"The OECD is the right place to ask new questions, experiment with new ideas, and discuss new policy answers" - said Ambassador dr. Zoltán Cséfalvay in his farewell remarks to the OECD Council on 9th of November 2018. View the full text of his farewell speech below.

Secretary General,

Fellow Ambassadors,

The OECD is, above all, about learning. First, being not a career diplomat, here I had to learn that multilateralism needs time, patience, and most of the time, careful listening. Careful listening in order to understand the position of others, patience and time in order to accept if the position of others is changing. But I have learned too that it is worth to devote time and patience to reach consensus. The beauty of the OECD is that we are all equal at this table and if we reach sooner or later consensus it has a powerful effect in the world. Consensus is a precious thing, please stick to it.

Second, I did learn that without creativity and having the courage to think outside the box we are not able to tackle the economic and social challenges we have ahead of us. Indeed, the OECD is the right place to ask new questions, experiment with new ideas, and discuss new policy answers. It is not incidental that I used three times the adjective new, because I am fascinated by the NAEC which brings literally New Approaches to Economic Challenges. NAEC is a precious thing too, please keep it.

Third, I did learn that in many cases stories are more powerful than statistics and figures. Definitely, the strength of the OECD lies in its evidence-based analyses. But as humans are story-telling animals, the narratives how we put the statistics and figures in context become more and more important. As narratives are precious things too, please keep the right balance between the powerful evidence-based analyses and the creative narratives.

As every ambassador I also set some targets that I wanted to achieve during my time at the OECD. First, we wanted to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Hungary’s membership to the OECD, and I am very proud that in 2016 Hungary took the role as vicechair of the Ministerial Council Meeting. This MCM - with the Chairmanship of Chile and together with the vicechairs of Finland and Japan – rightly placed the crucial question of productivity in the centre of the policy discussions. More than that, in the framework of this anniversary, we organised a huge range of high-level meetings, reaching from the visit of the Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán at the special OECD Council Meeting to the presentations of young and talented Hungarian high-tech start-uppers at the OECD Forum.

Second, we encouraged the direct co-operations between Hungary and the OECD. As a result, in 2016 Hungary joined the DAC and in the same year it joined the PIAAC survey as well, while in 2017 Budapest hosted the very successful Global Productivity Forum of the OECD.

Third, my devotion to the NAEC led me in Summer 2016 to sit in front of the laptop, to order my notes and memos, and think about these notes seriously. A summer break activity that became - almost as a by-product – a book, entitled as “TECHtonic Shifts”. This book is my diary about what I have experienced at different discussions in the OECD and at the same time it is a provocative account about what I think where the current technological transformation may lead us. I can only repeat what I wrote in the acknowledgements of the book - “I am indebted to the OECD for the exciting intellectual atmosphere that facilitated the writing of this book”.

I also thank Paris to offer me a possibility to be a Parisian for a while. What this really means I did learn after the terrorist attack in Bataclan, on 13th of November 2015. Hemingway’s book - “A Moveable Feast” or “Paris est une fête” en bon français - fascinates many of us. Although after 13th of November this book became a real bestseller in Paris, since many Parisian reread it as a symbol of resistance and hope. Sitting on a terrace at Place de la Contrescarpe, sipping a coffee and reading Hemingway, maybe you will get the same feeling.

I thank Paris for the huge range of long-distance running competitions too, hence while serving as Ambassador I have achieved two full Marathon de Paris, five Semi-Marathons, and many others. More than that, in the meantime I have slipped from the category veteran deux to veteran trois, as the French charmingly put the runners in different categories according to their age. By doing this, I have also learned the wisdom of the famous Japanese writer, Murakami that “pain is inevitable, suffering is optional”. To be perfectly honest with you, endurance is needed not only for long-distance running but for council meetings too.

I want to thank Secretary General, Angel Gurría for his leadership, his determination, and his tremendous energy to put the OECD rightly where it belongs, to the global stage. To lead an international organisation that is based on the principle of consensus and at the same time has the courageous aim to be a global player in the evidence-based policy advising and creating is by far not an easy task. Once again, thank you very much Secretary General for your devoted leadership in this very complex setting.

Finally, I would like to thank to my fellow ambassadors to their support, kindness, and friendship. Because of the limited tenure of ambassadors, our life here reminds me to the strange novel of Scott Fitzgerald, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”. As in the novel, also at the OECD, there is only a short timeslot around two years when we can be and work together with the same group of ambassadors. Please, use this timeslot wisely.

Now, after serving four years as Minister of State for Economic Strategy between 2010 and 2014 in Hungary, and similarly four years as Ambassador to the OECD between 2014 and 2018 here in Paris, time has come to me for returning to my scientific roots. Since in December I start my work as senior scientist on innovation and digitalisation at the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission in Seville, I do hope that I can remain in touch with the OECD in the future.

Thank you very much for your kind attention.