- 21 Aug 2023 9:13 AM
- Hungary Matters
Hungary, central Europe and Germany, Orbán said, were “inextricably linked”. “We are and will continue to be the most natural allies in maintaining competitiveness,” he added.
Besides the manufacture of fighting vehicles, the facility also has a test track and research and development centre so that production and R&D can be done in one place, Orbán noted.
“Made in Hungary in every sense of the word,” he declared, adding that “‘Made in Hungary’ would not be what it is without German technology.”
Orbán said some people may think that the development of the Hungarian defence industry was scrambling in response to the war, but in fact the first relevant decisions were made in 2017.
The Zalaegerszeg factory was, he added, the outcome of joint German-Hungarian “wisdom and foresight” based on an assessment of the European and world political situation. He thanked Rheinmetall’s chairman and chief executive, Armin Papperger, for contributing towards the government’s decision-making.
The German Lynx fighting vehicle “manufactured on Hungarian soil” is operated by Hungarian workers and Hungarian engineers, Orbán said, adding that those involved in operating this cutting-edge technology had acquired their education in Hungarian schools, and this fact served as a riposte to those who slammed the country’s public education system.
Meanwhile, the prime minister said that strength was needed to ensure peace, and the government was pursuing its plan to create an independent defence industry. Strength for peace means mental, economic and military resilience, with mental strength needed for Hungary to “resist the pressure the backers of war who want to force the country into war,” he said.
“For Hungary, peace is the sole moral and political position to be undertaken,” he added.
Economic strength, Orbán said, was needed for Hungary to overcome problems caused by the Russia-Ukraine war and the related sanctions. And military strength is needed to demonstrate that Hungary’s security would be protected in times of war, too, he added.
The prime minister said the government had been “in crisis mode” for almost four years, but was pursuing “big plans” nonetheless.
“We haven’t abandoned creating an independent Hungarian defence industry,” he said, adding that the government was intent on ensuring that Hungarian innovation and technology would be world-class.
Hungary’s defence spending will hit 2% of GDP, and it was hopeful that this level would be maintained next year as well, Orbán said, noting that the country is obliged to maintain this level of spending as a member of NATO.
Orbán highlighted big investments made in the region, adding that Zalaegerszeg had become a vantage point to the future in terms of the vehicle industry, defence technology and electronics.
He also noted a deal involving Israeli company UVision to set up a JV plant in Hungary to manufacture combat drones. In addition, Europe’s most advanced ammunition factories will start operating in Várpalota next year, also operated jointly with Rheinmetall, he noted.
Further, the Airbus factory in Gyula manufacturing parts for combat helicopters started operating a year ago, he added.
The prime minister mentioned that Czech company Aero Vodochody, which manufactures combat and training aircraft, “has been taken over by Hungarians, so there is already a Hungarian-owned aircraft factory”.
Addressing the inauguration ceremony, Papperger said “Europe’s most modern and finest tank factory” provided Hungary with “outstanding defence capabilities” and had been built at record speed.
Hungary, part of the European air defence initiative, had the capability and capacity to produce air defence weapons and ammunition, he said.
“We can see that Hungary is poised to become an important player in Europe’s defence industry,” he added.
Orbán: Jobs, Inflation, Wages Top Priorities
Protecting jobs, curbing inflation and bumping up wages are vitally important for the economy, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán told public radio.
The European and Hungarian economies are now being determined by the war in Ukraine, Orbán said, adding that both would perform much better if the conflict were to come to an end.
He said “the root of the problem, the war, cannot be remedied; while there’s no peace, the war economy will be here to stay.”
“Brussels bureaucrats won’t end the sanctions” even though Hungary had been urging it to do so, he said. Ending the war would change the environment for the European economy overnight, he said.
“Peace is the only politically and ethically right approach,” he added. The government, Orbán said, was focusing on protecting jobs, noting 70,000-80,000 job vacancies in the country.
He said the Hungarian economy was geared towards providing employment to Hungarians” and the government is in the position “to offer work to anyone who wants it”.
The prime minister also referred to the government’s “radical measures” to combat inflation, which had put a lid on price gouging.
He noted the government’s inflation target of 6% for 2024, adding that the figure could be as low as 5%”.