A couple of day ago I very briefly wrote about Viktor Orbán’s latest speech. I concentrated on his duplicity vis-à-vis the European Union, but he talked about many other topics that are worth investigating.
Those who think that the Hungarian prime minister doesn’t carefully measure his words are mistaken. For example, critics of the present government laugh heartily over his claim that “we are a thousand-year-old victorious nation.” Ha! Since when? The last time Hungary was victorious on the battlefield was in the fifteenth century. But wait, Orbán carefully measured every word. The Hungarian nation is victorious because it has been around for a thousand years. So, its sheer survival is a victory. Because of Hungary’s history and geographic position, one might have assumed that Hungarians would have disappeared in the sea of Germans and Slavs. But no, they survived. That is a victory of the first order.
What sticks in the mind of his audience is the adjective “victorious” without the qualifying assertions. And indeed he elaborated on the theme. If Hungarians look upon themselves as victorious they must break with the old habit of self-pity, resignation, reliance on others, and living on other people’s money. In brief, Hungarians must think big. Greatness is not a question of land mass but of achievement.
Many commentators were baffled by what they called “a new Biblical-theological category”–what Orbán called “duty derived from the given situation” (állapotbeli kötelesség). After repeated readings of this passage I came to the conclusion that “duty derived from the given situation” has a simple meaning: those who were born in Hungary are Hungarians, this fact is not a matter of chance, and those born in Hungary must perform certain duties. Profound, isn’t it?
Another startling announcement was that in the last two years Hungary’s situation stabilized. Most economists would disagree. The country today is in worse shape than it was two years ago. But what does he mean by stabilization? Not at all what you and I would. This stabilization seems to have two components. One is that the budget deficit is below 3%; the second, that Hungary has a new constitution. The former constitution was built on sand as opposed to the new constitution that was erected on a granite foundation. And how was this stabilization achieved? Through national unity. Of course, we know that this national unity has never existed, not even in 2010 when only about half of the voters opted for Fidesz. Today Fidesz’s core voters number only 1.2 million, a loss of more than 2 million.
Orbán seemed to have fallen in love with this “duty derived from the given situation” phrase and returned to it as the guiding principle of the future. Europe will necessarily be weak in the future, and he and his colleagues in Fidesz must prepare the Hungarian people for a new world order in which Europe will lose its importance in the world. That loss of importance can be measured in military terms as well.
As far as national security goes, Orbán didn’t close the door to NATO but made it clear that regional armies will play a growing role in defense. Against whom? Clearly, against Russia. Countries in the east-central European region from the Baltic to the Adriatic should work out some kind of military and economic zone against Russian penetration. This is not at all new. Viktor Orbán talked about this idea of his many times. I don’t, however, see any signs of a willingness on the part of Hungary’s neighbors in the region to follow Orbán’s lead.
In the rest of Europe people are angry but in Hungary there is unity and social calm. Orbán obviously finds the “Peace March” organized by some of the extremist supporters of Fidesz a very important sign of support that showed the world that the Hungarian people are behind his government.
We might laugh about Viktor Orbán’s visit to Kazakhstan, but it seems that the Hungarian prime minister considers that trip extremely important. “One must again take a look at the German-Hungarian and the French-Hungarian agreements and there must be a similar agreement between Hungary and Kazakhstan because the most important task is to prepare the way for the time following the conclusion of the economic crisis.” If Hungary’s fate depends on Kazakhstan, we are in real trouble.
As for an analysis of the situation of the European Union, Viktor Orbán offered the following observations. The southern states when they joined the Union received a fantastic opportunity to catch up with their northern neighbors. But they concentrated on tourism instead of the “industrialization of their countries.” By now it is evident that “without production no economy can function. … The Germans produce while the southerners consume.” Therefore Hungary in the future will have to start a re-industrialization program. Hungary must establish “production centers” because production capacities will shift from western to central Europe.
As for sovereign debt, Hungary must remain in the financial markets “despite the lure of the IMF” although Orbán admitted that Hungary needs the IMF’s safety net. In addition, Hungary will look around for money in the East as well.
Orbán also outlined his government’s goal: industrialization, development of agriculture and atomic energy, and full employment. Full employment for him means 5.5 million people employed and an unemployment rate of 3.5%. Currently the number of employed in Hungary is 3.8 million and the unemployment rate is 11.6%. In order to make Hungary a flourishing country the Hungarian government must take steps to entice young Hungarian talent to return to Hungary from abroad. Considering that currently half of the people between the ages 18 and 30 want to leave the country, a flow of returnees is pretty unlikely.
While these utopian ideas were being outlined the forint was falling again because it is becoming obvious that, despite the Hungarian government’s assurances of early IMF negotiations, it very much looks as if Viktor Orbán doesn’t want to sit down and negotiate with the International Monetary Fund. György Matolcsy, Orbán’s right hand, made no bones about it: the Hungarian government does not want to have a guardian (gyám). In response to which Zsófia Mihancsik wrote a funny piece entitled “I do want a guardian!