Honourable Speaker, Fellow Members of Parliament,
By the will of the electorate, this is the fourth time since 2010 – and the fifth time overall – that I have been able to stand here to introduce the members of a new government in Hungary. Although this is not the first time I have accepted this invitation from the President of the Republic, in the more than three decades of Hungary’s history since 1990, the current situation is unique. Thanks are due to the voters for, on 3 April, publicly expressing the will of the people with such unprecedented clarity. Never since 1990 has there been such a large and united electoral will behind a government as there is behind the cabinet that is now taking office. This trust is partly earned already, and partly received in advance. I expect the members of this government to retain the trust they have earned and to take the trust they have received in advance and turn it into future reality.
Now this will be a particularly challenging task: we have barely recovered from the coronavirus; there is a war in a neighbouring country; and in Brussels their compass needle is gyrating in confusion, so we can expect no help from there. I have been a Member of Parliament and involved in foreign policy for thirty-two years, but never have I seen such uncertainty about the future as I see today. The combination of strong electoral will and uncertainty about the future places greater responsibility than ever on the new government. The decade between 2020 and 2030 will be an era of perils, uncertainty and wars. In 2020-21 there was the coronavirus pandemic, and since early 2022 there has been a war in one of our eastern neighbours. As a consequence of all this, the world, our continent and our country has been hit by a flood of refugees, unprecedented rises in energy and commodity prices, and inflation. There is the simultaneous threat of the biggest geopolitical realignment of the 21st century so far, and a global crisis in energy and food. The energy and food crisis is destabilising populous but fragile countries, and this could trigger new wars and even greater population movements than we saw in 2015. This is a huge challenge for the richer half of the world, including Hungary. This would be a major challenge even for a European Union that was in dynamic form and brilliantly led. But the European Union today is anything but a brilliantly led organisation in dynamic form. Instead we see delays, I hear confused ideologies, and I experience hasty and irrational decisions.
In such an era, Hungary cannot afford the luxury of irresponsibility, disunity and weakness. In other words, what we need now is a government of true grit, which is responsible, unites the country, and which shows the necessary strength. Dangers – and war in particular – will determine the tasks for the next Hungarian government: to preserve – and even strengthen – the physical, material, intellectual and cultural security of the Carpathian Basin and of Hungary. To support Hungarian families, to see Hungarian enterprises build capital strength, and to keep the Hungarian economy on the path of growth. I have asked the members of Hungary’s next government to work together with all this in mind.
I can inform my fellow Members that the National Assembly’s competent committees have conducted hearings with the ministerial nominees, and have supported their appointment with large majorities.
I have asked Minister Judit Varga to head the Ministry of Justice. The Minister of Justice must enforce the Fundamental Law and defend the constitutional order. I therefore grant her the right of veto over all ministerial proposals. Nowadays the ministry of [19th-century minister of justice] Ferenc Deák is also responsible for the Government’s relations with the EU. No one envies her that task. In discussions in Brussels the Minister has always been a strong representative of the Hungarian national interest, and we expect her to continue to be in the future. This will not be easy, and so I wish her much strength and perseverance.
I have asked Interior Minister Sándor Pintér to continue in my government because we have served together for sixteen years, and throughout those sixteen years he has performed all the tasks entrusted to him with exemplary precision. He therefore enjoys my unconditional trust. He has restored public safety and radically reduced crime, slashing the number of offences committed against both property and human life. The police force has been rejuvenated and renewed, and its personnel have regained their honour and dignity. The age of police jokes is a thing of the past. During the coronavirus pandemic and the Ukrainian refugee crisis our police forces earned our permanent respect, and Hungary will continue to greatly need these skills in the period ahead. The Minister has organised the public works scheme, through which we have helped hundreds of thousands of unemployed people in difficult situations back into the labour market. During reorganisation of the system of local government and management of the healthcare operational group, we have all seen how he can realise the rapid restructuring of any large state organisational system. Although we continue to call his ministry the Ministry of the Interior, it is in fact now the ministry of internal affairs. In politics, Dear Friends, experience is the greatest asset – that is what really counts. That is why we are entrusting him with the management of the most difficult areas. I wish the Minister every success.
As Deputy Prime Minister, Zsolt Semjén will continue to be responsible for promoting issues related to our historical churches and Hungarian communities in the Carpathian Basin. Every Hungarian is responsible for every other Hungarian. If this is true, and it is, then Zsolt Semjén’s ministerial responsibility is to represent the universal Hungarian community. We expect him to bring to reality in everyday life the ideal of a united Hungarian nation, as enshrined in the Fundamental Law. The Christian Democratic People’s Party is the Government’s spiritual and ideological core, and therefore it is with special respect that I welcome into my government the President of the Christian Democratic Party. I wish you every success.
The ministry of Minister János Csák should really be called “the Ministry of the Future”. His portfolio includes family policy, culture, higher education, vocational training and innovation. Per head of population, Hungary spends more on supporting families and culture than any other country in the European Union. Hungarian higher education has seen its most important developments in the last thirty years, and is rapidly catching up with these areas. Minister, a complex task awaits you. Your work demands a unique person who knows the world of business, who is not lost in the modern labyrinth of intellectual debates, and who is both disciplined while also seeking ways in which we can break through the limitations of today’s realities. For this we need someone truly in the mould of [the interwar minister] Kuno Klebelsberg. Good luck in this great adventure.
I have asked Minister Mihály Varga to be the Minister of Finance. Hungary was one of the first countries to recover from the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Minister Varga’s forward-looking rigour has enabled us to maintain a balance between fiscal discipline and economic growth. By “overtaking on the bend” we have weathered the unprecedented consequences of the coronavirus pandemic. In terms of economic development we have also outperformed Greece and Portugal. Now that the war has presented the economy with a new test, we expect more of the same. I have asked the Minister to take tough decisions, if necessary, in the four years ahead. These will be needed to maintain the balance between budgetary discipline and economic growth, which I am convinced is the basis for Hungary’s development. The Minister and I became Members of Parliament together in 1990. It has been an honour to fight alongside you over the past thirty-two years. I am pleased that we can continue our decades-long work together. I wish you every success.
In the coming period, industry and the energy sector face a major transformation. I have asked Minister László Palkovics to continue the transformation of technological and industrial policy that we have launched over the past four years. There is no doubt that the Minister has been given the most complicated government task: adapting the Hungarian energy system to the challenges of the new era; tackling the threats posed by unstable energy supply chains; dealing with growing consumption demands; addressing the situation of soaring global energy prices; and meanwhile reducing the economy’s emissions and reconciling economic growth with environmental protection. All this at the same time! I do not know if it can be done, but if anyone can do it, it is Széchenyi Prize-winning Minister Palkovics. Good luck!
Minister István Nagy has the Ministry of Agriculture. At first glance, it seems that whoever is given this job has a task that is easier than a walk in the park. We have made great strides in recent years. The country can provide food for 20 million people. While skyrocketing cereal prices are a problem in many areas, for a large section of Hungarian agriculture they are a benefit. National rural development funding will increase at warp speed. Hungarian farmers will finally be able to overcome their disadvantage compared to Western European agriculture which emerged under communism. But there is another side to this coin: a major global food crisis looms, the effects of which the Minister will need to defend against. Hungarian agriculture’s external trade position must be further strengthened. In other words, the Minister’s chair will not be as comfortable as it first appears to be. Minister, the Hungarian countryside is counting on you. Welcome to the Government.
I welcome Tibor Navracsics into the Government as a veteran warrior. It is well known that he has extensive experience in domestic politics, and in EU and public administration; I have asked him to once more place his knowledge at the service of the Government and to take on the post of minister for regional development and the most effective use of EU funds. This is a somewhat thankless task. I have never seen MPs or mayors who are satisfied with development. In the years after 2006, Tibor Navracsics served as the leader of our parliamentary group. Then, as minister in the years following 2010, he played a decisive role in our reorganisation of the entire Hungarian state. For half a decade he was Hungary’s Commissioner on the European Commission. No one has a better chance of avoiding being ground up between the mill wheels of Brussels bureaucrats and Hungarian MPs. Welcome back to the Government, Minister.
Security, defence, deterrence, defence forces, the army. These are the words we will hear most often in the years to come. I have asked Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky to be Minister of Defence. The war in a neighbouring country is proof of how irresponsible the whole of Europe has been in marginalising the army and national defence, and in sometimes even questioning its very need to exist. The current war has proved that some years ago we were right to launch the Zrínyi Military Development Programme. If we succeed in fully implementing it, within a few years Hungary will not only have one of the most capable armies in the region, but will also become a centre of military industry. This task is more important than it has been at any time in the past thirty years. I wish the Minister every success.
In a democracy, continuous communication between government and citizens is a critical factor. This is a difficult task. It is also made difficult by the mass of data protection legislation, the understandable sensitivity of citizens, and constant attacks from the Opposition. This will continue to be the case. I have asked Minister Antal Rogán to take on this task. The principles and objectives behind government decisions must be made known to the democratic public as a whole. In this decade of war, it is particularly important that what we are doing is made clear to both those who agree with us and those who disagree with us. In the period ahead, the country’s independence and Hungary’s sovereignty will come under many attacks. Protecting sovereignty is the Prime Minister’s first duty. In this work, I will primarily be counting on the Minister. Thank you for accepting my invitation.
I have asked János Lázár to head the Ministry for Construction and Investment. We should really call this the “Ministry of Country Building”. Previously this was a fragmented area, split up between a number of ministries. Today that fragmentation has become a handicap. Our lives will be complicated by rising raw material prices, the economic effects of war, the expected recession in Europe, and the caution of investors. The Minister’s task is nothing less than ensuring the efficient investment use of public resources, reforming building regulations, protecting our built heritage and representing civic good taste in building projects. János Lázár has been a successful parliamentary group leader, state secretary and minister. His chances are also good now. Welcome back to the Government.
Márton Nagy will be our Minister for Economic Development. We all know that the European economy is in deep trouble. If Hungary wants to develop, we need to take steps which are new, unorthodox and innovative. Escaping from the trap of foreign currency mortgage debt, transforming tax policy and price freezes were all such solutions. I hope we have some left in our armoury. These are the kinds of things that the Minister must dig out and deploy. I expect him to assist the country’s development with innovative economic policy proposals based on Hungarian common sense – even though in the near future there is the danger that a good number of these will not win him universal friendship. The Minister used to be the Deputy Governor of the Hungarian National Bank, meaning that he can survive in all conditions. This capacity will be needed now. I wish you courage, strength and good health in your work.
I have asked Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó to continue to represent Hungarian national interests with his usual tirelessness, to strengthen our relations with our allies, and to seek new trade and investment opportunities. I am asking him to play every instrument, to be as clever as a snake and as gentle as a dove – but most of all to achieve what he needs to achieve. In future Minister Szijjártó will also be responsible for the Paks II nuclear project. All this work would demand several people, but in recent years the Minister has proved that he can be in several places at once. I wish you every success.
Old men to the council room, young men to the battlefield. This is why, four years ago, I sought out Minister Gergely Gulyás. And since then he has refused to grow old. His job is strategic planning, so he has to see not just ministries, but a whole country. I expect him to coordinate the functioning of the ministries, to represent a culture of respect and cooperation, and to develop the techniques for this. This work will never end. He will be given another four years for this task. This ministry is also the Government’s lightning rod, so I ask it to courageously represent the Government’s arguments in intellectual debates about Hungary, both at home and abroad. I wish the Minister every success.
Honourable Speaker, Honourable House, Honourable Members of Parliament,
As the new government’s roster shows, Hungary can face the dangerous years ahead with a strong and capable government – one that is resistant to crises and that has a clear vision for the future. We, the members of the Hungarian government, undertake to represent Hungarian national interests and to defend Hungarian freedom and sovereignty with a sense of responsibility, a determination and a humility commensurate with the weight of the task incumbent upon us. We count on the support of the Ladies and Gentlemen of the House. I ask you to help us in our work.
God above us all, Hungary before all else! Go Hungary, go Hungarians!