BUDAPEST, Hungary (ChurchMilitant.com) - "Hungary before all else," Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán stressed in his state-of-the-nation address delivered Feb. 17 at the Castle Garden Bazaar in Budapest.
In front of a banner that declared: "For us, Hungary is first," Orbán unfolded Hungary's evaluation of the past and forecast for a future "where everyone will benefit from being a Hungarian."
In one of the longer state of the union addresses, the prime minister emphasized quality of family life, protection of the climate and "sinister shadows gathering over the European economy."
Orbán began his speech referring to the 1920 Treaty of Trianon, brokered at the end of WWI, which resulted in the loss of two-thirds of Hungarian territory and half the country's total population. Critics at the time warned that a weakened, dismembered Hungary would lead to a weak, fragmented Central Europe unable to resist the spread of Soviet communism, something that became a fait accompli.
The prime minister described the treaty as Hungary's "death sentence," but declared that 100 years later: "We are alive, and Hungary still exists," adding, "We have also released ourselves from the clutches of the enemy."
"Hungarians have lost the habit of seeing themselves as a successful people. Hobo [the Hungarian blues singer] was right: 'We were down for so long that we don't know what it means to be up.' And when at last after much struggle we get to a higher place, we don't believe reality — or even our own eyes."
But he said, "The facts show that the past 10 years were the most successful decade in the past 100 years of Hungarian history."
There are so many sentences from Viktor #Orban's state of the union speech I could quote here. So let's just stay at my favorite: "There is no such thing as a liberal. Liberals are nothing else but communists with a university degree. *clap* #Orban #Hungary Photo: MTI pic.twitter.com/s0LMswX1fZ— Viktória Serdült (@viktoriaserdult) February 16, 2020
"Since 2010, economic performance has grown at an average annual rate of 2.8% and since 2013, after the crisis management period, at 3.8% a year," he said. "Earlier we could only achieve such growth with foreign debt."
"Vulnerable groups — young people, those over the age of 50, women with children and the relatively unqualified — have been able to find employment. Wages have also started to rise, with the minimum wage and the guaranteed minimum wage for skilled workers doubling."
"Wealth inequality in Hungary is the lowest in the entire European Union. In Germany and Austria the difference is 79%, while in Hungary it is only 45%," he touted.
He also said investments have reached an all-time high and Hungary was among the countries in the world "generating exports of over $100 billion."
Since coming to power in 2010, Orbán has fought to reverse decades of population decline by instituting a family protection plan to boost Hungary's birth rate, instead of opening the country's doors to waves of Muslim migrants, as countries across Western Europe have done.
"In spite of the significant mass-migration toward Europe, Hungary wants to rely on its internal resources," the State Secretary for Family, Youth and International Affairs Katalin Novák said in 2018. "We see the future in Hungarian children."
Orban enumerated the positive results of Hungary's Family Protection Plan that Church Militant had previously reported on, in addition to those of new initiatives:
Although the population decline has not stopped, Orbán said he was committed to building "a country in which those making the commitment to have children are financially better off than if they had chosen not to have children."
Orbán said he did not speak of "climate protection" in a politically fashionable way but spoke "not only as prime minister, but also as the father of five children — and indeed as a grandfather."
He said he was "annoyed by the stupidity of those who seek to portray children as a danger to the climate. ... This is complete insanity! Yes, let's save the earth, but if we have no children or grandchildren who are we saving it for?
He laid out several plans including a program to reach 90% carbon-neutrality for energy production by 2030, protection of rivers from waste coming from outside the country, removal of all plastic from the Danube and Tisza rivers, and requiring multinational companies operating in Hungary to use environmentally friendly technologies.
Orbán's goal is for the introduction of electric cars that will not only be "the preserve of the rich" but also have new electric buses in towns and cities by 2030."We will plant 10 trees for every newborn baby. This will translate into 1 million new trees per year, and so by 2030 we will have increased the country's forest cover by 27%," he said.
And finally, like the Poles, "we are introducing green government bonds," Orbán said. "Whoever buys such a bond will be supporting climate protection, because the government will undertake to spend the money it raises through this only on climate-friendly programs."
Orbán delcared that "Europe is not in Brussels. Europe is us, and we do not have to measure up to the tired Brussels elite, who will soon be disillusioned even with themselves."
"The European economy — and particularly the economy of the eurozone – has come to a halt," he pointed out, with some 85% of Hungarian goods "being exports to those countries. ... So their problem is also our problem."
The prime minister advised caution in "the matter of joining the eurozone," pointing to the dangers of boarding "a train to an unknown destination."
The Hungarian leader roused his listeners at the end:
Let's not be bashful: Let's say loud and clear that over the past 100 years our forebears made great sacrifices, and that over the past 10 years we, too, have worked hard. We have always given more to the world than we have received from it. Hungary deserves to be successful. Let us show everyone that those who dig traps for the Hungarians will fall into their own traps.
He ended on a note of reflection: "We have fought and won many great battles" and "Those ahead of us will be no easier." But "many of us believe that to be still standing here after such a century of history is proof that God has plans for this country. ... Hungary before all else, God above us all!"