Danger has not passed, preparedness must be maintained
22. 05. 2020.
The threat of the coronavirus has not gone away, preparedness must be maintained, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said on Friday on Kossuth Radio’s programme ‘Good morning, Hungary’. As regards the effectiveness of its containment effort, Hungary has surpassed many other countries in a better financial situation, he highlighted, stating that everyone in Hungary has combined their efforts, not including the Left which has pulled itself out of the common effort.

The Prime Minister stressed that the danger had not gone away, social distancing must be maintained, disease control preparedness must be upheld, and the Operational Group would also continue its work.

Regarding the containment effort, he said “we have by far surpassed other countries financially better-off than we are as regards the quality and effectiveness of our containment effort”.

Discipline and unity were the key to this; however, the Left “have repeatedly picked on hospitals and the experts in charge of the containment effort”. Now “they can slink away, shamed, keeping to the shadows,” he said.

He described the imposition of the special legal order as one of the best decisions because this enabled the government to make timely decisions; they were not required to present each decree to Parliament and “to haggle with the opposition”. Instead, they were able to respond within an hour when that was necessary.

He referred to the merits of Minister of Human Capacities Miklós Kásler as nothing short of historic because, he said, it was his instincts that led to convening a professional body of disease control experts at a time when “everyone else was still slumbering” and as a result, “we overtook everyone by a week or two”.

The containment effort was so effective that we did not reach a phase of mass infections in Hungary, primarily because the health care team led by Mr Kásler and the hospital directors, physicians and nurses under their supervision did their jobs well, Mr Orbán stated, adding that as it seems that the epidemic will not turn into a phase of mass infections in the summer, there is no need for maintaining the special legal order any more.

He said in summary “we have cause for joy” because the successful containment effort has saved the lives of thousands of elderly people. He also observed that due to the emergency measures imposed on account of the epidemic, people who would have died of the flu stayed alive.

The Prime Minister said mayors who heeded the instructions of left-wing parties – “picking fights” and “prefering provocation to cooperation” – did poorly in the containment effort. Those, however, who believed that the epidemic was not a party issue and followed the line of unity did well.

In the context of economic measures, Mr Orbán highlighted that they had managed to provide governmental assistance of one type or another with saving and retaining more than a million workers’ jobs.

According to Thursday data, just over 101,000 persons are receiving unemployment benefits, and there are another 71,000 who lost their jobs more than three months ago and applied for income supplement. In total, there are 173,000 Hungarians who would like to work, but have not found jobs and turned to the government for help, he said. Among the solutions resorted to, he mentioned the raising of the contingent of public scheme workers to 200,000, the recruitment of another 3,000 soldiers into the army, and the launch of a variety of job creation support schemes.

Based on these, he believes that while statistically April will prove to be a difficult month, economic measures are “charging forward at full speed”, and he expects that “we will find the way back to the level of our earlier economic performance much more swiftly than we thought possible before”. “I can also envisage the steps leading to this,” he said, pointing out that he will set up a body of experts – similar to the disease control Operational Group – which he will be in charge of, according to plans, and in the coming months they will invest all their energies in the protection of jobs and the restarting of the economy, while the 13th month pension will also be gradually reintroduced.

In the radio interview, the issue of transit zones emerged as well. In this regard, the Prime Minister said “Brussels bureaucrats have awoken from their slumber”, and the Court of Justice of the European Union adopted a decision that is dangerous not only for Hungary, but for the security of the whole of Europe as Hungary is also protecting the borders of the EU, given that Greece is unable to. He observed that there are some 130,000 migrants currently in transit on the Balkans route, and most of them will eventually put pressure on the Hungarian border. This means that “we have some difficult months ahead”.

According to the Hungarian legislation, from now on – as the transit zones have been closed down – migrants will have to wait “outside the border”. If any of them wants to enter Hungary, they can apply at a Hungarian embassy, he said, taking the view that this is worse for migrants than the previous solution was. “However, if this is what Brussels bureaucrats want, we will meet their requirements.” At the same time, he expects Brussels bureaucrats to pick a fight regarding this arrangement as well, given they want migrants to be allowed to remain and wait for the assessment of their applications in the territory of Hungary.

However, a situation where people in Brussels say that persons submitting asylum requests can stay in Hungary uncontrolled is inconceivable, Mr Orbán stated.

He stressed at the same time that Hungary does not want to protect itself “at the expense of” its neighbours, and so if – say – the Serbs request help with the protection of their Southern border, “we will set out without hesitation”. “If the Croatians or anyone else ask for help, even if the Romanians ask for help, we are ready to do so,” he said.

The Prime Minister said Brussels bureaucrats “are sitting in the pocket of a man called George Soros”. “They want a migrant crisis. If there is a migrant crisis, governments find themselves in trouble and […] need loans, and they have the money. They want to extend loans, if possible against a hefty rate of interest because that’s what they like,” he said, adding that if there is no problem, they “will help” to create one. He also observed that George Soros is “a great master” of plundering countries.