Prime Minister Viktor Orbán (l) - Photo: PMO

Orbán: Hungary won’t get involved on either side of war

While the EU leadership "sees the war as their own", Hungary will not get involved on either side of the Russia-Ukraine war, Viktor Orbán, the prime minister, told public radio in an interview on Friday. "There's an atmosphere of war in Brussels", Orbán said.

He said first it was mooted that soldiers should be sent to Ukraine, and now, in a second phase, “NATO is organising a mission in Ukraine”.

Currently, NATO is not sending soldiers but coordinating training and weapon deliveries, and seeking financial resources from member states, “so it is sliding into the war”, Orbán said.

The reason Hungary joined the NATO defence alliance was on the basis that the alliance would come to the defence of member states should they be attacked. “Attacking others together or conducting military action in third countries has always been out of the question.” Hungary wants to stick to NATO’s original mission, he said.

Orbán said leaders in Brussels “talk about this war as if it was theirs”.

After a period of sending equipment, then weapons and vehicles, “now they are talking about having to send soldiers because they are losing their war.” He added that NATO was going the same way.

“Ukrainians are suffering terribly, hundreds of thousands are dying.” At the same time, Orbán said the war was one between Slavic peoples and “not our war”. The war should be ended with a ceasefire and peace negotiations, he said. “Hungary wants to stay out of this war,” he added.

As long as Hungary has a national government, it will not get involved in the war on either side, he said.

While the EU has no joint army, and member states are not looking to interfere in the war as a joint force, “they want to finance it under a European umbrella”, he said.

It is important, however, that European leaders “don’t send monies belonging to member states, especially to Hungary, to Ukraine,” he said. Hungary is working to prevent funding that the country is entitled to from landing in Ukraine, he added.

Regarding the Middle East, Orbán said that everyone would do better were the conflict to simmer down.

European leaders and citizens “sense, correctly, that the world has become a dangerous place, that the Middle East has become a war zone”. The main fear is that the war against a terrorist organisation should escalate into an inter-state war, he said.

Meanwhile, the Balkans had become “a place of unrest and unresolved issues”, he said. The situation required strategic calm, he added.

Orbán said his view was that those conflicts “should be handled differently”. In the Middle East, everything possible should be done to avoid the conflict escalating into a war that encompasses the entire region, he said.

Regarding the war in Ukraine, Orbán said European governments were all pro-war, with the exception of Hungary and the Vatican.

“Hungary must persevere because I expect the European pro-war approach to crumble,” he said. “An increasing number of people in European democracies realise that the conflict has no solution in the battlefield,” he said.

Democracy must take back the reigns and achieve a ceasefire, start negotiations and “give the least money possible to Ukraine in a situation when Europe itself is battling serious difficulties,” he said.

While “Ukrainians have it the hardest”, Europe’s middle class was also suffering, he said, adding that competitiveness was deteriorating, and there was no money for the green transition or Western Balkans enlargement.

Europe, he said, was ploughing far less money into its economy than the US and China was into theirs.

On the topic of the European parliamentary election, Orbán said election campaigns were “a time for clear and honest talk”. He said he was “convinced” that voters would push their governments towards peace. “We just have to persevere until then.”

Orbán said freedom of speech was “in bad shape” in Western Europe. “In liberal societies, the institutions shaping public opinion – the media, universities, research intstitutions, foundations and politicians – have become homogenous, and say more or less the same thing.” Given any two German newspapers, whether on the left or right, “you’ll read exactly the same thing on important issues”, he said.

Orbán said western Europe was beset by “opinion-bludgeoning” beyond the comprehension of the average Hungarian, coupled with day-to-day oppression.

He said it was one thing to ban a campaign event and another to sack someone if their expressed opinion did not coincide with the official position. Posting on Facebook carried risks of such an outcome, he added.

In Hungary, Orbán said, publicly expressed opinions were conservative or liberal, but no one would suffer negative consequences for expressing them.

Meanwhile, the prime minister said that European leaders were trying to manage migration rather than stopping it.

“They are conducting elegant legal arguments, but actually they are implementing the Soros plan,” Orbán said in the interview.

Orbán said that while many were insisting that the Soros plan did not exist, the American-Hungarian financier “wrote his six-point plan himself in 2015”.

He said the plan called for 1 million migrants to be allowed into Europe every year, and that the EU should take out a loan and issue bonds to finance the operation. Also, Orbán said that the Soros plan conceived of “security zones” to be set up in the countries of origin of the migrants to ensure their passage to Europe.

The Hungarian government’s position was, he added, that “no one can tell Hungarians whom they want to allow into the country”.

The important point about migration, he said, was whether a migrant was allowed to remain in the country while their application was assessed. “This is the key to everything.”

In the case of a negative decision, migrants would never go home, he said, as repatriation programmes were successful in only a quarter or a fifth of cases. This is why people applying for asylum must wait outside the borders, he added.

“If a country does not state this, it cannot stop migration,” Orbán said.

Referring to the upcoming European Parliament elections, Orbán said that amid the many “sub-issues and problems in European life, the most important is the war”, adding that “the bureaucrats in Brussels and the Hungarian left wing” were “pro-war”.

“We’re pro-peace,” Orbán said, adding that what was at stake in the election was whether Europe would be for peace or for war.

The incumbent Brussels leadership, he said, had “failed in all its important goals, so they don’t deserve another chance”.

The prime minister said that in an the election campaign it was the time to fight rather than speculate, adding that “you must fight the opponent”, and this is why the ruling parties were launching their campaign on Friday.

On the topic of farmer protests in Europe, Orbán said they were justifiably rebelling because the EU represented Ukrainian oligarchs and large US companies and their interests over and above those of European farmers. Ukrainian “grain dumping” was one of the unwelcome consequences of the Russia-Ukraine war, he added.

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