In his address delivered before the ministers took their oaths and after the decree of the President of the Republic on the appointment of ministers was read out, the Prime Minister highlighted that the present-day threats and in particular, the war designated the tasks of the next Hungarian government.
“To preserve and even strengthen the physical, material, intellectual and cultural security of the Carpathian Basin and Hungary, to support Hungarian families, to capitalise Hungarian businesses and to keep the Hungarian economy on a course of growth,” he listed, adding that he invited the members of Hungary’s next government to this joint project in light of this.
He said out of the will of members of the Hungarian electorate, since 2010 he has had the opportunity to introduce the members of the new government of Hungary for the fourth time, and overall for the fifth time. Yet, the situation is unparalleled in the post-1990 history of Hungary, and electors should be thanked for the fact that on 3 April “they declared the will of the people with unprecedented clarity,” he stated.
He stressed that since 1990 never before had there been such overwhelming and uniform electoral will behind a single government as there is behind the government about to enter into office, “this is partly deserved and partly advanced trust”. He expects members of the government to preserve the trust they earned and to realise the trust that was advanced, Mr Orbán stated.
He took the view that this will be an especially trying task because “barely have we recovered from the coronavirus, there is now a war in our neighbourhood, while in Brussels the compass has gone haywire, and so we can’t expect any help from there”. He recalled that he had been a Member of Parliament and had taken part in external politics for 32 years, but never before had he seen as much uncertainty regarding the future as today. He added that the strong electoral will combined with the uncertainty of the future imposed greater responsibility on the new government than ever before.
According to the Prime Minister, the decade between 2020 and 2030 will be a period of threats, uncertainty and wars. In 2020-2021 we had the coronavirus pandemic, while since the beginning of 2022 a war has been waged on the territory of our eastern neighbour, he recalled.
He is of the opinion that in consequence of these phenomena, the world has found itself overwhelmed with floods of refugees, unprecedented energy and raw material price rises and inflation. The biggest geopolitical rearrangement of the 21st century to date and a global energy and food crisis are threatening us all at once.
He highlighted that the energy and food crisis will destabilise populous, but vulnerable countries which could induce new wars and mass migration on a scale that is even greater than that we experienced in 2015. This will pose an enormous challenge to the richer half of the world, including Hungary, he added.
He said this would be a formidable task even “for an excellently managed European Union that is in top shape, but today the EU “is anything but an excellently managed organisation that is in top shape”. We tend to see belated action, tend to hear confused ideologies, and tend to experience hasty and unreasonable decisions,” he said.
According to Mr Orbán, during such a period Hungary cannot afford “the luxury of irresponsibility, dissent and weakness,” meaning that at this time we need a truly tough government.
The Prime Minister said he had asked Judit Varga to lead the Ministry of Justice. He highlighted that it was the Justice Minister’s job to enforce the provisions of the Fundamental Law and to defend constitutionality, and therefore she had been given a veto in relation to the proposals of all ministries.
He added that today Ferenc Deák’s portfolio was also responsible for the government’s EU relations. No one envies the head of the ministry for that, he said, stressing that the Minister has been a firm representative of the Hungarian national interests in Brussels disputes also to date, and is expected to remain that also in the future. This will not be easy, and he therefore wished the minister much strength and perseverance.
Regarding Sándor Pintér, who will again be in charge of the Ministry of the Interior, the Prime Minister said they had served together for 16 years, and during this period he had accomplished every single task entrusted to him with exemplary accuracy. Therefore, he enjoys Mr Orbán’s unconditional trust. He has restored public security, radically reduced crime rates, spectacularly cut crimes both against property and human life, rejuvenated and renewed the police force, and the police force regained its reputation and prestige. The time for police jokes is over, Mr Orbán said.
During both the coronavirus pandemic and the Ukraine refugee crisis, law enforcement agencies have made an invaluable contribution; Hungary will be in great need of these skills also during the period ahead, the Prime Minister laid down. He said Mr Pintér had organised the public works scheme with which they had been able to help hundreds of thousands of unemployed people in a difficult situation back to the labour market.
Upon the reorganisation of the system of municipalities and the management of the health care operational group, everyone could see that he is able to take care of the swift revamping of any major state system, he pointed out. He underlined that while the ministry would continue to bear the name ‘Ministry of the Interior’, in actual fact, this would be a ministry of internal affairs.
Experience is the greatest value in politics, that is what truly counts, this is why Mr Pintér was entrusted with the management of the most difficult areas, he said, wishing the Interior Minister all the very best.
Zsolt Semjén will again be Minister for Nation Policy, Nationality Policy, Church Policy and Church Diplomacy. The Prime Minister said as Deputy Prime Minister he will continue to remain responsible for promoting affairs concerning historical churches and Hungarian communities in the Carpathian Basin.
“Every Hungarian is responsible for every Hungarian; if this is true – and it is – then Zsolt Semjén is responsible for representing the entire Hungarian community around the world,” he stressed.
He underlined that he was expected to realise in daily life the ideal of a united Hungarian nation laid down in the Fundamental Law. The Christian Democratic People’s Party constitutes the government’s spiritual-ideological core, and he therefore welcomes its president in the cabinet with deep appreciation, he said.
Regarding János Csák, who will head the Ministry for Culture and Innovation, he said his ministry should be called ‘ministry of future affairs’. His portfolio includes family policy, culture, higher education, vocational training and innovation.
He highlighted that in the European Union, pro rata Hungary spends the most on promoting families and culture; Hungarian higher education – where the most significant developments of the past 30 years began – is fast catching up with these areas. The Minister will face a complex task, his work will require a special person who is well-acquainted with the realm of business, does not lose his way in the modern labyrinths of intellectual debates, is disciplined, whilst seeking ways to transcend the limits of today’s realities. For this we need a true Klebelsberg character, he said, and wished him all the very best.
Speaking about Finance Minister Mihály Varga, he highlighted that it was his far-sighted rigour that made it possible to maintain the balance between growth and financial discipline during the years of the challenge posed by the coronavirus pandemic, and he is expected to do the same now when the war is forcing the economy to face yet another trial.
In the context of the portfolio of Minister for Technology and Industry László Palkovics, Mr Orbán recalled that industry and the energy sector were facing a major transformation; it is his responsibility to continue the turnaround that we started in this field in the past four years, and to adjust the Hungarian energy system to the challenges of the new era. As part of this, he mentioned that Mr Palkovics was required to manage the situation that had developed due to the process of transformation, increasing consumption and rising prices, whilst reducing the economy’s harmful emissions and coordinating the criteria of economic growth and environmental protection.
Regarding Minister of Agriculture István Nagy’s portfolio, the Prime Minister recalled that we had taken a major step forward in recent years, the country was able to supply 20 million people with food, national rural development grants were rising at rocket speed, while farmers would finally have a chance to definitively overcome the disadvantage they had sustained during communism compared with the West. He added that the old-new minister would be required to ward off the consequences of the imminent global food crisis and to further strengthen the positions of Hungarian agriculture abroad.
The Prime Minister highlighted Minister for Regional Development Tibor Navracsics’s extensive experience in EU affairs, internal politics and state administration, mentioning that after 2006 he was head of Fidesz’s parliamentary group for years, as minister he played a major role in the reorganisation of the Hungarian State, while after that he worked as an EU commissioner. He has the best chance to not be ground down between the mill wheels of Brussels bureaucrats and Hungarian Members of Parliament, Mr Orbán said.
Regarding the duties of Defence Minister Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky, the Prime Minister observed that as a result of the Zrínyi defence forces development programme, Hungary could have one of the region’s most robust armies. He stressed that the war next door proved how irresponsible it was that in the whole of Europe the army and defence had been neglected, sometimes to the degree of calling the need for their very existence into question.
The Prime Minister continued the introduction of his new government with Antal Rogán, the Minister heading the Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister. He said in a democracy continuous communication is important; however, it is a difficult task because that work is made harder by masses of data protection regulations, the perceivable sensibility of citizens and the ongoing attacks of the opposition. He added that this would not be any different in the future either, and so he asked Mr Rogán to take care of this task, to communicate the principles and goals underlying the government’s decisions to the wider democratic public.
He highlighted that in this decade of wars it was especially important “to make clear what we’re doing and why both to those who agree with us and those who don’t”. He also indicated that during the period ahead the country’s independence and Hungary’s sovereignty would sustain multiple attacks. He added that defending sovereignty was the prime minister’s number one duty, and in this work he would rely primarily on Mr Rogán.
Mr Orbán said he had asked János Lázár to head the Ministry for Construction and Investment, but in actual fact, this institution should be called ‘ministry of country building’. He recalled that earlier this task had been divided among multiple ministries, and this had become a disadvantage. The increasing raw material prices, the economic impacts of the war, the expected European recession and the cautious approaches of investors will significantly complicate our lives, the Prime Minister explained, taking the view that Mr Lázár’s responsibilities will include the effective utilisation of state resources used for investments, the renewal of construction regulations, the protection of our built-up heritage and the representation of “good civic taste” in construction projects.
Turning to Minister for Economic Development Márton Nagy, Mr Orbán said he expected him “top help the development of the country with innovative economic policy proposals that are based on the Hungarian way of thinking,” even taking the risk that “there will be many among these that will make not only friends for himself already in the near future”. He drew attention to the fact that the European economy is in great trouble, and so if Hungary wants to develop, it will need new, unorthodox, innovative measures. He recalled that the escape from the trap of foreign currency debts, the turnaround in taxation and the price caps were all such solutions. “I sincerely hope that we have a few more of these up our sleeves,” he said, indicating that the new minister will be required to “rake these up and deploy them”.
In continuation, the Prime Minister said he had asked Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó to continue to represent the Hungarian national interests “with the untiring vigour we have become used to,” to strengthen Hungary’s relations with its allies, and to look for ever further trade and investment opportunities. He asked the Minister “to play all instruments, to be smart like a snake and gentle like a dove, but above all, to achieve the results he’s required to”. He also said in the future Mr Szijjártó would be responsible for the Paks2 project as well. He observed that these jobs combined would require multiple persons, but in the past few years the Minister had proved that “he’s able to be present in multiple places at once”.
He last introduced Gergely Gulyás, the Minister heading the Prime Minister’s Office. He described strategic planning as his main task, indicating that he is required to see not only ministries, “but a whole country”. He said he expected him to coordinate the functioning of ministries, to represent the culture of respect and cooperation, and to develop its techniques. “This work never ends, for this job he will be given another four years,” he said, adding that this ministry also acts as the government’s “lightning rod”; therefore, he asked Mr Gulyás to bravely represent the government’s arguments in debates of an intellectual nature about Hungary both at home and abroad.
In summary, Mr Orbán said the list of the members of the new government showed that Hungary can only embark on the years ahead that are full of threats “with a strong, robust and crisis-proof government that has a clear vision of the future”.
As members of the Hungarian government, they pledge to represent the Hungarian national interests and to defend Hungarian freedom and sovereignty with an amount of responsibility, resolve and humility that is in proportion to the weight of the tasks on their shoulders, he stated, adding that they count on the support of Members of Parliament.
“The Lord above us all, Hungary before everything else, come on, Hungary, come on, Hungarians,” the Prime Minister said in conclusion.