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Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s speech at the induction ceremony of the Chief of Staff of the Hungarian Defence Forces

 

Honourable President of the Republic, Ladies and Gentlemen,

First of all, I congratulate Ferenc Korom on promotion to Lieutenant General, and his appointment as Chief of Staff. I also thank Minister István Simicskó for his work in recent years. He took over the Ministry three years ago, when Hungary’s southern border was under siege from tens of thousands of migrants. Thank you for your guidance, with which we have been able to build a defence system which since that time has stood its ground, and which defends the security of the Hungarian people and Europe. I also thank Colonel General Tibor Benkő, who has accepted my request to become Minister of Defence in the new government. With this we are reviving an important tradition, which dates back to Lázár Mészáros, who as a soldier became Minister of War in the first Hungarian government. Since the fall of communism, no serving soldier in the Hungarian army has been appointed to lead the Ministry of Defence. It is difficult to say which is the more courageous: for a politician to take the field in battle, as a prime minister once did; or to move from the army to politics, where in the political battlefield bullets often whistle past one’s ears.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This moment is also special because the transfer of the title of Chief of Staff is taking place here in the Cupola Hall of the Parliament Building, in the presence of the Holy Crown. Long ago the custom used to be that when a Hungarian ruler was crowned, they had to ride – if possible – or step onto the coronation mound, and, brandishing the coronation sword toward the four points of the compass in turn, swear an oath to defend the country, whatever direction the enemy may come from. When in the millennium year we brought the Holy Crown into this building, we emphasised that this task of defence now lies with the National Assembly of Hungary and the Hungarian government. The Holy Crown is here in the heart of the Parliament Building to continually remind us that the defence of Hungary is not the task and duty of NATO or the European Union, but of ourselves.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The past two government terms have seen Hungary complete a successful constitutional transformation, a successful transformation in policy on Hungarian communities abroad, a successful economic transformation, and a successful family policy transformation. The priority national task of the government term now commencing is to strengthen national security. The situation today is that security is the most valuable currency of our age. In the nineteen-nineties we were able to see at close quarters that military conflict can break out even in countries neighbouring us. Now we have learnt that conflicts further from us can reach our frontier within a few weeks – and even now millions of immigrants are waiting to set off.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Honourable Generals,

I ask the Chief of Staff to reorganise the Hungarian Defence Forces in response to contemporary challenges. Chief of Staff, we want a modern, combat-ready army committed to its homeland: one which can stand comparison with the armed forces of any other nation. Together with the Minister, you are no doubt aware that our neighbours are continuously and dynamically improving their military capabilities. In the coming years we shall more than double the budget of the Hungarian Defence Forces; therefore we shall create the conditions needed for your work.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

History teaches us that a nation which is unable to protect its country is not worthy of it. A strong Hungary cannot exist without a strong army. To make our army strong again, however, we must first win young people over to the cause of defence. I ask the newly-appointed Chief of Staff of the Hungarian Defence Forces to make the noblest service one can give one’s country – a career in the military – attractive to young people. I wish the new Chief of Staff great success. We all hope that the security of the country has been placed in good hands. We expect you to also set a good example to us, and to enforce the cardinal law of military life among soldiers: “Honour before all else!”