Prime minister Viktor Orbán – Photo: PMO

Orbán: End war to end wartime inflation

The only way to end wartime inflation is by putting an end to the war, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán told public radio on Friday. "Hungary must be on the side of peace," he said. Whereas Hungary is officially curbing the price of certain products, wartime inflation can only be dampened temporarily and partially using these means, he said.

Rather than imposing more sanctions, a ceasefire followed by an agreement on a framework for peace negotiations is needed, he added. At the same time, Hungary is alone in taking such a stance, he said.

The prime minister said that amid a war situation, the country was in a defensive posture, and now was not the time to push forward with investments or even wages. Rather, the aim now was to “not allow the war situation to push our economic development and living standards backwards,” he said.

The government, Orbán added, pledges to protect full employment, the family support system, caps on utility bills and pensions.

“Protecting those [measures] would be a great achievement. Most countries cannot even succeed in doing that,” he said.

Orbán said Hungary will speed up the development of its military by two to three times. “We must pursue capability development at a very fast pace,” he said.

He said NATO had not yet confronted the possibility of “a collapse of the Ukrainian front”, adding that there was “every chance” of the front would be moving closer to Hungary.

Hungary’s defence capabilities must be stepped up “radically” with “superhuman effort”, he said.

“To secure peace, we must now boost our military capabilities massively,” Orbán said.

“This is not Hungary’s war; we must stay out of it,” he added.

“Everyone is on Ukraine’s side; it’s normal to side with the victims of attacks,” Orbán said. “But it’s coming to the point that we must face the military reality, which is that Russia, a state of 138 million [people] is on one side and Ukraine with 31 million is on the other.” Despite US and British arms deliveries, Ukraine is losing 100-1,000 people each day, he said.

Hungary, the prime minister insisted, was in a tougher position than other states due to the war in Ukraine and the “flood of migrants”. He noted that 800,000 refugees have so far entered Hungary, while this year the number of people crossing the border illegally has numbered more than 100,000.

Orbán said the border guard will be enhanced by “hunting squadrons”, and the interior ministry would organise the effort and hire thousands of people accordingly. Border hunters, he said, would aim to abide by “the culture that characterises the police today”, adding that police were efficient and citizen-friendly. He said the new arrangement may have a beneficial effect on relations between citizens and police, as well as the migrant-police relationship. But, he added, if this did not turn out to be the case, then the police may have to build up their defensive posture in a “somewhat harsher form”.

Soldiers and police so far have been sent to the southern border, Orbán said, adding that with the front approaching Hungary’s eastern border, they must strengthen their defence capability. Soldiers must now take part in implementing accelerated military development, while many police are now performing stressful work far from their families, he said.

Regarding Ukraine’s status as an EU member state candidate, which the European Council approved last week, Orbán said Ukraine’s status will help to bolster the rights of ethnic Hungarians living there.

The candidacy is a “first step”, and it does not automatically mean the start of integration talks, he noted. Kyiv will have to fulfil requirements for the accession talks to begin, including EU and Hungarian requirements regarding ethnic minorities in the country, he said.

“We are in a much better position now, with Ukraine requesting the candidacy, than we would be otherwise,” he said.

Referring to Bosnia not making into the group of countries with EU candidate status, Orbán said western European leaders still lacked a basic understanding in respect of the EU integration of the western Balkans, and rapidly growing migration was direct evidence that these countries should be admitted to the club. Ukrainians, he said, would be, but for the time being Bosnians are not being admitted. “Still, we’ll carry on the fight alongside the Austrians, Slovenians and Croatians to make this happen,” he said.

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