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Orbán announces climate plan, blasts Soros in address

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán delivered his annual state-of-the-nation address yesterday at the Castle Garden Bazaar, talking about topics such as the governmentʼs climate protection plan, country building, regional relations, while lashing out against liberals, opposition parties, and investor George Soros, the long-time bête noire of the Hungarian government.

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán delivering his yearly state-of-the-nation address. (Photo: Gergely Botár/kormany.hu)

According to government website kormany.hu, Orbán began his speech by reminding the audience that this year marks the 100th anniversary of Trianon, saying "We are alive, and Hungary still exists", despite the peace treaty spelling a "death sentence" for Hungary. He added that with Slovakia, Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia restored again to national foundations, Hungary can find a common voice and forge wide cooperation, or even alliances.

The Prime Minister also recalled the goals his party set after winning the 2010 General Election. 

"We believed that either we would find a path, or we would make one. And as the paths designated by Brussels and Washington were not the right options for us, we were compelled to create a new one," he said, adding that after 10 years, he can say "with due modesty" that "we figured it out, and did it too".

Orbán also mentioned that according to an economic report released by Brussels last week, the Hungarian economy grew fastest on the entire continent.

Liberals, communists, George Soros

After praising Fideszʼs achievements, the Prime Minister went on the offensive, taking a swipe at the previous government (a coalition of socialist party MSZP and liberal party SZDSZ) ruling Hungary between 2002-2010.

"Hungary was bankrupted by a government consisting of former communists with its liberal policy," he said. "This example confirms the assumption that there is no such thing as a liberal. A liberal is a communist with a degree."

He also claimed that "had we heeded their advice, Hungary would be lying in a hospital ward, the drains of IMF and Brussels loans would be hanging from our arms, and George Soros would be controlling the tap of loans."

The question of criminal rights

Orbán also criticized the fact that a number of criminals won human rights lawsuits against the state due to the condition of Hungarian prisons. Once again, the Prime Minister claimed that George Soros is in the background, pulling the strings.

"Organizations [funded from abroad] forming part of the Soros network and their hired lawyers start masses of lawsuits, abusing the protection afforded by the law, in order to make the state pay violent criminals, and of course themselves large sums from the money of the Hungarian people. The multitude of lawsuits – 12,000 lawsuits – cost billions. We cannot just stand by as onlookers,” he told the audience.

Regarding the HUF 100 million court award to segregated Roma school children in the countryside town of Gyöngyöspata, Orbán said the case in question began just when Roma families started changing over to a new lifestyle, and the court decision which turned the people of Gyöngyöspata against one another shattered this hopeful process "like a bolt of lightning". One more time, the Prime Minister blamed George Soros for the situation, saying that he is financing the organization which instituted the court procedure.

Orbán argued that ethnic origin cannot be a disadvantage or stigma, while adding that it likewise cannot provide any advantage or privilege, and everyone regardless of origin must work for their money.

Climate protection plan

The Prime Minister announced that this week the government had adopted a climate protection action plan, and they had also created a program that would help in turning 90% of the electricity generated in Hungary carbon-free by 2030.

"The climate crisis and demographic decline are emerging as threats, while ominous clouds are gathering over the European economy as well," he said.

He also argued that "climate protection has become something of a fashion in politics" and the great deal of empty talk compromises the seriousness of the issue. It is time for action instead of talk, he said.

In his address, Orbán pointed out that from July 1 the elimination of illegal waste disposal sites will begin, and that the government will impose penalties on polluters. Hungary will ban the distribution of single-use plastics and will introduce deposit return schemes on bottles, plastic bottles and cans, he listed. He added that they will protect rivers from waste coming from abroad.

According to the Prime Minsiter, the government will take stringent action against multinational companies operating in Hungary which will be required to use environmentally friendly technologies. Additionally, in the next two years, they will support the renewable energy production of SMEs with HUF 32 billion.

He added that the government will plant 10 trees for every new-born child, and by 2030 the territory of the country covered with forests will increase to 27%. In the next 10 years, they will increase the capacity of solar power plants six-fold. They will support the wider appearance and use of cheap electric cars, and from 2022 they will only permit the commissioning of electric buses in urban public transport, he said.

He stressed that they will also introduce Green Government Bonds, and the government will agree to use their proceeds only for climate-friendly programs.

Orbán hints at expanding family support measures

Regarding the status of the family protection action plan, Orbán said more than 100,000 people have received baby expecting loans to date; this was the 10th most popular term Internet users looked for in Hungary. He also said that the income tax exemption of mothers with four children makes life easier for 40,000 families.

"I know that, after mothers with four children, personal income tax exemption should also be granted to mothers with three children sooner or later. I also know that today, in the first six months after birth, mothers receive 70% of their average earnings in the year before, and this should be raised to 100%, in which case in the first six months after giving birth they would make more money than without having given birth at all,” he said.

Orbán also mentioned the free language and driving tests offered to young people, adding that these should be extended to mothers on maternity leave as well.

Protecting the economy

The Prime Minister underlined that in 2020 and also thereafter the government will have to concentrate on preserving jobs. Orbán said the European economy, and in particular, the Eurozone has simply come to a halt; 85% of Hungarian goods are bound for these countries. Therefore, their problem is also our problem, he added.

As key points in protecting the Hungarian economy, the Prime Minister highlighted that the government is preparing to reduce the tax burden on small businesses, and aiming at preserving the value of pensions.

He also criticized the European Unionʼs economic policy. According to him, if Hungary, the Hungarian fiscal system, social system and labor market "are regulated into the economic order of a United States of Europe," Hungaryʼs development, too, will come to a halt. Regarding the introduction of euro, he said that "We shouldn’t get on a train whose destination is unknown."