Prime Minister Viktor Orbán (l) - Photo: PMO

Orbán: Government to protect families by all means possible

Hungary's government will protect families by all means possible, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán told public radio on Friday. The prime minister said he believed the measures introduced so far were enough to push inflation down to single digits by year-end.

Multinational retail chains are taking advantage of the price increases resulting from the war and the related sanctions and trying to raise prices, Orbán said. This had a significant effect on inflation, “so steps must be taken against multinationals that act like speculators”, he added, noting that the government had taken appropriate action.

Other countries are introducing other kinds of measures, he said, adding that price caps had gone “out of style”. Hungary, too, has switched to implementing mandatory discounts, but some countries are bringing back caps on the price of fuel and basic food products, Orbán said.

There is a variety of measures that can be taken, and if necessary, the government will take further steps, he said, adding that they “won’t sit idly by”, but protect the people and families by all means possible.

The war and the sanctions imposed in response to it also played a role, he said, and they, too, required action. Hungary has opposed the war and sanctions since the beginning and has always aimed to localise the conflict, he said. But the country cannot make itself immune their effects, “so the whole situation is unfair to Hungarians”, the prime minister added.

Despite the fact that the European Union is fundamentally a “peace project”, right now the “pro-war” side is the one with an overwhelming majority, he insisted. Orbán said a worsening economic situation would be the deciding factor that forces the governments of European Union member states into “joining the peace camp” and bringing a swift end to the war in Ukraine.

“Ukraine wouldn’t be able to fight this war if we didn’t give it weapons and a lot of money,” he said.

“We’ve given Ukraine some 180 billion forints’ worth of EU funds since the start of the war, and in exchange we haven’t got a single step closer to peace; in fact, it’s more like we’re farther away from it,” he said.

“The decisive means are in the hands of the Americans,” Orbán added.

As regards rising fuel prices, the prime minister said the 3.5-fold increase in the fee Ukraine charges for piping crude from Russia was costing Hungary an extra 48 billion forints (EUR 125m).

Ukraine raised the fee overnight, he noted, adding that private players in the petrol trade in Hungary incorporated the extra fee into prices, pushing up the price of petrol and increasing inflation by half a percent.

Orbán said he was conflicted about the price hike: angry but also sorry for Ukrainians “fighting for their lives”.

Even though Ukraine had “no money, no weapons, and face an overwhelming force”, they were not interested in peace but continuing the war, he said. To carry on, they were collecting money “from everywhere”, he added.

“I’m going to do all I can to push the Ukrainians away from pursuing this policy,” he said.

Hungary will extend the ban on the import of Ukrainian grain on its own authority, alongside Romania, Poland and Slovakia, if Brussels fails to take appropriate action, he said.

Orbán complained about “Brussels bureaucrats” who were unwilling to extend the ban which expires at midnight.

“If they don’t extend it by midnight, then … we will extend the import ban on our own national authority, which will mean a serious fight in Brussels,” he said.

He said the European Union was “unwilling to side with member states and the European people”, and instead followed US interests when it came to the issue of grain.

The prime minister insisted that “Ukrainian grain is not really Ukrainian but a commercial product from land that the United States likely owned a long time ago”. This, he added, put a different complexion on the debate about who would win or lose the war.

“It’s sure America will win and Europe will lose,” he declared.

Meanwhile, he called it a personal goal of his to make sure that families with children are financially better off than those without, and that young people are not deterred from having children because of financial difficulties.

Europe does not have a common demographic policy, he noted. “That’s why we hold forums like yesterday and today’s Demographic Summit in Budapest: to convince decision-makers to put this issue on the agenda, too,” the prime minister added.

Thanks to the family policy the government introduced in 2010, 160,000 more children were born, he said.

Orbán said that what was at stake in next year’s European Parliament elections was whether or not there would be an EU leadership that sought peace, whether it would isolate itself or cooperate with other regions of the world, whether it was able to stop migration, would abandon “gender propaganda” and support families and childbearing instead. Also at stake was whether it would ditch “double standards” applied to Poland and Hungary, he added.

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