Lawmakers re-elected Viktor Orbán as prime minister on Monday.
The Fidesz leader who has headed the government since 2010 was elected by 133 votes to 27. Orbán took his oath of office, the fifth time he has done so since 1998.
Orban said the war in Ukraine and Europe’s sanctions policy had resulted in an energy crisis, while higher energy prices combined with US interest rate hikes aimed at combatting high inflation would lead to a period of recession and stagnation in Europe.
He said epidemics were likely to recur, precipitating deepening economic downturns and intensifying migration waves to rich countries. Moreover, he added, the war in Ukraine would be protracted and global.
“A decade of war is unfolding before our eyes,” Orbán said, adding that whereas it would be good this were not the case, “our starting point should not be our desires but reality”.
Orbán said that keeping Hungary out of the war in Ukraine and ensuring the country’s peace and security would be the primary task of the next decade. The war in Hungary’s neighborhood, he added, was likely to be protracted and involve an amount of weaponry that would be “hard to fathom”, thereby posing a constant security threat to the country. He said that whoever transported weapons had “one foot in the war already”.
“We stand for peace,” he said, adding that “war destroys” while “peace builds”. “So we want an immediate ceasefire and peace talks,” the prime minister said. This is a position that he would keep to, Orbán added.
The prime minister pledged to work to ensure that “even in difficult circumstances” Hungary would move forward and not backwards. The new government will preserve its key achievements, even amidst the unfolding European crisis, and will not abandon its most important goals, he added.
“We’ll protect full employment, family benefits … the value of pensions, also the cap on utility bills,” Orbán said.
Commenting on the April general election, Orbán said the election had taken place under “unprecedented international and domestic controls”. It was clear, he added, that Hungary was a place “where electoral abuses are not possible”, and he thanked opposition activists for “helping to protect Hungary’s reputation … through their monitoring”.
In the 32 years of Hungarian democracy, never before had so many people voted for a single party than for the Fidesz-led alliance, and this level of support was “unprecedented in the whole of Europe”.
Fidesz, he said, had succeeded in notching up its biggest win while competing “in the toughest terrain”, and he accused the left-wing opposition and their international allies, financiers and the media of joining up with Brussels and George Soros to plot the government’s downfall.
Notwithstanding financial crises, pandemics, a wave of migrants and war, Fidesz had won four times in a row. “Successive victories on such a scale is unusual in Europe and in the wider western world,” he added.
Orbán pledged to help institutions maintained by Hungary’s historical churches and to continue the unification of the nation.
The government, he added, would continue to count on communities of faith and would guarantee the conditions for the preaching of the gospel, freedom, and respect for the churches.
A growing demand for church schools, hospitals and nursing homes is evident, he said, and a government priority would be to provide them help.
Orbán also referred to “a revival of national cohesion” throughout the Carpathian Basin, which he said was “not only good for Hungarians living across the border but also strengthens … the motherland.”
Meanwhile, he said
the government would not adopt any economic measure that could “destroy Hungarian families”.
“Brussels is abusing its powers every single day and trying to force bad and foreign things upon us,” he said, adding that Hungary had made gestures of tolerance with regard to migration, gender issues and, most recently, the oil embargo, only to be rebuffed.
“But we’re not going to give up our border protection,” he said. “We won’t allow migrants in, and we’ll protect our families, and we won’t allow gender activists into our schools,” he added.
The prime minister added that
it was in Hungary’s interest, however, to remain a member of the European Union “in the next decade”.
The prime minister painted a decade which would be marked by “renewed waves of suicide in the Western world”, and alluded to a “massive European population exchange programme” which sought to replace dearth of European Christian children with adults and migrants “from other civilisations”.
Orbán also alluded to “gender madness”, and said liberal Europe was presiding over “a suicide wave” which obliterated Christianity and nation states without putting anything in their place. Liberal Europe, he added, saw freedom in terms of people being cut off from their communities, family and homeland. “Man alone can never be free, only lonely,” he said.
The prime minister said Brussels was intent on crushing the sovereignty of member states and building “a new European empire” instead of a Europe of nations. He added that the cultural distance between western Europe and Hungary was growing since Hungary believed in the foundations of Christian civilisation in Europe while Brussels had abandoned this belief.
Orbán said Hungary was not an EU member because of how the bloc stood at the current time, but because of how it could turn out. Such a Europe could offer the most opportunities for an independent and free Hungary, he said.
In the next decade, he said, Hungary would be visible in the EU fighting for the rule of law and “seeking allies to renew the union”.
Concerning the Russia-Ukraine war, the prime minister said Europe had “no means whatsoever” of handling the conflict, while “its leaders are convinced that Russia could be brought to its knees through sanctions.” “This may work on paper”, he said, but he could not recall any embargoes that had ended successfully for their initiators.
Orbán also renewed his earlier pledge, in the interest of European unity, not to thwart EU sanctions, “as long as they don’t cross the red line of Hungarian economic self-defence” and do not jeopardise the country’s energy security.
Orbán said his government and political community considered Hungary’s NATO membership crucial, but he warned that the alliance “should not to give in to the temptation of launching military attacks beyond the boundaries of its member states”. “It must not become a war alliance,” he said.
Hungary’s membership of NATO “has never been as important as it is now,” he said. The war, he added, was deteriorating. Russia “declared the war a special military action that could be concluded without mobilisation, therefore perpetuating it, while the US … decided to provide Ukraine with unlimited arms and munitions,” he said. “This is the worst possible combination.”
“NATO is a firm support but it will not protect Hungary in our place,”
Orbán said. “Wishing for peace and having good intentions are not enough in themselves, because if a country’s military is weak and its troops are incapable of combat — if its people won’t fight for themselves — that country will be the first to be attacked,” Orbán said. The most urgent task, he said, was to reinforce the military and make it “an army that is a real protective force”.
Orbán said Ukraine had been attacked and Russia was the aggressor, so Hungary supported Ukraine, and it had launched its largest ever humanitarian aid programme. Relative to the size of its population, Hungary has accommodated the most refugees, all of whom would continue to receive aid in the country.
Hungary “will for now put the violations of the rights of Transcarpathian Hungarians to one side, as well as the fact that the Ukrainian president and government openly interfered with Hungary’s election and supported the opposition,” Orbán said. “Despite all this, Ukrainians can rely on Hungary and the Hungarian government.”
Orbán said 2010-2020 had been a decade of big breakthroughs, referring to job creation, increasing investments, minimum-wage hikes and tax cuts. Orbán added that Hungary was now ahead of Greece and Portugal in terms of its level of development.
The prime minister said that as the pandemic waned competition between countries to reopen their economies had been fierce, but Hungary was among the winners. Hungary’s economy now had an opportunity to grow rather than shrink amid “the European crisis”.
Orbán said various strategic decisions made sense in light of the war in Ukraine, including the Budapest-Belgrade railway investment, which he said may replace destroyed Ukrainian transport routes, and the southern gas pipeline, an alternative to those passing through Ukraine.
Amid a crisis of energy supply, countries that can cover their own energy needs will be secure, he said, adding that the new Paks nuclear reactors and solar energy investments were key to national security.
The prime minister said that whereas three-quarters of Hungarian exports are destined for Europe, cutting-edge investments arrived from the Far East, and this combination would make the Hungarian economy “crisis-proof”.
Hungary, he said, was ready for the revolution in the car industry, and the country would soon become a leading exporter of batteries. Hungary also produces twice as much food as it consumes, he added.
When it comes to attracting outward investment, Orbán said low taxes, physical security, advanced road and rail routes, and political stability would be key factors. Hungary, he added, stood in good stead on all these fronts.
Meanwhile, Orbán said it was in the interest of Slovaks, Ukrainians, Romanians, Serbs, Croats, Slovenes and Hungarians to ensure “the Carpathian Basin is the best place in the world” for cooperation between the peoples and countries living there.
Hungary, he said, would not stand for provocations or attempts to sow division. Neighbouring countries, meanwhile, can count on the Hungarians, he said. “We firmly believe in the common future of the peoples of the Carpathian Basin.”
The prime minister said it was not its population, army or economic power that caught the imagination of the western world, but that “Hungary, alongside Poland, has become the Western world’s last Christian, conservative bastion”.
Compared to the “liberal, globalist mainstream”, Hungary is ploughing its own furrow and doing things differently, he said, adding that whereas it may be possible to get along side by side, “Brussels is striving for pre-eminence and insists that politics, leadership and Europe only can be imagined and cultivated in one way.” Hungary, he added, rebelled against this.
More and more people, he said, regarded Hungary as “an island of peace”. “We want to be a beacon of hope for others who see the Christian outlook on life, patriotism and national policies not something of the past but of the future.”
“Thirty years ago, we saw Europe as our future,” Orbán said.
“Today we see ourselves as the future of Europe,” the prime minister said.