Prime Minister Orbán’s Speech to National Assembly – May 10, 2014

Presidents of the Republic! Esteemed Prime Ministers! Honored House! Ladies and Gentlemen!

Old lesson: what is the first task of those who begin governing? Answer: to restore the correct usage of words. If words are not used correctly, then the meaning of thought is confused. If the meaning of thought is confused, then it is not possible to act precisely. This is why the first thing those who undertake governance should do is place his (or her) thoughts into words, then words into deeds. He (or she) should not tolerate disorder in his (or her) words. Everything hinges upon this.

Honored House!

I will attempt to follow this age-old wisdom as I now deliver the first speech as prime minister in the new parliamentary cycle. The Hungarian people decided on April 6. The people decided on its future in a manner befitting a thousand-year European state, according to procedures recognized throughout the world; that is, it decided on its future in a democratic way. My first thought is one of thanks. I thank all those who participated in the elections regardless of which political force or candidate they voted for. I am thankful that their participation strengthened national independence and the principle of freedom around which so many of us have rallied over the past centuries. Those who participate in elections, and particularly those who participate in the election campaign, are indeed sustaining our homeland’s tradition of independence and the fight for freedom, since the meaning of peacetime elections is none other than finding an answer to the question of how we can preserve our national independence and how we can best organize life in our homeland in accordance with the rule of freedom.

Naturally, I give special thanks to those citizens who supported us, the civil, Christian, national powers and me, personally, as well. I know that I owe a special responsibility to them, because they have placed their trust in us and it is our responsibility to make good use of this trust. I will not forget about my obligations to them. Not even if I know that the government and the prime minister must serve the entire country, the entire homeland, every citizen of the nation regardless of whom they voted for on April 6. And provocations will not change my conviction in this regard. It is for this reason that the government currently being formed under my leadership, though its stands upon the foundation of a two-thirds parliamentary majority, will always represent the three thirds; that is, it will strive to serve all Hungarians. Today these words weigh carry even more weight than usual. For the first time in decades, the entire Hungarian nation—the mother country, the Hungarians of the Carpathian Basin and those Hungarians living outside the Carpathian Basin—have been able to participate in the joint decision of the nation. Therefore this parliament can rightfully feel itself to be the parliament of the nation and the government can rightfully regard itself as the government of the nation. The way I look at it, this is not an exaggeration and not overreaching. Rather, it is a commitment, a weight upon the shoulders and, above all, a responsibility. I thank the Hungarians who live outside the mother country for giving their overwhelming support to our policy aimed at the unification of the Hungarian nation above and beyond borders. 

Esteemed Fellow Representatives! 

I accepted the president’s request to form a government. I took the oath of office. I am beginning my seventh four-year cycle as a representative. Twenty-four years in parliament are behind me; I have worked 16 years in opposition and eight years as a governing-party representative in the position of prime minister. I understand what Churchill was thinking about when he said that politics is more dangerous than war, because in war they only kill a person once. If I count my years spent in the anti-communist resistance movements, I have been treading the path of Hungarian politics, one that cannot be referred to in the least as comfortable and smooth, for nearly 30 years. These 30 years of experience have endowed me with the right to say yes to the president’s request without hesitation and to take my oath of office.

Honored Ladies and Gentlemen!

I have learned that victory is a good thing, though I have also learned that defeat is not in vain. In fact, for those who are determined, for those who are not afraid of hard work, for those who do not give up, their enemies and defeats help them down their path. The only question is, are we reading and understanding the deeper meaning of our defeats, our failures and our setbacks correctly? A scientist standing above the smouldering ruins of his burned-down experimental laboratory said: this fire certainly had one benefit: along with my laboratory, it consumed all of my mistakes as well. However, now for the second-consecutive occasion, I do not have to face the consequences of defeat and failure, but of victory and success. The point of departure for the four years ahead of us and the starting line for my work as prime minister is the deep and precise understanding of the fact that the voters have provided us with a mandate to continue our work even after four such difficult years in which we completely renewed and reorganized Hungary. The road we have taken was neither easy nor comfortable. To the contrary: we had to struggle to overcome heavy difficulties and opponents of superior strength, we had to pass through an obstacle course of state debt, a budget that had been riddled with holes, financial dictates, banks, monopolies, cartels and international bureaucrats—not just the government, but the whole country. The voters nevertheless voted to continue down this road. I read their decision to mean above all the desire to put an end to sterile debate.

Honored House!

It is part of the nature of human beings that after being prohibited from something for a long period of time, once the prohibition has passed they tend to seek that thing to an excessive degree, to go to the opposite extreme. For 40 years debate was prohibited, and now that it has been permitted for 25 years already, Hungarian public life consists of nothing but debate. We take a step in one direction, then another, everybody repeats their own opinion over and over and in the end we stay put right where we are, we move in place. Hungarian politics has not found the proper balance between debate, agreement, concord and action. It is for this reason that in spite of freedom, democracy and the market economy, in spite of the unmistakable signs of development, the common feeling is nevertheless that we are moving in place, that we are not moving forward. According to the current expression of public will, it is better for the country to continue on the distinctive and resolute direction that has been established rather than to reopen the era of sterile debate.  We have held enough debate on the main direction and the basic principles so that I can quote the concise, though somewhat imprecise, catchword popular among the voters: it is time to work, let the era of acts and deeds continue.

Following the second confirmation, for me the Fundamental Law is not the subject of debate, the organization of society based on respect for human dignity, freedom and responsibility is not subject to debate, just as the work-based economy and the policy of unifying the nation are not subject to debate. There will and must be debate on the ways and means and the details, but the fundamental issues have been decided, the voters put an end to the debate. Therefore, the way I see it, these elections confirmed the second System Change [rendszerváltás] carried out in 2010. It confirmed that the Hungarian economy should be built upon work rather than speculation, that we should follow the principle of mutual responsibility rather than the doctrines of liberalism. Instead of submitting to the global powers, we should start to preserve our national independence, instead of internationalism, we should raise our children to love the homeland and that instead of permissive, all-tolerating disorder, there should finally be order, which it both dignified and consistent.

Honored Ladies and Gentlemen!

The April election results also signify a commitment to unity. There is no sense in entering into number games regarding the relation between the support given to the governing parties and the total number of voters. The election victory was convincing. At the very most, we can add that we will take into consideration the opinion of the opposition leaders, who during the campaign said: those who stay home are voting for the government. Silence implies consent, as Hungarians say. Even if I have certain doubts regarding the validity of this claim, a new parliamentary cycle is beginning, so let’s make a gesture toward the opposition and accept their assessment.

Honored Ladies and Gentlemen!

In the modern era, which is built upon argumentation, comparison of the weight  of opinions and the representation of our own interests, neither cooperation nor unity can be complete, no matter how much we would like them to be. We, those who believe in cooperation and unity, are aware of this law emerging from the depth of the human soul. This insight makes it possible for us to harmonize national unity with democracy. The main point is that the forces aimed at achieving unity received a sweeping majority; that is, the middle-of-the-road forces triumphed. I regard this enormous multitude of people to be the European center. The European center that explicitly rejects extremist politics. The term “extremist” as a political stigma is used more often than it should be in Hungarian public life to serve as a cheap political bludgeon. That is why it is justifiable for me to make it clear what we will regard over the next four years to be extremism against which—and I would like to say this in advance, without equivocation—we will stand in opposition resolutely, consistently and enduringly.

I regard politics of any kind to be extremist that represents a danger to the Hungarians. I consider placing the rights of the criminal before those of the victim to be dangerous and extremist. I consider economic-policy proposals that lack common sense and reason to be dangerous and extremist. I also consider policy, whether it calls itself right-wing or left-wing, calling for money to be taken from working people so that it can be given to those who are able-bodied though do not want to work, to be dangerous and extremist; that is, I consider support for unemployment rather than employment to be extremist. And I consider policy that aims to sacrifice the one-thousand-year-old Hungary on the altar of some kind of European United States to be dangerous and extremist for the Hungarian people. I oppose this and consider both it and the resulting submissive conduct on the foreign-political stage to be undesirable. However, I will likewise regard the program of leaving the European Union to be a dangerous and extremist. We, Hungarians, with our stormy history behind us, must understand that those who do not sit at the dinner table should not be surprised to find themselves on the menu. It is for this reason that the government’s policy will be aimed at national cooperation and unity and strengthening of the European center. Looking at the next four years, I do not worry about either right-wing or left-wing extremists. It is in the nature of things these days that water levels are constantly changing. Therefore it is not a question of how high the water is, but how high the levees are and in this election the Hungarians have built high levees, which guarantee the stability of the government and through it all of Hungary over the four years ahead of us.

Honored Ladies and Gentlemen! 

In the course of the election campaign we left not a moment of doubt regarding our plans and intentions: we will continue, please support us so that we can continue, that’s what we asked for. But actually we asked for much more than that: we asked to continue together. It is my intention to continue, just as we have over the past four years, the policy of national consultation. I will look for the opportunity to ensure that the most diverse forms of public participation present themselves to the Hungarians. I have never passed the responsibility—the government responsibility for final political decisions—onto others and I will not place such responsibility on the shoulders of others in the future either. People placed this responsibility on our shoulders so that we should carry it, though this does not exclude the possibility of us listening to people—in fact it makes this possibility necessary. We need your voices and your opinions. A decade and a half ago I became the youngest elected prime minister in Hungary’s history. Believe me, I am no longer so young that I know the answer to everything.

Honored House! 

In 2010 we decided to break with the liberal social concepts, principles and methods that had predominated for twenty years between 1990 and 2010. In its place, as the Fundamental Law to which we have all sworn an oath lays out clearly before us, we are connecting freedom and responsibility, that is, following the principle of the mutual undertaking of responsibility. For twenty years the notion predominated, the approach to life received political recognition and support, that everything was permitted that did not violate the freedom of others. But because there is no answer to the question of who will decide what violates the freedom of others, in real life power—those possessing superior power—answered it. Therefore this notion proved to be counterfeit and hypocritical in spite of all its intellectual elegance and attractiveness. It was precisely for this reason that we had to discard it and elevate a new principle into its place. More precisely, we had to put the ancient moral law back into its rightful place: do not do to others what you would not want others to do to you. In fact, in the name of Christian-inspired politics, we want to add the law to it that do to others as what you would want others to do to you.

Honored House!

I am aware that motivations emerging from deep within the soul should and must regulate human behavior and not external behavioral commands, particularly not government decisions and most of all not appeals from the head of government. Internal conviction must regulate our relations toward life, the elderly, children, fellow human beings, those of the opposite gender, the truth and toward the community itself. We can simply refer to this as conscience. This is why politics, government and the prime minister must proceed with heightened caution in this regard, knowing that they are treading on thin ice and that good intentions and good will, more precisely, their good intentions and good will can easily turn against them and appear to be unwarranted interference and aggression. At the same time, Honored House, we cannot accept general conditions in which those who act conscientiously and people who observe the law continually get the short end of the stick while the unscrupulous, the pharisees, those who evade the regulations always come off well and gain advantage. If the country comes under these conditions, then those participating in public life cannot remain silent and cannot remain passive. With due circumspection and moderation, with respect for the prohibition sign of personal dignity, we must take a role in restoring the country’s proper order. I expect this from myself, from those who work in the government and I ask this from you, parliamentary representatives, as well. 

New rules have been forming the relationship between the individual and the community in the new era that has been under construction since 2010. The liberal constitution did not obligate governments to serve national interests, did not obligate them to recognize and strengthen the attachment of Hungarians living throughout the world to our nation, did not defend communal property and did not defend people from the plundering and indebtedness of the country. I will be committed in the future as well to ensuring that people have an interest in work and performance and that the connection between the life of the community and that of the nation is preserved and even becomes stronger. In my view, society is not simply a collection of individuals, but a community, an organic structure. This national- and Christian-inspired social interpretation will provide my work with its theoretical foundation as well as its objective.

Honored Ladies and Gentlemen! 

In my experience prosperity and the mood of a country are interdependent. Prosperity can grow only in that country in which self-knowledge is precise, in which self-esteem is adequate and in which there lives a feeling of pride; that is, one that is aware of its opportunities, does not consider itself to be inferior to anybody and whose consciousness of its own greatness is built upon true achievement. Such countries are capable of respectable economic results, are capable of continual growth and are capable of providing their citizens with the opportunity to thrive. That is, they possess the capability for peaceful growth.  For this, Honored House, power is needed, because only the strong can provide peace, ony the strong can establish peace, though, my honored ladies and gentlemen, peace is not equal to the absence of war. Peace is rather the fruit of truth. And truth, furthermore, consists of everybody getting what they deserve and doing what is expected of them. However getting what you deserve and doing what is expected of you, justice or the lack of justice, cannot serve as an exemption from the obligations stemming from our life circumstances. After 30 years of political experience, the conviction has developed inside me that a balanced and nuanced understanding of justice creates a country in which peace prevails, in which the fundamental mood is one of optimism and which is capable of competing economically with the other countries of the world.

Esteemed Fellow Representatives! 

We live in an open world economy. Therefore just, though economically uncompetitive countries sooner or later begin to decline and sink into poverty. And poverty gives birth to jealousy, which brings an end to peace and at the same time creates ripe ground for conflict of the most petty and the most serious type. And at the same time, in countries that are economically competitive, though are organized in an unjust way, the strong trample the weak and there is no respect for the human dignity of others, thereby producing the tinder of dissatisfaction, grievance, anger and hatred that consumes peace. I am therefore striving to put together a government that is capable of creating a Hungary that is both just and competitive.

Honored Ladies and Gentlemen!

It is my duty to say a few words about the future government’s European policy. Hungary is part of the Western alliance system, NATO and the European Union. There is no doubt about this, nor will there be during our administration. We are, however, members of these alliances and not hostages. Obligations stemming from our membership in these alliances do not extend to eyesight: nobody can expect us to pretend that we are blind, that we do not see what is going on around us in the world. And these obligations do not extend to speech either: nobody can expect us to pretend that we are mute, to not express in words what we see taking place around us. And these obligations do not extend to thought either: nobody can expect us to pretend that we are blockheads, that we do not have a single coherent thought about what we must and should do. Our European policy will be characterized by clear-sightedness, open dialogue and bold thinking. Following the 2008 financial crisis, central Europe cannot be satisfied with copying western policy. Europe’s global economic, commercial and political influence is declining day by day. Europe is our home and the home of other central-European peoples as well, thus it is our personal interest and our personal obligation to change this situation in a manner befitting good allies.

Central Europe and Hungary, Honored House, have their own proposals for which the hard work of the past years and the economic and political successes provide the collateral. We want a Europe that respects its own roots, respects Christianity and provides nations with the honor they deserve. We want a Europe that realizes that the community which is not capable of sustaining itself biologically is doomed to disappear. We do not want policies supporting immigration and do not want masses of unmanageable, tension-generating immigrants, though we do want support for bearing and raising children and we do want to reverse population decline in a natural way. We want recognition and respect for families and we reject the relativization, broadening and emptying of the notions of marriage and the family. We demand support, protection and physical-emotional security for children. We want a Europe that supports the entrepreneurial spirit, that is capable of creating full employment and eliminates the European competitive disadvantage stemming from the high price of energy. We want radical and rapid cuts in the price of energy throughout Europe, interconnected European energy networks and secure energy supplies in the entire continent.

Honored Presidents! Honored Fellow Representatives! Honored House!

We are placing economic connections at the center of our foreign policy; we will continue the Eastern Opening, we will strengthen our economic presence and increase our economic weight in the Carpathian Basin. This is in the interest of Hungary, of the neighboring countries and of the European Union as well. The resolute strengthening of regional economic relations does not run counter to the distinctive course in terms of national policy. The Hungarian issue has been unresolved since the Second World War. We regard the Hungarian issue to be a European issue. Hungarians living in the Carpathian Basin deserve dual nationality, they deserve collective rights and they deserve autonomy. This is the viewpoint we shall support on the international political stage. All of this is of particular current interest as a result of the situation surrounding the 200,000-strong Hungarian community in Ukraine, which must receive dual nationality, must receive collective rights in their entirety and must receive the possibility of self-administration. This is our clear expectation toward the new Ukraine currently under formation, which enjoys our sympathy and support in its work to establish a democratic Ukraine.

Honored House! Honored Ladies and Gentlemen!

We all know that numerous Hungarians have succeeded in rising to among the best in the world. Nobel Prize winners, artists, Olympic athletes. A feeling that something is missing is nevertheless at work within us. If so many have succeeded individually, then why doesn’t it succeed together, as a nation? Even if it is precisely this that we want—to build a prosperous and secure national community in which success is not the exception, but the experience of the majority, in which mutual success boosts all of those who contributed to it through their own achievements. Although we have already done much, we still have much more to do so that we may live in such a Hungary. In order for this to happen, we must first make it impossible to thrive at the expense of the nation, we must seek and I will seek those ways and means by which the Hungarians can take care of their own personal matters, can obtain their own personal profit in such a way as to benefit the entire community. For the first time in decades we have reached the point at which the economy is not growing on credit, the domain of money is in balance and at the same time the domain of enterprises, production and work is expanding. This can fill us with hope for the future.

Honored House!

The prime minister is expected to say where Hungary is headed. And although the prime minister is not by any means omnipotent and certainly not a soothsayer, it is befitting to give an intelligent response. We are moving toward the middle. We are building a new central Europe that is capable of catching up with the western half of Europe. We will move toward the middle of the European standard of living and quality of life over the next four years. We will not yet reach the highest level, but we are headed upward. We are headed in the direction of strengthening the middle class, that is, the large majority of Hungarians. We are headed toward an economy with a healthy structure based on work, knowledge, property and free enterprise. Our common and family financial matters are headed toward balance. Everyday subsistence is creating less and less financial dependence and debt, is built less and less upon inactivity and assistance. Workplace, knowledge, property, enterprise. All of these bring income and money. But they give something else that is much more important than money and that is security. If my head, my mind, my hands and my muscles are needed, if I have repaid my debts, if I have savings, if I can live in my own home and, moreover, there a stable government leading the country, then I am secure. Hungary will  move in this direction over the next four years.

Honored House! 

How far can Hungary go in four years? We can go far and high. Now is the chance to leave behind everything that has brought us down. Large collective and individual debt. Knowledge that could be utilized only partially or not at all, vocational training that existed only on paper, unbearable utility fees, the vulnerability of everyday life. Security, employment and a home will be attainable, good training and quality knowledge will be available.

Honored Fellow Representatives!

Finally, I have to answer just one more question: what makes a good prime minister? József Eötvös has a parable about the steam engine, more precisely, about the expert who is perfectly familiar with the structure of the engine, every wheel, every single bolt and axle. However, what he doesn’t understand is precisely how the whole thing works, because he has no idea about the nature of steam, that is, about the force that brings the whole thing into movement and keeps it moving. He knows the how of things, but not the why.

This situation applies to the state mechanism as well. It doesn’t matter if we are familiar with its structure if we do not understand the national spirit and national will, the soul and character of the nation that permeate the entire state. If we do not understand these things, the constitution becomes rusty, the statute books begin to creak, the institutions begin to fissure and the entire structure ceases to function properly. If the government, at its head the prime minister, the parliamentary representatives and those who belong to the world of politics understand the spirit, soul and will of the nation, then they will serve those who elected them well. I would like to serve well, I would like to be a good prime minister to this unique, special, talented people that has suffered through so much; to this brave, resourceful, gallant and industrious nation. I would be happy if it were not necessary for it to make any more sacrifices, because it has already suffered inordinately for so many centuries on end. However I know that the future, whose European horizon is much cloudier than it should be, will present us with new challenges and ordeals, because this is its nature. No matter how it turns out to be, you can be assured that even the necessary sacrifices will serve to benefit this great community that includes every single Hungarian.

Honored House! 

We must serve in such a way that the government and state structure that provide a framework to the collective life of the nation are always infused with spirit, purpose and reason, always determined by the consciousness of common fate and responsibility. 

I want to serve this command to the best of my knowledge and with all my might. I ask God Almighty, if He has already brought me this far, carried me on an eagle’s wings, to give me the strength necessary to carry out those responsibilities that press upon me now and those that await me. I ask that loyalty and insight always guide my actions.

Soli Deo gloria! Glory to God Alone!

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