State of Nation Address: 2023 is "Dangerous Year" for Hungary, says Orbán

  • 20 Feb 2023 10:56 AM
  • Hungary Matters
State of Nation Address: 2023 is "Dangerous Year" for Hungary, says Orbán
If 2022 was the hardest year since Hungary's change in political system, then 2023 will be its "most dangerous year", Viktor Orbán said in a speech assessing the nation over the past year.

In his speech held in the Várkert Bazaar in Budapest, the prime minister noted the dangers of migration, “which has gradually stabilised”, adding that “the war and inflation” were persistent threats.

Orbán said European life was undergoing “massive change”, bringing about new intellectual, political, economic and military tasks. Instead of “returning to the right path” following the coronavirus pandemic, the world “entered years of war”.

“The world is clearly heading towards the Wild West,” he said “We’ve been living our lives under constant pressure” for the past three years, he said, adding that this “could easily be prolonged by four or possibly even five years”.

“When the West entered the war” with its sanctions everything had to be reappraised, and the government spent the months after the April general election precisely doing this, he said.

Orbán said there was no reason to “give up” or abandon the goals set by the government but the means by which these goals can be attained must be changed.

He promised to stick to his government’s family policies, the country’s labour-based economy, and to maintain price caps on household utility bills.

Orbán: Hungary Must Be Ready for ‘More Threats, Blackmail’

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán predicted in his speech that the tone towards Hungary would become “more and more harsh” as the war in Ukraine became “ever more savage”. He said Hungary must be prepared for an intensification of “provocations, insults, threats and blackmail”.

He said he could not promise that it would be easy, “but we will stand our ground”. “We are long past the point of diplomatic pressure that respects sovereignty,” he said.

Referring to US President Joe Biden, he said the president had sent an ambassador to Budapest with the aim of forcing Hungarians into the war camp at all costs, and to pressure them into declaring their intent to join the war.

He said “our Republican friends” were preparing to make a comeback in the 2024 US presidential election, while public opinion in Europe would start shifting more and more towards peace and “more sobriety”, and, if necessary, would elect new governments.

Orbán said peace would only be established if the US and Russia held talks. Hungary’s government, he said, believed that more fighting would not bring about victory but result in the deaths of further hundreds of thousands, expand the conflict, drag countries into open war and threaten the possibility of a world war. “Let us Hungarians stay on the side of peace,” he said.

Meanwhile, Orbán accused the European Union of saddling Hungary with the “disease” of inflation on the back of higher energy prices owing to its sanctions against Russia.

The prime minister insisted that sanctions had deprived Hungarians of 4,000 billion forints (EUR 10.4bn) last year as Hungarian companies, the state and families had to spend that amount on energy instead of wage increases, tax reductions, or family support which “families could have spent on home purchases or their children”.

“Brussels”, he added, was foisting “new sanctions” on Hungary instead of extending help. He said the “Brussels bureaucracy” had deprived Hungary and Poland of the recovery monies they were entitled to.

Hungary did not receive money taken out as a joint loan by member states “and our share of which we will have to pay back”, he added.

Orbán said it was important for Hungarians not to think that inflation was unslayable. Also, he said that thanks to “two dozen or so measures” to protect companies and families, the government is providing energy subsidies which helped the average household to save 181,000 forints each month.

“This is unique in Europe,” he added. Orbán vowed to keep price caps in place until inflation is set on a downward path, in the face of a left-wing demand to withdraw the price cap on basic foodstuffs.

Also, the cap on interest on loans “which protects 350,000 families against spikes in interest rates” will be maintained, he added.

From May 1, cheap national bus and train passes will be offered, he said.

Orbán said 2022 “could have broken the backbone of the Hungarian economy”, yet employment and foreign currency reserves were at an all-time high “and the forint has also stabilised”.

Despite the high inflation rate, Hungary saw record employment, record exports and record investments in 2022, he said, vowing to bring inflation down into the single digits by the end of the year.

Gov’t Keeping Strategic Sectors in Hungarian Ownership

The government is keeping strategic sectors under Hungarian ownership such as the banking sector, the energy sector and the media industry in Hungarian hands, the prime minister said in his keynote speech, adding that telecommuncations “will be made Hungarian again”.

The government is also keeping its promise to rural Hungary by launching unprecedented development projects. “We will allocate an amount of funding not seen by rural Hungary even during the Austro-Hungarian Empire,” he added.

The government will develop a manufacturing agriculture sector and revive the food industry “which was ruined by privatisations”.

“The food industry will have national champions that will be able to hold their own on the global market as well,” he said, adding that Hungary will build power plants and pipeline networks, “even if Brussels refuses to play a role in this”.

The government, he said, will introduce more family support measures each year, such as the personal income tax exemption for mothers below the age of 30.

Related links

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