Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s statement in Parliament, responding to reactions to his address before the start of daily business
21 September 2020, Budapest

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

We haven’t heard anything new, and I don’t want to say anything new either. But parliamentary courtesy demands that I say a few words in response.

First of all, the former prime minister said arrogance comes before collapse. This is a valuable observation, which is underlined by his personal example. Thank you for the warning! As to whether or not the European Union is a dragon, I believe that there’s a conceptual difference or misunderstanding here, because the European Union is not in Brussels, and therefore we don’t have a dispute with the European Union. The European Union is in Warsaw, Budapest, Berlin and Paris – because Europe is an alliance of nations, the European Union is a community of nations. We may have disputes with certain European institutions. You completely misunderstand this, and as far as I can see the Left as a whole also fails to see this difference, and to distinguish between individual European institutions and a European Union comprising nations. As a result, the Left always sees our disputes with institutions – which we undoubtedly have – as disputes with Europe; this is a complete misunderstanding. Please think this through.

I feel that what you said about the freedom of academia, the arts and expression is important. I remember that when a left-wing government was in office, the Minister of the Economy said that when taking money from the Academy, what came to his mind is that one rarely consults frogs before draining their swamp. He experienced no negative consequences from this. So much for academic freedom. I remember this, so we warmly welcome your comments about the freedom of academia and the arts. But when we hear you talk about freedom of speech, what springs to our minds is that you had people’s eyes shot out. You ordered mounted police to charge against the people! You had innocent people indiscriminately and bloodily beaten in the streets – including women! Don’t you remember this? Dear Jobbik, these are your new-found friends. Don’t you remember this? They had people’s eyes shot out, and people bloodily beaten. Everyone saw it. Don’t you remember this? Dear Jobbik, it’s one thing for you to be in alliance with them now, but you’re also applauding the contribution of the man who ordered all this!

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I’d like to say two things about preparations. First of all, I’d like to thank the Operational Group – which consists of many people, not just a few, because there are several task forces working behind it. I’d like to thank every member of the Operational Group for working every day throughout the summer. I’d especially like to thank Deputy Prime Minister Pintér – who was in charge of this work – and Minister Kásler, who assisted the work throughout. Those who now claim that the country isn’t prepared aren’t arguing with the Government, they aren’t questioning the work of the Government. In Hungary throughout the summer thousands of people worked hard to prepare the healthcare system and the whole country for the second wave. When you question the country’s state of preparedness, you’re questioning the work of many thousands of people. You over there on the other side should at last understand that it is not the Government that is seeking to defend itself, but Hungary. It is not the Government that is in difficulties, but Hungary. We are all mounting the defence. Except you, of course, as you’ve made it clear that even in the pandemic you have a single goal: to topple the Government. This is all you can come up with. Everyone is taking part in the defence operation, everyone is helping the country, everyone is coming together; except for you, who, even in times like these, can only think of power and money.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The leader of Jobbik’s parliamentary group stated this very clearly just now. He said that they regard both the virus and the Government as their opponents. This is a problem! You need to understand that you can regard the Government as an opponent, but it’s a different kind of opponent than the virus, because the virus kills people. So – despite their animosity towards the Government – I’d like to ask opposition parties to make a distinction between the Government and the country, between your hostility to us and the way you should act now in the pandemic. Do not hate us like the virus! The virus kills people. So please lay aside the thought that you have to hate and fight the virus and the Government at the same time; from the country’s point of view this is harmful, disadvantageous and immoral. In the spring you refused to cooperate with us because you said that we had introduced a special legal order, and that under such circumstances you’d be unable to cooperate with us. Well, now there’s no special legal order. So why aren’t you cooperating with us now? There is no special legal order. Why aren’t you taking part in our joint defence operation? Instead of doing that, the leader of Jobbik’s parliamentary group reminds us of the Szerencs by-election, and speaks up for the poor. I respectfully ask you to intervene to ensure that Jobbik’s candidate in Szerencs finally pays the seamstresses he employs. If you want to help the poor, at least help those who your candidate isn’t paying. You also mentioned the minimum wage. Jobbik wasn’t a parliamentary party at the time, and so they might not be aware of this, but I can tell you that in 2002 the minimum wage was 50,000 forints. Then the communists came back. In 2010 when they left power again, the minimum wage was 73,000 forints. They managed to increase it from fifty thousand forints to 73,000 forints. If you look at the figures now, you’ll see that today the minimum wage is 161,000 forints. You can see the difference and the trend. Don’t hamper our work; instead help us so we can continue to increase the minimum wage.

First of all, I’d like to congratulate group leader Bertalan Tóth on having been elected President of the MSZP. But I’d like to remind you that there might be some misunderstanding between us, which I’ll gladly correct. You said that our education policy and its conceptual foundations make children subservient. Obviously I don’t think that you said this maliciously; clearly there must be some misunderstanding here. In my view, patriotic education doesn’t make our children subservient. We want patriotic education, we want them to understand and to carry forward everything that our forebears brought together, built, created, and everything they conceived intellectually. This is all we want. This is not subservience. We want to raise our children as patriots. This is a complicated process, and it’s not easy: you’re a family man yourself, and you know that it’s not easy, because children don’t simply stand to attention and obey commands. It’s a major pedagogical achievement to lead them towards the understanding that being patriotic is a fine thing, but this is not at all the same as making them subservient. I think you must have somehow misunderstood this distinction. The leader of the parliamentary group also spoke about pensioners. This always troubles me, because, after all, one wants to believe that time, experience and facts count for something in politics. When you start talking about pensioners, the only thing that comes to mind is this: weren’t you the ones who took a month’s pension away from them? We’re now working to give that back to them. Right now, from 1 January, we’re beginning to reinstitute the thirteenth month’s pension. We’re now beginning to give them back what you took away, and I’d like to confirm that we will do that. You’re always taking us to task over the debts of families, but as I recall what mostly drove families to bankruptcy was foreign currency debt; and we – the whole financial team in government – had to make enormous efforts to rescue them from this trap. The former prime minister is right in pointing out that arrogance ends in tears, and as I don’t want to fall into that trap I’ll say this with due modesty: it’s also worth remembering that, if we look at the percentage of family support in Hungary’s budgetary policy, we can see that we in Hungary spend far more of our budget proportionally on family support than anywhere else in the whole of Europe. The whole of Europe! This is despite the fact that we’re not Europe’s richest country. Yet that’s the situation.

Honourable Speaker, Fellow MPs,

The MSZP demands the reduction of gas and electricity prices. Well done! But I seem to recall that when you were in government, you tripled the price of gas and doubled the price of electricity. Do you think this is the right approach? You could say, “We’ve already made this mistake, we raised the prices of electricity and gas, don’t make the same mistake”. And I promise you we won’t. Because we’re the ones who have reduced them and we are the party of reductions in household utility charges, while you’ve always been on the side of increasing utility charges. This is the difference. Please don’t forget it!

I’ve been engaged in several arguments with Mrs. Schmuck. I don’t want to repeat them now, and neither do I want to joke about them, but I liked it when you said that you can’t imagine how we could overcome this crisis. I realised that it’s a stroke of luck that you’re in opposition! I’ve personally heard the debate between several opposition MPs and Minister Kásler about training personnel. Mr. Kásler clearly explained to them how we train people, how many specialists there are, and what progress we’re making in training resident doctors. The truth is that we not only have enough equipment, but we also have enough personnel to operate our equipment.

Despite all disputes, it’s difficult to understand why my fellow MP Tímea Szabó is opposed to temperature checks in schools. I think it’s needed. I don’t understand why she’s mocking the Operational Group because of their decision to rule that entertainment and hospitality venues must close no later than 11.00 p.m. Naturally this can be debated, but when it comes to simple things like this my attitude is that it’s best for us to listen to experts. On several occasions those experts have clearly answered our question by saying that yes, they see this as necessary and we should take this step. Neither do I quite understand why – as you’ve suggested – we should be ashamed that the Government’s introduction of a fixed price for the virus test has resulted in that price being reduced from around 30,000 forints to 19,500 forints. I think this was the right thing to do. And while I don’t want to accuse you of anything, I’d like to say that anyone who today argues against a fixed official price is arguing for test speculators. As regards pay rises for healthcare workers, you said we should increase their salaries by 50 per cent. I’d like to inform you that during the current parliamentary term, nurses will receive a 72 per cent pay rise, and Ministers Kásler and Pintér are also working on implementing a breakthrough pay rise for doctors. Please support us in these efforts.

Honourable Speaker,

Finally, I’d like to say that my fellow MPs can be sure of one thing: we shall do everything we can to defend Hungary and we shall not change our methods. We shall defend ourselves with national unity, we shall defend Hungary together, and if opposition Members of Parliament change their minds, they can join this united effort.

Thank you.