Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen, the Balogh family, Executive Director, Honourable Mayor,
I’ve written a short address, but those who spoke before me opted for unconventional approaches, and I will join them in this, as a few things occurred to me which I thought I should perhaps tell you about now.
First of all, I was captivated by the short film we all saw, because it cunningly gave the impression that it was about a factory, about the history of a small enterprise; but if you think about it more deeply, you’ll realise that it was about Hungary. That is how it began in 1990, and that is where we started from after communism: from working in garages, and in sheds; heaven only knows where we got the strength from, and what secret reserves we were able to employ. In other words, we had to start from scratch, from nothing. And it was from scratch, from nothing that Hungary got to where we stand now, thirty years on, able to open a factory such as this. It was a touching film, which was about all of us.
The second thing I’d like to tell you is related to the Executive Director’s words, and will lead us to our friend Ernő, who has been mayor of your town for a long time, and is one of my long-standing brothers in arms. The Honourable Executive Director said that the businesses operating here received – and continue to receive – every assistance from state administration. This is a very important sentence, because everyone must understand – and in this respect Ernő is a good example – that this is possible: that state administration is not there to act as some higher authority, but that it’s there to help those who want to create something of value.
Then it also occurred to me what Mayor Tóth had said earlier: that in 2001 I also had the opportunity to be here, when I had the privilege of handing over a millennium flag of Hungary. I was also here in 2000, in connection with the floods that year, and in 2001 for the millennium flag of Hungary. That was sixteen years ago, and coming here now, to this industrial area, I had to travel through the town, and I saw the miraculous transformation it has undergone in those sixteen years. And then I looked at my preparatory material, which told me that after the civic government returned to office in 2010 Tiszakécske was one of the very few towns which didn’t take part in the government’s debt consolidation programme – because it had no debt. During the very difficult period between 2002 and 2010, which tortured the country, very few towns could claim that they managed to survive – and indeed thrive – without pawning their future, and expecting someone somewhere to bail them out. You are aware, however, that those few settlements which did not need debt relief were given hundreds of millions of forints in development funds in return for their exemplary management. I sincerely hope that you here, in Tiszakécske, also received your share of the funds; I hope that we didn’t just promise it, but that the funds actually got here. This is good news. That’s not always the case, but this is good news now.
The third – or perhaps the fourth – thing that occurred to me is that we are, after all, in a typical small town of the Great Hungarian Plain – or Alföld. When you think about it, knowing a few towns like this, it is important for those living here to know that these are Hungary’s strongest and most dynamically developing communities. We have cities, of course, and we have villages – we have good examples of those as well – but this type of settlement or community, known as the “Alföld small town”, appears over the past thirty years to be the strongest and most dynamically developing form of settlement and form of public administration in Hungary. So I believe that there is a great future for these small towns.
It also occurred to me, Ladies and Gentlemen, that although I was last in Tiszakécske a full sixteen years ago, I’ve visited your county a few times recently. I’ve usually come to this county when we’ve been in trouble. Let’s be clear about this: this county is a great stronghold for the civic, national and Christian forces. If anyone looks at the election results from 1990 onwards, among ourselves we usually say that we don’t observe much divergence from the norm. Over here, the forces representing civic, national and Christian values have continuously won the confidence of the people – regardless of the name of the party at any given time. Over here this world has always voted consistently for these values. From this it also follows that when we’ve been in trouble – and over the past thirty years my party and I have been in some trouble a few times – we’ve always had to retreat to these places. We’ve had to retreat to these safe places: this is where we’ve had to build new relations, and this is where we’ve had to recharge our batteries. This county has always been a great help to us. For this I’m grateful, and I wish to express my thanks to you now.
Therefore, while in terms of family I don’t come from this county, and in that sense don’t belong here, I have some understanding of the people who live here. And as I look at this factory now, I thought I should perhaps also say that this county is an especially strong part of Hungary. I can best describe the people who live here by saying that if they are oppressed, they survive, if they are left in peace, they make progress, and if they are helped, they thrive. What we see around us here is in essence evidence of this. If they’re left in peace, they make progress, but when they’re helped, the sort of community here – which over the past one thousand years has managed to retain a foothold through every kind of historical storm – is still capable of exceptional performance. I would like to congratulate you on this.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would now like to deliver my welcome speech.
Well now, Ladies and Gentlemen,
First of all, I’d like to tell you that this event we’re attending is important not only for the town, but also for the whole country. This is why I thought it important that the Hungarian government should be represented at this event today at a suitably high level. What is happening here today is important for the Hungarian government for three reasons.
First of all it is important because we are opening an industrial facility which is a significant factor in the Hungarian national economy in terms of sheer volume of output. There will be industrial production in this factory which will be conspicuous, and as such will also have relevance for the gross national product.
The second reason is that this has been implemented by a family enterprise. There are many kinds of business in the world, and there is a library of literature on which form of enterprise is the most successful. I believe that the majority of these books claim that family enterprises are the most stable in the long run. If we look at the North of Italy, if we look at Bavaria, if we look at the successful areas of Germany – and there are, of course, enormous international concerns everywhere – we’ll see that in fact businesses in family ownership form the stable base of the economy. I’m convinced that this is also the path for the future of Hungary, and therefore every successful family enterprise is particularly important for the Hungarian government.
And the third reason this project is important for Hungary – and therefore also for the Government – is that it is an enterprise connected to agriculture. The truth is that we have, of course, learnt a great many things over the past one thousand years, and we’re good at a great many things – we even managed to invent a nuclear bomb. But what we’re really good at, what is in our genes, what is handed down from father to son, is agriculture. That is what we’re best at: we are best equipped for cultivation of the highest standard. Therefore every business connected to agriculture which is able to transform agricultural know-how into industrial know-how and commercial capital is particularly important for us. Every project is important, but industrial projects related to agriculture are of particular interest to us. The Hungarian people also have a special characteristic: they, or we, feel most confident when we know that the food we have chosen comes from the Hungarian soil and reaches our tables as a result of the work of Hungarians. I don’t know why, but for Hungarians this is somehow an important criterion. I believe that this is an advantage, rather than a disadvantage, for the future. I sincerely hope that we shall remain a nation and a community with such customs.
I would now also like to congratulate our host, Mr. László Balogh, on everything that we saw in this short film. The figures have already been stated: we’ve all heard about and know the numbers. I would just like to point out that this business probably owes its success to the fact that it has never been frightened of its own shadow; it has never stopped or retreated, but has instead sought paths for the future, and has arrived at where it is now through continuous development. I’d like to congratulate you on having gone beyond our state borders. In my view a successful agricultural enterprise is able to stand on its own two feet in the long run if it doesn’t just produce for the Hungarian market. I believe that the number we have heard – the number of small-scale pasta manufacturing businesses that have disappeared down the years, and how few of them have survived – is linked to the fact that if in an industry like this you’re unable to enter the international market, you can’t survive in Hungary either. This is a major lesson, a big conclusion. I congratulate Executive Director Balogh on having recognised this, and on having had the courage to enter not only neighbouring countries’ markets, but, as we heard, also the Chinese market – which over the next few decades will be the world’s largest.
I’d like to announce that we would be happy to continue to support the developments implemented here – technological developments in particular. Dear residents of Tiszakécske, the situation is that there are hardly any unemployed people in today’s Hungarian economy. There must be some, I’m sure, but as a rule, those who want to work can find a job. Development today no longer lies in just creating new jobs, but in creating new jobs demanding more complex skills and technological know-how. In the decade ahead, the main task will no longer be increasing the number of people in work, as unemployment now stands at around 4 per cent – and 3.5 per cent effectively qualifies as full employment; the future will be about improving the skills of workers and their level of know-how, and raising the technological standards of the machines they use. If projects like that are being considered here, I urge Executive Director Balogh to contact us.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The facility we’re opening here today is also important because recently – and particularly during the economic crisis of 2008 – every European nation learnt that the only way to avoid falling is to stand on two legs. We always need foreign investments: we live in a world economic era in which it’s good for capital investments to come to Hungary and create production facilities. But this is only one of our legs: our other leg should be businesses and capital in Hungarian ownership. If we have both these legs, and they are more or less equally strong, the Hungarian economy cannot be overturned. If, however, we do not pay sufficient attention to Hungarian businesses, Hungarian owners of capital and Hungarian investors, everything may look fine in the short term, but the first slight breeze can overturn the economy – as it did in 2008.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Finally, I’d like to thank everyone who took part in the construction of this plant. This is how we had already envisaged the future back in 1990 – but particularly after 2010: Hungarian architects and Hungarian builders creating factories conceived by Hungarians for Hungarians; factories where Hungarians work to produce excellent products for fellow Hungarians. This is one such story. I ask everyone to remember the film we saw: we should never forget where we started from. No matter how good the Hungarian economic indicators are today, no matter how many successful entrepreneurs we see around us, I ask you to always appreciate and remember the enormous effort with which we clawed our way out of the pit into which the communist regime pushed Hungary – a country which deserved a better fate.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I congratulate László Balogh on this success, on this great story. I hope that in this town – and in the other settlements in Bács-Kiskun County – we can come together like this on many more occasions in order to open ever more Hungarian-owned factories operated by Hungarian people.
Thank you for your attention.
Go for it, Hungary! Go for it, Hungarians!