Prime Minister Viktor Orbán - Photo: PMO

Orbán: June 9 election about war and peace

The June 9 election is about war and peace, "the future of our children and overall Hungarian life opportunities", Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in an interview with the Patriota YouTube channel on Sunday.

Orbán said he had been shocked by the assassination attempt against Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico and his first thought had been worry for his counterpart’s life. His second thought, he said, had been that he would be “left on his own” in Brussels with its stance on the war and that he would have “all kinds of extra security rules” forced on him.

Concerning the war, Orbán said European politicians tended to think of the nuclear bomb mostly as a “tactical tool of deterrence” and not something that actually needed to be used. He added, however, that the problem was that no one had thought in the second world war that the Americans would use nuclear bombs.

Orbán said he considered discussions about nuclear weapons “a bad omen”. “The expression ‘NATO mission in Ukraine’ makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up,” the prime minister said. He said talk of tactical nuclear weapons, depleted-uranium munitions, a world war itself, and sending a defence alliance’s troops outside its territory was “terrifying”.

He said resistance to these things was not as strong among Westerners as it was among Hungarians, adding that “we’re now in the midst of a process which ten years from now may be spoken of as part of the prelude to the third world war.”

As regards the economic damage caused by the war, Orbán said EU countries had so far poured around 100 billion euros into the conflict, as had the United States, adding that the stagnation of the European economy, which he said “has probably cost a couple hundred billion more”, could also be counted among the “casualties” of the war.

Orbán said though the people did not know it, they too were paying for the war, arguing that prices in shops “aren’t like they are in peacetime”.

“Not to mention that the number of casualties in the Russia-Ukraine war is already between 500,000 and 1 million,” Orbán said. “And that’s with just two Slavic countries at war, but not Europe.”

The prime minister said he regularly asked the question as to how many more weapons and how much more money it would take to push the Russians out of Ukraine, but that the only answer he was getting was that “Putin can’t be allowed to win”. Europe, he said, was drifting into a war without there even being estimates regarding the amount of money and equipment that would be needed to reach its military objective, adding that he had “never seen anything more irresponsible”.

Orbán noted that around 57 million people died in the first and second world wars, with Hungary, too, suffering a death toll of more than 1.5 million. “If they could’ve lived normal family lives, Hungary today wouldn’t have demographic problems, and neither would Europe, and there wouldn’t be any room left for migration,” the prime minister said.

“These are things we lost with the war,” he said, adding that every European war “is also a European civil war where we’re killing each other”. Therefore every European leader’s first reflex in any war should be to prevent an escalation, and all armed conflicts should be deemed a failure, he said.

Concerning the topic of mandatory military service which is gaining traction in western Europe, Orbán said that after peace had been established in Europe, “we all thought this wasn’t necessary”. “It would be good to stick with the current situation and let a professional army handle things, and there is some fundamental knowledge that can be passed on to young people even without military service,” he added.

“We don’t want someone else to decide on the deployment of our military-age youth,” the prime minister said, adding, however, that Manfred Weber, the head of the European People’s Party “is talking about this and a pan-European military to which conscription would be mandatory”. “That’s something we’re not going to do. Forget it. That’s one of the crazy ideas,” Orbán said.

The prime minister said the stabler the Hungarian government was and the clearer people’s opinion on war and peace and support of peace was, the greater chance he had to keep the country out of the war.

He said the “case of NATO” was more difficult, arguing that the government had a “good understanding of the European Union’s efforts to push us into the war”, but NATO was a defence alliance that now wanted to start down on the path of becoming party to the war.

“So we must also continue to stand for peace in NATO and prevent them from forcing us into the war, regardless of the military arguments they’d use; this is something we must stay out of in the end,” Orbán said.

He said there were some who argued in the opposite direction, adding that though those arguments may not be illogical, they posed such a grave risk to Hungary “that could be measured in tens and hundreds of thousands of lost young people”. He said Hungary therefore had to do everything it could to stay out of the conflict.

On the topic of global economic competition, the prime minister said that competitors that dropped out found themselves at a disadvantage, and Europe was in this situation now. The Americans could easily sell their excess oil and gas, having prohibited the Europeans from buying from the Russians, he added.

Meanwhile, the Russians, he said, had developed the techniques for moving gas around the world by tankers and via LNG terminals. And the Chinese saw that the changing balance of power was playing into their hands, Orbán said.

“Those of us who are pro-peace must launch a counterattack on two fronts,” he said. One in Europe, where, he said, it was not only about having more pro-peace MEPs in the European Parliament than pro-war ones, but also about European voters pushing their own governments in the direction of “less war and more peace”. The other one, Orbán said, was the November election in the United States. He said that if “the current pro-war Democratic administration stays in power, it will be hard to move towards peace”. If Donald Trump returned, it would still not be easy, but that would enable clear, transparent and quick action, Orbán said.

The prime minister said an immediate ceasefire was the most important thing now. “We need a sense of security, a perspective, so we can all believe that, of course, a big problem happened here, a war, but our leaders, both in Europe and America, have not lost their common sense.”

Orbán said it was not only US financier George Soros who was profiting off the war, but there were also others who were speculating, “the entire arms industry, and those who lend money for the purchase and production of arms”. He said there were huge monies and huge stakes on the table, and it took four things for them to succeed.

“First, you need weapons, and they will finance the production of weapons,” Orbán said. “Then, you need men who are willing to fight, like the Ukrainians. Then, you need governments who want this, and they need to be bought just as the left has been bought in Hungary. And the fourth important thing is the media; there needs to be a corrupt media that is either controlled by them or was created by them, which conveys a pro-war atmosphere.”

Speaking about Hungary, Orbán said at least half the media here offered a liberal worldview and the other half had a conservative, national sovereigntist worldview. This wide scope for describing and interpreting the world was not available in the West, he said.

He said it mattered to “the war lobby” whether Hungary stayed out of the war or not, because if it turned out that a country can be successful by staying out, “they will fear that others could follow suit”. Therefore, he added, they would look to Hungary as a “dangerous example”.

The June 9 European Parliament election, Orbán said, could be an important stage that would realign the European political battlefield. The entire European continent needed the people to “give a kick in the pants to those who brought all this trouble on them”, he said.

He described the current European Commission as the worst one he had ever seen, which had turned into a “war council”, and the European Parliament was slowly becoming a “war body”, while people were moving towards peace. Orbán said they had made “all kinds of plans that they are unable to put into action”, like ending the war by adopting sanctions, and making industry competitive through a green transition, but industry seemed to be dying in the meantime.

“It is not just about the war — although, of course, that is by far the most important thing — but we are also talking about the viability of European democracy as a whole,” he said.

“In Europe, what should happen is what the people want,” he said. “If they want peace, then there should be peace. If they want the green transition to be rationalised, then let it be rationalised. If they don’t want farmers to be ruined by these idiotic rules, then those rules should be changed.”

Orbán said this EP election was not only about how Hungary’s 21 seats should be distributed among the parties. He said everything had a far broader meaning and far bigger things were at stake than usual. “It is not about media hype or party matters, but about war and peace, the future, the future of our children, and opportunities for Hungarians in general,” the prime minister concluded.

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