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Speech by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán at the inauguration of the Bosch Budapest Innovation Campus

Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen, President and our guests from Germany.

It is my honour to greet you here. This is a great occasion. As Minister Palkovics said when we spoke about this event at yesterday’s Cabinet meeting, what has been created here is a minor miracle. We are handing over a superb research and development centre. This centre belongs to Bosch, which is a long-standing friend of Hungary, and it would be logical for me first of all to congratulate them and thank them for enriching our country with this investment. But first let me thank the Hungarian engineers, developers and researchers who work at Bosch.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I congratulate you. On behalf of Hungary, I thank you for your great work; because it is obvious that your talent, your work and your achievements were the main reasons that Bosch brought you here and built this centre here. Through you I would also like to thank your schools and those who taught you. Your impressive research achievements are a tribute to their teaching. So thanks are also due to our teachers, and Hungarian schools seem to be holding their own. I would also like to thank the German directors of the Bosch factory.

Director,

We thank you very much for your friendship and the way in which your company, your former directors and you personally have looked on Hungary as a friend and have honoured us with your trust. There is an oft-quoted saying, supposedly from the Romans, that no wind favours those who do not know which port they are heading for. There is truth in this wisdom, but there is another side to the coin: if you do not know where you are going, try to berth in as many ports as possible, and eventually it will be revealed which is the right one. Because the true secret of innovation is experimentation. I am a politician, and I have never flirted with a career in either engineering or science because of my lack of ability in those fields; but innovation also exists in our profession. We too need new ideas to solve new problems; and so we know that anyone who marks time, becomes dull, complacent, self-satisfied or casual is finished. I believe that this could be the same in your industry. As an old hand, I have also learned that there are basically two ways to approach an issue: one can either define in advance the solution one wants to use, or one can try new things until one finds the best solution. Interestingly enough, this is exactly as the Scriptures teach: “Test all things and hold fast to that which is good.” In other words, a Christian democratic government is by definition always innovative. This kind of openness is what in your language you call the principle of technological neutrality. And indeed we cannot know which technology will bring the expected results, so we cannot discard any of them without testing them in practice. There is some truth in the old Hungarian joke that in theory there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice there is a big difference between them. My apologies to the interpreters. We Hungarians know this truth, and I can assure you that the Hungarian government welcomes any technology that will serve to benefit our country. Of course innovation, experimentation and innovation bring criticism, but that is just part of life. I could tell you a great deal about this, but that is not why we are here; we are here for me to tell you how much you, Bosch and its subsidiaries are welcome in Hungary.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Bosch’s presence in Hungary is clearly to our benefit. You are one of Europe’s oldest and most successful companies. At a time when the world we live in is undergoing radical change, we need your work and your developments more than ever. And – let us be frank – we want you, Bosch, to carry out a significant part of your work here in Hungary, so that we can say that Bosch is building the future with us: that the future is being built in Hungary.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This is all I wanted to say about how to tackle problems; but since we are living through these years that have been allotted to us, allow me to say a few words about the problem that is afflicting Europe today. If we want to drill down deeply into the problems, we always find the same thing: the issue of energy. The situation is that Europe has run out of energy. What there is must be brought in from elsewhere, because we cannot function without energy; and energy is the alpha and omega of innovation. A further problem is that the energy coming into Europe is expensive. Despite this, we need to fight against fundamentalist greens and bureaucrats engaged in geopolitical games. They must be persuaded – and this argument is a real battle – not to rule out from the list of possibilities a range of energy sources: coal, nuclear and gas. Now, for political reasons, we are in the process of abandoning the use of various energy sources, thus making life more expensive for ourselves and handicapping our industries in global competition. Few continents are in as difficult a situation as we are; but only our continent is making life so difficult for itself.

And, Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen, we also have an acute problem called the Russo-Ukrainian war. Because of the war and the sanctions, there is the fear that there will not be enough energy in Europe. This issue is creating tension across the whole of Europe, threatening businesses, public institutions and factories like this. Yesterday I read a statement from the Federation of German Industries which said that the rises in energy prices are a threat to the very foundations of German industry. And Germany is a wealthy country with almost unlimited resources with which to assist its distressed companies. So what can a country like Hungary say? When Russia attacked Ukraine, in Brussels we were told that sanctions would stop the war and bring the war’s initiator to its knees. Six months after the outbreak of war, there are eleven thousand sanctions against Russia. And what do we see? The war is continuing, and it looks as though it will be with us in the long term. The attempts to weaken Russia have not succeeded. By contrast, it is Europe that could be brought to its knees by brutal inflation and energy shortages resulting from sanctions. Meanwhile Russian energy export revenues have increased by 40 per cent this year, and in Europe the price of natural gas and electricity has quadrupled. There is a Dakota proverb that is well-known in Hungary – and its widespread recognition among Hungarians is also due to our innovation – that runs thus: If you notice that the horse you are sitting on is dead, get off it. I do not know how much longer we will continue with this sanctions policy, how much longer they will continue with this sanctions policy in Brussels; but I can tell you for sure that the problem will only get worse. We are suffering the continuation of this war because we cannot do anything else; but the sanctions were initiated by us, by Brussels, and it is Europe that has chosen the path of sanctions.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is time to rethink the measures we are using. What can Hungary do in this situation? First of all, I would like to make it clear that Hungary and the Hungarian government will do whatever is demanded of it by the country. First of all I want to assure you, our guest the President, and the engineers and developers working here that we will not experience energy shortages. This is not a prediction, but a statement of fact. Hungary will have natural gas and it will also have enough electricity, which means that we will not have to suspend industrial operations or close a single factory due to energy shortages. There will be enough energy for everyone. Whoever wants to invest and produce here can come here and invest.

Secondly, what more can we do? We cannot renounce the nation’s long-term strategic goals in the face of short-term problems, which of course we must overcome. And one of our strategic goals – and it is a priority – is to make Hungary one of the most innovative economies in Europe. We will continue and strengthen the programmes and developments that take the Hungarian economy in this direction. This is why we have also implemented a change of model for universities in Hungary. Every year we are providing more resources for higher education, because we know that research – and not only war – requires the same three things: money, money and money. This is why this year higher education funding will account for 2 per cent of Hungary’s GDP. We have also changed the way universities operate, putting them under the management of foundations, which will allow them to work more closely with market players.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

If we do not change the sanctions policy, the situation in Europe will not be easy; but even so, I can tell you that – in spite of all international difficulties – it will continue to be worth investing in Hungary in the future. This is because Hungary’s universities and authorities at national and local levels have an interest in solutions of the future and in the best solutions. Just think of the fact that, despite all the difficulties, the largest battery factory in Europe is being built here in Hungary, that the machines, vehicles and technological devices of the future are being built here, and that many innovations are being born in Hungary. I am convinced that even in this difficult situation the researchers and scientists who are constantly coming up with new solutions will continue to drive Hungary forward. This is precisely why I so warmly welcome the new Bosch Innovation Campus in Budapest.

I wish you every success in your work. Thank you for your attention.