Prime minister Viktor Orbán – Photo: PMO

Orbán: ‘Hungary cannot turn back’

Referring to the election campaign, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in an interview with public broadcaster Kossuth Radio on Friday that "Hungary is going forward, not backwards".

“We must learn from what happened up to 2010 and [remember] just how much effort it took to put things right,” Orbán said. “And given our success, we cannot afford to go back to those problems.”

“In 2010, Hungary was bankrupt; it had been ruined and bled dry,” he said. “In the past 12 years, Hungary has worked very hard to correct the mistakes and sins of the previous left-wing governments,” he said.

Orbán said that those who “drove the country to bankruptcy then” now claimed to be ready to take the helm again. “That would mean going backwards.”

“All they know about is introducing austerity measures and cutting pensions … they won’t raise the minimum wage or pensions as they failed to do so when they last had the opportunity.”

When the left wing was last in power, unemployment was over 12 percent and the economy was contracting in 2010, with “sky-high taxes and the IMF breathing down our necks”, Orbán said.

At the same time, “the left-wing parties that are now slamming the health-care system took away one month’s wages from health-care workers and teachers, and one month’s pension from the elderly,” he said.

The ruling government is giving the 13th month pensions and has regularly raised the minimum wage and salaries in certain sectors, he said, adding that the labour market was now tight, tax rates were “very good in European comparison, and economic growth is around 7 percent rather than 2 or 3 percent,” he added.

Orbán said that besides “mistakes and sins committed until 2010”, the leftist parties had also refused to support the government’s efforts to rectify those missteps afterwards, Orbán said. They did not vote for proposals or tax cuts or the re-introduction of the 13th month pension, and regularly attacked recent measures such as the caps on food and fuel prices and the interest rate cap on mortgages with variable interest rates, he said.

Orbán slammed the leftist opposition for “attacking coronavirus protection measures in a way that offends doctors and nurses, and degrades the work done in hospitals.” Hungary’s health-care system is working hard to help all those in need, and workers deserve commendation for that, he said. The vaccine rollout is going well everywhere, he added.

While discussions on the best way to organise pandemic protection efforts are useful, the Hungarian opposition “falsified facts, produced fake videos and weakened the effectiveness of the protection efforts,” he said.

“The left wing cannot differentiate between attacking the government and degrading the country,” he said.

Meanwhile, the prime minister said he was against privatising health-care services, while “health privatisation has persistently been included in the left-wing programme because many of them have lobbied for business groups interested in a private health care … they have an interest in opening up business opportunities for international investors.” While Hungary is “on the right track, it is far from being a rich country yet,” he said, adding that the privatisation of health care would mean low earners being left without health services. The government aims to ensure the best possible services through a state-owned and state-controlled health system, Orbán added.

On the subject of migration, Orbán said that while Hungary was working to protect the whole of Europe, Brussels was failing to contribute to efforts to curb illegal migration. “Indeed, it is attacking Hungary,” he said.

Orbán said that 122,000 illegal entrants had been apprehended in 2021, up from 45,000 the year before, which “clearly shows that the number of illegal entries is on the rise”.

The problem of illegal migration “is far from being resolved,” Orbán said.

“On the contrary, it will be with us in the next few years,” he said. Border controls, he added, must be strengthened. “New forces must be recruited: we need as many troops as possible just for border control,” the prime minister said.

Orbán said Hungarians were “in charge of the fort”, protecting the borders of the whole of Europe.

Hungary has racked up a bill of 600 billion forints since 2015 doing so, he said. “But Brussels isn’t helping with these efforts; on the contrary, it is shooting us in the back,” he said.

“Hungary will not be a migrant destination”, Orbán declared. “We will never say that Muslim adults can replace Christian children… we don’t want to leave the country to foreigners but to our own children.”

On the subject of the coronavirus situation, Orbán said that the number of new cases was on the rise, but fewer people needed to be intubated on a ventilator and the number of hospitalisations was significantly lower than new infections.

Photo: koronavirus.gov.hu

Coronavirus – 65 deaths, 15,957 new infections

Altogether 65 patients died of a Covid-related illness over the past 24 hours, while 15,957 new coronavirus infections were registered, koronavirus.gov.hu said on Friday.
21. January 2022 16:38

So far 6,329,185 people have received a first jab, while 6,073,498 have been double-jabbed. Fully 3,457,497 Hungarians have received a booster shot.

The website said the omicron variant was spreading rapidly, accounting for more than 90 percent of all infections.

The number of active infections has risen to 167,425, while hospitals are treating 2,674 Covid-19 patients, 201 of whom are intubated on a ventilator.

Since the first outbreak, 1,401,457 have been registered with the virus, while 40,822 deaths have been recorded. Fully 1,193,120 people have made a recovery.

Illustration – Photo: wikipedia

Election 2022 – Fidesz MEP: ‘EU leftists, Soros network’ interfering with Hungary election

Pro-migration, left-wing European Union politicians and the "Soros network" is interfering with the upcoming Hungarian election, Fidesz MEP Balazs Hidveghi said on Thursday, in response to a letter of 62 MEPs, calling on the OSCE to carry out a full-scale election observation in Hungary.

Speaking to Hungarian public media in Strasbourg, Hidveghi said the initiators of the letter to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe were “well-known members of the Soros network” such as the Helsinki Committee and Amnesty International, and “pro-migration MEPs who have been serving them for years.”

The author of the letter, Daniel Freund of the Greens, used to work for Transparency International, and “continues to lobby for punishments for Hungary” as an MEP, he said.

“We find among the signatories Katharina Baley [S and D], infamous for calling for the starving out of Hungary and Poland unless they would dance as Brussels whistles. So is Greens party member Gwendoline Delbos-Corfield, a member of the LIBE committee, currently at work at another mendatious report on Hungary,” he said.

Those MEPs have been attacking Hungary for years “because we don’t allow migrants into the country and protect our children form LGBTQ  propaganda,” he insisted.

Hidveghi slammed the MEPs of Hungary’s Democratic Coalition (DK) and Momentum Movement who have signed the letter. He insisted the Hungarian left was “in panic … trying to justify an election defeat in advance.”

Hidveghi said the European Left wanted to see “the Hungarian leftist alliance of DK head Ferenc Gyurcsany” and the joint opposition’s prime ministerial candidate, Peter Marki-Zay, in power.

The letter is the first step of an open intervention into the Hungarian election, he said.

“The letter itself is nothing but empty provocation … any observer groups are free to enter Hungary. They will see with their own eyes that the Hungarian election is free and democratic, as were the ones in previous years,” he said.

“We will not cave in to pressure. As long as the Fidesz-Christian Democrats [KDNP] lead Hungary, they will protect the country from migrants and our children from LGBTQ propaganda,” he said.

Justice Minister Judit Varga said on Facebook that signatories to the letter were “urging interference with Hungary’s election”. She said the letter was “full of falsehoods and ignoble criticism of Hungary”, but the authors “seem to forget that OSCE has routinely sent observers to Hungary in the past”. She added that the observers “will see another free and democratic election”.

Foreign minister Peter Szijjarto – Photo: Facebook

Szijjarto: Hungary-Russia cooperation based on mutual advantages, respect

Hungary views Russia as a strategically important partner in the areas of economic cooperation, energy security, and the protection against the coronavirus pandemic, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on Thursday.

Szijjarto attended the announcement of Russian-owned Arnest Group’s first Hungarian investment, the foreign ministry said in a statement.

The 17 billion forint (EUR 47m) aerosol filling and metal container production facility to be built in Alsozsolca by end-2024 is receiving a 7 billion forint state grant and training subsidies, and the investment will create 256 jobs.

Szijjarto said the proportion of investments from the East in the Hungarian economy was growing, vindicating the country’s policy of opening to the East.

Agreement on the development project went ahead despite sanctions against Russia and in the face of criticism of pragmatic bilateral cooperation, he added. Several international players wanted to prevent cooperation, but, he added, the Hungarian government had a vested interest in partnership based on mutual respect from which both sides profited equally.

He accused western European countries of aiming for the same cooperation while resorting to hostile remarks, “driven by political correctness”, and signing “huge business deals” in Russia or with Russia.

Since the introduction of European Union restrictions in 2015, trade between EU member states and Russia increased by 16 percent, Szijjarto said, noting that German exports rose by 21 percent and French exports by 44 percent.

Had the government not pursued foreign policies based on national interests and instead yielded to pressure, Hungary would have been much less successful in the fight against the pandemic, in guaranteeing energy security, and achieving economic success, he said.

Hungary-Russia trade increased by 51 percent last year and Hungarian exports rose by 15 percent, exceeding 2 billion dollars, he added.

The production value of the Hungarian chemical industry increased by 41 percent last year, reaching 7,000 billion forints, and the sector currently employs almost 95,000 people, he added.

Photo: wikipedia

CoE: Hungary fully adopted Warsaw Convention article on corporate money laundering

Hungary is one of 17 states to have fully adopted the 10th article of the Warsaw Convention, outlining penalties of legal entities guilty of money laundering, the Council of Europe (CoE) said on Thursday.

In its report on the implementation of the Convention on Laundering, Search, Seizure and Confiscation of the Proceeds from Crime and on the Financing of Terrorism, or the Warsaw Convention, the CoE said that the member states implementing the convention have pledged to enshrine penalties of legal entities guilty of money laundering into law. The punishment should be proportionate, effective and have the effect of a deterrent, the report said.

Hungary has complied with the convention in that respect, the report said, adding that the country should further develop case law in this area.

Besides Hungary, Azerbaijan, Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Georgia, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Moldova, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia and Sweden also adopted the 10th article, the report said.

Illustration – Photo: MTI

Benko: Defence, army development programme on schedule

The progress of the defence and army development programme is on schedule, with the majority of military equipment to arrive for the army in 2023 and 2024, the defence minister said on Thursday.

Tibor Benko told public news channel M1 that the programme dubbed Zrinyi 2026 had been launched in 2017 and so far it involved the acquisition of carrier and training aircraft, land vehicles including Leopard and Gidran, hand arms and anti-tank guided missiles.

Contracts have already been signed for a whole range of technical equipment, including Leopard 2 A7 battle tanks and new armoured vehicles, he said. The start of production and development of Lynx armoured fighting vehicles in Hungary is expected to give impetus to the further development of Hungary’s defence industry, he added.

Illustration – Photo: wikipedia

Association: Hungary drinking water quality in line with EU rules

The quality of drinking water in Hungary is "comfortably" in line with European Union regulations, the Hungarian Water Utility Association (MaViz) said on Thursday.
21. January 2022 6:36

In the statement issued in response to an EU decision to monitor the levels of two substances impacting the human endocrine system in Hungarian drinking water, MaViz said the review was not a response to irregularities in water samples.

The level of beta-estradiol and nonylphenol have to be monitored on a regular basis to enable water providers to act swiftly in case of growing trace quantities, the authority said.

In line with the decision and Hungarian regulations, water providers check water quality daily in Hungary, the statement said.

Photo: koronavirus.gov.hu

Coronavirus – 71 deaths, 15,526 new infections

Altogether 71 patients died of a Covid-related illness over the past 24 hours, while 15,526 new coronavirus infections were registered, koronavirus.gov.hu said on Thursday.
21. January 2022 6:34

So far 6,325,143 people have received a first jab, while 6,069,677 have been double-jabbed. Fully 3,437,335 Hungarians have received a booster shot.

The website said the omicron variant was spreading rapidly, accounting for 87 percent of all infections.

The number of active infections has risen to 158,424, while hospitals are treating 2,673 Covid-19 patients, 202 of whom are intubated on a ventilator.

Since the first outbreak, 1,385,500 have been registered with the virus, while 40,757 deaths have been recorded. Fully 1,186,319 people have made a recovery.

Photo: Wikipedia

Nezopont: Voters expect ruling parties’ win

A large majority of active voters, 68 percent, saw the ruling Fidesz-Christian Democrats (KDNP) winning the general election if it were held this Sunday, according to a fresh survey of the Nezopont Institute.

Only 15 percent of active voters anticipated an opposition win, the survey published in the Wednesday edition of the daily Magyar Nemzet found.

Pro-government voters are overwhelmingly confident about the elections, Nezopont said. Fully 88 percent anticipated Fidesz-KDNP being re-elected, 11 percent expressed uncertainty, while a mere 1 percent reckoned with an opposition victory, Nezopont said.

Among opposition voters, 42 percent saw their side winning as against 36 percent who anticipated a victory by the ruling parties, Nezopont said.

Active voters have not changed their minds since December 2021, Nezopont said, suggesting the “leftist parties’ failure to get organised”.

“Due to constant delays in finalising a joint list, delays in finding common ground on campaign issues, a lack of messages offering an alternative and [joint prime ministerial candidate] Peter Marki-Zay’s weak campaign performance, the past month has failed to bring about positive turn for the anti-government forces,” Nezopont said.

Photo: MTI

Fidesz: Karacsony refusing to answer questions on City Hall case

Instead of answering questions, Budapest Mayor Gergely Karacsony was "busy making accusations" at Monday's meeting of the investigative committee set up to examine allegations that the city administration was planning to sell the City Hall building, a Fidesz district mayor has said.

Because the alliance backing Karacsony has a majority in the investigative committee, they had determined in advance what sort of questions the mayor would answer and how long the meeting would go on for, Peter Kovacs, the mayor of Budapest’s 16th district, told commercial television channel TV2 on Wednesday.

“So they were trying to help him quite a bit so that he wouldn’t do the kind of silly things he ended up doing,” Kovacs said.

He said the city leadership’s reactions to the case indicated that they were “hiding something”. Kovacs added the “way things are playing out” indicated that City Hall had indeed been for sale.

At the Monday meeting, Karacsony said allegations that the city council had been planning to sell City Hall were “unfounded and false”. He also rejected claims that the city council’s finances were opaque. The city council’s finances are transparent, Karacsony said, insisting that the “entire affair is a sham” and allegations made against the city council were unsubstantiated.