Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán recited a litany of successes in his state-of-the-nation address Sunday, arguing that “the last ten years were the most successful ten years in Hungary’s last 100 years.”
“With due modesty,” Mr. Orbán declared to the crowd at Budapest’s Várkert Bazár, “we figured out what to do and we did it,” citing an average 2.8 percent annual GDP growth rate since 2010 and an average of 3.4 percent since 2013.
According to economic reports released in Brussels this week, Mr. Orbán noted, “in 2019 the Hungarian economy registered the highest growth rate on the whole continent.”
Hungary has maintained steady growth while keeping wealth inequality at a moderate level by European standards, he said, noting that Hungary’s broader society has benefited from the country’s growth.
The Prime Minister said that even the country’s more vulnerable demographic groups such as young people, workers over 50, mothers, and low-skilled workers have all been able to find jobs, and that wages had increased significantly.
Referring to the early payoff of loans, Orbán said his administration had “sent the IMF home” while managing to create 850,000 jobs, put the country’s finances in order, and move toward “a reunification of the nation.”
The Prime Minister also made reference to new alliances with neighbouring Slovakia, Serbia, Croatia, and Slovenia, while also insisting that “our nation knows that Hungary comes first.”
“History has again given central European peoples a chance to build a new alliance based on their own national interests, allowing us to defend ourselves against threats from both the east and the west,” Mr. Orbán said.
As is his wont, the Prime Minister also found occasion to criticize the pretensions of the European Union.
“Over the past ten years we also learned that Europe is not in Brussels,” the prime minister said. “Europe is us and we don’t have to please the tired Brussels elites. In the past we used to think that Europe was our future but today we know that we are the future of Europe.”
“The debate has been going on for ten years as to how they should evaluate our economic and social model,” Orbán said, adding that “one cannot even say in the liberal, Brussels euro-blabla language what is happening in Hungary.”
Noting that it was a government of former communists that had made Hungary go bust with their liberal politics, Orbán quipped that “a liberal is nothing but than a communist with a diploma.”
“Europe’s economy, and in particular the euro zone region, has simply stalled,” Orbán said, while noting that 85 percent of Hungary’s exports has gone to those countries. “This means that their problem is our problem,” he said.
Moreover, he said, in Europe today “the rights of violent criminals have become more important to decision makers than those of law-abiding citizens.”
“They mock justice, the life instincts of honest people and are ready to defend perpetrators instead of victims,” he said.
Foreign-funded organizations backed by U.S. billionaire George Soros “and their hired lawyers are filing a myriad of lawsuits, abusing the protection of rights,” Orbán said.
“In 2015,” Orbán said, “human trafficking groups disguised as human rights organizations allowed waves of migrants into Europe.” They were, of course, “financed by George Soros.”
Maintaining and modernizing jobs will remain an important goal for Hungary in 2020, Mr. Orbán said, adding that he intends to cut payroll taxes as well as taxes on small businesses.
This past week the Orbán administration rolled out a climate protection plan that includes eliminating illegal waste sites and penalizing polluters.
Under the plan, ten new trees will be planted for every newborn baby in Hungary, Orbán noted Sunday, and by 2030 the proportion of the country’s forest area will be increased to 27 percent.