Prime minister Viktor Orbán – Photo: PMO

Hungarians still in Afghanistan must be safely evacuated, PM says

Orbán urges grassroots persuasion to overcome vaccine hesitancy

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán urged Hungarians who have already been inoculated against the coronavirus to coax "at least one other person", be it a family member or a co-worker, who hasn't been vaccinated to get their Covid jabs in an interview on public radio on Sunday. "If everybody can convince one more person [to get inoculated], a level of immunity will be achieved in the country that makes the scale of the fourth wave nothing like that of the earlier waves," Orbán said on Kossuth Radio.

“We can inoculate everybody; we have 8 million jabs in stock,” he added.

Orbán acknowledged that the available data show “one in 500 inoculated people” will become infected with the coronavirus, but their symptoms will be milder than those of people who haven’t had a Covid jab.

He said the fourth wave of the pandemic is “knocking at the door”, albeit “knocking the loudest” on the doors of countries in the region and in western Europe. “The government has worked through the summer to prepare the country for the fourth wave,” he added, noting a planned inoculation drive ahead of the start of the school year and the chance to get booster shots.

Orbán said the effectiveness of mask-wearing pales in comparison to the “overwhelming power” of inoculation and announced a new campaign to promote vaccination from September 1.

He said Hungarian pensioners would likely get a 50,000-56,000 forint (EUR 143-160) or higher growth-linked pension premium this year as the economy “speeds ahead”.

Orbán said he trusts GDP growth will reach the 5.5 percent threshold triggering a personal income tax rebate for families raising children. He added that the government also aims to push ahead with a personal income tax exemption for Hungarians under 25 and will continue the reintroduction of the annual pension bonus.

Commenting on the fireworks display for the August 20 national holiday that drew some 700,000 people, Orbán said a “circus attraction” had been “successfully transformed into an uplifting artistic performance that inspired national pride”.

Hungarians still in Afghanistan must be safely evacuated

The Hungarians still in Afghanistan, among them soldiers, must be safely evacuated from the country, the PM said. Orbán acknowledged the soldiers participating in the evacuation mission and the risks they face.

He said that Afghans whose lives are in danger because they have cooperated with Hungary over the past 15-20 years would also be evacuated.

“Evacuating them is the proper and fair thing to do,” he added.

Orbán augured a wave of migration and said it is in Hungary’s interest to keep people who want to leave Afghanistan in the region. He added that cooperation with the government of Turkey on the matter would be “key”, while Hungary must also foster strong ties with countries along the Balkan migration route.

“Let’s send assistance there, not bring trouble here,” he added.

Orbán said the trouble in Afghanistan started with the “export of democracy” after “pockets of terrorism” in the country were eliminated.

He said the Americans thought it would be nice if the whole world functioned as their own society does, adding that they also tried to “fix” Hungary, thinking they can better manage issues of migration and gender.

Orbán said Hungary must “fight three big battles” in Brussels, involving “gender madness”, the issue of migration and the matter of who will pay the cost of environmental damage.

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