The Prime Minister said, compared with the situation in Hungary, the coronavirus epidemic situation is deteriorating in most countries, and therefore his earlier claim that the reintroduction of the infection into Hungary is the biggest threat for the country “is not only valid, but at this time it is more valid than before”.
The Prime Minister also highlighted that during the spring we had managed to save the lives of tens of thousands of people in Hungary with the measures introduced, meaning that “we have a robust body of experience” regarding how to protect ourselves against the virus, and we will have to rely primarily on that experience in the autumn.
He said the number of infections is not irrelevant, but the most important goal is to prevent people from falling victim to the virus. The disease brought on by the virus can be cured. It is most certainly not pleasant, the coronavirus infection inflicts suffering on patients, but a very large number of people have recovered from it, he said. He drew attention to the fact that the elderly are most at risk from the virus, and therefore we must focus all our energy on protecting them.
He stressed that action must be taken to prevent the reintroduction of the virus into the country. He recalled that in the summer they had introduced a system for the classification of countries based on each state’s infection status. However, from 1 September this system can no longer be maintained, and restrictions will be introduced.
“I’m not saying ‘stop’ altogether, but the situation will be near enough like that,” he stated.
The Prime Minister stressed that he cannot interfere in the Hungarian people’s personal lifestyle choices, customs and holiday plans, but with due caution and respect he is asking everyone “not to reserve or organise trips in the southerly direction beyond September, not to envisage holidays because they will be contrary to the border protection measures to be implemented”.
In answer to the question as to whether the health care system is prepared for the eventuality that there might be a rise in the number of coronavirus patients, the Prime Minister said in mid-March they had created the fleet of equipment that was necessary for containing the virus which they would be able to use in the autumn.
Everyone can sleep soundly, all necessary equipment is available, he said.
He added that Minister for Innovation and Technology László Palkovics, together with Minister of Human Capacities Miklós Kásler “created a concept about how to develop our own production capacities, our own industrial capabilities so that next time around we shouldn’t be compelled to procure equipment from elsewhere, but should be able to manufacture as many of the necessary supplies ourselves as possible”.
He observed that in the production ventilators Hungary is at the world’s vanguard, and the time will come when all ventilators will be manufactured locally.
“Hungary has good reason to await the second wave of the epidemic in a much more calm and balanced state of mind than we did in March,” the Prime Minister stated.
Mr Orbán highlighted that during the first phase of the infection, he had received all assistance he had needed from Hungarian experts.
“In this world, in the realm of science related to health care and medicine, the culture of serving the country and the nation is extremely robust. In my view, this is one of the pre-conditions of a successful fight,” he said.
He added that in the spring they had concluded that as long as there was no vaccine, this uncertain situation would not change.
Today, the world is closer to the discovery of a vaccine, there is a good chance that some vaccine offering protection against the virus will also be available widely, and therefore Hungary “has extended its feelers in every direction, as we did during the spring,” the Prime Minister said.
On the programme, the Prime Minister pointed out that while in the spring the changeover to digital education had been more successful than expected, we must not believe that this did not have downsides.
According to the Prime Minister, the percentage of students who had “simply disappeared from the system” or had failed to join the system is above ten per cent. These pupils and students either did not take part in digital education at all, or only participated on occasion.
“Now when schools reopen in September, it is to be expected with great probability that there will be larger differences in levels of knowledge within a single class than there were before the outbreak of the epidemic,” he stated. He observed that levelling class standards will be a formidable challenge for teachers, but he believes that they will be able to cope. “We shouldn’t look upon digital education as some clownish feat, that there’s always another one, meaning that if the normal system doesn’t work, then we just pull the other one out of our pocket, and it is just as good as the previous one was,” he said.
According to the Prime Minister, here and now an education system that is based on personal interaction is able to best serve our educational and pedagogical goals, and digital education is “only a reserve solution”. He added that therefore we must do everything we can to avoid forms of education other than normal education, and to protect conventional teaching that is based on school attendance.
The Prime Minister said on Thursday afternoon he held an economic policy meeting with all ministers and experts concerned where he submitted “an order” to the entire team of Hungarian economic policy experts.
He asked them to consolidate all the recommendations that were made in recent weeks in different ministerial and professional workshops, “and to put together by mid-September a logical growth plan that also contains dozens of specific measures”.
He added that according to his calculations, by mid-September the two-year plan according to which the government will manage the fourth quarter of 2020, 2021 and 2022 “will have gone through all necessary political and governmental decision-making forums”.
The Prime Minister said the “guideline” of the government’s economic policy so far has been the protection of jobs.
“We will not back down from this, we will not give up this goal,” he stated.
He recalled that as part of the fight against the consequences of the virus, they had introduced a credit debt repayment moratorium, and had enabled hundreds of thousands of families to use their funds for the stabilisation of their financial situation instead of the repayment of their credit debts.
Businesses, too, were able to retain their workers because “they escaped” the clutches of banks. They then introduced the job protection plans, and also launched “development plans conveying the promise of the creation of new jobs,” he said.
The protective measures were successful, we managed to protect jobs, and today there are more jobs than there were in January, he said, observing that we have yet to make further efforts as today there are not as many people in employment as there were last June.
At the same time, they also made thorough preparations for the launch of the growth plan as some of the funds which were intended to serve the fight against the economic implications of the virus were used to finance future investments. Hungarian investors will be able to launch their investments created with the aid of grants made available to the tune of HUF 100 billion already in 2021, he added.
Mr Orbán also mentioned that the past 100 to 150 years of Hungarian political thinking has been “public law-centred in its nature,” but “we had another 850 years when this was not the case, when we were able to think fundamentally more in terms of great political issues, rather than public law details”.
Such issues are where Hungary is, how big Hungary is, how big its population is compared with our neighbours, what is the size of the territory that we are able to inhabit and defend, who poses a threat to us, whether our neighbours pose a threat to us, whether we can come to an agreement with them, who the nearest big countries are, whether the big ones want to step on our throats or not, whether we are able to avoid our conflicts or we are required to engage in fights as we did with the Turks, he listed.
This means that Hungarian politics also had a geopolitical dimension which has diminished over the years, and “I would like to see a return of this way of thinking,” Mr Orbán said.
In his view, there is now a chance for embarking on a Central European building process.
Central European nations should no longer think about where they could find for themselves protectors larger than themselves as they have done in the past 100 to 150 years. “Today, we have a chance to combine our forces, to try to cooperate, to try to organise ourselves, and to arrange together – whilst preserving our sovereignty – the fantastic life opportunities that are inherent in Central Europe in the form of knowledge, spirit, energy and economic potential,” the Prime Minister said.
He stressed that this will require a “flagship,” and Poland is that ship.
It is a country of forty million experiencing fantastic growth, a major army, enormous economic potential and interests covering the entire region. “If we arrange our own vessels, our own troops cleverly around the Polish and we can come to an agreement with them, then Central Europe will be much better equipped to protect its interests, we’ll be richer, we’ll grow faster than if we looked for external protectors,” he said.
He observed that this is what he spoke about at the St. Stephen’s Day commemoration, encouraging his fellow citizens not to be afraid of thinking in such dimensions.
The Prime Minister was asked about DK President Ferenc Gyurcsány’s comment about Attila Vidnyánszky, Director of the National Theatre.
According to the Prime Minister, there is nothing surprising about this, as “these people are communists,” this is what they did when they came into power in Hungary: they deprived people of what they had.
“Why should we believe that they have changed?” he asked, adding that the question is what our answer is.
“We open the Book which says those who live by the sword shall die by the sword,” Mr Orbán said.