Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen, President,
I believe think that everything important has already been said. Despite this, I’ll try not only to speak, but also to say something – though I should add that the two presentations delivered before this one more or less covered the most urgent question for political and economic policy debates: the true standing of the Hungarian economy. Before linking to the points of those who spoke ahead of me, I’d like to respond to a few things that we’ve heard.
First of all, I’m happy that we are here in the company of people who are not engaged in a nonsensical debate about whether or not the Hungarian economy has grown. We should leave that debate to others, because the real question is not whether it has grown, but rather the value of the growth that we have seen. This is what we’ve heard in the presentations just now. In my view, 2016 has enabled me to congratulate the actors in the Hungarian economy, because they completed a successful year and achieved outstanding results – both in micro- and macro-economic terms. I think that this performance was remarkable. In the past few years I believe we’ve also learnt that in order for the Hungarian economy to post successful year-end results we need harmony between three key players: entrepreneurs, or owners of capital; workers; and those parts of the Government that are in charge of the economy. If the cooperation of any one of these is missing, if the quality of any of these is compromised, our bicycle starts taking us faster downhill, and eventually runs out of control. An important change in the Government’s economic policy is that last summer we set up an economic cabinet under the supervision of Mihály [Varga]. This is a cabinet which discusses, reviews, and – most of all – even decides on all measures related to economic policy, presenting these to the Government as issues which have already received approval. We hope that this cabinet arrangement will significantly accelerate economic policy decision-making over the coming year. You, too, should be rooting for Mihály Varga’s success in this.
I’d like to say a few words about the role of the Chamber. The Chamber is, of course, essential. I don’t just mean that we consult with the Chamber, and we receive real-life, down-to-earth feedback from it on economic policy. This, of course, is essential – and while this is a job that our Members of Parliament can do themselves to some extent in their constituencies, expert feedback is always more valuable than mere political impressions. What makes the Chamber essential, however, is not that it provides the Government with feedback, but that the Chamber gives us our only chance to encourage ourselves and each other to understand and accept that successful economic policy cannot be created on the foundations of party-political considerations. As a matter of course all entrepreneurs – not all entrepreneurs, but many of them – deny having party preferences. But clearly entrepreneurs are also human beings: they have hearts, feelings, pasts, loyalties, preferences and values. This is something they cannot deny, which is all very well: that’s the way it should be. But if Hungarian politics finds that actors in the economy are trying to formulate economic policy on the basis of party criteria, we shall tear the country to pieces: because the economy needs unity and cooperation. There cannot be successful economic policy without cooperation and unity, and this kind of unity cannot be created in the realm of party politics. It can only be created with policies of partnership; there are islands in Hungarian society – such as the Academy of Sciences, the Academy of Arts and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry – where these criteria, these party political criteria are downplayed, if not entirely eliminated, and the Government is given the opportunity to make decisions together with the authentic representatives of one area or another. Therefore, in modern democracies – I’m not saying always, but in modern, competitive democracies – such chambers are essential. So, in the light of the economic performance in 2016, I’d also like to thank the Hungarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, as without them we wouldn’t have been able to pursue a national economic policy: an economic policy based solely on our national interests.
My next remark is related to the issue that perhaps Mr. Matolcsy, Governor of the Central Bank raised: is the current situation a good one or not? In Hungary it’s highly risky to call anything – anything at all – “good”. Margaret Thatcher said that the worst thing about communism is what comes after it. For a long time I didn’t understand this: in the eighties, in particular, I failed to make sense of it. This was not only because I couldn’t imagine what would come after communism, but because I didn’t know what it meant. Now, however, I can see what it means. It means, for instance, cynicism. This is its legacy: whether or not we have party preferences, when Hungarians hear good news, we automatically tend towards cynicism, and look for the downside. Another legacy from the communist system is the concealment of success and wealth. It’s very difficult to operate a performance-oriented economy if one feels that success is something which one is always held to account for. There are quite a few other things like that. Consequently, in addition to political reasons, it’s not easy to satisfactorily ask or answer the question of whether the situation is good. In Hungarian politics there is an evergreen – but nonetheless still relevant – saying, which in one pithy sentence sums up the relationship between the Hungarian people and politics. It goes like this: “I’d like to see a government that I’m happy with”. And even the Prime Minister can say this: I, too, would like to see a government that I’m happy with. So, if we’re talking about the state of the economy, the word “good” should be dispensed with, and instead we should resort to the kind of language used by Governor Matolcsy. I would say that the situation is promising: the situation is not good, but the situation is promising. This, I believe, faithfully expresses the fact that the current situation can be damaged; and I think that this is an important point. We have heard about several of the economic policy mistakes made after the fall of communism. We should be pleased that, right now, we’re not suffering from major problems, but this doesn’t mean that we won’t make mistakes in the future. That cannot be ruled out at all, and so we must be alert at all times: we must think and work hard, because otherwise we could make errors of timing or content.
Here, I believe, the phrase that the President introduced is very important. I suggest that we use this phrase in the future: the trap of moderately advanced countries. We who make a living analysing processes don’t just do the work for any given day. We economic and political decision-makers can easily recall that in 2010, on the brink of financial ruin, if we’d been told that we would soon find ourselves struggling in the trap of moderately advanced countries, quite a few of us would have shaken hands on that, and said that we’d be happy to be in that trap there and then. That was the situation back in 2010. That is all now behind us, but in my view what we’ve heard here today is very important: if we only do as much as we’ve done so far, and if we merely continue as we have done over the past six years, we won’t make genuine qualitative progress. I think that the Governor of the Central Bank is right to call this a competitiveness turning point. This is a strange combination of words, but it is nonetheless a precise description of the current situation. So, regardless of the achievements so far, we need more: we need more than what we’ve achieved so far, to ensure that that the situation not only is promising, but remains promising.
What was said about the Olympics today – I don’t want to say anything about the Olympics now, because I’ve already said everything that I could say about it. But looking at the question in a broader perspective, as President Parragh did, I’d like to express my agreement, or state how my opinion coincides with his. Without great things, we’ll stay stuck at the level of moderately advanced countries. So we need great things. Naturally these must be thoroughly prepared, thoroughly planned, thoroughly calculated, and the risks must be minimised. There’s no such thing as zero risk. If there are people in this country who know full well that with zero risk there’s no success, you sitting in this room today must be among them. But we must support everything we do with sensible calculations, and we must do great things. The examples mentioned here fall into this category. The Budapest-Belgrade railway line: there is a reason why Brussels is obstructing it. The Paks Nuclear Power Plant project, which is also under attack from all sides for a reason. The importance of something can be measured by the attacks it provokes from countries or country groups which are our rivals and do not share our views. Therefore I believe that we’ll need more projects on such a scale. In my opinion the construction of a dual carriageway between Békéscsaba and Debrecen is also a great thing on that scale, finally enabling the linking of Hungary’s regions independently of Budapest. Links can be made which will open up abandoned or economically underdeveloped regions and include them in the country’s economic bloodstream. And there are quite a few other similar projects. I just want to illustrate how promising the situation is, and that this should not steer us into caution. The situation is not one which should lead us towards caution and reduced ambition, but to strive to think of ever more great things which can move us from the level of moderately advanced countries to that of advanced countries.
It is important that you spoke a great deal about the issue of work. Here, too, we heard a key sentence which we hope will remain the Government’s guiding light for many years to come. This sentence runs thus: “any job is better than no job”. There are all sorts of academic judgments on whether or not the public works programme is good. But if the alternative to the public works programme is no work at all, there is no question that we should favour it. When I was a child, sayings such as “idleness kills” were widely known. The Government will therefore stand by the policy of full employment, without engaging in more complex intellectual debates on economic philosophy. Clearly life is simpler in the countryside, and as I’m a country boy, I see a lot of things in a simpler light. As a child I learnt that one could look into the houses of people who worked; but with the houses of people who didn’t work, it was better if one didn’t even bother. And it’s that simple. It’s inconceivable that this is not also the case in cities – it’s just that life in the cities is not quite as transparent as it was in our village.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
These were the comments I wanted to make in relation to the presentations of those who spoke before me. Now perhaps I should remind you that in 2010 we concluded an agreement. Since then six years have passed. I don’t want to bore you with an inventory, but here I’d like to make a few remarks. The text we signed in 2010 set out that we – the Chamber and the Government – would commit ourselves to helping the Hungarian economy regain its feet, to protecting jobs, to promoting small and medium-sized enterprises and to improving Hungary’s competitiveness. Here I want to highlight that if you look at the figures you can see that the Hungarian government has kept to its half of this agreement. In general I must also say that our political community is sustained by being true to its word: we are a civic national and Christian political community. I’m not sure that we’d enjoy a simple majority in the country simply on the basis of values. In order to regularly earn the people’s trust, in addition to our ideals and principles we also need to show behaviour based on keeping to our commitments, promises and agreements – because this alone can bring us political success. So we keep to our agreements not only because that is fair – though that is a good enough argument – but also because if we fail to keep to them our political community can never have a political majority in Hungary.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We also concluded an agreement in 2014. Then also I stood here, before the members of the Chamber. I made ten undertakings regarding our economic policy. These have already been discussed, so I’ll just mention them.
We agreed to adopt a change in the management of government debt, which means – György Matolcsy may have used this term in his presentation – that the system will become self-financing. This means that we will pay down our debt: last year we paid back the last instalment of the huge IMF and European Union loans which our predecessors took out; and we have increased the proportion of government securities denominated in forints, the figure for which you have seen here, with the corresponding proportion denominated in foreign currency falling from 52 per cent in 2012 to 29 per cent by the end of 2016. The percentage of government securities held by foreigners has fallen against that held by Hungarians. If I read the figures correctly, this means that we managed to reduce the government debt in foreign hands from 65 per cent to 42 per cent. There is a debate, which Mr. Matolcsy alluded to, over whether in these circumstances – and with lower interest rates on the international markets – we should issue new government securities in foreign currencies. This is a debate between the Finance Minister and myself. The Finance Minister, who sees the budget deficit rate as crucial, takes the view that it is possible to reduce the deficit through an offering. Since I believe, however, that in the long run government debt should be in Hungarian hands, I think that we should enable Hungarians to buy as many government securities as possible, and shouldn’t issue them in foreign currencies and abroad unless absolutely necessary. This debate is ongoing, with varying degrees of success on each side, and my chances aren’t bad either. So we had the issue of the management of government debt.
In 2014 we also made an undertaking on the banking sector, in which we agreed to create a national banking system in Hungary. There were huge debates about whether in the modern era it is at all meaningful to use the term “national banking system”, as “money has no smell”. My approach is different, and it is that although money indeed has no smell, its owners do. I believe that the 2008 financial crisis supports my belief, because back then it emerged that, although bank capital allegedly has no nationality, when lending opportunities in the world began to shrink, lo and behold, the banks didn’t start disinvestment in their own countries, but here in Central Europe, repatriating their money to Austria and Germany. Therefore the truth is that when things are going well money has no smell, but when things are not going well, all of a sudden, it has a nationality. And from this the single responsible conclusion we can draw is that we need a national banking system that is in Hungarian hands. It doesn’t need to be state-owned, but what matters is that it should be in Hungarian ownership. And when there is trouble it should not seek to relocate funds elsewhere, but should seek to retreat here and protect and maintain its positions here. I’d like to inform you that, thanks to the measures implemented after 2014, Hungarian ownership in the Hungarian banking sector is well above fifty per cent.
The third important undertaking we made in 2014 was the continuation of eastward opening. Here I should perhaps mention that for a long time we lived under a glass dome: under a Western European glass shelter, which the EU accession process led us to believe was the natural state of affairs. Somehow it was obvious that the market for the Hungarian economy’s products would always be in Western Europe: advanced markets requiring high-quality products, which would consequently be the true yardstick for the Hungarian economy. In the meantime the world has changed, however, and we’ve since made it our goal for two-thirds of Hungarian exports to go to our conventional Western markets, and at least one-third to go to Eastern markets. We haven’t yet reached this goal, but I can tell you that year by year we can see a change in those percentages. This is the point at which we should think back to the table presented by Mr. Matolcsy on the added value content of our exports – depressing as it was. You may remember that table: it wasn’t very impressive. The volume of our exports is enormous, however, and while we may be concerned about added value content, the growth in volume is, in my view, an achievement well worth mentioning. What happened was that in 2016 Hungarian exports increased to an extent never seen before in the Hungarian economy’s history. We set a historic record for products manufactured in Hungary and sold abroad. Here I should quote some huge figures, such as our surplus amounting to ten billion euros: not the volume, but the surplus. In 2016 we also negotiated 71 large investments in Hungary: 55 of these were repeat investments and 16 were new. These 71 projects created a combined total of seventeen thousand new jobs and brought 3.2 billion euros in foreign capital to Hungary, and these will start production soon. From this we can clearly see that the growth figures which we projected or were quoted by the Minister for Economy were well-founded.
Our fourth undertaking was to reduce taxes. In 2014 I agreed here that, while the structure of the Hungarian taxation system was fair as it was, we would continue to improve it and implement further tax reductions. This also had a social content, as regards VAT, which I shall not concern myself with at this point. But with the agreement that Minister Varga mentioned we managed to further reduce payroll taxes – not to mention the new 9 per cent corporation tax rate. Regarding the latter, many will correctly say that even before the new rate Hungarian small and medium-sized enterprises only paid 10 per cent, with only larger ones paying the higher rate of 19 per cent. But here I won’t quote in detail the data showing how many companies in recent times were split into two, three or four in order to qualify for the lower rate bracket in this two-tier corporation tax system. We all know about real life, so here it’s not important to dissect it in all its detail. But now that the corporation tax is a flat rate tax – and one that stands at just nine per cent – I think that in the period ahead everyone will be able to manage their business holdings rationally, without having to pay additional tax. You can see that our competitors and friends in Western Europe don’t like this low tax level. The Austrians in particular have struck a threatening tone recently. In this regard I’d like to remind everyone that in the European Union the four freedoms necessary for the single market are interlinked: without free movement of labour there can be no free movement of capital either. So if Hungarians’ employment opportunities are restricted in any country, we’ll implement counter-measures restricting opportunities for capital to come to Hungary from countries practising such discrimination against Hungarian workers. The Hungarian economy and economic policy are now strong enough for us to be free of the need to put up with everything – to put up with injustice. We can instead protect our own interests in an appropriate manner and with appropriate measures.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Our fifth undertaking in 2014 was reindustrialisation: the promotion of national industry. We launched two economic development programmes: the Irinyi Plan and the Jedlik Ányos Plan. We’re still in the initial stages, but I believe that today we are closer to creating national industry than we ever have been. We also have an experimental programme which seeks to revive Hungarian bus manufacturing, and I think we’re making good progress. Its essence is to see whether private capital and the Government’s economic policy can be unified to enable us to rebuild industries which were once internationally acclaimed. This debate hasn’t been decided yet: the experiment is still in progress, but initial results are promising. As far as I can see, there will be bus manufacturing in Hungary once again, and there will also be an internationally competitive Hungarian vehicle industry. I sincerely hope I’m not wrong, and that this experiment will succeed.
As our sixth undertaking we also agreed to renew Hungarian agriculture. Obviously there are many here today whom I know in person, and who are country boys, and there are also plenty of village lads here. For us it’s clearly a point of honour that Hungarian agriculture should not be sidelined. Hungary has always been an agrarian country, and our farming capabilities have always been outstanding – not only because of our expertise, but because Hungarian farmers have a certain spirit. I think that this will also be an asset in the future. We must preserve as much of this as we can, and we must strengthen it as much as possible. Of course this doesn’t just mean the cultivation of land and animal husbandry, but also the associated food industry; and we sincerely hope that an increasingly high percentage of the modern food industry will be accounted for by Hungarian businesses in the countryside, and that they will be the bulk of the market for agricultural producers. If you look at agriculture’s contribution to the gross domestic product, you’ll see an increase in recent years, which confirms that the programme for renewal of Hungarian agriculture was not only emotionally and morally right, but was equally reasonable economically. So it’s worth continuing this task.
Our seventh undertaking was to create a workfare economy instead of an economy based on benefits. I think we’ve already achieved this, and I’ve already spoken about it. The following is a cunning modern attack on the workfare economy. It’s being launched simultaneously from Brussels and Budapest, under some sort of communistic name which I can’t remember exactly, because one’s brain switches to defence mode. It’s called some sort of basic benefit or pay – or something like that. The idea is that we should give people money, even if they don’t actually do anything for it. So not only should we provide unemployment benefit, but there should be a sum – like in the rich Arab countries, where oil gushes out of the ground – which could be distributed nationwide. And if a person doesn’t earn that sum, we should still just give it to them. Now then, Hungary also has complex ethnic issues, and this is therefore not such a simple matter. But I’d like to point out that this is an utterly unthinkable approach, both in terms of Hungary’s specific attributes and the logic of competitiveness based on work. It may sound good – though I’m not even sure about that. But if we were to implement it in Hungary, I believe that you’d all have to shut up shop. There will be no future for Hungarian businesses and Hungarian capital investors if Hungary slips back to the culture of benefit-based economies, and if in Hungary a work- and performance-oriented culture based on merit comes to an end. Then investors can go to another country with their capital investments, because here they could only go bankrupt. So I propose that we protect ourselves in a timely fashion – firmly based on foundations of common sense – against these socialistic ideas, which originate from Heaven knows where. And – as we do not have natural resources like the Arab world – I propose that we declare that Hungary is not a country in which energy resources just gush out of the desert. We don’t have the means or the capacity to distribute money without performance and work in return. We have the means and capacity to build a system in Hungary which is fundamentally based on competitiveness, performance and merit, while also asserting fairness and social and humanitarian criteria. If we undermine these philosophical foundations of the Hungarian economy, we won’t be able stay alive. So in this respect I earnestly ask you not to give in to any kind of political temptation, or to such siren voices.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Our next undertaking was cheap energy. We’re not doing badly in this department. If I were to present you with a table showing the price of energy in Hungary compared with the other countries of the EU, we would be looking at a favourable overall picture. Given that wages are increasing in all Central European countries, the source of competitiveness – as György Matolcsy has said – will be the quality of the work force. But there is one other source: the price of energy. Over the next ten years the price of energy will have a much greater impact on competitiveness than it had previously. A key issue is therefore whether we – who don’t have our own natural resources – will be able to supply the Hungarian economy with cheap energy. There is no answer to this dilemma other than nuclear power stations: nuclear energy. If we want cheap and competitive energy, if we want competitive Hungarian businesses using cheap energy, we need that cheap energy; and current technical knowledge tells us that the cheapest form of generation is from a nuclear power plant. I would therefore ask you to stand up for and defend this concept – which is Hungary’s, rather than the Government’s – that we can’t manage without cheap energy.
Undertaking number nine was research and development. In 2014 we agreed to raise the budget allocation for research and development every year. We have seen a table showing that we’re not yet at the top of the European rankings; indeed we’re below average. In 2015 spending on this amounted to 1.4 per cent, and by 2020 we’ll raise the funding level for this to 1.8 per cent.
And finally, here before you in 2014 we also undertook to improve the demographic situation – not personally, of course, but through policy. This meant that we would implement measures which would moderate or reduce the size and number of the huge obstacles to families having children. I think we’re on the right track. This is a policy which demands patience, as it takes many years of work to halt deteriorating demographic processes and reverse them so that they return to a positive range: we should be thinking in terms of a period of 10, 15 or 20 years. We have set out on this path, and I’m convinced that it will bring results. The initial signs are already there, but I would make it clear that as yet we’re very far from a breakthrough. So population decline is slowing – but even a slow decline is still a decline, and not an increase. Therefore when considering the distribution of budgetary resources, the Hungarian government will have to make even more funding available for the promotion of Hungarian families. This should not be in the form of benefits, unless they are benefits tied to employment, such as the family tax allowance.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Now I would like to talk about one other issue. We’ve already spoken – or rather György Matolcsy has already spoken – about how to make Hungary competitive. I’m grateful for the volume he compiled at our request, and which I commend to you. In this respect that book – the volume compiled by the National Bank – will probably be the central economic policy guideline over the next few years. But here there’s one other thing: while we want to be competitive, it’s very important for us to also enhance Hungary’s position. And to my mind, or to the Government’s mind, this is a significant factor; it may sound like a platitude, but it’s significant. So we don’t just need the economy in Hungary to yield growth and provide us with all sorts of advantages, but we also need to find ways to strengthen the position of the place which is our homeland and which we commonly refer to as Hungary: the country which, in its current condition, is the size that it is – though of course when we speak about our motherland we think in terms of a national community in the Carpathian Basin. And our economic policy decisions should also be perceived in that dimension.
First of all, I find it very important that we should preserve our ethnic homogeneity. Nowadays one can say such a thing, though a few years ago one would have been executed for such a turn of phrase. But now one can say things like that, because life has confirmed that too much mixing causes trouble. We Hungarians are naturally heterogeneous, in the sense that we are a European nation. If we just started reading the names of those present here today, they would reveal all sorts of nationalities: from Bunjevci to Swabian. But in ethnic terms these fall within certain limits, and so there is still a certain ethnic homogeneity. We are from a single civilisation. Preserving this is a key issue. Naturally, as we know from Saint Stephen of Hungary, we welcome everyone – and that is as it should be. But we must not take the risk of altering the country’s fundamental ethnic character, because rather than enhancing our position, this would degrade Hungary, and would plunge us into chaos. The Government therefore has a definite direction. This not only relates to migration, but it is a general approach on how we should perceive Hungary’s population. We also see cultural homogeneity as important. This should, of course, be seen once again as diversity within certain limits: limits which do not permit the close coexistence of civilisations which are unable to mix in a cultural sense. This is the problem of parallel societies, and we don’t want to expose Hungary to that. I’m convinced that if we maintain ethnic homogeneity, and if we can keep cultural diversity within certain limits of cultural homogeneity, that will enhance the value of Hungary as a place. Hungary will be a place showing the outside world indicators which will be receding day by day in a great many more developed countries. As a result, we will be able to make the country ever more valuable.
Similarly, we’ll persevere on the issues of public security and the threat of terrorism, because one of our distinguishing features – which should also enhance the value of our country – must be that by European standards public safety here is outstanding. That is the case now, and it must remain so. The threat of terrorism can never be reduced to zero: incidents can always happen, we must be alert, and no one can claim that nothing like that could ever happen. But here the risk of it is very low, and we’re doing all we can to avoid it – and this much we can and must pledge to do.
From the viewpoint of Hungary’s worth, I also think it’s important that our country is not heavily polluted. In modern terms this is called being “green”, and it is very important, and a key consideration for the development of industry. But it is very important that Hungary has no territories which, for one reason or another, are burdened with industrial pollution, and which would therefore be unsuitable for inclusion in a single nation-building territorial policy. This is a clean, well-preserved, green country.
This is also a sophisticated country in the sense that we cultivate our land: there are no uncultivated areas – or the percentage is very low. If you travel around the country you can see a cultured, sophisticated people managing the land entrusted to it – in some places to higher standards, in others to lower standards. But people’s relationship with the countryside is driven by the desire to cultivate it – and this also enhances our worth. Perhaps the significance of this is not quite so clear here in Budapest, but people from the countryside understand perfectly well what I’m talking about.
Full employment is also one of the contributory factors enhancing our position, and here I’d like to state my opposition to all efforts to automatically allocate certain jobs to foreigners. I think it is significant that in a Hungarian hotel even the cleaners are Hungarian; nowadays one sees this – such jobs being done by locals – in only a very few countries. The value of a country is increased when it forms a community in which the people themselves, each according to their abilities, perform all the jobs necessary to running and maintaining it – all the way from those requiring the lowest qualifications to the chair of President of the Academy. In my view all of these jobs must be filled and carried out by Hungarians, and the whole must operate as an organic unity: as a nation. This, too, will enhance our country’s worth. It is also very important that Hungary does not lose the desire for greatness. In this respect the withdrawn Olympic bid is like breaking a rib. But, regardless of the size of their country’s territory and population, the Hungarians have always understood what greatness means. Greatness means something of a spiritual nature: greatness in culture, greatness in sport and greatness in science. We must not relinquish this, because we’re not just a people from the Carpathian Basin, but a great people – even though at present we are shrunken and in demographic decline. But this doesn’t change the fundamental fact – more than one thousand years old – that we are a great nation, and this is a driving force, and an asset to this country. There are people living in this country who see themselves in that light. This is also important in an economic policy sense.
And finally another important dimension for enhancement of the country’s position is what Governor Matolcsy spoke about: we are a country with a steadily improving economy, in which industrial corporations – large, modern European industrial corporations, and now also their Asian counterparts – can find everything in one place: they can find suppliers, labour, good infrastructure, predictable, low taxes and people who want to work.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
All of this leads me to believe that while we should pursue an economic policy that promotes economic growth, we should also have another vision of Hungary. Such a vision is about enhancing the value of this place, this country, our homeland; this has led to success for a few other countries in the last fifty years, during the period following World War II. I won’t mention the names of those countries now, because you’d find yourselves smiling, and I wouldn’t want to become a laughing stock. But the time will come when I can dare to mention the names of countries in connection with how we succeeded in increasing the worth of Hungary over the course of 15 to 20 years, as a few other not very large European countries have done.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I’d like to cover one further issue, and this is about what we should do in the next year or two. Briefly summing up the presentations of Mr. Matolcsy and Minister Varga, I would say that we must stay on the course that we are on at present. In 2017 and 2018 we must defend the potential for growth in the Hungarian economy within a range of three to five per cent. I think this will continue to be our task in 2019 and 2020 as well. In the meantime, we must achieve the competitiveness breakthrough that Minister Matolcsy spoke about, and then after 2020 we must reach a growth range above five per cent. In my view this is the task in hand. This requires two things: as I’ve said, we must follow the current course, subject to the adjustments that Governor Matolcsy and Minister Varga mentioned; and we must protect the country and this upward trajectory against all the dangers that threaten us. And as I look around here, everyone – the ladies excepted – seems to be getting long in the tooth, so we shouldn’t be so naive as to think that everyone will just sit back and applaud our fantastic achievements. Even within our country this is not the case, let alone in the wider world. There are always threats, and we must protect this development trajectory against their effects. While we rely on Brussels in many respects – and it is an important place for us – we must defend ourselves against initiatives originating from Brussels. The power to determine our own fiscal system must not be surrendered to Brussels, and likewise we must not give up the now well-established system of support for job creation. We must defend ourselves on those fronts. Similarly, we’re sufficiently well-equipped to decide what should happen to Hungary. Parliamentary democracy that has been in place here for twenty-odd years. Witnessing the US and French election campaigns, we don’t want to be forced to cope with external attempts at interference which seek to influence the Hungarian electorate in our election. Even in a big country like the United States, fake news and outside interference managed to generate debate on whether external influence by foreign countries was exerted on the American people: influence which may have had an impact on the political decision which will determine the fate of America for years to come. This is an issue that we must explore ourselves, and we mustn’t see it as taboo. We must create transparency, and talk about this issue continuously. As I’ve said, in the interest of preserving cultural homogeneity and ethnic homogeneity, we must also protect ourselves against migration, and against Brussels’ policy of releasing migration on Europe. We must likewise fight for cheap energy. I sincerely hope that, sooner or later, we can also bring this Paks debate to a conclusion in Brussels, as we have managed to answer or rebut most objections.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
This is how I see the year ahead. This is how I see the years ahead. Ferenc Deák said that we can also fight without hope. I would just say that we can fight all the better if there is hope as well.
Thank you for your attention.