Prime minister Viktor Orbán – Photo: PMO

PM orders central bank governor and finance minister to take measures to reduce inflation

Orbán: Hungary no longer alone in asking “what’s going on here and whose interests are being served”

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, in an interview on Friday, called for ceasefire and peace talks between Russia and Ukraine. Orbán also said that we must ask our American friends concerning who benefits from the current situation "because we Europeans are certainly losing".

The prime minister told public radio that a ceasefire and peace talks would result in economic relief. As long as the war continues and the West responds by employing sanctions, neither inflation nor energy prices will fall, he added.

Orbán insisted that Brussels had “messed up” sanctions and they were not coupled with proposals for price cuts, resulting in sanctions-fuelled inflation, with Hungary having to pay extra for energy as a result of the sanctions.

Hungary has achieved exemption from all sanctions that affect its energy market negatively but the problem remains that since the country is part of a common European market, it is still affected by the high energy prices, Orbán said.

The ultimate solution to combatting high energy prices would be if the European Union dropped its sanctions policy, Orbán said. However, “a great struggle” would be needed for this to happen, he added.

“There are those who talk about having to win the war but others, including Hungary, say that what’s needed is an immediate ceasefire followed by peace talks,” he said.

Orbán said some had questioned how Hungary “as a nation of freedom fighters … now stands on the side of peace”, adding that the country understood “the brutality of the Soviet army” and what fighting the Russians meant, but in 1956 “the reason we fought was not because we thought we could defeat the Soviet Union … We mounted a revolution and freedom fight to force a ceasefire and peace talks” with the ultimate aim of getting the Russians to enter into an agreement with the West on how Hungary could become “a neutral state, like Austria”.

Orbán added that demands for a ceasefire and peace talks were growing in strength.

The prime minister said that sanctions were causing “increasing dissatisfaction”, and Hungary was no longer alone in asking “what’s going on here and whose interests are being served”. “We must ask the same questions of our American friends” concerning who benefits from the current situation “because we Europeans are certainly losing” and “you are winning, while the Russians are hardly being defeated”. “The entire situation has been put together in a way that we Europeans can only lose out,” Orbán said.

Orbán said the Nord Stream gas pipeline explosion was a terrorist act, and “if any state had a role in it, that state is a terrorist state”. The last high-capacity pipeline delivering Russian gas to Europe from the south is the TurkStream, he noted. “If anybody blows it up or renders it inoperable, Hungary will view that as a terrorist attack and act accordingly,” Orbán said.

Meanwhile, Orbán said he has asked the governor of the central bank and the finance minister to take measures to cut inflation “by half at the least” before the end of 2023.

Orbán attributed rampant inflation to European Union sanctions against Russia, adding that “if only the EU saw” the connection between the two then some prices, including energy prices, “could be halved within days”. High inflation is not caused by market trends or the economy, it was “caused from outside, by politics”, he insisted.

Orbán said his government was experienced in handling inflation as it had “inherited 10-15 percent inflation in 1998”.

Inflation forces families to live off their savings, he said, adding that anti-inflationary measures therefore were “family protection measures”. High prices must be combatted because “they torture people, families, they destroy businesses and lead to unemployment”, the prime minister added.

Concerning the government’s upcoming National Consultation survey, Orbán said the government habitually consulted the public on important matters and used the outcome as a political tool “in fights in Brussels”.

Orbán said the sanctions against Russia had been introduced in an undemocratic way, based on decisions by the “Brussels bureaucrats and the European elite”.

“There’s still democracy in Europe and it matters what people think,” he said. In Hungary, the public is regularly involved in decision-making “about the most difficult questions facing Europe”, be it migration, the handling of the Covid-19 epidemic or the current sanctions, he added.

Referring to migration, Orbán said “what we need … is to protect our borders against illegal entrants”, adding that illegal border crossing was a crime. Rather than having crowds of illegal migrants at the Serbia-Hungary border, Serbia’s southern borders should be protected, which is “in everybody’s interest”, he said.

Hungary’s borders must be protected, Orbán said. The country “won’t be turned into a refugee camp … migrants will not enter, and we will not be told by others whom we should live together with”, he added. That latter decision “could exclusively be passed by a parliament elected by the Hungarian people and the government”, the prime minister said.

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