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Health-care system still has capacities, PM says

Orbán: Soros ‘threatening Hungary, Poland’

Financier George Soros, the "most corrupt man in today's international politics", is threatening Hungary and Poland, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in a regular interview with public radio on Friday. Orbán insisted Soros had "many politicians on his payroll ... he is the corrupting force behind the Brussels bureaucrats blackmailing and threatening Hungary."

He noted that Soros had published a “big article” recently, “instructing Brussels bureaucrats” what to do. The European Council reacted “calmly” by saying they knew how to resolve debates within themselves, he told Kossuth Radio.

Orbán said Soros was threatening Hungary and Poland, though the EU habitually resolved debates through negotiation. “Debates at knifepoint” are not uncommon in the EU, a natural consequence of having to reconcile the interests of 27 member states, he said.

The prime minister said unscrupulous “lies” about Hungary were not uncommon but now they had reached fever pitch. He said the only acceptable solution to the current impasse over the EU budget and recovery fund would be a genuinely legal, not a political, one. With Soros’s input, he said “they want to create institutions” that, with a qualified majority, could force Hungary to dismantle its fence on the southern border and let migrants into the country. “Hungary rejects such demands,” he said.

Orbán said that for Hungary the dispute was not over money, adding that Hungary was a stable country where all the developments planned for the next ten years could get off the ground regardless of political debates and without the input of Brussels, adding that Hungary “can borrow for thirty years” without the EU thanks to its good reputation on the international markets. Orbán added that the country had raised a credit of 2.5 billion euros recently.

Meanwhile, the prime minister said the 12 million doses of vaccines Hungary had procured against the coronavirus are expected to be sufficient to stem the epidemic. The vaccines are likely to be rolled out at the end of spring, although exact dates are as yet uncertain, he said, adding that vaccines were health-care issues, not political ones. If certain countries are further along in developing it, then it “makes sense” that Hungary should order from them as well, he said, referring to talks under way with China and Russia.

Referring to Soros’s call for an inquiry as to why Hungary had received samples of a Russian vaccine on Thursday, Orbán said: “It isn’t Soros’s job to decide which vaccines are good and which aren’t. That is for laboratories to decide and the Hungarian people, who will be free to choose from among several vaccines.”

Orbán said the favourable statistics recorded in the past few days weren’t proof that the coronavirus epidemic was subsiding. Referring to a recent consultation with Hungary’s chief medical officer, Orbán said the number of infections “may fall further but equally it could start rising again”. He asked Hungarians to be more disciplined “because the lives of the elderly are in danger, and all lives matter.”

He said the number of people in hospital was high, but the health-care system had not yet reached capacity.

Orbán noted that 1,150 soldiers are serving in hospitals and another 1,150 are on standby. He rejected accusations that the government had failed to prepare adequately for a second wave.

The prime minister expressed doubt about quick coronavirus tests and said the logistical task of organising testing in the smallest of localities was hard, “but we are prepared”, noting that 2,000 students were involved in the operations. Orbán said mass testing was good preparation for when mass vaccinations occur.

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