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Orbán urges national influence in key sectors

Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán sees the importance of “significant domestic ownership” in the country’s key sectors, such as media, banking, energy and retail, the leader said during an economic forum yesterday in Kyrnica, Poland, according to a report by Hungarian news agency MTI.

Orbán receives the "Man of the Year" award yesterday, an accolade distributed at the forum. (Photo: MTI/Balázs Szecsődi)

Promoting the idea of economic patriotism, the prime minister was quoted as saying that domestic ownership in Hungary is currently at “appropriate levels,” despite the retail sector. According to Orbán, it is often said that money has no smell, yet “the owner of the money does,” apparently a reference to the investors of the money. 

The Hungarian government has already expressed criticism of the presence of multinationals in the retail sector. Hungary’s Cabinet Chief János Lázár said mid-June he would be “content to chase multinationals away,” as these companies “haul Europe’s rubbish” into the country. He was reported as saying that the Hungarian governmentʼs review of the food retail sector convinced him that foreign firms should leave the country, according to reports. 

Commenting on the past few years yesterday, Orbán recalled that the Hungarian state recently made some large acquisitions in the country’s energy and banking sectors, while private Hungarian investors have increased their holdings in Hungaryʼs media sector in the meantime, MTI reported, based on the leader’s speech.

More criticism for the EU 

Orbán, who is often considered among Euro-skeptics in the European Parliament, once again commented on the British decision to leave the bloc. “The British said that developments in the European Union are not good, so they are leaving it behind… We need to consider what is not good in the EU, in our opinion,” MTI reported the prime minister as saying.

The leader once again stressed the importance of members separately preserving their traditional national and religious identities in the European Union. He was reported as saying that no European identity could replace such national identities. “The stronger national identities are, the stronger we can become in the coming years,” Orbán was quoted as saying. “It needs to be said that nation and Christianity are values, while identity is important,” and these need to be treated well and defended, he added.

Orbán said his ideas are supported by the “migration crisis” too, as those who arrive here have a much stronger identity than European people, and are therefore creating “bigger and bigger islands in  society,” MTI reported.

Orbán, Man of the Year 

During the forum, Orbán was awarded with the title of “Man of the Year,” reported to be the most prestigious award presented during the event. When accepting the prize, he noted that he could have listed many excellent candidates for the accolade, and praised his colleagues in the Visegrád Four countries, who he believes could have been the “men of the year,” the news agency reported.