At the “Tusványos” Summer University in Băile Tușnad (Tusnádfürdő), Romania, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said the world had undergone a “major shift” since he last addressed the event in 2019. The pillars of Western civilisation that had been thought to be unbreakable “have started to crack”, he said. “We used to think we lived in the protective bubble of science, and then we got Covid,” the prime minister said. “We used to think there couldn’t be another war in Europe, but there’s a war in Hungary’s neighbourhood. And we used to think the Cold War could never return, but many world leaders right now are working to organise our lives into a world of blocs.”
Orbán said that while the impression given by a host of indicators was that the world was supposed to be an increasingly better place, “the people feel otherwise”. The reason for this, he said, was a feeling that the strength, performance, authority and power of Western civilisation were waning.
Life expectancy has risen to 70 years, 80 years in Europe, and the death rate among children has fallen by two-thirds in 30 years, he said. Compared with 1950, the number of undernourished people has fallen to 15% from 50% and the number of those living in poverty has fallen from 70% to 15%, he said. Literacy has grown to 90%, and weekly work hours have gone down to 40 from 52, he added. “Nevertheless, the general feeling is that the world is becoming worse,” he said. “A sense that the end of the world is nigh” is spreading, he said.
He said what was hurting the West the most was that it had lost control of its energy sources. Rival civilisations including the Chinese, Indian and Russian orthodox cultures have adopted Western technology and financial systems but “have no intention” to do the same with Western values, and see it as humiliating when the West tries to spread its values, he said. Orbán said the rejection of Western “democracy export” was “understandable”. While the US and Europe controlled 75% of oil, coal and natural gas resources in 1950, their share has fallen to 35% by now, he said. Russia has 20% of resources and the Middle East holds 30%, he said. Further, the US introduced fracking in 2013, a new technology to mine energy resources, and adopted a strategy of “weaponising” it, he said. They have stepped up sanctions policies and “strongly encourage” their allies to buy their products, he said. The “German-Russian energy axis” is being dismantled, he said. Switching to renewable energy resources remains non-viable, he added. “Energy and raw materials key for economic development are not in Western hands now. What they have now is capital and military power. The question is what they can do with it under these circumstances,” he said.