Prime Minister Viktor Orbán (l) - Photo: PMO

Orbán: War ‘cannot be won’

"Common sense dictates" that there can be no winners in the war in Ukraine, so a ceasefire must be arranged as soon as possible, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán told public radio on Friday. "Then peace negotiations can begin, at the end of which it will be clear what kind of peace will emerge," Orbán said.

Orbán called the declaration adopted by the UN General Assembly on Thursday urging peace in Ukraine a “pro-peace document”, which he said was the majority view in the world regarding the war in Ukraine.

Russia cannot win the war in the face of the weapons, energy and money the West is pouring into Ukraine, which means the possibility of Russia winning the conflict “highly unlikely by any calculation”, Orbán said. At the same time, “it would be wrong to think that Russia, a nuclear power, can be beaten,” he said.

“So neither party can win this war. Only the number of fatalities will grow by the hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands … so common sense dictates a ceasefire,” he said.

Speaking on the first anniversary of the start of the war, Orbán said that besides the loss of life and assets, the situation was aggravated by the difficulty of “discerning the aim of the war”. When the aims are not clearly defined, “it’s easy to lose your way as there’s no reference point for your decisions, in a situation where you take on sacrifices for the nation and its citizens”.

While Ukraine was attacked and is protecting its freedom and trying to mitigate the consequences of aggression, “it is hard to see what that means exactly”, Orbán said. “Will Ukraine hit targets in Russian territory sooner or later? How far will they push back the Russian troops? Will Crimea come under siege?”

“We Westerners made a mistake not only when we elevated the conflict into an all-European war but also when we failed to clarify the boundaries of support for Ukraine,” he said. “All European Union documents say: however long it takes, whatever it costs … But that slogan makes it hard to fight a war,” he said.

Orbán said Europe would continue to be drawn into the war. Soon, the Hungarian public would hear about proposals on peacekeepers or other troops being needed in Ukraine, he said.

At the same time, the NATO treaty does not give the right to the alliance or oblige member states to participate in a joint attack on a non-member state, he said.

NATO member states have the right to set up military alliances outside of the organisation but have no right to “drag other members into them against their will”, he said.

Hungary’s stance is based on the fact that NATO is a defence organisation rather than a war alliance, he said.

Meanwhile, public discourse has fully passed over the war’s consequences on Hungarians living in Ukraine’s Transcarpathia region, Orbán noted.

While the EU criticises and pressures Hungary, “we are the only people who are neither Ukrainian nor Russian and yet are forced to sacrifice lives,” he said. “More respect for Hungarians in Brussels, Washington and Kyiv!”

Regarding NATO’s enlargement, Orbán said if Sweden and Finland “expect Hungary to be fair and agree to their NATO accession, then those countries must also be fair and stop spreading false information about Hungary.”

Orbán noted that the government has asked parliament to support the two countries’ applications for NATO membership. He added, however, that “some deputies of the ruling parties are not overly enthusiastic”, because, among other things, “these states spread obvious lies about our democracy and the rule of law here.”

Others see it as problematic that the Finnish-Russian border would then be a more than 1,000km direct border contact between NATO and Russia, he said.

Orbán said Turkiye was concerned about “Sweden harbouring terrorist organisations” opposed to Turkiye, which was “also an ally whom we must listen to”.

Orbán said Hungary had been forced to pay 4,000 billion forints (EUR 10.5bn) more for energy in 2022 than the year before as European Union sanctions against Russia drove skyrocketing energy prices. Flawed EU decisions are taking that money away from Hungarians; “we are being made to pay the price for bad decisions on sanctions,” he said.

At the same time, prices are expected to grow more slowly in March, and inflation will fall into single digits by December, he said. The government has taken the measures necessary to fight inflation, and “as it is with most diseases, it takes a little time for the medicine to take effect,” Orbán said.

Since the beginning, the Hungarian government has “made it clear that the path of sanctions is not good, as it causes immediate and direct damage to the country”, he said. But “it could be assumed that some others also foresaw what would happen … and speculated about sanctions and their consequences to the detriment of the people,” the prime minister said. “Speculators — George Soros and some other large funds — have become stinking rich thanks to the European Union’s sanctions,” he said, adding: “Let’s keep the faith that there was no coordination between decision-makers and speculators.”

On another subject, Orbán said “in Hungary children are sacred and inviolable.” “Hungary should have the most stringent child protection system in Europe”, he said, adding that he expected the interior minister to “make clear where the state officials whose job it is to look after our children are”.

“I also expect all similar cases to be investigated; these are very painful cases but if we sweep them under the carpet, there will be more of them,” Orbán said. “We can only protect our children against gender ideology if we demonstrate the possible dangers, and that’s a state responsibility,” he said.

According to Orbán, “those that deprive parents of the decision over the upbringing and safety of their children breach general public morals in Hungary.” “This gender ideology is not just fooling around … it is not just fun that boys dressed as girls and girls dressed as boys go into schools to ‘sensitize’ our children … this is a danger against which children must be protected,” he insisted.

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