Regarding the war in Ukraine (responding to the situation on Monday), the Prime Minister said the Russians are rearranging the continent’s security map. In continuation, he highlighted that their security policy concept is that Russia must be surrounded by a neutral zone in order for them to feel safe. They now want to make Ukraine, that has so far been looked upon as a buffer zone, neutral with military force, something they failed to achieve with diplomatic means.
“At the same time, Hungary must make it clear that war is not an acceptable means to any end, and Hungary clearly condemns anyone who chooses to go down this path,” Mr Orbán stressed.
According to the Prime Minister, there is a chance for peace as the Russians have the same demands as before: As military superiority is on the side of the Russians, it was only a question of time before negotiations could start.
“Hungary is pro-peace, we have a vested interest in being left out of the war, in the parties to the conflict reaching an agreement within the shortest possible time, and in the restoration of peace; we mustn’t under any circumstances be dragged into this conflict. We condemn the Russian attack because they started a war against Ukraine. The parties must return to the negotiating table as soon as possible, this is why we offered Budapest to host the peace talks. But what matters is that they should finally start. Now, the whole of Europe should be working towards peace,” the Prime Minister pointed out.
Regarding Hungarian-Russian relations, he said until recently relations had been balanced and fair. “As regards the President of Russia, so far he has honoured every deal I agreed on with him, and so have we,” he added.
Mr Orbán highlighted that with the start of the war a new situation emerged for Hungary as well. In this new situation we must again define Hungary’s goals and interests.
“As regards the sanctions, we don’t exercise our veto, we don’t prevent the EU from imposing sanctions on Russia. At this time, the EU’s unity is of paramount importance. As regards bilateral relations after the war, one thing is certain: Russia will also exist after the war,” the Prime Minister said, adding that Hungary and the European Union will have interests after the war as well.
“There’s no argument for breaking our energy cooperation with the Russians. The leaders of the EU, too, pointed out that the sanctions won’t affect energy supplies coming from Russia as that would destroy the European economy,” he pointed out.
He added that the same is true of the Paks project. If there is no Paks, we must buy even more Russian gas and at even higher prices. If we were to terminate our energy cooperation with Russia, within a single month the household energy bills of all Hungarian families would triple. “Therefore, I don’t support any such measure; Hungarian families cannot be made to pay the price of the war”.
In answer to a question, he said this is his third war as a politician, “an advantage of experience in government is that I know what strategic calm is: speak less, but when you do, choose your words carefully and responsibly”. At times like this, we cannot allow campaign criteria to take precedence over national interests, Mr Orbán laid down.
He said the opposition want to send arms with which to shoot Russians, or soldiers who would fight against Russians. This proves, he added, that they have no experience, they have no knowledge, and are entirely without a sense of responsibility. Instead of adventurer politics, we need responsible political action, security and stability, he stated.
He also said “we’re happy to help the Ukrainians in their talks with Russia”. “We’re even happy to host the peace talks.” Additionally, we’re providing humanitarian assistance for Ukraine: we’re taking petrol, diesel, food and basic supplies there. And thirdly, we are taking in anyone coming from Ukraine, he indicated.
He further highlighted that there was a change of positions under way at the head of the world. According to the current state of affairs, soon China will be the world’s most powerful economic and military power. America is in retreat, and meanwhile China is becoming ever stronger. Hungary, a country of ten million, must manoeuvre carefully during such times. “We’re allies of the West, but we would also like to develop an advantageous relationship with the emerging new great power. This is a complex task for policy-makers, verging on art,” he took the view.
Regarding the new German government, he said, reading their programme, “we have many question marks”. They declared Germany an immigrant country, deny that society is divided exclusively into men and women, would legalise soft drugs, empty the concept of the nation, and want a federal Europe. “We don’t know whether they will indeed implement this programme, and neither do we know whether they will attempt to extend this programme to the whole of Europe. We would like to conclude with them a tolerance agreement so that we can follow our own path on these issues,” he said.
Concerning the measures recently adopted by the government, he said they are not without precedence: the first instalment of the 13th monthly pension was given back already last year, while the government has provided benefits for families in conjunction with work since 2010. The reduction of taxes has been a permanent policy of the past twelve years, and due to the 7 per cent growth last year, they did not only reduce taxes, but even reimbursed those paid last year to families as they were affected most by the pandemic.
“These measures are not connected to the fact that there will be elections, and don’t represent a change of course compared to that we have stood for so far. Political stability, financial stability, a transparent economic policy whose declared goal is to serve a demographic policy that connects work and family together. This is the line we follow, and we have no intention of abandoning it,” he said.
At the same time, with regard to the current war situation, Hungary’s demography-centred policies are being supplemented with a security policy at a higher level. The next decade will be about security, the Prime Minister pointed out, adding that in the years ahead they will also complement Hungary’s family policy. “In this department, too, we must go forward, not backward,” he stressed.
In the context of the upcoming parliamentary elections, he said it is painful that thirty-two years after the fall of communism, we still regard a parliamentary election as a matter of life and death. “In a normal situation, an election should only be about good governance; yet, we still look upon it as a matter of life and death as there is a threat that another generation of communists might return. I have higher hopes regarding the elections than a simple victory. I sincerely hope that the communists won’t survive a fourth defeat. If we’re able to win for a fourth time, then with that we can achieve two aims at once. On the one hand, we can avert the direct social and economic dangers arising from the return of the Gyurcsány-Bajnai era, we can continue the work we’re doing, we’ll go forward, not backward,” he underlined.
“On the other hand, with another victory we’ll be able to force a radical transformation within the ranks of the opposition, and with this a new chapter could begin in Hungarian internal politics. If therefore someone wants real change in Hungarian internal politics, instead of changing the government they must change the opposition. That will bring about real change. Only electors are capable of that,” Mr Orbán said.