For centuries Europe was the world’s leading political and economic power, but it seems to have forgotten what it owed this competitive advantage to, the Prime Minister said, stressing that above all this requires an alliance between science and politics.
By Mr. Orbán’s account, these two fields can only make progress if they go hand in hand, and therefore in Hungary the future and quality of Hungarian science are a policy issue: it is not a party issue, but one of national policy, he stressed. He said that Hungary does not have a nuclear arsenal, major oil reserves or a population of a hundred million, but it does have a very special mentality and important scientific traditions.
In today’s world there is cut-throat competition for top scientists, the Prime Minister pointed out. He said that now not only the West, but also the East there are research conditions in place which are a magnet for talented researchers. The Hungarian government and the Hungarian Academy of Sciences cannot resign themselves to this intellectually subordinate and vulnerable situation, he added.
Mr. Orbán thanked the Academy for having launched the “Dynamism” research programme, which was launched in 2009 with five research teams and aid of HUF 500 million: both the number of research teams and available grants have since multiplied. He said that the Government entered into an alliance with the Academy a few years ago, and since then the following grants have been made: HUF 9.5 billion for completion of the Science Research Centre’s new building; HUF 8.5 billion for the CERN-Wigner Data Centre; and HUF 12 billion to the National Brain Research Programme for the period 2014–2017. In addition to these programmes, funds dedicated to research rose from 1 per cent of the budget in 2010 to 1.4 per cent by 2016.
As he said, in 2008 Hungary collapsed financially, and while it has already repaid its IMF loans, it still needs to reduce its sovereign debt. Taking this into consideration, the increase in funding allocated to research can be seen as remarkable, he pointed out, adding that the sums spent on science have proved to be good investments.
Mr. Orbán said that the Government is seeking to ensure that Hungary becomes Central Europe’s most competitive country, and to this end there are plans to allocate HUF 1,200 billion to research, development and innovation up to 2020. These grants amount to 1.8 per cent of GDP, which approximates to the EU’s 1.9 per cent average, he added.
The Prime Minister said that before the opening of the General Meeting he had agreed with László Lovász, President of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, that the Government will continue to support the Academy’s research programmes in the future.
Mr. Orbán welcomed the fact that the Academy is planning to make major progress in the near future in the fields of water science, agricultural innovation and methodology, and warned that in the period ahead climate change will be one of the greatest challenges for the Carpathian Basin.