Budapest, 25 August 2014

Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Allow me to welcome you all. We are indeed spoilt for choice as a number of changes have taken place outside Hungary which – as His Excellency himself indicated – require interpretation and a plan of action on our part. On the other hand, there have also been significant changes in the management of foreign affairs and within the ministerial administration of foreign affairs, which likewise call for construction as well as for a novel solution for the designation of the tasks in hand. It was to be foreseen that nothing would be left unchanged; if for no other reason than that Tibor Navracsics became minister of foreign affairs and trade. He is the man within the Government whom we deploy on front lines which are in need of major structural changes. It was thanks to him in the past four years that the state reform programme was finally launched in Hungary, and he brought the first phase of this process to a successful conclusion. We now expect him – or expected him as some time has already elapsed – to also streamline foreign affairs, and if everything is going to plan, we shall expect him to develop relations adjusted to the needs of the modern world between our commissioner in the European Union and the Hungarian Government; relations which  are otherwise highly complex, difficult, sensitive and balanced and which will be vastly different from those which we have to date experienced between Hungary and the Hungarian delegates representing us on the Commission. To mention but one example: I have recently read in the papers that we have advanced to the forefront in the European unemployment benefit system. I’m not quite sure if this is a positive development or not, but it is, no doubt, news to us. In spite of the fact that the initiative originates from the very commissioner who is our fellow-patriot on national grounds. This amply demonstrates that one of the most important, most delicate and most sensitive tasks of the period ahead will be for the commissioner to foster special relations, following from the nature of things, with the country which delegates him, whilst naturally fully honouring the rule that the commissioners working in the European Union do not represent the nation they belong to but must see things from a pan-European perspective. We expect His Excellency, the Minister of Foreign Affairs to elevate this sensitive situation to an institutional level and to convert it into specific action. All I intended to say was that all that has happened in this Ministry in the past two and a half to three months was foreseeable and predictable based on our choice of person; based on the fact that we asked Tibor, His Excellency Mr Navracsics, to take charge of the Ministry. I would like to take this opportunity to thank him for his work because all the contemplated changes have taken place within the schedule and with the meaningful content that we had planned during the period after the elections.

If I am to invoke a few important thoughts about the situation today, I must begin with the elections. The thing is that the situation in which the administrative unit responsible for foreign affairs – let us call it the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, if you will – finds itself today can be best understood based on the result of the elections. It is widely considered that if a government wins the elections or the government parties win the parliamentary elections, there is no change of government but effectively everything continues as before. There is another school with a different concept. I myself belong to that other school which believes that major changes must be pursued and accomplished when you receive confirmation. Therefore, a second cycle in government is not a mandate to continue what we began – whilst naturally pursuing the same general direction, as we sought permission from our electors to give us leave to continue – and does not represent continuity from the viewpoint of organisational management; rather it offers an enormous opportunity to optimise the organisational structure of state administration, and not just to merely continue the usual modus operandi in state administration but to attempt to implement or to continue the necessary reforms in the interest of the Hungarian electorate as well as in the interest of the improved efficiency of our own work. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs itself is enjoying the benefits – or suffering the trials – of this approach, as the case may be.

Nonetheless, Ladies and Gentlemen, the elections, which did not bring about a change of government in a political sense, did bring about major changes, beyond doubt, from the respect of state administration in Hungary, from your point of view. This is not a random occurrence but the result of the next step of a series of carefully considered state reforms. The first thing that determines your position. You will obviously talk about this a great deal in the next few days to find out how you should view this new situation. For the sake of avoiding misunderstandings, we, on behalf of the Ministry, would have liked to cast some light on what we mean by this. This is why we call the ministry the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, which does not mean that conventional diplomacy or cultural diplomacy would have lost any of its beauty or appeal but, to cite Gábor Czakó here, we are living in an economic era, and must acknowledge the reality of facts in the economic era. This means that, in a fundamentally export-oriented country, foreign policy, too, must be economy-centred. No doubt, Péter Szijjártó, who knows all the figures by heart, will tell us the exact number; I can only give you an approximate figure. If I remember correctly, the contribution of exports to the entire gross domestic product may be around 82%. Therefore, we must represent a country abroad which derives more than 80% of its total gross domestic product from exports. This clearly sums up the job of those who represent Hungary’s interests abroad.

The second important and specific circumstance that we must face is that we have behind us a successful four-year term of governance which is confirmed not only by the fact – which is important in itself – that the political forces that governed during the previous cycle repeatedly gained voter confidence but that we also succeeded in accomplishing the feat – which is our most remarkable achievement to be preserved – of containing the deficit of the budget which had drastically increased before 2010, even if by radical means, whilst simultaneously implementing major structural reforms. One of the goals of the next four years is to preserve this achievement. Meanwhile, at the level of the news, this means that the EU has lifted the excessive deficit procedure against Hungary. I would just like to say in brackets that whether this was worth it will transpire now when we see whether the EU will enforce the rules of the excessive deficit procedure against larger EU Member States with deficit levels in excess of the EU ceiling with the same stringent consistency and vehemence that they demonstrated vis-à-vis Hungary. If not, the question will arise as to whether it was worth focusing all our efforts on being removed from the excessive deficit procedure at the expense of enormous sacrifices. I sincerely hope that equal treatment will be extended to all, as far as the excessive deficit procedure is concerned; brackets closed. We are no longer a Member State with a problematic budget, and we have achieved this in such a way that we simultaneously implemented structural reforms which lead us to hope that this was not a one-time feat but a state of affairs that will prove to be sustainable in the long run.

The third special circumstance that defines the current situation is the performance of the economy. For two years, a state of play persisted that, while we were implementing fundamental economic and structural reforms, Hungary’s economic growth remained in the second division both by regional and EU standards. We were unable to make it to the top, and the essence of all critical remarks in Hungary as well as abroad lay in that while the figures regarding financial discipline looked good enough, and so did the balance of payments, there was no sign of that extra steam. Where is that much coveted growth? After all, the reason for all economic reforms is to set the given national economy on a path of growth. In the past year, that which we had hoped for has finally occurred. Almost directly after the reforms, a phase of economic growth set in in Hungary which obviously only pushed us to the number one spot temporarily. The point is not that we have reached the number one spot as the fastest growing country in the last three months but that the growth achieved has elevated us to the „club” of the fastest growing European countries. It is not certain that we shall remain at the top of this imaginary podium but we may predict with great probability that we shall remain amongst the fastest growing European countries in the years ahead of us if we pursue an unchanged economic policy. This means therefore that you are to represent a country, in summary, where there is political stability because the government was formed by those who had governed previously and who proceed with the reforms. We are not a country where reforms came to an end or where there is no demand for modernisation any more. On the contrary, there is a need for reforms, in spite of the fact that the same forces remained in government. Consequently, there is political stability, while the modernisation of state administration and the economy is ongoing. We simultaneously managed the financial challenges and the structural reforms that are necessary for long-term growth. And finally, from a trend point of view, based on the quarterly data, we have arrived at a stage of economic growth which elevates us to the ranks of the fastest growing EU Member States. This is our situation. Therefore, the country you are to represent will embark on the next four years from more or less this initial position.

I would therefore like to ask you that, while we have achieved our results based on concepts, action plans and decisions, some of which are as yet not widely known and consequently do not enjoy wider public confidence within our western alliance, say within the European Union, you should not adopt a defensive attitude. What I am asking you to do is that you should naturally answer every question you have to answer; but your task is not to defend the Hungarian position because the Hungarian position defends itself. Therefore, if you cite, say, four figures anywhere in the world, in Europe or outside Europe, they speak for themselves. What I am asking of you is that, while naturally, you should not ignore what other people say and should respond as becomes a gentleman or gentlewoman, you should regard this more as the obligation of a civilised human being than as a political task; it is not our duty to defend that which we have achieved but to present the opportunities which arise from the success of the years past. You should therefore focus much more on the future, the effect on the future of the results we have achieved in recent years, and the opportunities that stem from them. In a business sense, too, this represents the opportunity of investment in Hungary, an opportunity to bring cutting-edge technology to Hungary which the Hungarian economy continues to need, and an opportunity to conquer new markets.

As we have removed ourselves from an ideologically driven foreign policy, we are much more open to building relations with countries which do not form part of the western system of alliances. We do have an alliance policy. There is not much to talk about because it is a given; the Hungarian people made its decision in various referenda. We are members of NATO, we are members of the European Union, and as these were not government decisions, and not even parliamentary decisions, but the outcome of referenda, Hungary’s place within the western system of alliances is beyond dispute. There is nothing to say about it. This is a fact. At the same time, we do not pursue a foreign policy which is based on the premise that value issues should be in the focus of all foreign policy issues. Value issues are important because NATO, and also the European Union are, to some extent, value-based communities; this does not mean, however, that we should relate to countries outside our system of alliances on the basis of what we think about their political culture, political institutions, democracy or their view on any other issues of a political nature. The question we should ask ourselves is what the Hungarian national interest is in connection with the given country. This is all the more necessary because I believe that the concept of the ideologically driven foreign policy was invented by smart countries for less intellectually well-endowed countries. To give you an example: it is difficult to explain otherwise that, say, the United States has a substantial part of its fiscal deficit financed by China, and has no scruples, whatsoever, in this respect about getting China to purchase US treasury bonds. Or, as far as I can see, it likewise causes no scruples of any kind under the present hardships that, say, a company called RWE which has strong ties to the European Union sells one of its major energy units to a Russian company. And I don’t see that this would be a problem. Or to give you another example, you open the Financial Times on Saturday and you see that a Norwegian fund, which forms part of the western alliance minimum as a member of NATO, implements a less than transparent exchange, the essence of which is that it allows in one of the largest Russian oil industry companies and agrees to supply technologies to Russia which permit drilling for oil and gas in arctic conditions, while the alleged underlying objective of the sanction policy currently in its second phase is to prevent the Russians from gaining access to technologies which are essential for the exploitation of their own raw-material reserves. And that this happens contrary to the underlying objective, no one even mentions. Or if anyone does – as they do at the Financial Times –, you get the answer at best that there was a preliminary agreement between the two parties before the sanctions entered into a second phase, and naturally, the agreement is as such exempt from the sanctions. Against this background, why would Paks give us headaches in a political sense?

I would like to make it clear to you that we have to rise to the challenge we are facing. The challenge is that a successful country with a positive perspective must be given the business-oriented interest representation that it deserves. This is the task in hand. We do not represent a country which keeps balancing on the edge of being called to account because it has poor economic indicators. We do not represent a country which has sins to atone for – even historical ones –; sins on account of which it should perceive itself as a nation that is continuously made to stand in the corner. We must represent a country which completed a formidable part of the work during a period of recession which only very few countries were able to complete during the period of the economic crisis that we have now left behind. Naturally, we must abide by a degree of obligatory modesty and must exercise a degree of moderation that also follows from the size of the country because we are the size we are and we are as many as we are, which designates our place in the ranking of importance among the nations of the world. We must be aware of this. From this respect, our attitude cannot be inadequate, as it would be displeasing. Therefore, however, while we must exercise a degree of modesty and moderation, we should not fall to the other extreme because there is no one in the world today who could vindicate the right to call us to account about anything. We fulfil all our obligations stemming from our alliances; with one exception. It gives our defence minister a headache that we fail to meet our fiscal contribution undertaken within NATO. This is the only issue, in the context of which, if raised, we must admit that we have indeed undertaken something which we fail to deliver upon. It improves our situation somewhat, but by no means serves as an excuse, that the majority of NATO Member States also fail to meet this obligation. It is obviously not that everyone suddenly forgot about the significant and important role of security but it is more the case that most countries are at present not in the economic position to simultaneously conquer the economic crisis and to undertake or to honour their previously undertaken obligations regarding their fiscal contribution in the field of security. In spite of this, we are to present a programme of improvement at the NATO summit, and must make it perfectly clear to our allies that we are not a mere stowaway: we shall honour that which we have undertaken. While we are at present not in the position to do so, with good timing, we shall eventually get there. We have honoured all other criteria that were set in respect of Hungary. I do not wish to go into this in any further detail because I would, perhaps, provoke a contrary line of thought in you to that which I seek to induce as you may think that the things that I talk about at length are the most important.

While I believe that defending our point is not of the utmost significance, I should – just for the duration of the briefest remark – return to the fact that Hungary is the only country within the European Union whose system of political institutions has been subjected to the most thorough scrutiny, from top to toe, with a view to European values. On account of the new Hungarian Constitution, we had debates with the EU which made this unavoidable. We have been fully audited. The EU asked all the important questions related to our common values; we answered all of these questions, and either they accepted our answers or we developed solutions in cooperation with them. We are the only EU Member State whose system of political institutions is, now beyond doubt, impeccable as far as the European Union’s common values are concerned because no other country has been scrutinised to such a degree. This is an argument which is less widely known in the West but it is at our disposal as an obvious fact, and instead of getting mixed up in the theoretical defence of Hungary’s measures as a general position, please use this to our advantage. And if you believe that there is also room for raillery, please also mention that we were not simply audited but were even compelled to do things that the EU asked of no other country. We even swallowed double standards in some areas. I recently saw that there appears to be some pension reform in the judiciary in Italy but I can’t see any missile signals on the horizon of the EU Commission concerned with human rights. Or the issue of the transfer of court cases: this solution has been resorted to in the Netherlands since the dawn of time, yet, I cannot see anyone trying to prevent the Dutch from pursuing this practice. So if there is room for raillery, we can even mention that there are few countries that are “holier than the Pope”. As far as our common European values are concerned, we have every reason to say that we are indeed “holier than the Pope”. On the one hand, because we have been audited, and on the other because we tolerate double standards in some fields which we should not otherwise tolerate but for the sake of peace, cooperation and good ally relations.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Allow me to say a few words now about what I expect of you during the period to come. If we are to compile a list of the best interests of the Hungarian people during the period ahead and define foreign affairs as the representation abroad of the best interests of the Hungarian people, we shall obtain a most compelling and obvious list.

The first item on the list is that we need new jobs. You are familiar with the figures. Our employment indicator was somewhere below 60 % in 2010, and we are now above 60 %. You can also see the trends more or less. I shall not introduce the debate now – as it would lead us away from the point – that our labour market policy cannot be regarded as liberal because it does not give priority to the individual but requires a balanced relationship between the communal and individual interests. In other words, this means that we simply cannot give money to those who are healthy and able to work and are offered the opportunity of employment by the State but turn it down. This is how I could put it briefly. This is an illiberal viewpoint. György Schöpflin is right; this word should not be used as the Americans put a different construction on it than the Europeans. Yet, this is a different mentality to that which is otherwise known as the economic policy of the liberal policy of welfare states. The situation in Hungary is that at a time when the economy is unable to generate sufficient jobs, in spite of the fact that we continuously attempt to improve its job-generating potential by means of taxation, regulation and benefit policy; at a time when the private economy is unable to cater for job needs, the Hungarian State does not simply say that that’s life: those who cannot find work on the market will be supported by the State in the form of benefits and something will happen. Instead, the Hungarian State says that at a time like this, the State should not hand out benefits but should organise employment for those who cannot find work in the private economy and should give a wage to citizens who make use of the employment opportunities offered by the State. This is what is ordinarily referred to as public works, without giving them unemployment or any other benefits. This is a markedly different element of the Hungarian economic policy – as in different from the mentality currently embraced in our own system of alliances – which has provoked a great deal of interest and criticism but which we are not in the position to change, and have no intention of changing in the future. I don’t think that Hungary as a country of ten million would have a valid argument as to why we should set ourselves a lesser target than, say, the Czech Republic where, in a country of a similar size, five million people work. This number in Hungary is four million one hundred thousand. While we promised to create a million jobs over a period of ten years, at the time there were three million six hundred thousand people in employment; if we can reach this target within ten years, there would be four million six hundred thousand people in employment. We are making good progress pro rata but I suggest we should slowly start talking about the next target. The target is five million, rather than four million six hundred thousand people in employment; that is, in my opinion, the attainment of the Czech level of employment is what Hungary should set out to reach, if we are to be competitive in the region and in Europe. As the creation of more and more new jobs is one of the most fundamental interests of Hungary and the Hungarian people, I am asking you to seize every opportunity, in consequence of which new jobs may come into being in Hungary. In other words, regard the convincing of investors coming to Hungary and the maintenance of close relations with them as the most important part of your work.

The general attitude in Hungarian diplomacy was – perhaps, for historical reasons as well as for reasons to be sought in the Hungarian public that is sensitive to corruption – that the people working at diplomatic missions kept their distance from business affairs, in particular, from company-level business affairs. I’d like to ask you to change this attitude. Business is not a bad thing, it is a good thing. Company-level relations are not dangerous but important which we need. So feel free to go as far as maintaining company-level business relations, without scruples; go out and contact them, convince them, get involved in their business talks with Hungarian business partners, and facilitate the process, by virtue of which foreign companies may come to Hungary and create jobs, or create jobs by taking Hungarian exported goods, that is, by offering us a market, because this means that we are able to increase production capacity in Hungary which likewise results in the creation of new jobs.

The second important thing that I would like to ask of you is that you pay particular attention to Hungarian small and medium-sized enterprises. We are Hungarians and therefore – interestingly – we always seek to find points of reference. Earlier, I mentioned the Czechs; I shall now speak of the North-Italians and the Germans, in particular, of Swabia and Bavaria. If we seek to determine what makes the North-Italians and the South-Germans so firmly competitive even amidst the turbulence of the economic crisis, we shall see that the explanation lies in the high proportion of small and medium-sized enterprises, in particular, medium-sized businesses and medium-sized businesses with an export potential. If we convert the percentages we may observe in these countries into the dimensions of the Hungarian national economy and the Hungarian population, I must say that, while at present, we have some 2,000 to 2,500 businesses with an export potential which qualify as medium-sized by Hungarian standards, we would need 12,000 of these if we are to reach the South-German or North-Italian ratios. It is therefore our express priority partly to reinforce and preserve these 2,000 to 2,500 Hungarian medium-sized enterprises, and partly to create another ten thousand of them and to help them to create export capacity. When I speak of company-level relations, they also include relations with large corporations as they will be able to achieve the largest improvement, as far as the figures relevant to the assessment of your work are concerned, by virtue of their sheer volume, whether in respect of exports or investments. Yet, I am asking you to regard the promotion of Hungarian small and medium-sized businesses with an export potential as an at least equally important priority or an even higher priority in the countries of your mission. Consequently, the second important priority is that we do not just want markets, we do not just want investments, but we also wish to open a world of opportunities to this specific corporate segment, the segment of medium-sized Hungarian enterprises with an export potential. It is an unprecedented situation that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has not only been given a mission regarding the external economy but has also been given the most important tools for the attainment of that mission. This is highly unprecedented. I am not so well-versed in the history of Hungarian diplomacy in the past twenty-five years as some of you here are but I believe it is a rare occurrence that external economic affairs are clearly assigned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It is important that Eximbank that is essential for financing Hungarian medium-sized enterprises should come under the auspices of this Ministry, as should the new investment agency to replace HITA, and that the department of foreign affairs fought these battles with the Ministry of Economy so successfully which, in turn, also has valid arguments as to why these means of economic development should come under its auspices, rather than those of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. As far as I can recall, the Hungarian department of foreign affairs had never before in the past twenty-five years battled through these debates so successfully. Therefore, when I speak of tasks, I also speak of means and tools because the means and tools necessary for the fulfilment of the tasks, too, are all available in-house, under the auspices of your ministry. This is, on the one hand, a great opportunity and is, on the other, a great deal of responsibility in your case.

I would share a thought with those of you here today who do not serve within the European Union. The thing is that, on the one hand, the fact that more than 70% of Hungarian exports – in fact, 80 rather than 70% - go to the countries of the European Union is an indicator of the advancement of the Hungarian economy and means that we are able to compete with quality products on a most demanding and strong market. This is good. A piece of important, positive feedback. If, however, we consider whether it is wise to render the success of our exports dependent on a single market to such a degree, we must admit that we would like to see slightly better percentages. Therefore, we would also like to gain a foothold in other markets which you may say are perhaps less demanding or sophisticated, but we have to be cautious with statements of this kind in the modern world. We have set ourselves a radical goal: I would like to ask the Honourable Minister to achieve by 2018 that one third of our exports be directed to countries outside the European Union, and that this should not be attained through a reduction in the rate of Hungary’s exports to the EU. This was my request, and it is indeed a most formidable task. At the same time, I would like to point out that this is not the final goal because I believe that we must go beyond this target after 2018 and must aim for 50 to 55%. With special regard to the fact that if you look at processes in the world economy and the processes of global competitiveness, you will see that the EU’s world economic competitiveness is shrinking, and if we continue to export to a country which is shrinking within the world economy, this will, sooner or later, place us, too, on a diminishing path. Consequently, we must build and create positions on markets where there is growth and which are gaining in world economic weight.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

These are, more or less, the most important criteria, and while I am speaking of the diversification of our markets, I would nonetheless like to see the ratio of exports to the total gross domestic product to be the highest in Hungary within the European Union as a result of your efforts. At this point in time, we are in second or third position. In other words, we are the second or third EU Member State where exports account for the largest percentage of the domestic product, and I think we should earn the market leader position. I believe we have a realistic chance of becoming the country which is able to enforce the largest percentage of its own national performance in the form of exports in the world.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

What sort of mentality is required to achieve these results? I’m going to say three clichéd things; but clichés have the common attribute that there is some truth in them at the end of the day. What they also have in common is that, because we regard them as clichés, we do not cite them enough, in spite of the fact that they could be of a great deal of help in our work.

The first thing is that, in order for us to be able to achieve the goals I have just mentioned, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and those working there should never resort to wishful thinking but should always rely on the facts. This invites you to an important spiritual exercise. In this case, it is not a personal spiritual exercise in retreat but a common, national spiritual exercise because Hungary’s actual international weight is factually different from that which we believe it to be. It is different because we have a great history, and we were once much better off than we are today. On the other hand, culture plays a major part in our self-identification, and we regard ourselves as a nation of culture, and we place our performance in a prominent position in the rankings as part of the competition with others. Yet, when you start working towards the goals mentioned here today, you should always attempt to find out where we actually stand in the country where you are stationed or in the heads of the people you are talking to. You will then see that we do not occupy the same position in their heads as we do in our own. And in this case, the truth is not in our heads; the truth is where they believe us to be because we seek to gain their confidence with a view to the attainment of some objective. Consequently, the fact is what is in their heads. And it is our desire, wishful thinking if you like, that is in our heads. It is hard to face this but this is the situation. I would therefore specifically like to ask you not to rely on the self-image you foster in your heads but on the factual image of us that there is in our partners’ heads, and to make every effort in order to better acquaint yourselves with that image. You might even find this interesting. I do for one; there is some anthropological appeal to it. Why do they see the very same thing so vastly differently than we do? I would like to encourage you therefore to rely on the facts, the facts stored in our partners’ heads, rather than on wishful thinking, upon our self-identification. I most certainly did not say that we should give up our own notions about ourselves; but that is the topic of another lecture.

The second important cliché that is necessary for your successful operation is that you are required to make decisions which form part of the solution not only for ourselves but also for our partners. Hungary must be presented in the image of a country that is not a problem but a possible solution. This is true when we speak of Hungary in a macro-context as well as in a micro-context. We are not a problem because we introduced the bank levy but, in actual fact, we have found a solution which everyone should consider. I would therefore like to encourage you to place the emphasis on demonstrating that these decisions do not add to the problem but are part of the solution, even if our critics are intent on presenting a number of decisions as problems. Whether we speak of our approach to the sanctions against Russia, the bank levy or the sector-specific levies, or the job protection action plan. There are a number of things in Hungarian politics today that, unless we do our job well, our opponents or partners will see as problems, rather than as potential solutions. It is therefore important that you should attempt to form an image of Hungary where even the seemingly most peculiar or most unusual Hungarian decisions are seen as an opportunity, rather than as a problem. That it is worth considering them instead of immediately discarding them.

And finally, the third element of the mentality that is necessary for achieving the goals mentioned here is courage. Everyone is familiar with the story of the Gypsy’s horse, and you are therefore aware that I do not speak of audaciousness but of courage. The task we have is not to run our heads against a brick wall but once we have achieved something and we believe it is a genuine result which others attempt to present as a problem, we must stand up for our position. Excuse the common turn of phrase, but we are not going to achieve anything by skulking. If we make ourselves small and pretend we are not even there, whilst knowing that they are talking about us, we are not going to achieve anything. At the same time, as I mentioned, I would rather we did not fall to the other extreme by beating our chests with pride. I most certainly would not encourage anything like that. But anyone should be free to expect you to take a decent stance, a restrained but self-conscious stance in support of all that we have achieved. Myself included but more importantly, citizens, too. This is why we need common sense and courage. These two should be combined in the style of our presence and demeanour. Common sense and courage.

And if we have these three things – that is, we rely on the facts rather than wishful thinking, present our decisions as solutions by demonstrating that they are solutions rather than problems, and our demeanour is characterised by common sense and courage all at once –, if we have these three things in place, you will be able to achieve the goals which I myself have asked you to achieve just now.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

There are so many more things to talk about, as we have yet to discuss specific, significant foreign policy issues, such as the modern-age war of religion, Iraq, the future of the European Union and in particular of the euro zone, or the question of the sanctions against Russia. These have, for the moment, all been left inside the folder but I feel I must be around twenty-five minutes into my speech. Almost. It would therefore be appropriate for me to suspend my personal message at this point and thank you for your attention. If I understand correctly, we now have the opportunity to transform ourselves into a consultation forum. Therefore, I would be glad to hear from you about these issues as well as about any other issues in the next few minutes, and I am happy to answer any question you may have if I can.

Thank you for your attention. It was an honour for me to be with you here today.

(Prime Minister's Office)