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Ferenc Gyurcsány’s State of the Nation's speech held on 11 February 2012

Welcome Ladies and Gentlemen!

Thank you very much for attending this event and for deciding to talk about Hungary, the Republic of Hungary this afternoon.

I wish to address this speech to the citizens who are able and ready, even if only for an hour, to look behind their intense emotions that may sometimes seem justified or are really justified and to think over where Hungary is at the end of this winter or in the early spring of 2012 and where we could go together. I don’t wish to fuel emotions but, on the contrary, I would like to attract a thoughtful attention to our messages.

Hungary is in trouble. It is in greater trouble than at any time in the past twenty years. I know there are many people who say Orbán is to blame. I suggest: don't be satisfied only with that, we should not be satisfied only with that. I can say that in other words as well: it would be too easy to get over the problem with this statement. We have to enlighten further details if we need to face the real problems and troubles of the country and what is more, the misery of not just a few people.

I won’t go back to Aristotle – as does a university student at the exam if he/she encounters a complicated problem - but I would go to a date of at least twenty years ago. Twenty years ago, twenty two years ago, in the period of change of political regime in Hungary, the political community redefined itself. They said that we, republican democrats wanted to have a pro-Western, liberal, civil Hungary with parliamentary democracy, constitutionality, market economy and with people listening to each other, bearing responsibility for each other.

With very few exceptions, the entire Hungarian political community shared in this type of democratic republicanism. They knew who they were, what they wanted to achieve, their inspirations and ideals were unambiguous, the program of republic was clear.

Twenty years ago, nearly twenty years ago, in 1992, a rupture occurred in the republican political community, earlier believed to be unified integral and strong. Something new, an old-new conception, an old-new idea appeared, something which we supposed that we had reckoned with, were through with and that would never come back again. A writer who turned grey both in talent and in a hardly acceptable passion, István Csurka was the first who showed in an essay that there exists a kind of tradition other than republicanism. A tradition that called itself national but about which the majority thought – and we are also part of this majority – that reference to the nation means nothing else and nothing more than masking those wild and for us unacceptable, mad ideas which drove Csurka and his comrades.

The first prime minister of the republic, József Antall, founder of the modern Hungarian conservatism knew and understood what his duty was. He was aware of the fact that it was intolerable to compromise with Mr Csurka. He and the national liberals accepted the glove at that time and it seemed for many of us that this would only be a transitional fight and would not threaten the republic of 1990.

Today we already know that this is not true. The republic is in danger, the third Republic of Hungary has failed for lots of people, in the view of many. Those have won who started their fight twenty years ago and acquired considerable influence and by now almost majority not only in the politics but also in the Hungarian society.

Republicans represent today a political-social minority. Together with those who are close to us in views, we feel like we are republican patriots, republican Hungarians. We are fighting for this.

There were things that bound us together 20 or 22 years ago, such things that instead of distinguishing conservatives, liberals, social democrats and socialists, rather constituted a common fundament of this democratic republicanism. Which were these matters?

We all shared the view that, after many centuries of fighting for independence, between Byzantium and Paris, Hungary has to anchor its boat, its ferryboat to the West, definitively. Yes, we have always believed that Hungary had to look at Paris, that Hungary needed to find friends, examples, and assisting hands, supporters in the world of the new Republic of Hungary from Berlin, Rome, London and Paris. And Hungary has actually got this support.

In 1990 we still thought that, although our Constitution still bore marks of the year 1949 due to its historic origin, but essentially, we created a new, democratic constitution based on the rule of law, although such a constitution was still adopted by the previous, bygone regime, all parties of the first, freely elected parliament provided political, public legitimacy to it. This Constitution became the constitution of a pro-Western, civil Hungary acceptable for everybody.

We believed 20-22 years ago that it was good to be free. That we must arrange Hungary according to the idea, the notion of freedom, we must make free the earlier oppressed civil world, make free the economy, the culture, make free the confession of religion, the choice of identity; we thought that freedom was the essence of the new republic.

And yes, we thought that freedom alone would not bring about a liveable Hungary. We wanted to furnish it with social attendance and care; we understood that freedom and the related responsibility would not establish equal opportunities for everybody and therefore, conservatives, leftist liberals and social democrats all regarded the social approach as part of the Hungarian constitutionality. It was this that linked us.

We knew that we were linked by the protection of human dignity, that we must be equal in our fundamental human rights. That there is no good and bad Hungarian. That there is no such Hungarian that we need better than the other. We knew that we have to deem even the mostly desolated people as patriots and if anybody needs help and attention, they are exactly the ones who have less in their lives. That we would like to have such a world where wealth involves obligations and where those who stand high have more responsibility than those who stand low. Not only did we socialists and social democrats think this, so did the Hungarian conservatives and so did the Hungarian liberals.

We shared the opinion of József Antall who said that, although in terms of public law, he was the prime minister of ten million Hungarians, in his mind he wanted to bear responsibility for all Hungarians living beyond the frontiers of Hungary. He believed this with regard to the new Hungary. But he was able and ready to link the representation of Hungarians living beyond the frontiers with regional and European responsibility, with good neighbourhood policy and neither József Antall nor a number of generations of politicians following Antall made any concession to nationalism, to the Hungarian cultural or political supremacy. Because we were of the opinion that the Hungarian democracy must forget the concept of exclusion, contempt, prejudice and Hungarian supremacy. These were the supporting pillars of the republic of 1990.

These supporting pillars have fallen down, these pillars no longer hold together all citizens of Hungary but, as it came to light, a counter-Hungary was established. A counter-Hungary against the republican Hungary. This is the Hungary that has by now achieved a strong political representation, which Hungary is represented by Viktor Orbán’s government.

This Hungary does not believe in the idea of Europe. This Hungary seeks eastern winds. This Hungary does not look to Paris or Berlin; not Brussels is the place of cooperation for this Hungary, Brussels means a threat to it and it rather looks at the autocratic, despotic, oligarchic, eastern-type regimes.

This counter-Hungary is not a world of freedom but it is the world of an authority-conforming, enforced order and humility. This counter-Hungary is afraid of free citizens, is afraid of competition, is afraid of the market, and is afraid of the external world. This Hungary represents the isolation ethos of the 20th century’s history which means for Hungary that all those who are outside represent sources of danger.

This Hungary regards poverty as a crime and a shame, rather than a damned situation, a common task to be fought down. This Hungary, this counter-Hungary does not want to elevate but wants to punish and despise poor people. It does not want to integrate them in the political community, does not want to open opportunities for them, just the contrary; it sends them the message that they are not needed.

And this Hungary thinks that even though we have a common history, culture and language, and the Hungarian national community extends beyond the frontiers, this is not enough for them, they want to expand their political control, they want to continue the fight that caused so many tragedies in the past and, as a heir of the nationalist movements bringing about so much tragedy, they mix the duties of the state with the possibilities and responsibilities of the nation.

Ladies and Gentlemen!

It would be easy for us if we had only to meditate that, sooner or later, we should beat Orbán politically. It is not this that is our task. Orbán’s government can be beaten sooner or later. However, that is not the question. The question is what should the attitude of republican democrats be towards the counter-Hungary that has been built up in the past twenty years and which is supported by hundreds thousands or even millions of people and how the divided political community, i.e. the republicans and those who call themselves national will co-exist. Is there, can there still be peace in Hungary some time? Can those who think that the great issue of nation can be dissolved and consummated in the issue of republic find each other once? And how will those who think that we need to choose between nation and republic react to that? And in case the issue of nation requires us to cast away the issue of republic, the democracy, then we have to cast away the latter because the great, emotional and spiritual cause of nation has priority! This is the real question of Hungary.

And those who saw how many people accompanied István Csurka, the person mentioned earlier, on his last earthly journey a few days ago, those can perceive: our task is not to simply to conquer Mr Orbán, our duty is to convince a great number of Hungarian citizens, to convince also those who have an opinion about Hungary that is very different from ours. Because Orbán will be gone – we can more or less promise this to him – but the Hungary that regards itself as a nation, the so-called national Hungary will remain. And this country cannot live in war.

There is no place for the politics of revenge, though I know, many people would like to take revenge. There is no place for fervours to chase away or to banish, though I know, some people would instinctively say the same for the intention to banish us. There is no place for anathema because an anathema would, sooner or later, strike back on all of us.

In turn, there would be place for an understanding why this all happens with us, why the history of the past twenty years of the Hungarian political community made this gigantic change and how the Hungarian political elite can be reunited. This latter is not a necessity at all because we need political alternatives – but we have to reunite the population, the citizens of Hungary in a big common cause, the cause of the homeland, the cause of the republic, the cause of the nation. This is the real issue.

All that I told about until know, determines everything that is happening, has happened in Hungary in the past two years. Our foreign policy has not become as it is by itself. The attitude towards Europe demonstrated by our government does not develop by itself. The reason why the economic policy of this government is as it is is not because the Ministry of National Economy is led by this minister.

Orbán Viktor’s government has bigger ambition than to administer Hungary in the four years of its mandate. Orbán did not want to administer the country but to change system. And, if I understand and see it correctly, the change of system has been completed now. It has been completed, because this policy, incorporating everything he thought about Hungary, which he deems himself to be committed to and which was supported by many people; this policy has power and influence, even if there is not very much success. However, it is quite clear that not mere political alternatives, not personal alternatives are against each other but two different worldviews about Hungary that unfortunately – as it seems nowadays – exclude each other.

The Hungarian Prime Minister undertook to become the leader of one of these two worlds and all of those who are against it must understand that we do not have simple economic-policy, social and taxation-related debate with each other but the disagreement between us covers the fundamental image, intentions, objectives, will and culture of the country which causes very hard living conditions in Hungary. Because Hungarians confront Hungarians.

Today we speak about the situation of Hungary, about the past period and of course, we will speak about the future as well, a bit later. Hungary is not alone, it has never been alone. On the other hand, Hungary has never been so lonely before as it is nowadays. Hungary has never had such a small number of friends in the world as it has nowadays. Hungary has never before looked at the world in such a hostile way, as it does now.

Viktor Orbán puts sovereignty as the focus of its politics and foreign policy. I am of the opinion that this question was put in a false way. The modern politics is not about sovereignty. In Central Europe the issue of sovereignty was an important issue. Sovereignty established the ideological fundament for independency ambitions, independency movements and policies. The idea of sovereignty in the 19th century was a necessity for development of independent nation-states in Central-Europe. In this respect I think, this is a positive heritage.

But modern politics do not mean alone that one shall be sovereign by any means. This is a profane example; it is not my invention either, although I used it already in a night parliamentary debate. Which country is more sovereign? North Korea or South Korea? North. And which country is richer? Which is happier? Which is more successful? Which country’s citizens want to escape to the other country over the fencing? Whether the southern citizens want to get to the North or on the contrary?

The modern world means that I cooperate with many other countries in accordance with my national interests, taking them into account. It means that we establish cooperation institutions and organizations, just because we see that the world is more complex, more complicated and more multifaceted than we could cope with alone. The most successful countries of the world are open countries. The most successful countries of the world see cooperation with other countries as an opportunity. The most successful countries of the world represent the interests of their own nation in the manner that they are able to coordinate those with the interests of other nations. This is what the world is about.

The central term of modern politics is not sovereignty but the increase of the national scope for manoeuvre. The Hungarian Prime Minister has reduced Hungary’s scope for manoeuvre in the past two years. Maybe he believes that we became more sovereign, but he established a sad barrack in the place of the happiest barrack. It is possible that he believes that we are sovereign within the barrack but we see that we remain alone, we are desolated and unfortunately, we are often despised not for reason of performance, talent and culture of the citizens of the country but exactly because of its obsessed government.

I think that an erroneous foreign affairs strategy originated from an erroneous national strategy and this erroneous foreign affairs strategy has naturally gone bust by now. It went bust because, while Hungary's relations with Europe and the most influential overseas countries became practically frozen, Hungary was unable to acquire new friends from the East. Hungary fell between two stools as a result of Orbán Viktor’s foreign policy.

We cannot say anything else: please wake up. We cannot say anything else: please accept the offered cooperation. Please believe that they don’t want to punish Hungary, Hungary is not a scapegoat for any western state and what happens here is not good for Hungary and not good for the world either!

Secondly: We speak much about the cause of constitutionality, the cause of democracy. I will not tell you where we are in agreement with each other. And we are in agreement in almost everything; at least we here, in this room. No doubt: those are right who say that no authorization can be given for dismantling the democratic constitutionality, the rule of law even by democratic elections. And in this respect, Orbán’s regime is illegitimate. It is illegitimate because we have not authorized him by democratic authorization to give a one-party constitution to Hungary that fundamentally re-writes and overwrites this democratic heritage.

We have to tell you that the republican community cannot have any other ambition than to restore the conditions built on the ethos of the constitution of 1989, the system of checks and balances, the rule of law. And to make it clear that the new republican social and political majority has to qualify all heads of institutions that were appointed on the basis of the one-party constitution or on the basis of cardinal laws arising from the one-party constitution as illegitimate and we need to establish the possibility of their removal because their oath sworn on the republic was false. They accepted to serve Viktor Orbán’s party power ambitions instead of serving the Republic. But we will not accept it.

You could have read the news in a newspaper recently that a large and successful factory in the country will dismiss 2300 employees. You could also have read that the top executive officer of this international company begged the Hungarian Prime Minister for weeks to meet him in order to discuss the matter. I would like to be fair to the Prime Minister. I don’t find it difficult to do so. As far as we have information on the situation, the Prime Minister would have not been able to hinder the company concerned to start to moving jobs to the Far East as part of its global strategy. Most probably, it was already a decided fact. But lots of details were still open.

In all certainty, it would have been possible to discuss how such a painful step could be organized with the least possible pain and with the fairest transition. The government has a number of appropriate organizations for cooperation: labour authorities, social institutions, retraining centres. This could have been discussed.

Not to mention that the current top executive officer of the international company in question is a former prime minister of the mother country. This way, such a person tried his luck at the Prime Minister who was, quasi, a colleague. What does the Prime Minister think, what kind of picture will be created on him, what kind of picture will be created of this country? What does the Prime Minister think, are 2300 persons not worth spending an hour for? Is it not worth it for the Prime Minister to spend an hour so that one could say that he behaves as is considered normal there, in the club, in that European club?

Politics are made by human beings. But I see that the Hungarian Prime Minister confuses the sovereignty of his country and that of his personal position with loneliness. If he consciously wants to be lonely, he has chosen the wrong road. Loneliness is a killer in politics. One needs partners in politics.

Hungary is the fourth or fifth most industrialized country in Europe when taking as scale of industrialization what percentage of our overall national income is generated by industrial production. A considerable part of this industrial production is provided by companies whose headquarters are in Hungary. The traditional Hungarian industry – from Lehel Gépgyár (refrigerator factory) to Ikarus (buses) – has significantly changed, was liquidated or works with a reduced staff. We can mourn this. If Fidesz wants to do that, it can send an investigative committee – frankly speaking, one more or less of these does not matter. But it is a fact that a considerable part of the Hungarian industry is in the ownership or under the control of foreign companies and our most important task is to make the domestic small and medium-sized enterprises capable of becoming cooperating partners of such foreign companies. To become partners.

The country that sees the international world as an enemy, the country that is, otherwise, the most open country of the region and 80% of whose one-year national income comes from foreign trade, that country must learn cooperation with the large economic operators. I do not say that we should look on silently when a large international supermarket chain abuses its power. Hell no! It is the state’s responsibility not to look on silently!

I don’t say that the Prime Minister or the government should just shrug its shoulders when an international company treats its suppliers or workers dishonestly. The government’s power is supposed to be used to smite! But the government should know why to smite: just for the existence of that company or because it infringes rules, norms, culture by its existence.

It is in Hungary’s interest that such companies come here to invest. It is Hungary’s interest that they see us as a place that is worth coming to. That this country has such a government and people who are pleased to welcome foreigners here.

I don’t think that it is beneficial for Hungary if one only hears that the Hungarian government sees everyone visiting us from abroad to be enemies. I don’t think so.

A few years ago we still knew exactly that the country shall have duties and its government shall have duties in reducing the pain of poverty and in finding ways out of the poverty. If I understand it well and I am informed well, many of the members sitting opposite us in the Parliament are of poor origin, were children of not wealthy families. They have made a nice career by now. By reason of their performance, luck or, who knows, on which basis. It is impossible not to see that the pressure of poverty has never before been as painful as it is in the recent years.

There has always been poverty in Hungary. There was poverty even during our governments. Why should we deny it? I am afraid, there will be poverty still for a very long time. There will be people still for a very long time who live under such a circumstance that they feel that it is an enormous burden to survive the next day or the day after tomorrow and they need to use every effort to subsist but many of them lose their strength. We cannot promise that this situation will cease once and for all. Most probably, this is not true. But it is not the same at all how we treat this poverty.

We do not have any debate that the economy of the country must evidently be based upon talent, diligence and work, but I see that, for this reason, the individual enrichment must be also based on this talent and performance. However, the government seems not to comprehend that there are hundreds of thousands of people who would like to work but who have no opportunity to do so. It is not true that everybody is fraud who does not work.

It is not true that everybody tries to find an easier way than working and wants to live on aid. Certainly, there are examples of that as well. Certainly. But we meet a large number of people who suffer from the fact that they still have strength, talent and resoluteness but they have no opportunity to work and they do not receive at least some empathy, openness, and a humane word from the government. Instead, there is cynicism. The cynicism of the 47 thousand forints.

We have to say that the affliction is serious itself. The government should not cap it all by humiliating those who have a hard life anyway, telling them: “you deserved your lot!” Politics cannot be made just by punishing. Better alternatives are the encouragement and incitement and in my opinion, a respectable[NR1]  government and a respectable country primarily encourages. It helps finding the way.

I am looking around in this room and see a teacher who has not had any job in Budapest for one year and a half. For one and a half years. After more than a hundred applications. The government should not say to her: “You are to blame”. They should turn back from this route because the country is mumpish. The fact that citizens of the country ran out of strength and don’t have almost any hope, comes partly – I repeat: partly – from this kind of callousness and cynicism rather than from a rigidity of the situation, as described by the figures. We would like to have such a government that, while making efforts to ensure that work should be the source for progress rather than trickery, also sees those who do every effort or sometimes even their utmost and still live hard.

When speaking about poor people, we should not forget speaking about the Hungarian Gypsies, in other words the Hungarian Roma. This is a reasonably sensitive issue not gladly mentioned by politicians because a wrong sentence, a false attribute may cause enormous trouble. We have to proceed from the fact that they are Hungarian citizens. We have to proceed from the fact that the quality of their life must be important for us. If a country proclaims its mostly afflicted, mostly exposed, poorest citizens to be scapegoats, then this country, whether deliberately or not, may undergo a moral decay.  

It is clear that everyone who is, if only a little, well read, remembers that social culture of the Gypsies differs from ours in very many respects. Their family life is different from ours and the role of women is traditionally other in a Roma family than in our families. They have other attitudes towards the traditional industrial, commercial or agricultural activities than we have. Maybe they are not good at what we are good at, but there are lots of things where they are better. And their style of living is frequently very different from what we think about a manner of living. We know that.

We know too that the dashed poverty and distress that falls on lots of them, how to say, leads them sometimes to hard, disputable ways and very often immense conflicts develop between poor and less poor people, between Roma and not Roma, especially in small settlements. And I am aware of the fact too that it is much easier to speak about this question in a nicely furnished room of a hotel in Budapest, in a suit with tie, in the circle of middle-class men and women and it is quite different to personally experience these conflicts in a small village where wrangles occur very often and where such conflicts gain very quickly an ethnic character – which is sometimes justified and sometimes not.

I would only like to say that we have about 6-800 thousand compatriots in the country living in deplorable circumstances, whose majority, I think, feels very miserable because they think that a larger part of the country sees quite simply only problems and evil in them. If only one single Roma family makes huge efforts in the hope of a better, more honest, more decent life and works hard so that at least their children will have better life – and certainly there is not only one but many ten thousands or, I hope, several hundred thousands of such families – then Gypsy people cannot be characterized by crime.   If only one single person suffers insults merely for the reason that his/her father or mother is Roma, then it is we who kill part of the world with our own hands. It is unforgiveable! We must not make any concession to the radical-called fascists for abusing Gypsies. We must not allow it!

Of course, it does not mean that I want to exculpate anybody from any action, but in my opinion, rights and obligations as well as the responsibilities are equal for everybody but unfortunately, chances to living are extremely unequal. Extremely unequal. And those who have an easier life must extend their hands to those who have a different fortune.

Therefore, although I will not speak much about party politics, at this point I should say: I am unable to understand and accept that a party calling itself democratic, how on earth is it able to shake hands with Jobbik, this fascist party. I am unable to understand it.

The really great question for all generations is, what will then happen with the next generation? We have heard from our parents, I too have heard from my mother and father so often: well, my son, such is life but it will already be better for you. My mother told me many times that they worked very hard in order to provide me with a better life. And I suppose most of the parents say that they would give their eyesight for us – for their children and grandchildren. That is fantastic.

There will be a lot of things that can be changed relatively easily if once this majority becomes a minority again – and I hope, this will occur in the not too distant future. For changing some arrangements one day will be sufficient and for changing others a month will be needed. But there are things that will be very difficult to change. I see the approach of the government to children, school, education, public education, vocational training and higher education as one of the most destructive, most antonymic – I don’t want to use stronger attributes – sets of measures in this government cycle.

If, after 1945 when the European welfare states came into existence and it was clear that the outlawed people who were significantly limited in opportunities could be sent to the forefront in order to die for their homeland if necessary, then, when they come back, they couldn’t be kept in the same outlawry as before. Among others, this is the mental and cultural basis of the big wave of democratization that swept through the western half of Europe. This wave of democratization had a human right related, political part. But the social possibilities, the democratization of access to culture and knowledge were not less important.

The nations understood that the quality of their performance and their strength, particularly in the modern time, largely depends on what kind of culture and knowledge their citizens have, how many languages they speak so that talented people find ways to advance.

Hungary has implemented actually the same, i.e. the democratization of culture and knowledge, under quite different circumstances, not as part of the Western world. After the change of political regime, there was an understanding between us that this democratized culture and knowledge must not change while so many other things change. That the access to a good school, the possibility of admittance to university must remain open for anybody. That this is good both for the children and the families and, last but not least, for the whole nation. That everybody who is able should have the chance to learn and that we should encourage them and open the doors of schools to them. That there should not be a blatant difference between schools in the towns and those in the villages.

In this respect our governments, the governments of liberals and socialists have made a lot of abiding measures that are, in my opinion, acceptable even today. We tried to bring children with very different family backgrounds nearer. And we continued the open higher education policy that, in a certain manner, was inherited by us from Pokorni's world since it was he who opened the doors to the higher education that had been, incidentally, very narrowly open earlier. But the current situation is very different from that mentioned above.

Hungarian education has a tradition of 20 -30 years where the school and the teachers inside are independent and we trust in them. That I believe that the teacher finds the way of solving the pedagogical problems. That I give him/her liberty. That I don’t look at the teacher as a semi-skilled worker who gets instructions from Szalay Street in Budapest (the Ministry of Education) on how to teach.

And a new regime came who hates the liberty of teachers, who hates the liberty of schools and who hates the diversity and liberty of children. A new regime came that sees the liberal teacher, the liberal school and the liberal child as an enemy, a rival. Actually, those who want to make the school into a servant of the political regime, those bankrupt their nation. While Orbán’s regime refers to the nation, I think that all he does with school is the most unnational attitude.

The example of Benedek Fliegauf incites me very much to say a few words about what occurs in the culture, that is made with the liberty of art but I worry about him because even less than these words can be enough for this enormously egocentric and aggressive rightist power to label him as an enemy just because an oppositionist politician found his work honourable.   For this reason, I will not say his name again. Only dictatorships tried to place direct orders to the world of art and culture in order to serve the legitimacy of their own power. Only dictatorships.

I don’t want to make unkind remarks about governmental commissioners; I would say only one longer sentence or perhaps a string of thoughts. Anyhow, art is still re-creation and redefinition of the world by human beings. It is not only simple repetition but also multiplication and enrichment of it through a very special language. Art is re-creation. Art is the godship itself embodied in human beings. Writing and painting are the ability of creation. Nobody told the Creator even, how the human being should look like. You cannot stipulate to the creating human being how his creature should look like. You cannot stipulate how to play Richard III – though it's high time for the Prime Minister to go to see this play finally. Albeit, he may have read the first scene and that might be just the reason why he is as is.

Naturally, in a country like Hungary the state has much to do for art and culture. The private economy of Hungary is not so strong as to be able to easily finance theatres, films, and cultural magazines and to create favourable conditions for the fine arts or anything else. Therefore I am of the opinion that, while we too share a lot of things in the economic-social liberalism, I believe that we continue to think that the state will still have task in this field for a long time.

But the state is not a fastidious, parvenu or aggressive buyer who tells what good art and what bad art is. People spending their own money, may decide what to see, what to buy, what to support. It is their own business. But the state’ money is our money. And our money is the money of the mass of democratic people with manifold tastes. In the art patronage by the state, the underlying social diversity must be expressed. The kind of liberty that is inseparable part of the artist or art.

Orbán does not understand anything of that. It seems as if Orbán had a switch in his head that has only two positions: 0 and 1. Actually, I like monochrome painting very much. Monochrome painting plays with one colour or its tones as well as with the texture. Still before our rightist critics would think that this is a kind of Hungarian nonsense, I am telling them that it is a fantastic great trend of the 20th century that is represented by monochrome painting. I think it was already too long. But you should know that monochrome is also colourful. It may be that the relevant picture plays with only one or maximum two colours in a non-figurative manner. But the artist himself plays so that he creates something new from the interminable world of colours and from countless number of shapes and textures and, frankly speaking, we don't care whether Viktor Orbán likes it or not.

Dear Friends,

There is something that we discuss more rarely and I would like to say a few words about it. When a country is in trouble and has problems and the most complex and hardest part of such problems is poverty, then one need to find partners who understand what to do jointly. Such partners may be the Hungarian churches, the churches in Hungary.

I have to tell you that it is sometimes painful or even disappointing that – and here I want to address my apologues to the Christian churches that are in dominant positions in Hungary – that we experience much less positive from the Hungarian historical Christian churches in relation to Christian responsibility, love, humility towards poor people than that they should show in this respect. Churches are provokingly silent. They provokingly do not say any word about why it may happen in Hungary. Instead we can see – justified or unjustified – that the maintenance and extension of the influence of their own churches, in some way or the other, is more important for them than the responsibility towards poor, deprived people, the fulfilment of Christ’s teachings.

While we see that there would be much to do in this field, some other churches that otherwise really do much and act prominently, cannot work as a church in Orbán's Hungary just because the heads or the head of the relevant church (es) are critical towards Orbán's regime. I speak about Gábor Iványi who christened Viktor Orbán's first two children. I speak about Viktor Iványi… What did I say? Said I Viktor Iványi? I ask for apologies only from Gábor Iványi! I speak about Gábor Iványi who, if anybody at all, was really depressed by the previous regime. Just for his human and civil right fights, just for his self-devotion for the poor and depressed people he has gained the respect that was also felt earlier by the current prime minister and that was the reason why he took his children for christening to him. Gábor Iványi’s Christian church provides asylum and hot meal to hundreds of people every day but it seems not to be enough and if the life of a few hundred people is at stake, it does not bother them, but two critical sentences against Orbán's government is more important for them than the life of many thousand people.

I say it calmly and restrained that I think it to be despicable. And you know, if I could wish something, then I would wish much more Gábor Iványi and much less Viktor Orbán.

When I read the morning news heralding this event today, I discovered the statement in the headings of news repeatedly that it was the first time that I would hold a year-evaluation speech as the president of the Democratic Coalition party. This is true. And if this is true, let me still tell you some words about this role.

After 2010 we fought for Hungary to have a strong, large left-centre democratic party.   In other words, we wanted, wished to organize everybody, including liberals and moderate conservatives feeling congeniality with us, around the diversified civil leftist ideology. We thought that it was worth building up a large, common party of democrats against Orbán’s regime. Of course, we thought too that to this end, our former party, the Socialist Party had to change very much. Although we were also part and participants of the past and the mistakes or even bad compromises of this Party, still we thought that by 2010 we had understood better than many other of our colleagues what the economic situation was in Hungary and how to respond to that. We have fought our battle. We believe, we have done it honestly. We have also had a hard time with it.

After a while we recognized that this debate would not come to an end if we did not get things straight. It has no sense to insult each other, thereby bringing grist to the current regime’s mill. Therefore, not very happily and sometimes painfully, but we have decided to establish a new party. The ambition of this Party is clear. This Party wants to become a dominant power of the democratic centre to be organized and the biggest party of the Hungarian Left.

We deem it for our main task to link liberty with social hope. We have learned from the past twenty years that the idea of liberty and democracy is vulnerable and easy to lose if this is not associated with a feeling of social safety, the possibility of enrichment of millions of Hungarians, not only the upper ten thousand but also the large number of abandoned people living at the back of muddy streets of villages feels Hungary to be a liveable place.

We would like to have a party that understands that the moving spirit of democracy is the social safety, if we listen to each other. That nation is not merely a common cultural, lingual, historical heritage but nation also represents a social community. In our terms, social community means that we have to seek how our country can have citizens that have not only equal rights but also equal opportunities and equal life conditions, and those who have more in wealth, they have to seek it with even greater efforts and greater responsibility.

In my opinion, only leftist politics are relevant in this sense in Hungary. The politics conducted today by this government, the politics of egoism of the social middle-class, the conservative politics of a passed period cannot be continued. If Viktor Orbán continues these politics, then, whether he wants it or not, it will destroy the whole of the Hungarian democratic institution. Of course, there are people who think: he may do it consciously. Namely, after a certain time the abandoned crowd will require order at any price, will require authority at any price.

Against it we say that the cause of democracy, liberty and social affairs should go hand in hand with each other and we must hinder the impending extreme pauperization of crowds of people because it will kill the democratic Hungary itself, independently of Orbán’s intention. This is the deepest element of the program, the existence and essence of the Democratic Coalition.

I am near to finishing. You know, if I had not had started my speech as I did, namely, that political fight takes only the secondary place and primarily there is a social and cultural fight, then I would have had an easy task. I would say that it is an easy task: our political side has to gain just one more vote than our rivals. And the task is completed. If we were in Germany, I would really think that. If we were in Austria, I would also think that. But we are in Hungary.

This kind of division will not cease in Hungary just because the representative of any of these two worlds will acquire one more vote than the other. It will not cease. Therefore, I think the real question is what will happen with the world of parties rather than only and exclusively the question of who will be what in the world of winners. The real question is what is necessary for this divided country, i.e. the republican Hungary and the so-called national world to find the way to each other again. It is possible to replace, to dismiss a politician but not a country. Not even half a country.

The Hungarian Prime Minister does not understand what he risks by giving a constitution to one half of Hungary and sending the message to his opponents that in case they dare to touch this constitution then they will be confronted with his own basis, maybe exactly with those many hundred thousand or more people who demonstrated on Andrássy Street here in Budapest a few weeks ago. He does not understand it. He does not understand it because, as I see, he still believes that, in the possession of political power, the republican Hungary can be wiped out and the democratic idea of 1989-1990 can be liquidated. He is not right.

It is possible temporarily to ensure that political parties representing our views become a minority and to inflict defeat on them. It is possible to inflict such a heavy defeat on them, as was the case last time. I presume that was rather the result of our mistakes than his virtue. However, one thing is not possible: it is not possible to exclude Hungary from Hungary, to kill and to annihilate Hungary. This is not possible.

But the contrary is also true. The contrary is also true. We do not need to make political compromises. That may occur at the end. That is the easier thing. Those who see, read or hear the rhetoric and understand the language of the current Hungarian right wing with that anger and arrogance, those who hear the words of aggression know well that there won’t be quiet and peace in Hungary before we find our way back to the great cause of human dignity, equity and the democratic republic which, of course, includes the cause of nation.

What are the alternatives? Well, an alternative is that the Prime Minister, admitting his failure committed in the past two years will not consolidate but turn back from this way. I don’t want to be cynical: I wish he would choose this solution! As far as I know him, well, it does not have too much probability. On the one hand, I know exactly that – as I have already mentioned – he is not merely the reason but also the consequence of this right-swing ideology and existing social reality in Hungary, but on the other hand, we are certainly not credulous. He himself contributed to the creation of this reality.

We can find this spirit, this ideology here in Hungary. On the one hand, he is the representative and on the other hand, he is evidently the builder of this ideology. It would be nice if he backed away this ideology and changed his mind, but I hardly believe it.

If he fails to do so, we can hardly expect his followers to say: “I have followed you until now but I won’t do that any more!” Whether the greater part of Hungary, the millions in apathy, the one and half or two million people who are behind Orbán understand that we need to try to find the way towards each other; but it is impossible to find ways towards each other if they go on that way, then pessimistically, there can only be war. I don’t know. I don’t know how they think, how they see, what their mood is. There have been times when I was more optimistic in this respect but nowadays I often think that it will be very hard. It will be really very hard.

I am saying this only because, if nothing changes, then – foreseeing the enormous difficulties of the forthcoming two years and seeing this long-continued European crisis that will not bring an easy recovery – the worst scenario – that we would not like to occur and I want to argue against it – is that a common, rude awakening will open our eyes.

Recently, only a few people took the road from County Borsod-Abaúj walking to Budapest in a hunger march. In those days or weeks, a member of the Vitézy family being in a friendly relationship with Viktor Orbán was shooting a documentary film in this region. And he said – I won’t cite him literally – that those living in a large town could not imagine the deepness of poverty that he saw there. Then, he added apologizing: I did not want to hurt this government by saying that. I understand him. He is a confederate of the Prime Minister. Maybe even more.

We have to prevent destabilization and desegregation developing on the basis of social disappointment. And not because this is the correct wording but because this is the politically correct, patriotic attitude. We are interested in getting the Prime Minister to understand: if he fails to change his social policy and his ministers who can speak only cynically throw the words to the heads of people that they should live on a few ten thousand forints, though I don’t wish so, it may have serious consequences. We don’t want people to regain soberness at this price! I am of the opinion that a mature political community being in peace with itself shall be[NR2]  satisfied with less: wit insight. It is a national responsibility because one should not just talk about nation, one should act for the most downtrodden, prove the frankness and cleanness of the idea of nation. From here, we call on Viktor Orbán to act like that.

I thank you very much for spending an hour with us today. Approximately one hour. Am I right?

I would like to request you to support not just a party or our Party. Of course, you should support our Party. I would like to request you to want and dare to face the deepness of problems of the country. And please accept the opinion from me that our primary task is not just to defeat Viktor Orbán – we will do that – but to convince a great number of citizens of Hungary about the fact that this country should be a better, a more liveable place, a receptive place for everybody, in order to allow Hungary to finally find her way. Otherwise, the country will lose itself. Let’s make efforts for Hungary, for the Republic! Thank you very much!


Last Updated on Friday, 30 August 2013 09:11



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