Prime minister Viktor Orbán – Photo: PMO

Hungary to launch recovery programmes even if EU money is unavailable, PM says

Orbán: Booster jabs available from August 1

The government is making a third round of vaccines available from August 1 - to be administered four months after the second - and vaccination will be made mandatory for health-care workers, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán told public broadcaster Kossuth Radio, citing the spread of the Delta variant.

Due to the Delta variant, people who are not vaccinated yet are in greater danger than ever before, Orbán warned. Elderly citizens who have so far not accepted the vaccine will receive personal visits to convince them to accept the jab, he said.

Also, children over the age of 12 will have the opportunity to receive the coronavirus vaccine on the two days preceding the start of the academic year, Orbán said. Some 13-14 percent of 12-15-year-olds have already received the vaccine, he added, with a vaccination rate among 16-18-year-olds of around 45 percent.

The prime minister said Hungary remains one of the safest countries in Europe in terms of herd immunity, with the number of fully inoculated citizens exceeding that in Germany or the United Kingdom. Orbán advised Hungarians to travel abroad only if they are fully inoculated.

“During a crisis, all opinions expressed that create uncertainty are problematic, and everything that weakens joint action supporting the community is harmful,” Orbán said. That is especially true during a pandemic when human lives are at stake, he said.

The “true danger”, he said, was politicians advising the public on tests and vaccines, he said.

Commenting on Hungary’s child protection law, he said sex education was a matter for parents and this, he added, was “confirmed by European documents”. Children can participate in sex education with the agreement of the parent, but no one except the teacher and people approved by the principal can do so, he noted.

“We feel they want to take our children away from us,” Orbán said.

Orbán noted that he had not been invited to the debate in the European Parliament as was his wont when the situation was “crucial”.

He said the issue wasn’t just a Hungarian one, referring to a similar situation in Italy, Romania and Lithuania. If Lithuania has managed to protect its interests, then Hungary will succeed, too, he said.

Noting UEFA’s sanctions against Hungarian football, Orbán said “double standards” had become prevalent in Europe.

He said linking EU funds to a legal dispute was “unacceptable” because EU monies were not donations but something Hungarians had worked hard for and had a right to.

Hungary’s recovery programmes, he said, would be launched from the budget even if EU money is unavailable.

The language and framework of the debate may appear a legal matter, but the actual matter itself was political, he said, adding that children were “held sacred” in Hungary. “We can’t let sexual propagandists into our schools.”

Orbán accused Brussels of abusing its power and “forcing on us what we don’t want”.

“Our children and their upbringing is all about their freedom,” he said.

Orbán called the European Commission’s standpoint on the matter “shameful” and he accused it of “legal hooliganism”.

Both family law and education, he added, were national competences, and Brussels had nothing to do with them.

He appealed to Hungarians who “consider the government’s ability to protect the interests of parents as essential” to fill in the National Consultation survey.

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