection with her former husband?

I’d rather not say anything about that, with your permission. I don’t know the…

I’ll permit anything. But tell me why not.

I don’t know the gentleman in question. I’ve never exchanged more than two sentences with him in my life…

He’s become a political figure

…and that was also in an entirely formal situation. There are all sorts of legends about him belonging to the inner circles and whatever. Well, if he was in the inner circles, then I’m not. So I don’t know him personally, and he’s been in the spotlight too much. Anyway, I find it difficult to go beyond politics, and I don’t like to comment on people – especially people I don’t know. It’s easy to offend someone or do them an injustice. What’s sure, there are perhaps so many…

I wasn’t even going to ask about what kind of person he is, but your opinion about his meteoric rise in politics.

It’s unusual, certainly unusual, for a man to eavesdrop on his own wife or record a conversation with her and then use it for political purposes. But that’s probably more than I wanted to say.

OK, I respect that.

The electorate will decide what they think about this whole thing. Now it’s all stirred up like coffee grounds, but it will settle down on 9 June, we’ll see what people say, and then…

So tell me, are you annoyed by this kind of thing? Or are you able to rise above it and say that as a practitioner of Realpolitik you accept that there are…

But are you thinking about private life or…

No, not private life, I don’t think it’s a matter of… For example, let’s say…

Between friends, perhaps yes.


Our personal feelings towards Judit are strong because, as I say, we’re friends; and we’re all saddened by the fact that she’s being abused or made to suffer.

I’m talking about a political resignation or a political career move. Does this annoy you?

Yes, that’s different. No, well everyone has that right – you also have that right. So if, as a result of this conversation, you decide that it’s unacceptable for me to be Prime Minister and you organise a mass movement against me, you have that right, of course. No one – not a single Hungarian voter – can be denied the opportunity to try their hand at politics. It’s also possible that you would also be guided by convictions that are worthy of attention. So we shouldn’t judge things too early. I became Prime Minister at the age of 35, and I was 25 in 1988 when we founded Fidesz, and now I’m sitting here. So one can never know what will become of the “Maybug”. Judging something in politics requires patience and perspective. It would bother me if all this were happening in our half of the field. It would bother me if all this happened on our turf. So if there were such a stir within a political community with civic, national, Christian leanings and values, it would of course bother me. But since it’s all happening clearly to the left of us – let’s use this Right-Left description again – and this belongs to the world of the opposition, our world is completely closed off from it. Therefore I have no emotional or personal relationship with it. The people will decide, people will decide what they want. 

By the way, do you have no feelings towards your political opponents in general, or is it just the gentleman I’ve just asked you about, who’s not a favoured topic of conversation?

I knew all the others better. So you’re talking about a player I’m not familiar with. I was more familiar with my counterparts, with whom I could have had, or perhaps had, personal feelings – from József Antall, say, through Péter Boross to Gyula Horn. There’s even a nexus between Péter Medgyessy and me, although that’s not true with Ferenc Gyurcsány. So in the beginning, when the latter became prime minister without winning an election, there were conversations between us, but now these have completely dried up.

Prime Minister, hold that thought. You’ve just mentioned Péter Medgyessy. He was sitting here a few months ago, and I decided that if I got the chance to talk to you I’d certainly ask you this. I asked him – Peter Medgyessy – if it was true that he’d received a case of wine from you for his 80th birthday. And he said he had, and it was his favourite. I asked him what kind of wine it was, and he said that he hadn’t been authorised by the Prime Minister to say. 

Yes. I won’t say.

Now the authorising party is here. You won’t tell me?

I won’t comment on Péter Medgyessy’s wine consumption preferences. But look, I’m trying to show respect, so it’s not that simple. There’s Gyula Horn, for example. For us here on the right, 1956 – the ‘56 Revolution – is still foundational. And back then he was on the other side. But then he died. And before he died, when he was a former prime minister, and his condition deteriorated, he needed hospital care. Then something had to be decided about whether the state would help him get the medical care that was needed in that situation. And despite the fact that we’d been adversaries, I decided then that we had to give all the medical help that we could to one of Hungary’s former prime ministers. This is the same, but in miniature: Peter Medgyessy is a bird of a different feather, but it’s the same here. I try to give everyone the respect they deserve. To reach eighty years of age is a great thing in today’s world – not just for prime ministers, but for anyone. You have to give an octogenarian respect. And if someone has dedicated many years of his life to serving in Hungarian public life, even if he did it in a different way than I would have thought appropriate, he deserves to be thanked. So it won’t cause the incumbent Hungarian prime minister too many problems to salute the octogenarian former prime minister. And if you can, make a personal gesture, too: so find out what kind of wine he drinks, and don’t just give him a cold, official greeting, but, if possible, make a human gesture. After all, sorry, we belong to one nation. Now we can argue whether we belong to the better or the worse half of it. I have my own reading of this, and perhaps that’s less important here; but we’re Hungarians, we belong to the Hungarian nation, and there are moments – such as an 80th birthday – when politics must be put aside, and what’s important is that a Hungarian prime minister saluted another Hungarian prime minister.

Speaking of Gyula Horn’s health, I hadn’t originally intended to ask about this, but I will now. Is it true that you’ve made the same offer to László Kovács, who’s also very ill?

Of course. Look, after all we’re human beings, so if we can help, let’s help. 

We’re running short of time, and I definitely wanted to talk to you about football – even if only because of something you probably don’t remember. In 2006 you were in the newsroom where I was working at the time, and, to everyone’s amazement, you initiated a football sweepstake. It was Gábor Gergely, my colleague at the time, who managed the whole thing. You correctly predicted a draw for the Champions League match we were betting on – not the exact result, but that it would be a draw. So now, in the spirit of accountability, I’d like to ask you to tell me the result of the Hungary–Switzerland game on 14 June, and also for the Scotland game and the German game.

You’re asking me to do something that I can’t do, because gaffes by a prime minister – whether or not they’re in politics – come back to haunt him and destroy his credibility. So that’s a risk that I can’t take. But one thing I can say is that we now have a national team that can go into a game against anyone with a real chance of winning, and not just a hope of winning. So I’m not exaggerating when I say that I see all three games as winnable. What’s more, I’d like to see another strong result against the Swiss. I’ve seen the Swiss play, because they played an international match against Israel in Felcsút. And I’ve seen the Hungarian team, so I think it’s realistic for us to expect the Hungarian national team to have a clear superiority there. But at the same time, the fact is that in modern football in general there’s little difference between national teams, especially not between these three – or four, including us. So it’s just as possible for us to win all three as to lose all three. This is why I don’t want to put more responsibility on either the shoulders of the players or of the national team’s manager Marco Rossi by telling them that they have to go through, they have to win. All I would say is that they have to be up to par. So in every game we have to have a good chance of winning. We mustn’t be underdogs, we mustn’t be the little boys that somehow got there and are trying to behave well on the field. No, we’re men, we’re going out there and we want to beat you, Dear Fritzes, Dear Swiss, Dear kilted Scots: we want to beat you, that’s why we’re here. That’s what I’d like to see, regardless of the result. 

I suppose you’ll be out there for all three games.

God willing, yes. And if my work permits. I’d like to.

Well, yes.

I’d like to. Let’s just say that I’d like to.

And then the Olympics will start soon after, so I guess we’ll see you there too when there’s a chance of us winning a gold medal.

That’s harder. No, I haven’t planned to be at the Olympics; the President of the Republic usually goes there. I don’t know, maybe I was at the Olympics in Rio.

I was going to say that I saw you…

But I wasn’t in London: that was President Áder. And I wasn’t at the last Olympics.

You were there in Sydney.

I was a rookie in Sydney. I was there, and I was there with enthusiasm. I’ll be honest, it’s not so obviously a good thing to be there. Of course, the Olympics are always fantastic, but you can’t predict when the Hungarians will make it to a final and when they won’t. That’s why, for example, I missed a Hungarian final. So I thought, for example, that I’d be better off watching the pentathlon final, and I thought that Gábor Balogh could even win a gold medal there. He won silver, a fantastic performance; and I think that might have been the reason I missed the water polo – but I’m not sure now. I also missed about three kayak canoeing medals because it was a long way to travel. So the venues are far apart, and word arrives that we’ll be in a final here or there: you either get there or you don’t. And there are huge crowds, so even if you’re a big shot leader like me, you’ll get stuck in traffic – like in Pest, I’d say. And so watching the Olympics on TV is less of a personal experience, but you’ll be better informed: you’ll be better informed about how the Hungarians are doing if you watch it on TV.

At least then you’ll have a family holiday. Really, tell me one thing about this. I know that you love to talk about your grandchildren, and we see them a lot on the internet, you put the children on your webpage. What does a family meal look like in your house at Easter, on holidays? How big is the table? Because you have six grandchildren and… 

Six grandchildren, five children.

…and five children, each with their partner.

Several of them have a partner, if not all.


And my mother and father, who come and visit from time to time.

Your table’s as big as Putin’s, where you sat once, isn’t it?

Not that big. But of course we can’t all sit at the same table.

So how do you eat?

There’s not only no table big enough for us, but there’s no room big enough to fit us in. So we have a children’s table on the side, and we sit the children there – the six grandchildren. And then there’s the table for the adults. It’s a bit cramped there, but we’re fine. 

So I’ve learned that too, then. One more thing, and then our time’s up. In 1998, when you first won the elections, I was there at the Tisza Villa as a rookie journalist. You arrived in an Opel Corsa with your wife, and the first thing you did was embrace Tamás Deutsch. Very cleverly, you arrived after 9 p.m., so you could already see what the final result would be. And there you said – I think to István Nemeskürty or Imre Makovecz, I can’t remember now – that they should pay attention, because from then on Hungary could look forward to some fine years. That was in 1998. Now it’s 2024, twenty-six years later. Is this what you had in mind, that in 2024 you’d be living in a Hungary like this? 

Something like this. I just thought it would be easier to get here. So there have been a lot of diversions on the way.

But are you satisfied with the end result? 

Yes. Well, I’m never satisfied with anything.

Good, so there’s no feeling of a missed opportunity.

Always… How can I put it? It’s natural that you feel you could have done almost everything better.

Of course.

But if I look back at the road travelled – and I can look at it through the language of numbers or the language of architecture, or through the development of our nation’s capital, or even if I go to villages and look at people’s front gardens – I think that, thirty years after the overthrow of communism, it’s acceptable. So what Hungary’s achieved in these thirty or so years is on the whole acceptable – even though, and I repeat, there have been some energy-sapping switchbacks, mazes and hairpin bends. I think we’re on the right track – in the shadow of war this isn’t the best time to talk about this, but with your permission I’ll say that I think we’re on the right track. I think we’re on the right track, and Hungary has proved strong enough to stand up and start again after COVID and the war. Hungary has been strong enough – or has proved to be strong enough – to stand up again after COVID, because COVID knocked everyone sideways. So in 1990 there was no prospect of a pandemic paralysing the European economy for a year and a half or two years; but the Hungarian economy has recovered from this and has restarted. Then came the war, and that knocked us back again. When communism fell there was no prospect of war in Europe; nobody thought that back then. But now it’s happening. This brought us down to earth in 2022–23, with wartime prices, wartime inflation. But we got back up again. So I can see what other people can’t see because I sit behind a drawing board, I’m planning, I can see the numbers, and I think I know what’s going to happen. And I’m wrong far less often than the average. I apologise if this sounds immodest, but our plans are generally robust and good. And now we’re moving forward after the war with the implementation of a plan that could be called relaunching the Hungarian economy or economic growth. And I can see how this will happen. So I see two or three years ahead of us that will be among the exceptionally good years in the history of Hungary. There have been some like that, by the way. The period between 2016 and 2020, for example, was quite a good period. Of course I’m blowing my own trumpet, but the period between 1998 and 2002 wasn’t bad either. So there have been some outstanding highlights in these thirty or so years, and now we can look forward to another. So after the elections, once we’ve sorted out European affairs here, perhaps we can calm the war, and if God helps us in the US election, then the Hungarian economy will be restarted and we’ll be back on a strong growth path, back to a world of ambitious development. All this will come back. 

Success, money, shining prospects: they’re very good final words.

It’s what we want, isn’t it? We want to live well, we want our country to be rich.

But you didn’t say this as a wish; you said that in fact you can see what’s on the drawing board, and that this is what’s waiting for us, so let’s look forward to it.

I have a plan and it will succeed.

May it succeed. Thank you very much for being here.

Thank you too.

Dear viewers, thank you very much for watching. We’ll be back in a week. Goodbye.


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