Prime minister Viktor Orbán – Photo: PMO

Orbán: ‘War and peace’ at stake

"War and peace is at stake in the election," Prime Minister Viktor Orbán told reporters after he had cast his ballot in the national election in Budapest's 12th district on Sunday morning.

Orbán, the head of Hungary’s ruling Fidesz, was accompanied by Aniko Levai, his wife, and said in his answer to a question that the war between Russia and Ukraine was going to be protracted, and it was “easy to get drifted into”. “The war is in the neighbourhood, between too large countries, and we must stay out of it,” he said.

Orbán said he was convinced that their opponents “do not feel the gravity or seriousness” of the situation and could “take steps that could involve Hungary in the conflict”.

“This would be tragic for Hungary,” Orbán said, adding that Fidesz aimed “to prevent that”.

Answering a question about the possible outcome of the election, Orbán said he was “hopeful of a great victory”. “The government’s position is clear: we are for ensuring peace and security,” he said, adding that the opposition was “dangerous” and called on voters to support “political parties that can guarantee peace and security”.

Asked if he would take it as a defeat if the ruling parties should not win a two-thirds majority, Orbán said “we have been in opposition for sixteen years and on government for sixteen years and I hope today we will finally be in the black”.

Orbán said he would always accept a result, even when not winning. He was asked if he would resign from his position as party leader should Fidesz lose and he answered “we would like to win”.

To another question if austerity measures could become necessary, Orbán said the government would “take steps in line with the country’s interests”. Concerning sustainability of the utility cuts programme, Orbán said such issues could be addressed after the election. “First we should shoot the bear, and talk to the furrier afterwards,” he said.

The prime minister was asked about equal chances for all contestants in the election campaign, and he said “it is a fair and honest election with everybody having had a chance to convince Hungary’s voters”. About possible election fraud, Orbán said “it usually happens, sometimes serious, other times negligible”, but added that “lawyers will be busy clarifying things” after the election. He added that the case of recently discovered ethnic Hungarian votes dumped near Targu Mures (Marosvasarhely), in Romania, should also be left to lawyers.

Answering questions about the Ukrainian president’s recently accusing him of being “the last remaining open supporter” of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Orbán said “Mr. Zelensky is not voting today”. Asked about ties to Russia, Orbán said he promoted Hungary’s national interests.

Referring to the government’s accusing the opposition of a pro-war stance, Orbán was if the same applied to Putin, and he said “Vladimir Putin is not running in the Hungarian election, therefore, luckily, we do not have to address that issue now”. He said Hungary condemned “everything that goes against universal human norms” at NATO and European Union forums. “We want peace as soon as possible, talks to follow, and guarantees for the whole region for the long run,” he said.

Answering a question on the future of the Visegrad Group, Orbán said the group was established with the aim to jointly promote their interests within the EU, and despite differences of opinion in foreign policy “I see a beautiful future for the V4” and argued that in economic terms the region was “the most successful” in Europe, and pledged further cooperation with Poland, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic.

Asked if he was concerned about Hungary’s possible isolation, Orbán said “a NATO and European Union member can never become isolated”.

Orbán was reminded of his remarks made in 2006 that “he had never lied” to his voters, he said “I am always bent on keeping my word”.

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