Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s statement in Parliament, responding to reactions to his address before the start of daily business
26 September 2022, Budapest

Mr. Speaker,

Thank you very much for giving me the floor to respond to the questions and comments of those speaking on behalf of the parliamentary groups. I have listened carefully to all of you, and, based on the comments, I see that Momentum, Párbeszéd [“Dialogue”], the MSZP [Hungarian Socialist Party], Jobbik and DK [“Democratic Coalition”] – perhaps it is correct to call them the Hungarian Left – are clearly on the side of war. Momentum, Párbeszéd, the MSZP, Jobbik and DK – in other words, the Hungarian left – are not only on the side of war, but are also on the side of sanctions. This is a mistake, because war and sanctions are wrong; they are harming Hungarians. I ask you to reconsider your position.

As regards the opinion of the leader of the parliamentary group of Mi Hazánk [“Our Homeland”], I would like to inform him that the system related to sanctions is that the sanctions are voted on every six months. So the sanctions are not once and for all time; every six months a decision has to be taken on the extension of sanctions. Therefore, contrary to your assumption, the national consultation is not badly timed, because more and more extensions are in prospect.

Related to the vote on sanctions, I would like to draw your attention to the following. Hungary did not vote for the oil sanctions. To be more precise, it has fought to ensure that they do not apply to Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic: countries which receive oil only through pipelines. At the request of our Polish friends, I chose not to veto the sanctions, but to obtain exemptions for the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia. Although the oil sanctions were against Hungary’s interests, the Poles asked us not to veto them, but to settle for the exemption from the sanctions that we were entitled to receive. This supply to these three countries is 8 per cent of the total amount coming from Russia, incidentally; and the Polish position was that it was still better to have 92 per cent sanctions than zero sanctions in the event of a Hungarian veto. I think that this is clear. So that is why we did not vote for the oil sanctions. We shall not allow sanctions on nuclear products to be on the agenda. They are not on the agenda because we will not vote for them. Sanctions on gas are also not on the agenda to this day because Hungary has announced that it will not vote for them. This is where we stand.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Regardless of whether or not I think they are reasonable, voting against other sanctions would mean that Hungary alone would be voting against sanctions that are in areas that are not vital to us. In other words, we would be wrecking European unity. Therefore I think that a balance must be kept between European unity and the protection of Hungary’s most important interests. This is the responsible policy. We shall continue with it.

Network charges were raised by several speakers. I would like to tell you that a significant part of this is due to the need to bring renewables into the system. If we were to build and support less renewable energy capacity, the network charges would be lower. But that is not what I am not suggesting to you. What I am proposing is that we continue to support green energy, support solar energy, and pay the associated network charges in the price.

Similarly, I have to say that reducing VAT is not a reasonable proposal. Today we are putting the revenue from the high VAT rate into the fund for reductions in household utility bills. If we did not collect these VAT receipts, this fund for reductions in household utility bills would be smaller and we would not be able to subsidise every Hungarian household up to the average national consumption level of 181,000 forints. Moreover, our experience from the VAT cuts of the past thirty years is that they are not actually felt by people in the form of price reductions, but are rather felt by companies and retailers in the form of cost reductions. You have been in government a few times, and you have struggled with this problem.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As for the wealth tax, I can tell you that we do not support it. I would like to remind you that the basis of any wealth tax is the establishment of a complete wealth register: the state registration of all Hungarian assets. I suggest that you reconsider this.

On the issue of taxes on Hungarians and non-Hungarians, I can tell you that the windfall tax, which we are using to finance the fund for reductions in household utility bills, is being levied on the following: on banks – where there are still foreigners; on telecommunications companies – where there are foreigners; and on retail networks, where there are also a large number of foreigners.

I cannot support the proposal to stop funding for support programmes for the Roma, which was put forward by the Honourable Member and parliamentary group leader. I think that social cohesion programmes supporting integration of the Roma are necessary, and therefore – crisis or no crisis – we shall continue the programme funding the support for Hungary’s three hundred poorest villages. We shall do everything we can to help the Hungarian Roma community continue on the path to integration in middle-class society.

The Honourable Member Mr. Péter Ungár asked me to tell you what we have done in the last twelve years to reduce the inflow of Russian energy. Youth, of course, excuses a certain amount of ignorance. Therefore I would like to inform the Honourable Member Mr. Ungár that, after winning the election in 2010, our first concern was to resist handing over the 25 per cent stake in [the Hungarian gas and oil company] MOL that the [left-liberal] Gyurcsány government had sold to the Russians, and to reacquire it for Hungary. This is the first point. In your next contribution please also note that in 2010 Hungary was connected to the world by two gas interconnectors, whereas today it is connected by six. And please also note that after 2010 Hungary bought back its gas reservoirs in order to ensure that the locations where we store gas today are in state hands and serve national economic interests. I hope that you appreciate this.

As far as wind energy is concerned, there are also debates within the Government on wind energy. We are not yet convinced that restarting wind energy production is necessary. We welcome the idea of the Hungarian parliament debating this issue and giving its opinion to the Hungarian government. Unfortunately there are not only strong arguments for it, but also against it. I would like to draw your attention, however, to the fact that when you are assessing the Government’s performance on renewable energy sources, do not forget that in Hungary unprecedented solar power plant developments are taking place. More than 3,000 gigawatts are already being generated, and applications for more than 5,000 megawatts of further capacity have been submitted, which we hope contractors will be able to build.

I understand that when the Honourable Member Mr. Ungár speaks to the Right, he is also grouping us together with well-known media commentators of the Right. We respect them, but I think you overestimate their role in shaping the position of the Right. So if you want to argue the facts with us we are at your disposal, but you should mostly pay attention to what you hear from us here in Parliament.

And finally, on the question of what needs to be done, I can tell you that we need to coordinate our position with the United States and work to bring about Russian-American talks aimed at an immediate ceasefire and peace as soon as possible. If anyone thinks – and I see that many of you, including the President of DK, who spoke last, are under this illusion – that this conflict will be resolved by negotiations between the Ukrainians and the Russians, then you are not familiar with international politics. This war can only be brought to an end by Russian-American negotiations, and in preparation for this Europe must strive to have a say in the peace talks. So an immediate ceasefire and peace talks: this is the Hungarian proposal.

I do not recommend the approach that the Honourable Member Mr. Ungár is proposing to this House: that if in an international debate Hungary remains alone in its opinion, then it takes – or we take – this to mean that everyone else is stupid. I would like to inform the Honourable Member Mr. Ungár that in international diplomatic and foreign policy debates the question is not who is right, which is a childish approach: it is about who has what interests and how they can be reconciled. I thank the Honourable Member for honouring me with his comments.

I thank the leader of the Jobbik parliamentary group for his contribution. I am not surprised that President Gyöngyösi [of Jobbik] is not here with us today, because there is a referendum in Donetsk; and when there are referenda in Russia about annexed territories – as in Crimea – he is usually there to supervise the voting. That was the case in Crimea, too. He is certainly there now, and we wish him luck! As former prime minister Gyurcsány has already spoken about identifying who the villain is, in this regard – if we link villainy to who is pursuing whatever kind of Russian policy – perhaps you could also focus your attention on the current president of Jobbik.

Honourable Member Mr. Lukács,

Contrary to your assumption, I am not making any predictions. I think that we should take the uncertainty of the situation seriously, preserve our composure, retain our sense of balance and consistently represent Hungary’s interests in negotiations on sanctions.

We are dealing with the issue of Dunaújváros. We have been in contact with the elected Member of Parliament for Dunaújváros, and I hope that in the coming days we will be able to give him – and through him the steelworks – some help in order to assist in recovery.

With regard to the not very friendly comments made by Honourable Member Timea Szabó, I just need to say that we have not increased the rate of the KATA [small-business] tax, but reduced it. We have not increased tax for those paying KATA, Honourable Member, but reduced it; when a tax level is lower than it was earlier, this is called a tax reduction, and not – as you have assumed – a tax increase.

As far as wages are concerned, I would like to remind you that under your leader, former prime minister Gyurcsány – under his government – the average wage was lower than the minimum wage under our government. I cannot accept the proposals that you and others have made about how much money should be given to families by what means, because every proposal made was less than the 181,000 forints that nowadays we give to every Hungarian family. Your proposal would actually take from people; and so we cannot accept these proposals, but we stand by our own proposal.

I also listened patiently to the Honourable Member Zita Gurmai. I think that what she said about a disintegrating society is an exaggeration, or may be based on the error of confusing the country with the Hungarian Socialist Party. In Hungary it is not welfare benefits and wages that have fallen to 1 per cent. True, there is one thing that we have reduced to 1 per cent, and for this I take personal responsibility: the level of support for the MSZP. But that is not something we regret.

The Honourable Member Mr. Gelencsér said that we have been handing out money in all directions. What are we talking about? We are talking about the fact that on 1 January Hungarian pensioners received the thirteenth month’s pension that was taken away from them under the premiership of Ferenc Gyurcsány – or perhaps by the following MSZP government. This is not handing out money in all directions, Honourable Colleague! We have given back something that your allies took away from senior citizens. Therefore since January we have been paying pensioners the thirteenth month’s pension, and it is our firm intention to keep it this way. When you say that we have been handing out money in all directions, we have not been doing that: we have given people under 25 exemption from personal income tax, so that they can start life and have better earnings in their first few working years. I thought that Momentum was on the side of young people, but I see that you assess the support being given to them as indiscriminate handouts. We have not been handing out money in all directions, but on 1 January raised the minimum wage to 200,000 forints. I am just asking you in parenthesis that if we had not done all this, how would Hungarian families have coped with this energy crisis? I suggest that you could sometimes also express your appreciation – albeit in a modest way – for the Government’s foresight.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Finally, the Honourable Member Mr. Gelencsér said that there must be no negotiations with the Russians. I will pass on this opinion to President Macron and Chancellor Scholz – who, however, regularly negotiate with the Russians.

In conclusion, Ladies and Gentlemen, I would like to add my voice to what parliamentary group leader Máté Kocsis said. I also think that it is unprecedented in the history of Hungarian democracy that the Hungarian left’s entire campaign has been paid for from abroad – indeed openly from the United States. Today no one denies this any longer. Accepting foreign funding for election campaigns, Dear Leftists, is illegal. You know that. Furthermore, you are shrewd politicians, and you know that there is always a price to be paid for this; that much is simple and crystal clear. I am convinced that you are in favour of sanctions, that you support immigration and that you support the war because that is what you are being asked to do. He who pays the piper calls the tune. This is the tune that we have heard here today.

Thank you for your attention.