Prime minister Viktor Orbán – Photo: PMO

Orbán: ‘Hungary won’t give in’

In times of crisis the government must take action to ease problems rather than waiting them out, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán told public radio on Friday. "Hungary won't give in," he declared. Orbán said in the interview to Kossuth Radio that he had "led the country through three crises: the financial crisis left behind by the Gyurcsany government, the migration crisis, and the Covid crisis."

“I’ve learned that even if problems emanate from outside, if you freeze, if you stop dead, then you’re ruined.”

Orbán insisted that Hungary must stay pro-active and protect its fundamental values. “I often tell cabinet members that our starting point should be that Hungary won’t give in.”

A ceasefire and peace talks are needed to resolve the war in Ukraine, Orbán said.

“Sanctions policies are another step towards war,” Orbán said. “Anyone who intervenes in a conflict [using sanctions] also takes a position which is a step towards one of the warring parties; in other words in the direction of war,” he said.

If Europe “sees itself as part of the war”, it will be drawn into it, and the dangers to Hungary will grow, he said.

“It’s clear that little by little we’re slipping into this war; we’re not being shot at yet, but we are very close to becoming party to the war … What Europe is doing is very dangerous,” he said.

Hungary talks the language of peace but “no one else is following that line,” he said.

Hungary has never supported the policy of sanctions and will not support it in the future either, the prime minister said.

Hungary cannot afford to exercise its right to veto at every stage, he said. Sometimes “we have to let some things go,” Orbán said. “[But] we should keep fighting for exemptions that are in line with Hungary’s interests.”

“Hungary has so far evaded the most devastating consequences of the sanctions”, he added.

Orbán said he was confident that if there were a ninth EU sanctions package, he would ensure that Hungary won exemptions in crucial areas, including nuclear energy — though this would come at a high cost.

Concerning the National Consultation public survey, Orbán said it was highly important for the Hungarian government to feel the weight of public support during negotiations in Brussels. He said Hungarians and international policymakers should have a palpable sense that the government’s rhetoric reflects the nation’s interests.

The prime minister said that by maintaining caps on the price of certain produce and household energy bills, the government could mitigate — though not fully counterbalance — the negative effects of sanctions. The government has approved an action plan involving 11 measures, the latest of which is to fix of potato and egg prices, Orbán said.

The prime minister added, however, that the government cannot regulate all prices as this practice would imply the return of socialism and bring about the collapse of the economy.

Orbán said the government scheme to cap energy bills was saving households around 180,000 forints (EUR 370) each month.

The government aims to bypass the trend towards recession in Europe, Orbán said. Also, over the next year, the aim is to maintain full employment and a growth rate above the European Union average, as well as “our national strategic goals: unification of the nation and support for families”, Orbán said.

In order to preserve the country’s achievements, the government has launched schemes to rescue factories and support small and medium-sized firms. It has also placed a cap on certain prices and interest paid on retail loans, while helping restaurants and accommodation providers, he noted.

The government is canvassing public opinion on how to make the situation bearable for businesses and ordinary people, and feedback is constant, the prime minister said.

Regarding reports of foreign funding of left-wing opposition parties during the election this spring, Orbán said: “It’s not only illegal but also morally wrong while scamming Hungarian citizens.”

The government will hear the minister responsible for secret services and the heads of the investigating bodies, “but it seems certain that we have good reason for outrage”, he said.

“It appears the case that before the Hungarian election and even after it … the left-wing parties and their leaders, who sought the trust of the Hungarians, were paid from abroad; and perhaps they are still being paid,” he said.

Besides being unlawful, foreign interference in election campaigns through the funding of certain players is against the interests of Hungarians, Orbán said.

“It’s not just morally wrong; they’re cheating Hungarian citizens who think they’re voting for a party and a leader with sovereign integrity who is free from hidden commitments that could stop them from serving the interests of the country,” he said.

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