Prime Minister Viktor Orbán (l) - Photo: PMO

Orbán: ‘Others making decisions on Hungarians’ blood unacceptable’

Bringing back military conscription "is the internal affair of all nations", not a matter to be decided as part of "an imperial army of the European Union in Brussels", because "others making decisions on Hungarian blood is unacceptable", Viktor Orbán told public radio in an interview on Friday.

Whereas the draft was the business of individual nations, the German leader of the European People’s Party had raised bringing back conscription “as part of a united European Union army”, the prime minister said, adding that this would entail taking “the fate of our own young people” away from the country’s own powers and depriving Hungary of its sovereignty. “This is unacceptable,” he said.

Bringing back the draft “is not on the agenda in Hungary”, he said, and citing “European plans” he said it was “unacceptable” for others “to decide on the blood of Hungarians”.

Meanwhile, Hungary has introduced defence studies into secondary school curriculum, Orbán said. “We are doing a lot of things that will make Hungary and the whole of society capable of self-defence without conscription,” he said.

The draft was abolished thirty years ago, at a time when “peace has been successfully established in Europe, Russia pushed back from central Europe, and NATO had basically no rival on Earth.” That meant professional servicemen were enough to effectively protect the country, he said.

He praised professional soldiers as the “best of society,” ready to change their way of life to defend the homeland.

Orbán said the values represented by servicemen such as discipline, self-sacrifice, comradeship and team work should be present in other groups, too, and reinforced by programmes such as the reserves training, military secondary education. “And summer programmes bringing young people closer to the idea bearing arms, to honour and love the homeland”, without re-introducing conscription, he added.

Meanwhile, Orbán warned that every week “brings us closer to war”. Europe “might be bringing Russian forces closer” by financing Ukrainian attacks on Russian soil, he said.

Orbán said that every week brought something “pointing towards a drift into war”. One such event was the start of negotiations on sending French training officers to Ukraine, he said. An even more concerning development, he added, was that an increasing number of players, including NATO’s Secretary-General, had said that besides self-defence, Ukraine had the right to use Western-donated weapons to attack Russia.

Orbán said he expected a “big argument” on the degree to which those weapons could be considered Ukrainian. “Russians have already announced they consider NATO to have a hand in the damage done on Russian soil,” as Ukraine would be unable to inflict it without NATO’s help. “So we have become one step more involved,” he said.

Russia had made clear its troops would advance until it had secured an area broad enough to make it impossible for Ukrainian forces to fire “into Russia’s old territory”, he said.

“We must realise that supporting Ukraine in firing at Russia bears the risk of bringing Russian forces closer to us.”

Orbán said the drifting into the war had occurred in three phases: “talks, preparation and destruction”. “We’ve moved past talks, what we’re analysing now is the matter of preparation, which puts us centimeters from actual destruction,” he said.

Western European nations, he said, were striving to win the war and felt safer because they were geographically far from Russia. Those countries saw Ukraine and central Europe as a buffer zone, he said. “It’s the same as it used to be, right? That’s what they used us for.”

Orbán said the pressure he was withstanding from Europe was growing with every summit. Resistance, he said, depended on whether “we have the country backing us”, and whether Hungary was united in its pro-peace stance, “whether we are brave enough to stand up for peace and to say we are not ready to die for Ukraine.”

NATO is a defence alliance, he said, adding that Hungary had joined for the original goal, to ensure protection and not to interfere with a conflict outside the alliance’s territory, thereby raising the threat of a world war.

Orbán called it “absurd” that “NATO is dragging its members into a world war rather than protecting them.”

The Peace March demonstration to be held in Budapest on Saturday is being organised to emphasise that “Hungary is on the cusp of war and peace”, the prime minister said, adding that it was important to declare that the threat of war was real, “contrary to what many — especially in western Europe and the western-financed left wing — may say”.

“We must also make clear that Hungarians yearn for peace and we don’t think Europe could cope with another war.”

The demonstration to be held a week before the European parliamentary elections is also a reminder that “the European founding fathers, who also thought Europe could not take another war, were right”, Orbán said. While the European Union was originally a peace project, created against war, “it is now marching ahead, dragging us into one,” he said.

It should also be made clear that “we did not enter the European Union to fight a war together, to pour 100 billion euros into the war…” He added that the US Democratic administration and the leaders of the European Union were ready to feed “the monster” of war.

Orbán said European leaders must be challenged on how the bloc’s economy could possibly be restored “if we spend all our money in Ukraine”.

He said the European parliamentary election was about “making it clear to European leaders that democracy exists and the voice of the ever-growing pro-peace Europe cannot be ignored.”

European leaders, he said, must be pushed to make pro-peace decisions, and pro-war politicians must be “chased away”. In Hungary, only the Fidesz-led government stood for peace, Orbán said, adding that attempts to win the war in Ukraine on the battlefield would “risk a world war”.

“Let’s take back the initiative and let there be a ceasefire and negotiations — before we find ourselves in the midst of a great European war,” he said.

The prime minister said history showed that in the first stage of every war was “anger against the supporters of peace”, while pro-war supporters argued that no morally right solution existed other than war, “so whoever is on the side of peace is actually taking a morally wrong position”.

“Then it became clear that war was not a solution to conflicts between European nations,” he said, adding that a shift towards those who favoured peace took place, and the years after the devastations of the second world war “should be saved”.

The prime minister said it was possible that “we may look back on 2024 — as we did on 1914 or 1939 — as a year when the big trouble started…” This, he said, could be avoided. “It’s not true at all that every war is written in the stars. Every war is a consequence of leaders’ decisions, and if the leaders are sane, there will be no war,” he said.

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