The Prime Minister recalled that the pandemic had been followed by a war which had in turned been followed by an energy crisis. At the same time, the flawed Brussels sanctions caused significant inflation, and in the meantime, the pressure of migration intensified at our borders once again.
Hungary has, however, responded to all the threats proactively. We did not freeze up, we did not want to just get through it all, but built positions of defence, the Prime Minister stressed, also stating that the sanctions should be lifted.
There may be threats, but Hungary will not surrender, we will keep fighting, Mr Orbán pointed out.
Due to the misguided EU sanctions, we are required to pay an energy surcharge. However, when instead of the earlier 7 billion euros we were compelled to pay 17 billion euros for the imported energy, the government suggested that we combine forces and set up a reduction of household energy prices fund, he recalled.
He pointed out that with the aid of this fund it was possible to protect families at least to the extent of the average consumption. Hungary did not simply shift the increased energy prices onto people, and with this it helps every Hungarian family with HUF 181,000 monthly. Had they heeded the advice of liberal economists and the Hungarian Left, at least a million families would have gone bankrupt, he observed.
He also said he expects his government to manage the new threats that will emerge in 2023 with the same attitude.
Regarding the policy of sanctions, according to the Prime Minister, someone in Brussels should finally have the courage to say ‘People, we messed up,’ we should stop this because it will lead to grave problems. If this happened, energy prices would immediately fall, and with it inflation, too, would immediately halve, he explained.
He added at the same time that he did not see any person that would have the courage to say that. In his view, during the period ahead, in the absence of courage and strength, “the messing around will continue in Brussels,” further sanctions will be adopted which will prove not to work.
The Germans or the French could change the EU’s position, Hungary does not have the strength to do that. “I can only slow down the damage,” he added.
Mr Orbán offered his condolences to the relatives of the police officer who was killed in the line of duty on Thursday evening in Budapest.
According to the Prime Minister, this shows that the work of police officers is a dangerous job. However, as cases ending in the murder of police officers – similar to the one that now occurred in Újbuda – are very rare, law enforcement officers do their jobs well. This means that our lives are safe, and this is something that we must appreciate, he added.
The Prime Minister said in Hungary the government operates a system for the reduction of household energy bills which provides EUR 450 monthly for every family; this is “inconceivable” elsewhere because it is costly. In order to provide this much money, it must be collected first, and to do that you have to be strong, he explained.
He said money must be taken away from those for whom inflation and the rise in energy prices have resulted in extra profits, meaning that the windfall profits of energy companies must be taken away by making them understand that this is a transitional measure, “they must endure this now in the interest of the community.” In Hungary, this is understood; however, Western European governments do not possess such a power position, they are unable to raise and to collect the amounts of money that they would be able to give the people in the form of the reduction of household energy bills, he pointed out.
He highlighted that from this it follows that the European people are the victims of the misguided policy of sanctions and the war. Economically, Europe is the number one victim of the whole conflict, he stated.
Regarding the Erasmus case, Mr Orbán said in the future students should prepare as before because they will not suffer any disadvantage as a result. “Hungary will keep fighting” and “we will not allow” students to become the victims of any Brussels decision, he stressed.
He said the scholarship programme will continue, “we will come to an agreement with the people in Brussels,” and if we do not, the Hungarian budget will cover the expenses. This is an investment from the national community’s point of view because with the aid of the scholarship programmes students will become smarter and better qualified and will be able to perform work requiring higher qualifications, thereby serving the entire community after the completion of their studies, he explained, adding that Hungary will not surrender the resources inherent in the talents of young people.
Mr Orbán added that “those who have children now ask in anger ‘What kind of people would do something like that?’” There may be a dispute between Hungary and Brussels, but “ what kind of person would take revenge on another person’s child?” he asked. He added that this is the kind of people that there are in Brussels who want to settle a political dispute by taking revenge on Hungarian youths.
He said the specific objections they cite in relation to the Hungarian educational system are “sheer nonsense.” That politicians are on the board of a university is a general practice in Europe, he said.
In his view, what this is about is that “they want a change of governments” here and Brussels has a concept about the future which is different from how the Hungarian people think about it. They believe that Europe must be changed, must be made diverse and migrants must be let in. He said Brussels believes it is wrong if you fail to follow suit. However, to date they have failed to force the government in Hungary to do so, he added.
He also said that “we have a concept about the future, about how to raise children; we believe that this is our job, the job of parents”. They, however, take the view that civil-society movements should play a significant role in the education of children, he pointed out.
According to Mr Orbán, “they want to take as many powers to Brussels as possible” because they want a big European empire in which there are provinces, rather than Member States. They say that as the Hungarian government continually stands up for its own concept and the Hungarian interests, a change of governments must be achieved in Hungary, the Prime Minister stated.
He observed that this is what they wanted also before the elections, “this is why they bought the Hungarian Left,” except the Hungarian people decided otherwise.
He took the view that now Brussels “is nonetheless trying to force us, regardless of the election results, to follow what is believed to be the right course of action in Brussels,” and every conflict should be viewed from this perspective.
The Prime Minister stressed that Hungary had never before had financial reserves as significant as those accumulated by the government in the past three months.
He highlighted that the country’s financial reserves were at a historical peak, and so “not only can Hungary not be cornered, but we’re doing fine without them.” “Naturally, we would do even better with them, things would be simpler and we would make faster progress,” but to think in Brussels that without them the Sun will not rise is a complete misconstruction of the situation, he said, adding that this is what they are facing now.
He took the view that it is this “Brussels frustration” that is manifesting itself in the Erasmus case as well.
The Prime Minister also said the primary task of politics is to develop an economic system in which everyone finds a job for themselves. We have succeeded in this endeavour so far; at present, more than a million more people have jobs than in 2010, he pointed out.
He said despite the fact that 2022 was a year of threats, never before had more people had jobs in Hungary than in 2022 of all years. Additionally, investments coming to Hungary, too, had never before been as high as in 2022, and they will be even higher in 2023, he stated.
He highlighted that all in all, the Hungarian economy is “fine, thank you.”
The Prime Minister described the protection of jobs as the number one task from among the most important tasks of 2023.
In Hungary during 2022 and 2023 – regarding the two years as a single period – wages will increase significantly at real value, he said.
According to the Prime Minister, we must set ambitious goals for 2023 as well, and while we must also manage the crisis, “we will not surrender our overarching national goals.” Rather than restricting, we will extend the family support system; rather than restricting, we will extend the means of job protection,” he said.
Mr Orbán said it is an important goal to reduce inflation to a single digit by the end of the year, while the country’s economic performance will have to increase in 2023 as well.