Lectures on the expected economic recession, the importance of agricultural self-sufficiency, and minority rights were held at the 31st Bálványos Summer Free University and Student Camp in Tusnadfürdő on Thursday.
In his opening speech, Finance Minister Mihály Varga stressed that the European Union is essentially weakened by its own sanctions, the question is whether it can survive the punitive measures against Russia.
He said that rising inflation, rising energy and food prices, interest rate hikes, and the resulting increase in the cost of credit are clear signs that the world, including Hungary, is heading for an economic slowdown. Whether there will be a real recession or a very sharp slowdown is not known at the moment, but there is no analysis today that expects a radical improvement in the situation, he said.
The Hungarian government is insisting on peace and security, and the defense and security funds adopted in next year’s budget serve to stabilize the country: the former is an attempt to maintain better energy prices for households and to balance security risks from the Russian war and migration, Mihály Varga said.
Szilárd Németh, the government commissioner responsible for maintaining the cuts, announced in Tusnádfürdő that electricity and gas prices for households have been set at a level below the real market price, even above average consumption.
Among the presentations on agriculture, invited speakers stressed the importance of self-sufficiency. The Minister of Agriculture argued for Hungary’s “food sovereignty,” saying that the European Union’s market regulation is based on the logic of peacetime, but in a war situation, Hungary must have the right to food sovereignty.
The priorities of the Hungarian agricultural price policy are to increase competitiveness and to make up for the processing industry backlog inherited since the regime change, in such a way that the system remains sustainable and does not consume the resources of future generations, István Nagy said.
He said that the agriculture ministry was preparing for the expected recession by modernizing the sector, with a unique move to increase the national co-financing rate for EU rural development support to 80 percent. The 4,265 billion forints to improve competitiveness is three times more than in the previous seven years.
The Minister of State for Food Industry and Trade Policy of the Ministry of Agriculture described the food industry as a key sector of the Hungarian agricultural economy. In his presentation, Márton Nobilis noted that the food market, worth HUF 4,000 billion, received HUF 469 billion in support under the Rural Development Program in the previous EU budget cycle, while in the current seven-year cycle this amount has risen to HUF 750 billion.
The State Secretary said that the Russian-Ukrainian war had made self-sufficiency a priority, and Hungary had met this requirement in terms of food.
In a panel discussion on minority rights and their application, Prime Minister’s envoy Katalin Szili said that Hungarians from Transylvania, Upland, Vojvodina, and Transcarpathia are often confronted with the fact that they do not know enough about their rights and therefore do not exercise them. That is why, together with the Institute for National Policy Research, they are publishing a series of handbooks on Romanian, Slovakian, and Ukrainian legislation.
The Hungarian parties in Transylvania also held a round-table discussion on minority issues, which led to a lively debate between politicians from the Hungarian Democratic Alliance of Romania (RMDSZ) and the Hungarian People’s Party of Transylvania (EMNP). Tibor Toró T., the executive chairman of the EMNP, said that a new draft law should be prepared, supported by the Hungarian parties and the Hungarian society as a whole in Transylvania, which would contain the seeds of territorial autonomy alongside cultural autonomy.
However, István Székely, executive vice-president of the RMDSZ, said that the draft presented by the Tariceanu government nearly two decades ago should be improved and adopted by parliament, while the two smaller Hungarian parties, the EMNP and the Hungarian Civic Party (MPP), should also have a say in the debate through the RMDSZ MPs.
Among the presentations on public issues, a panel discussion organized by the KINCS (Kopp Mária Institute for Population and Families) said that those who live in a harmonious family, marriage, and raise children have better mental health indicators. In the summer of 2021, the organization surveyed 7,000 people for the sixth time to investigate the state of mind of Hungarians, looking at health, happiness, well-being, depression, and stress indicators.
Featured image via Nándor Veres/MTI