Hungarian troops near the Ukrainian border - Photo: MTI

Orbán: War ‘getting more and more serious’

The unprecedented seriousness of the situation in Ukraine is demonstrated by the fact that two nuclear superpowers are talking about using uranium munitions in Hungary's backyard, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has said in an interview to public radio.

Orbán said the US president was mulling providing Ukraine with ammunition containing uranium, and the Russian president was talking about reprisals in kind.

No resolution to the war in Ukraine can be found on the battlefield, the prime minister said in the interview recorded on Thursday. A ceasefire and peace negotiations are in Europe, Hungary and the world’s interest, he added.

The war “is getting more and more serious” and unpredictable, he said.

The bodies and leaders responsible for Hungary’s security must be constantly vigilant, he added, noting that at a meeting of the defence council, the defence minister, the chief of staff and the interior minister were handed specific tasks in the interest of the country’s security.

Though diplomatic work, he said, was also intensifying, favourable outcomes were unlikely because a “war psychosis” had gripped Europe and the consensus was that the war would be decided on the battlefield.

Hungary’s view is that the control of events must be placed in the hands of diplomacy and politicians should negotiate a ceasefire, Orbán said, adding that with a ceasefire, inflation would “return to its usual course”.

The prime minister said NATO had been “cautious so far” and its position and that of Hungary had converged. NATO, he noted, had chosen not to take part in the war and to refrain from sending weapons to Ukraine. The delivery of weapons, intelligence sharing and military support were decisions made under the authority of individual member states, he added.

Orbán called the Western strategy of supplying Ukrainian soldiers with weapons, equipment and intelligence a “poorly assessed, flawed strategy” which had ended up prolonging, deepening and broadening the war.

He also insisted that “speculators” turned up whenever there was a war and he accused the financier George Soros of being “a war speculator who hopes for financial gain at the cost of massive loss of lives”. Hungary as a supporter of peace, he added, was “on the right side” morally.

Orbán said pro-peace opinions would eventually become the majority view in the Western world.

Meanwhile, referring to Donald Trump, he said it was worrying that the former president of the United States had been indicted, adding that Trump was “the one person in the Western world today who can stop this war and establish peace”. Hungary’s interest, he added, was for someone who was pro-peace to lead the US.

On the subject of inflation, he said the government had committed itself to pushing inflation down to single digits by year-end. In addition to measures already taken, new measures would be needed, he added.

Orbán called the budget a “stable point” in an unpredictable environment, adding that in times of war, “a defence budget” was needed that protected support for families and pensioners, utility subsidies and jobs while guaranteeing the country’s security.

He also urged Hungarians to keep their savings in state bonds. “In times of war, people who keep their savings in government bonds and treasury bills help the country.” Also, they received a higher interest rate than by keeping their money in the bank, he said. In addition to offering high interest on government bonds, bank savings will be taxed as long as the war lasts as a temporary measure, he said.

The prime minister slammed the EU for introducing costs on fuels and packaging, saying the new measures would stoke inflation.
Noting that the EU had control over certain types of tax on environmental grounds, he said Hungary was obliged to increase excise tax on petrol and diesel.

Also packaging materials and bottles must be registered and tracked, adding to costs and the cost of waste processing.

“These regulations are needless, impractical and badly timed…” he said.

The government, he said, was striving to give the economy new impetus and has prepared an economic protection action plan “to counterbalance the bad decisions” made in Brussels.

In next week’s government briefing, Gergely Gulyas, the head of the Prime Minister’s Office, will present economic measures aimed at supporting the public as a “counterbalance to the bad instructions from Brussels”.

Meanwhile, regarding the EU position on mandatory migrant quotas, Orbán said Hungary and Poland had voted against it. “Slovakia, Bulgaria, Malta and perhaps Lithuania said a soft no,” he added.

In recent years, it seemed that they were able to shift the attention of the decision-makers in Brussels from the mandatory distribution of migrant quotas to border protection, “because this situation should not be solved by distributing migrants, but by protecting Europe’s external borders,” he said.

“But then suddenly a quick decision is made in a coup-like way that states that whichever country does not allow migrants in will be forced to do so,” Orbán said, adding that it was not by chance this coincided with George Soros handing over “control of his empire to his son just a few days ago”. His son, he added, had said he wanted to get more directly involved in politics in America and Europe.

Orbán said the Hungarian left had denied that there was even an intention to introduce such a measure in Brussels.

“Now the Soros empire has struck back and forced mandatory migrant quotas down the throats of the majority of Europeans with a coup-like decision,” the prime minister said.

Since this decision was taken, the news of the new situation has spread among migrants via “the Soros empire’s network”, and illegal migrants had become emboldened, Orbán said, adding that they were becoming increasingly aggressive at Hungary’s southern border.

“There’s a new viceroy at the helm of the Soros empire, and the Americans are putting a lot of pressure on Europe,” he said.

“All we want to say is let the Germans be right in Germany and Hungarians be right in Hungary,” Orbán said. “So the Germans should implement the kind of migrant policy they want.” But Hungary, he said, believed that such an experiment was risky and that mass influx of illegal migrants from another culture brought a raft of problems, the prime minister said. “And we don’t want to take that risk,” he added.

“We only ask those in Brussels not to tell Hungary whom we should live together with or what kind of migration policy we should implement, because that’s an internal affair of Hungary,” Orbán said.

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